Monday, June 30, 2014

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

*Hip, hip, hooray!  We made it to Pennsylvania in one piece!  We receive our household goods shipment today, and then will be busy unpacking and organizing, but I’ll get this updated with all of our cross-country travels slowly but surely.


So our first major stop on our cross-country road trip was Grand Teton National Park.  We hadn’t planned on visiting this park, but since it was just south of Yellowstone, we decided to do a quick drive thru.

And boy are we glad we did.  It was gorgeous!

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Oh, did I mention that it was Jarrod’s birthday too?  He spent his birthday in a national park for the second year in a row (last year was in Lassen Volcanic National Park).  I think we may make it a new tradition!

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We spent a total of two full days in Yellowstone (two half days and one full day).

The place was beyond amazing.

I couldn’t get over all the wildlife.

There were bison EVERYWHERE.

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Even causing traffic jams.

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We also saw elk, two black bears, deer, and some animals that I don’t know the names of.

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I really wanted to see a grizzly, but we never did.  The thing was, I wanted to see it from the road.  Taking three kids on a backwoods hike to try to find one didn’t seem like the best idea to us.  Especially when whiny crying kids could actually make us seem like prey.  Yeah, didn’t think that would be smart.  So no grizzly this time.

When we weren’t looking at wildlife, we were taking in the beautiful scenery.

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How could Yellowstone get any cooler?  Oh yeah – it happens to be a super-volcano!

You can bet that my little volcano enthusiasts were excited!

On our first day in the park, we visited one of the visitor centers.  Each center has different themed exhibits, and we decided to check out the one with the super-volcano exhibits.  We all liked it and really learned a lot.  And it prepared us for our next day -

A full day of geysers, bubbling mudpots, steam vents, and hot springs.

Our first stop on the super-volcano tour was of course, Old Faithful.

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It was a cool morning (in the 40s, but you’d never guess it looking at what my kids are (not) wearing), so there was a lot of steam making seeing the actual water shooting out of Old Faithful a bit difficult.

After Old Faithful’s eruption, we went walking around the trails looking a more hydrothermal hot spots.

Trenton and Charlotte squealed with excitement every time they saw something new and exclaimed that it was the best hike ever!  They had Jarrod and I read almost every plaque along the path so that they (and we) could learn about the features.

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I’m pretty sure that I’ve become a volcano junkie now too.  The stuff was so neat and interesting!

We loved all of the fun memories we were able to make as a family.  I don’t think Yellowstone will be a trip that the kids will soon forget!  Trenton has even decided that he wants to be a National Park Ranger when he grows up!

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Teddy, you were a pretty smart fella.  Thanks for helping so many appreciate such beautiful places.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Big Graduate

A few weeks ago, I doted on my little graduate.

Today is all about my big graduate.

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(Super crummy picture, but we sat all the way at the top near the exit and women’s restrooms – with pretty much all of the other moms with kids!)

Jarrod graduated with his Masters of Business Administration in Information Systems Management from Naval Postgraduate School yesterday. 

We are so proud of him and all of the hard work that he put into his degree the past two years.  Way to go, Honey!

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And now we’re on the road on our cross-country adventure.

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Wish us luck and plenty of patience!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We Have Been Busy

Our time in Monterey is very shortly coming to a close.  We spent the weekend prepping for movers (Happy Father’s Day Jarrod – let’s pack!).  Today the packers finished up, and tomorrow the moving truck gets loaded.  By the end of the week, we will be on the road out of here with another new graduate.  We will miss all of our friends here, but we are looking forward to a new adventure in Pennsylvania.

We have also been reminiscing on our time here in Monterey.  The weather wasn’t always perfect, but we made the most of it and got out to see and do a lot.

Here is a sampling of our adventures during our 27 months in Monterey. (Each link will take you to a specific blog post):

Vacationed at:
Lake Tahoe
Disneyland
San Diego
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lava Beds National Monument
Napa
Sacramento
Yosemite

Great list of things to do in Central California with kids:  Events, sightseeing, hiking, berry picking, apple picking, Big Sur, train rides, holiday fun, National Parks, plus vacations to other areas of California (Disney, San Diego, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Lassen and more!)



Hiked:
Point Lobos
Jack’s Peak
Garrapata State Park
Partington Cove - Big Sur
Butterfly trail at Natural Bridges State Beach
Año Nuevo State Park to see Elephant Seals
Frog Pond Wetland Preserve
Pinnacles National Park

Great list of things to do in Central California with kids:  Events, sightseeing, hiking, berry picking, apple picking, Big Sur, train rides, holiday fun, National Parks, plus vacations to other areas of California (Disney, San Diego, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Lassen and more!)



Toured:
Point Sur Lighthouse
Alcatraz
Lula’s Chocolate Factory – Monterey

Great list of things to do in Central California with kids:  Events, sightseeing, hiking, berry picking, apple picking, Big Sur, train rides, holiday fun, National Parks, plus vacations to other areas of California (Disney, San Diego, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Lassen and more!)



Got in the holiday spirit at:
Pancake Breakfast in Bunnyland – Carmel
Haunted Monterey Tour
Pacific Grove Tree Lighting
Train to Christmas Town
Streets of Bethlehem – Salinas
Capitola Beach where Santa arrived on an outrigger canoe

Great list of things to do in Central California with kids:  Events, sightseeing, hiking, berry picking, apple picking, Big Sur, train rides, holiday fun, National Parks, plus vacations to other areas of California (Disney, San Diego, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Lassen and more!)



