Vacation 2016

We have just returned from our family vacation. Every year we get together with my husbands side of the family and spend a week together. This year we all met up in Arizona. We (my little tribe) had a week before the meet up to travel up there. So we made a huuuge trip of it We went to lots of National Parks, several state parks, and some fun local places. Taking my kids hiking in the beautiful, rocky, mountanious parks was incredible. We took them to Carlsbad Caverns, and walked the great room and got to do what I have waited for…we saw the bat flight. It was incredible. Such a neat thing to stop. I’ve never seen so many bats before!  Sorry, no pictures, so recording or photography of the bats allowed!

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We stopped in Roswell, NM…because, it’s what you do when you travel through NM. Then we drove through the Petrified Forest. We were able to do some hiking, but the weather was crappy. So we did find a spot where touching was allowed and took some pictures with the kids.

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Then Kaibab National forest, and too the Grand Canyon! It was sooo crowded! But we did walk the kids down to the edge and let them look into the canyon. It was something I’d always wanted to do. When we first got there, it was raining and we watched the fog raise from the canyon while we ate.  The only thing I didn’t enjoy was at the North Rim, there is ONE bathroom. Y’all….five people hiking and a huuuuuuge crowd of other people really require more than one potty. Just saying. We drove through the forest twice and never saw the buffalo they said were there..sigh. It was amazing and beautiful. 13872896_10154506904154756_334726694258987757_n13901344_10154506399964756_5845092899338813893_n13907159_10154506399959756_1267147954446600254_n

We headed off to Valley of Fire after this. This park is GORGEOUS! If you have never been…make a trip. Seriously. You won’t regret it. We took the kids way up on the rocks. They enjoy climbing. There was no rain, so the rocks were good to scramble on. They did really well and had so much fun. I love watching them be brave and go up there and feel like they can touch the sky. We spent an entire day there…hiking, climbing, finding the same visitors from our Grand Canyon trip. It was a blast. 13880404_10154509419184756_2982796328024694990_n13892065_10154509418234756_1364179991460202485_n13895354_10154509417624756_8908482893227434929_n13925080_10154509419274756_9029578526643724297_n

( a note on the pic below, I posted it on my IG. We found this in the park, however the Valley of Fire Park service request that people do NOT do this in the park!)

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The next stop is actually my favorite place on the entire planet. We went back to Red Rock Canyon. My husband took me here a little over a year ago. I love it here. My soul just feels at rest here. I took the kids to stand on my favorite place in the park. It was incredible. I took a moment to just reflect and be there. It was really hot. Which makes for really hot rocks, which are hard to scramble on. But we got a fair amount in. My oldest saw a desert fox…lucky. We hiked until we just couldn’t, then we went through the rest of the scenic drive.  I loved it. And to share it with my kids was incredible. 13892090_10154512333039756_1464041062462689689_n

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We also went to the Shelby museum, the boys LOOOVED it. My son was over the moon to see all those fancy cars. We finally headed to the house where we were staying with our family. It was super to see everyone again. We went hiking at some of the local parks, Pinnacle Peak, and Camelback Mountain. That was a tough hike, rated extremely difficult. We took six kids, three adults up. Made it just shy of the top when a few kids ran out of water. Still worth it. We went to a Ghost town ( GoldField) , rode the train and had ice cream. It was a really neat stop. We got to see a working gold mine shaft.  Went to a local train museum, twice, and rode the train twice. WHOOHOO. And then…Out of Africa. The whole family got together and caravaned down there.  We got to hold a GIANT snake. Reticulated python. She was so pretty! All of my kiddos got to hold or pet her. We saw tigers play in the water, lions hanging out on top of their houses, a bear (my son is a bear cub, so that was a big deal for him) .

So that is the bulk of our trip…. It was a great time.  The kids took all the Jr. Rangers programs at the parks. They enjoyed that very much. I am so proud of them for getting it done.  I hope that you enjoyed reading about our trip. I seriously encourage you to plan a trip to your local parks on your next trip.

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A whole bunch of updates!

I know what you are all thinking, “WHERE have you been?” We have had so much going on right now, but I wanted to update before we go on vacation! There has been so much, but I am only going to drop a brief explanation and PICS for you all!

FIRST…we wen to Space City Comic Con. Which was a BLAST. The kids had a great time and the girls enjoyed wearing their splicer outfits for the first time. We met several actors that I admire, being a long time Trekkie meeting Michael Dorn was a treat! I know there was drama around the con, but we still had a great time! AND we got a picture with Gigi Edgley! So awesome. She was super nice and took several photos with us.

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We met Gigi Edgley!

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Family Photo! Provided by  the Houston Press.

