Tag Archives: Vacation


Raw Chocolate

Sometimes when things sound too good to be true, they are. Our family decided to take a trip up to Sedona, AZ to celebrate the new year. Each year the Los Abrigados resort hosts an event called Sedona’s Red Rock Fantasy, a holiday lights display. We were looking to get out of town and still enjoy the spirit of the holidays. We took our girls last year and they had a great time.

While our daughters where having a great time destroying the hotel beds by jumping back and forth between the two, I picked up the local magazine which had a featured article on chocolate. Being a terrible chocolate junkie, I was curious as to who had the best chocolate in town. Opting to try something different I focused on the two bakeries that offered raw chocolate. I had heard of good-for-you (and raw) chocolate, specifically Chava Chocolate, and was curious about it. Continue reading

Praise The Lord And Pass The DVD Player

view from front seat of car looking at oncoming tunnelRecently, I found myself stuck in a small Toyota Matrix with a four-year-old, and eleven-month-old, a cat, and my husband for more than thirteen hours.

This, as you may guess, was fairly close to one of the levels of hell described by Dante.  Factor in that we traversed the whole of Ohio on a diagonal and had to get through Kentucky (I have a particular hatred for Kentucky after the first 13 hour car ride), and you probably wouldn’t be surprised if I produced a revised version of The Inferno, specifically with parents in mind.

It was a long trip, made longer by the heat, which prohibited us from stopping anywhere with the cat.

I may never get into a car again.

Luckily, we were marginally saved by the wonder that is the portable DVD player.

It’s so unassuming in it’s little plastic box.  It doesn’t have any of the promise that the long-ago car kits my mother packed for us on vacations had.  There’s no license plate bingo.  No sharp new crayons, destined to melt themselves into the backseat upholstery.  It isn’t even particularly shiny.

It is, quite simply, crack for babies.  And heaven for parents.

Back BC (Before Children), I looked at those people who drove down the roads with their car aglow with the flicker of the portable DVD player as practically the equivalent of  the parents who only fed their kids chicken nuggets.

I swore that when we had children, we would neeeever eeeever use the TV as a babysitter, even in the car.

We would take those road trips as an opportunity to get to know our children.  To play car games and forge long-lasting memories.  We would not allow them to sit, in a semi-catonic state, and miss the wonders of the scenery around us.

(To be honest, this was also before I experienced the drive through Kentucky.)

Thousands of miles, and probably a hundred hours of car travel AC (After Children), I still don’t think it’s the best idea to turn on the Yo-Gaba-Gaba when you’re running to the supermarket, but I’m officially a convert.

….but then again, who am I to judge.  My oldest practically lives on chicken nuggets.

by Lisa D.

Photo graciously provided by t-dot-s-dot, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Camping Trip

tent and picnic table near riverThis past weekend we took our daughters on their first camping trip. It has been a few years since my husband and I have been camping, and doing so with children added a necessity to be prepared for everything. A few weeks ago we purchased them hot pink sleeping bags. I didn’t think they would be terribly excited about sleeping bags, but they have been playing in them for a couple of weeks now.

Our girls have been looking forward to going camping, even though they had no idea exactly what camping was. Instead of hearing, “Are we there yet?” we heard “How much longer until we get to the camp site.” Which, thankfully, wasn’t nearly as annoying.

When we arrived at the camp ground we drove around checking out the open camp sites. When we made a second round to grab the site we liked best they were very confused. Both my husband and I thought it was going to be a long two days when our girls told us they were bored while we were setting up the tent. But once the tent was setup it was a different story. The tent became a play house and a full 2 days of entertainment.

Around 4 a.m. it started raining. There was a little thunder and some lightning. It woke all of us up. Around 5:30 a.m. everyone woke up again to more rain. We all fell back asleep only to wake up to more rain. We were in a new tent and not sure how good the rain tarp was going to hold up. I have to say that Coleman (TM) makes a great product.