Enjoyed family fun at:
Roaring Camp Railroad and Henry Cowell State Park
Hidden Hills Ranch
Castroville Artichoke Festival
Strawberry picking at Gizdich Ranch
…and Redman House Farmstand
Apple Picking at Gizdich Ranch
Ollalieberry picking at Gizdich Ranch
Cherry Picking at Buckley Cherries
Earthbound Farms’ Corn Maze
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (via the Roaring Camp beach train)
The Mystery Spot
Marina Equestrian Center Open House

Oakland Zoo
Laguna Seca campground
San Juan Bautista Rib Cook-off
California Science Center in LA (Space Shuttle Endeavour is housed here)
Wild Things Zoo
International Day at Naval Postgraduate School

Great list of things to do in Central California with kids:  Events, sightseeing, hiking, berry picking, apple picking, Big Sur, train rides, holiday fun, National Parks, plus vacations to other areas of California (Disney, San Diego, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Lassen and more!)



Whew!  Yep, I’d say that we stayed pretty busy during our time in Monterey!  And I didn’t even link up to everything that I could have!

Thanks for the good times, Monterey! 

(And thanks to Kate for giving me the idea to do this post!)

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Clean Bill of Health

I took Charlotte up to Palo Alto last week for her last appointment at Stanford.

We started out in radiology for an ultrasound of Charlotte’s kidneys, bladder, and ureters.  Charlotte rolled to her side and back when needed without even being prompted.  I didn’t know if I should be proud of Charlotte for being so cooperative or sad that at four years old, ultrasounds have become old-hat for this girl.

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After leaving radiology (with pockets full of stickers and Hershey kisses for being so good), we went to meet with Charlotte’s urologist.

He gave us wonderful news.  Charlotte’s kidneys are growing, there is no fluid on them, and they have minimal scarring.  Charlotte was taken off of her maintenance antibiotics a couple months ago, and has had no issues since then.  Really she’s had no issues since the infection that she had after surgery.

Anyway, the doctor said that he could say with 99% certainty that Charlotte’s surgery was a success!

Charlotte will need one more ultrasound a year from now.  Her doctor said that we could have the ultrasound done, have the images/results burned to a disc, and then we could mail the disc to him.  He will look everything over, and then sign off on her case as long as everything looks normal.  Have I mentioned how much I love her doctor?  It’s so nice to not have to get a new urologist for just one visit. 

So, we have a healthy girl!  We are so happy that the surgery helped her and we’re not dealing with constant infections anymore!  Thank you to all who have stood by us on this long road, offered your help, and sent prayers, good thoughts, and words of encouragement for Charlotte and our family!  Y’all are the best!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Watch Me Grow: 5 Months

Look who’s five months old today!

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Now that we’ve got Evelyn’s feedings and medications figured out, she is growing like a weed!

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Evelyn is doing wonderful on her formula and reflux meds.  If you remember from last month, we were hoping to get Tricare to cover Evelyn’s $400ish/month formula.  And they are covering it!

We did have a couple of super cranky, up all night screaming nights last week though.  An ear infection was the culprit.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it was a one-time thing, and they aren’t recurring.

Evelyn is a mover!  She scoots around and rolls all over the place.  We’ve never given her run of the entire floor, but I’m pretty sure that she could make her way at least partway across a room.

Trenton and Charlotte still love being older siblings.  They cheered her on during tummy time, when she was learning to roll over, and when she “talks.” 

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Trenton and Evelyn still have such a close connection.  Evelyn gave her first “hugs” to Trenton.  He tells her all about the world, and she takes it all in.  I hope that they remain close forever.

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Charlotte loves acting like a mommy to Evelyn.  Her favorite thing to do is to carry Evelyn (with Mommy VERY close by which is why there are no pictures).  She bounces Evelyn up and down and shhh’s her too.  It is so cute!

Someone else likes their little sister too.  He just wishes she knew how to play fetch already!

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We got our first laugh earlier in the month.  Let me tell you – this little girl WILL NOT laugh on command.  Not for tickles.  Not for blowing raspberries on her belly.  Not for making funny noises.  Nope, she laughs at things like waking Mommy and Daddy up at 4:15 in the morning and being wide awake and Trenton and Charlotte crying when they get in trouble.  Um yeah, I think Jarrod and I may be in trouble.

Evelyn made the big move to the baby bed a few weeks ago.  We started out with just naps, and then after about a week, moved to nighttime.  She’s done okay.  She still doesn’t sleep through the night, and there are some times when I have trouble getting her to go back down in her bed.  But for the most part, she sleeps about the same as she did in the rock and play.

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The GI doctor gave us the okay to start solids last week.  Because of Evelyn’s food intolerances, we have to spend a week on each new food before moving to the next.  We also had to do the same with Charlotte, and she turned out to be a wonderful eater.

Weight: About 14 pounds
Height: 24.25 inches
Eating: 5 ounces of formula every 5 hours
Solids: Rice cereal
Teeth: None
Sleeping: Between moving into the crib, switching up her formula intake, and an ear infection, Evelyn has been all over the map this month.  She is always up at least once a night though.
Naps: With as much as we are on the go with the two big kids, Evelyn isn’t really on a very strict nap schedule.  She normally takes one morning nap and one afternoon nap, but the times vary every day.
Clothing Size: She still fits into a few of her size 3 month pieces, but is mostly wearing 3-6 month clothes.
Diapers: Huggies Little Snugglers size 2
Shoe Size: I bought Evelyn a pair of cute little shoes when she was a few weeks old.  They are a size one, and she still doesn’t fit into them!  Oh we
ll, barefoot is perfectly fine with me.  We can wait to start a shoe collection until she is a little older!

First time wearing matching clothes:
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First time sleeping in the crib:
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First Memorial Day:
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First time rolling from back to belly (and getting mad because no one saw her do it!):
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First time eating rice cereal:
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Evelyn has a pretty busy month coming up.  Here’s to hoping that we have a baby who adapts well to change!