THEN we spent two and a half crazy weeks building a new cosplay. We built Krieg from Borderlands 2. It was a lot of work, but in the end it came out really well. We debuted this at ComicPalooza and it was a hit! CP is our favorite event of the year. We got to meet up with the local Borderlands cosplay group and hang out with some friends of ours. It was a blast. We always enjoy CP and this year was super fun!

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After CP we went to a smaller local event, Re:Play XPO. Again meeting with some of our Borderlands friends! We competed in the cosplay contest as a family and won a new sewing pattern! Which I will be messing around with post vacay. Post contest, the Borderfam went out and got tacos…cause that’s what we do on Pandora….  All in all, it was a really fun event and we all had a super fun time.

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Family Photo at Re:Play XPO

So we have been busy! Between all the events, working, and getting ready for an epic road trip, I haven’t had time to do much else….except Pokemon Go….just sayin.  So after vacay I will be putting together a few Halloween looks, and offering up makeup services for Halloween and the rest of the holiday season. sohappy

So that’s it for the quick updates. Hope you enjoyed reading about our fun trips! If you have any ideas for Halloween make up, drop a comment! I am always looking for fun ideas!

Family Safety Day 2016

We took our kids to my husbands Family Safety day this weekend. Always a good time, my kids enjoy hanging out with the people that my husband works with. It doesn’t hurt that they have food and bounce houses. And they cut up a car. And have Life Flight land. AND let them get in the helicopter. Good times. Life flight was an exceptionally good time this year as we got to talk to the medic and the pilot.And find out that birds frequently go through the windshield of helicopters. Who knew. Makes sense, but did YOU ever think of it? Me either.

My son enjoyed watching them cut up a car. Any form of destruction is fun to watch when your an 8 year old boy. My girls found it a little dull. It’s not as brutal and violent as you think. It’s slow. And methodical. And takes foooorever. But it’s safer. Annd boring. But they did learn a lot and asked some questions.

(As I am typing this, my son says, “Was family safety day a success?” Me, “I guess so.” Him,”Good. I don’t want it to be a failure.” Alrighty then…..)

The biggest event was when my son accompanied me to give blood for the first time. I have wanted to for ages, and just have never had the chance. But when the blood mobile is just sitting there…waiting for you..you really kinda have no excuses. (side not: when he first saw it, he asked if it was a food truck.I told him only if he was a vampire. Y’all, I can’t make this up!) So we finally head over, cause, you can’t ignore the blood wagon. He was very well behaved while I did paper work, and they let him sit next to me while they did the procedure. And he and the lady taking blood had a conversation about what was going on, and why it is important to give blood. And how few people do give. He didn’t freak out when they put the needle in, or at the sight of the blood bag. He was a trooper. And he got a snack, so he really felt like a winner. When they were done, he even got me a snack. Cause he is a gentleman.

The funny thing was, I almost didn’t do it. I almost walked away. Cause I was afraid. But when my son was with me,and I had always told them that this was important, it was to hard to walk away. I felt like I would be letting him down, and that he would think that someone else would just do it. And I am glad that I didn’t. Because now he is waiting to be 16 so he can donate. Because he understands that it is important. And he has seen someone he loves give. I am so happy that we didn’t walk away. The things we do are important, and it’s worth letting our kids see. I know some people would think it was weird to take a child when you give blood, but if they don’t see us do these things, and if we don’t take the time to teach them about it, who will they see?

Compassion

A friend of mine invited us to the Compassion Experience. So we went 🙂 We have sponsored a child through Compassion for a couple of years now, so it is close to our hearts. I really wanted my kids to get a real idea of how life is for these kids. It’s one thing to read about their lives, quite another get get a first hand example. We broke into groups, we had another mom and her kids meet us there as well, and took them each through all three stories. My girls went with my friend, but my son was with me and his best friend. I kept a pretty close eye on them to see how it affected them. I could tell that they were deeply touched several times. Hearing that children like themselves are growing up in these conditions, these life circumstances, was hard for them.Even when you have a family that doesn’t really hide the realities of life from you, it’s hard to hear a child’s voice tell the story. But, when they got to the end of each story, they would play music and give the happy outcome, and my son would dance. It was so adorable and full of joy that it just filled me with that deep happiness. He was happy that they had received what they needed and had grown up to be successful and were helping other people. All the things that I want for my kids. I think all of the kids walked away changed and a little more aware. A little different. Even as an adult who is aware of the world, I was touched and brought back to a place of awareness. It is too easy to become accustomed to the struggles of others around the world and just not really see it anymore. It gets lost in the background. This is a reminder of the realities of life.