We had breakfast in the tent. Our girls played and played. We kept busy with The Old Maid and Go Fish too. Around lunchtime we decided to break up the monotony of hanging out in a tent in the rain and went to lunch in the nearest city. It was still raining when we finished lunch. We made a side trip then headed back to the tent to wait for the rain to end. And after 12 hours the rain finally stopped.

We considered packing up the camp site, but neither my husband or I wanted to do so in the rain. Our girls were having a great time playing in the tent so we waited it out. Really the only person who got bored was my hubby.

Even after endless rain, our daughters have said that they want to go camping again. Their favorite part was sleeping in their sleeping bags. One of our girls told her grandmother her “sleeping bag was so comfortable.” We hope to take another camping trip before the weather gets too cold. Hopefully we will have as much fun in the sunny weather (this of course is wishful thinking as it seems to always rain when I go camping) than we did in the rain.

by Kelly Damron

Photo graciously provided by _Wiedz, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

It's Hard to Avoid Being Smug

stalactite inside Mammoth CaveThe older boys (nearly 12 years old) went on a camping trip to Mammouth Cave in Kentucky with their Scout troop this week. As soon as I heard about the trip in January, they were signed up. What an amazing opportunity! I was jealous to not be going along with them.

Over the past 4 months, there’s been a lot of hesitation and worry. Having never been on a trip like that before, my boys were not so sure it would be a good time.

By the time we got to last week, The Mercenary had decided that this would be a good thing, but TechnoBoy was not on board that bandwagon. There was a lot of moaning and groaning. Throw in the claims that this wasn’t going to be any fun and you’ve got a good picture of our conversations in the days leading up to departure.


Yes, I did try to convince him that he’d have a good time. Probably would have been better to just announce that his very cruel mother had consigned him to a terrible fate, smile sweetly, and ignore the griping. I’ll try to do that next time. Because as sure as sugar, there’ll be a next time.

The fantastic news is that a good time was had by all. On the way home from pickup, both boys acknowledged that the trip “was awesome”. As they chattered like magpies about which cave they saw and what wall they climbed, I asked several times just to confirm:

“Sooooo, the trip was….awesome?”

“Aaaaand you had a good….time?”

I couldn’t resist this one: “So last week when I said that this was an amazing opportunity and that you’d have a wonderful time, then, I was rrrrrr…..?”

I heard a grudging “right, Mom,” from the back seat.

I know it’s not good to say “I told you so” all the time, so I’m going to get it outta my system here.



That feels better.

by AmyL

Photo graciously provided by vapours, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Spring Break

new spring tulips in fieldIn Arizona the weather is heating up and it feels like Spring. Spring is only a few days away so the warmer weather is to be expected along with Spring Break. I have not had a “Spring Break” since college,  but it has re-entered my life now that I have kids in preschool. The school they attend part-time is associated with the public school district so they have all of the same holidays and breaks as school-aged children.

This Spring Break I plan to spend a lot of quality time with my girls; something I have not done in four weeks. However, I want to keep them busy so that they don’t get bored. On Monday they attended a 3 hour gynmastics class and had a great time. This allowed me to have a little “me” time, which I desperately needed. On Tuesday I had an “adult-only” meeting; however, they were willing to make an exception for me to bring my kids. But I found a babysitter anyway. Sometimes it is just easier not for everyone involved when kids are not present.

My in-laws are taking advantage of Spring Break too and are traveling this way to spend some time with us. We will be busy with them at the end of the week. My girls are looking forward to playing and reading books with Grandpa and Grandma.

With as busy as I have been the past four weeks, I am thankful for Spring Break. It is forcing me to take a break from my to-do list and spend time with my girls. Even though I work from home, I’ve had to adapt my schedule accordingly. I can only imagine what a hassle holidays and Spring Break can be for working parents. That said, what do you like about Spring Break?

by Kelly Damron

Photo graciously provided by bobcatnorth, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved