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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Boise & Yellowstone

One thing that I've learned from teaching in a very high poverty and high ESL school is how unexposed my firsties are to the world.  While most don't skip a beat on pop culture trivia, previous firsties have been known to ask, "Who is Washington D.C.?" and "What is a museum?"  and the only airplane they've ever seen in real life is the kind made from paper.  They just have No. Clue. Whatsoever.

Seeing that firsthand, year after year, has given me and the Mr. even more of a drive to make sure our kids see and experience things outside of Arkansas.  And it's not because we want them to say they've been to cool places.  And for me it's not even about learning about other places {although I know that is important, too.} Then main reason I want Cooper to travel and "see" other places is because I think it is so important for kids to see that the world doesn't stop with them.  Kids are naturally egocentric...but from the beginning I have done my best to say things and plan experiences that help my little boy realize that, "The world does not revolve around Cooper."  That may seem harsh...and maybe it is a little.  But I want him to hear that from us over and over.  Because as much as I love him...it's not about him.  It's not about me.  It's about others.  I don't want to end up with a selfish, me-first 20 something later on down the road.

So, excuse me for a blog post while I write about our personal family memories we made together this week...

You know those people that buy books about places they are vacationing to and plan out the details of it, all the way down to detailed vacation Excel spreadsheets?  ...well, that's my husband!  And I love him for it...

But you know those vacations you go on that turn out nothing like you actually planned {and I do mean NOTHING!}??    ...Well, that was this year's vacation...

This year we visited our best friends in Boise, Idaho, and drove over to Yellowstone for a few days.  We had SO MUCH FUN!  My friend's husband is in his first year as an assistant coach at Boise State.  We knew we wanted to come visit at some point, so we just decided to make a vacation out of it!  I've never been to Idaho or Wyoming {where most of Yellowstone is} so I was happy to cross those 2 states off of my list.  It is absolutely beautiful up there.  And it was 91 degrees in Boise at one point that week....and the air wasn't even thick at all. {Can you imagine, Arkansas friends??}  Ahhh, life with little humidity!!

We flew in to Boise on Sunday.  It was Cooper's first airplane trip!  And he did great!  He loved watching for our airplane to arrive....

...and begged to ride in the car seat through the airport!

Ready for takeoff. {Daddy looks a little nervous, don't ya think??}

Less than a minute after we took off Cooper was asleep...Thank you Jesus!  {Oh how I love to watch sleeping babies!}

I was so so SO relieved!  He's a GREAT traveler, but I was worried about his ears bothering him because I've always heard you never really know how that's going to be until it happens.  And he was absolutely perfect for all of our flights!

My friend, Lindsey and her oldest daughter Addison, came to meet us at the airport.  Check out these two...they were beyond excited to see each other.... :)

Monday, Lindsey and I decided it would be fun for the kids to try out a kids museum in downtown Boise.  The river runs through downtown and there is a perfect park close to the museum.  So we decided to pack a picnic lunch to eat in the grass and play at the park and then go to the museum.

...And then we got out of the park and saw goose "poo" everywhere.  Like every 2 inches... Now I know why my dad has spent most of his adult life hating and trying to kill those animals! {Sorry, PETA!}

So then we decided to eat on the concrete area.

....And then Cooper stepped through fresh goose "poo" in his Toms and got it all over the picnic blanket...

So then we decided to just shove our faces with our lunch and get the heck outta there!! ha!!

Cooper enjoyed the kids museum.  Especially putting the golf balls down the little turny thingy {how about that official term??}

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Cooper kept wanting to knock down Addison's house, so we finally just had to let him do it on purpose!



Addison and Cooper got to play meteorologists!


Tuesday morning we left right after breakfast for Yellowstone.  My parents had gone the previous year and had given us lots of helpful tips...like packing sunscreen for the higher altitudes!

...but then we got there and it was 35 degrees.  And raining a very, very cold rain.  And what we needed to have packed instead of sunscreen was a couple of parkas.  {When we looked at the weather before we left Arkansas it said the high would be in the 50's with a 20% chance of rain.}

We pretty much looked like idiots in our flip flops and shorts and capris!  Luckily I had packed Cooper all jeans to wear, but hadn't packed socks!

We checked into our BEAUTIFUL hotel Tuesday afternoon.  We stayed at the Old Faithful Inn.  It is over 100 years old and an actual log cabin.  It was really, really a neat place to stay in the park.  And very close to Old Faithful.


We found out Old Faithful was about to go off, so we went to go watch.  We were there just in time {2 minutes early}...

...but then we realized that Old Faithful had gone off 5 minutes before the posted time.

So we headed on to the Grand Prismatic.  My parents had talked and talked and talked about how beautiful this was.  And had shown us pictures...
Google it.  This is really how it looks on a normal day.

....but when we got there, it was so SO cold, that the steam was too heavy to really see anything.

Believe it or not, this is the same pool as the picture above...you just can't see much from the steam!

It was still really awesome to see all of the steam coming up and you could see some of the colors in the pool, but it just wasn't the same!  Who would've thought we would have 30 degree weather in the middle of June??  Apparently Arkansas isn't the only place on Earth with crazy weather!

We got back that evening, ate dinner and went to bed.

Wednesday was our full day to drive around the park and see the sights.  We were so excited.

....And then we woke to it pouring snow outside.  Absolutely. POURING.

So we stopped by a souvenir shop before we headed out and bought $100 worth of fleeces, hats, gloves, etc... so we would be prepared.   Once we got back in the car I took off the tags and got us all ready to be bundled up.