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If you have never been to a Compassion Experience, I highly suggest you go. And take your kids. It will open their eyes to what life is like for so many children around the world. It is presented well, and the stories are not the worse of the worse, so it is family friendly. It will really give them some perspective. It is free as  well. You can find out more and reserve a spot with the link below.

http://cts.compassion.com/events

Easter

Easter has come and gone. We were pretty busy. Up at 5, at church by 7, working at 8. The makeup came out really great. Phil came to help me when he got off of work. It was most appreciated. I needed a second set of hands! We had basic face makeup to do, lots of eyebrows to fill, and several bruised, bloody and beaten faces to create. All in all it turned out really well. The play was fantastic, what i could see of it. Being back stage was a very different experience for me. I have never done it before, and wasn’t sure what to expect.I couldn’t hear anything. At all. Which made the last part of my job a little difficult, but we got it done on time. But I really enjoyed working backstage. It was really neat to see my work going on stage and contributing to what we were putting out there.

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Barabbas, me, and Jesus. 

Afterwards, we changed, packed up the kids and went for a hike. It was a nice day out so we went for it. The park was pretty full by the lake, but the trails were pretty empty. We are trying to take any opportunity to hike and prepare the kids for vacation.  And we enjoy it. It’s family time for us. The kids were thrilled because the nature center was open, and they got to look at the animals in the tanks.  We hiked a short trail, and then half of a longer one. It was a little wet, and the trails in this park are pretty rooty. But they did great, they usually do. IMG_20160327_131353333

I’m not sure….but this is us.

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The deadfall, my kids favorite thing they saw on this hike. 

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We have taught the kids to hike in a single file line, usually hubby is in the front and I am in the back. They are all used to carrying their own bags and water bottles. I keep a packing list in each bag, and they have to check it before we go hiking. This time I did, because we decided the night before while the kids were sleeping that we would go. But generally, they are learning to be in charge of their own gear. Our next hike we will be adding their camelbaks into their packs so they get used to the added weight.

When we finished our hike, we drove down to see the lake and then headed home. Hubby stopped and got us some burgers. Cause he is awesome. It was a fantastic day. I can’t wait to go hiking again 🙂

First vertical experience.

We took our kiddos on their first rock climbing adventure this week. It was a blast. Hubby and I have climbed several times, enough to have bought our own gear. Cause I hate sharing shoes. It’s gross, and some people climb with no socks…no thanks! Any way, we had some free passes to Stone Moves in Cypress, Texas so we packed up the kids and made a day of it. We spent a fair amount of time at REI first..getting our kids acquainted with various hiking and climbing gear, trying shoes and harnesses on them.  It was fun, they loved it. When the gym finally opened, we were ready to go. The kids took the auto belay class and were ready to go. We started them with some boldering, and unclipped climbing. They had a line across the gym that they could climb under with no belay devices.

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Getting used to the wall. This actually became one of their favorite parts of the day.

After doing that, we practiced clipping in and falling off the wall. Auto belay is a little unnerving if you aren’t used to it. Some gyms you fall really fast and it’s scary. This gym had a nice descent pace. 🙂 Then we let them climb. And did they ever! We couldn’t keep them down! When they didn’t go up in the rope, they boldered and free climbed. They were really quite natural at it. Like they were made to go up.

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My oldest going up! She is very tall, and it was really helpful. She also is very logical and learned how to read the walls pretty well. 

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Little man was a beast! He climbed every auto belay wall! Most of them more than 3 times!

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My middle child is a gymnast, and heights don’t really bother her and she is quite strong. She climbed several of the hard walls more than once.

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Just hanging out….

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My two best guys, hanging out at the top of a wall..

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They did surprisingly well, especially for first timers. I was so impressed. And they loved it! It was so amazing, and a little scary, to see my kids just go up those walls, almost unafraid. I was so blessed to see that they had so embraced an activity that my husband and I love, and that can open so much of the world up to them. We are planning to climb in one of the parks in Nevada soon, and I am so excited to share that with my kids. There is just nothing like going up in the rocks and how you see the world from there.  The end goal of this trip was to teach them basic skills for part of our family vacation. To get them comfortable with climbing and how to work the gear. How to put on a harness and clip in properly, to not be afraid to fall when on a rope. We are now searching for the best safety gear and shoes we can afford for them. And teaching them about ropes, and knots, and going beyond just basic hiking and into some survival skills. This trip was a preparation step.  It’s such an incredible thing for me. I love sharing this with my kids, and for them to finally be old enough to really get it, and be ready to go and do these things with us.

Here’s to the outdoors, and teaching our kids to love it, and survive it!

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Meet our 2016 travel buddy! He goes on trips and outting with us and we take pictures of him. He also tends to photobomb our family pictures…keep an eye out!