...And then an hour into the drive our sweet, amazing traveler started crying uncontrollably.  Being close to his morning nap time and being that he had really struggled napping in the car on vacation, I just assumed this was a tired cry.

So Justin pulled over to take some pictures of some bison we saw on the side of the road and I started unbuckling Cooper to hold him for just a little bit and try and calm him down.

...And then before I could even get him all the way unbuckled, he threw up.  And then threw up all over the car seat.  And then threw up all over the car seat beside him.  And then threw up all over his backpack.  And then threw up all INSIDE of his bag of "treats" {iPad, headphones, books, games, toys, snacks...} And then he threw up a little more. And we were stuck in the middle of nowhere...

I wish I were kidding.  Really.  I do.

So we did what any other parents would do in our place an hour away from a hotel or any sign of civilization: I stripped Coop down to his diaper, wadded up his throw up stained clothes, and held a crying sick baby while Justin cleaned up the entire mess of throw up with baby wipes.  Yes.  Baby wipes. In the snow.  Wearing shorts.

Note to self: Always carry a towel with you when traveling with kids.  And a change of clothes that actually fits.

We turned around and headed back to the hotel.  Cooper and I would stay for the rest of the day and hang out while Justin drove around and saw the sights without us.  I am normally not a crying person.  But by the time we got back to the hotel with a screaming sick baby I had broken down and cried...mainly just because I was so sad for Cooper and so sad that all this was keeping us from getting to experience Yellowstone together. And I was sad that Justin was having to drive on his own without any company.  But more than anything I was just sad that my baby boy was sick and we were in between hotel rooms and not supposed to be able to check in until 4:00 that afternoon.  How was I going to care for a sick, naked, feverish, vomitting boy in the lobby of a hotel?

So, then Justin went in and talked to the staff....no hotel room was ready.  We ate lunch and then Cooper and I went in to the hotel to hang out in the lobby.  Luckily, I checked on our room before we settled in the lobby.  Our room was ready.  At 12:45.  Thank you, Jesus, for that miracle that I am sure seems so small to some but was a HUGE blessing to us!

Cooper and I settled in and my 101 temp boy slept on and off for the rest of the afternoon before finally going to sleep for the evening at 7:00.  Snow, puking, fevers, and sleeping....ahh, the vacation life in Yellowstone!
You really can't tell from this picture just how HARD it was snowing out there, but it was crazy!!

Meanwhile, Justin drove all afternoon and saw Yellowstone...without us! :(



We did manage to sneak off and watch Old Faithful actually go off that night though.  Another wonderful reason that we stayed right next to the geysers!

Thankfully, the next morning {Thursday} Cooper's fever had broken and he was much better {minus a bland appetite for several days}.  We took a family pic by a gorgeous waterfall...

...and then drove out of Yellowstone and through the Grand Tetons....which were GORGEOUS!  And the weather was actually clearing up and nice.  We stopped and took a few pictures, and drove on back to Boise.

And then promptly spent the next hour scrubbing the rest of the vomit out of the car and hosing down the carseat...

Friday morning the plan was to just play outside before the adults went on a date in the afternoon.

...And then a bump on Cooper's hip that I'd been watching closely started looking really bad.

...So I finally scheduled a doctor's appointment with the pediatrician our friends use.  Thank the Lord I did because Cooper had a infection that had an abscess.  Thankfully, we caught it just in time to do antibiotics for now.  My poor baby who has only had 2 sick visits to the doctor in close to 2 years now {YIKES!} had to go to the doctor on vacation....bummer!

That afternoon, the four adults went on a double date and hiked Table Rock Mountain.  And Cooper stayed with a non-family babysitter for the first time! {And did great!}

Omiword...I had no idea that this "hour" long hike was going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done!  One of us even mentioned quitting about 75% of the way up {but I won't mention names, Lindz!}  I'm so glad we finished and I'm so proud of all of us!
{My crazy hubby would like me to point out that he is on day 7 of his vacation beard by this point!}

And we might have been slightly delirious by the time we got to the top too!


I just love this sweet lady!  Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with such precious friends!

Such fun memories!

Saturday we toured the Boise State campus and checked out all of the football facilities!  I was glad I got to go since it's doubtful that I'll be able to go to a football game this year up there!!



After watching Emerson crawl all week, Cooper decided he needed to crawl all over campus just like his little girlfriend...silly boy!

I'm so glad that after spending a week with our sweet friends that Cooper learned to love them as much as Mommy and Daddy do.  {This was completely spontaneous...Justin was actually trying to get him to run in for a touchdown!}
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Melt. My. Heart.

After the tour, we splashed in the freezing cold river! {Major kudos to Daddy for braving the cold water with Coop!}

Saturday evening we grilled steaks and ate popsicles outside.  We stripped the babies down to their diapers.  We ate popsicles...and two little munchkins ate sidewalk chalk while others of us actually used the chalk! :)  We played duck, duck, goose.  The kids splashed in the water table and danced their Happy dance jigs!  It was just good old-fashioned fun...can't you tell by the look on these dirty little sweeties faces...errr...bodies?!?!

Really, the picture just doesn't do the dirt justice.  It was really one of those left-a-6 inch-dirt-ring-around-the-bathtub kind of bath nights.

Sunday morning we traveled all.day.long. Phew!

We had the most wonderful time relaxing and visiting with friends this week.  And even though it seemed like at times that nothing was going the way we wanted it to or like we had planned...we lived to tell about it, as the old saying goes.  And, truly, it was absolutely perfect...even with all of the imperfections!  And, hey....at least we got a TON of great stories to share out of it!