Monday, August 23, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

A couple of weeks ago the boys, the dogs, and I loaded up the car and make the 10 hour drive to Colorado. I was definitely nervous for the car ride, since I had never driven by myself with both boys and dogs. Zach, the dogs, and I have done the trek, but Drew has only driven it once, maybe, and that was at Christmas time when Mike was with me. I felt I was as prepared as I could be- I'd purchased lots of different activities the boys could do in the car, packed lots of snacks, and we had checked out some never-before-seen DVDs from the library. We let the boys wake up at about their normal time, just before 7:00, and basically got them dressed, brushed teeth, and got in the car. I had breakfast ready for them (dry Honeycomb cereal- something new that I wouldn't normally buy, but easy and tasty to eat dry, strawberries, and blueberries) in their new lunch boxes (Star Wars for Zach, Lightning McQueen for Drew). My plan was that they would eat their breakfast and maybe do one of their activities from our house to Omaha, which is about a 2 hour drive, and then I could put in a DVD for them. The plan worked perfectly, and just on the west side of Omaha we stopped to put in a DVD we got from the library, which lasted almost until we got to Kearney, our lunch destination.

I figured we'd all be ready to get out of the car by the time we got to Kearney, which is close to the half-way point between my house and my parents' house. We'd been in the car just over 4 and a half hours, and I knew I could use a bathroom break and a chance to stretch my legs. After filling up the gas tank, I used my GPS to find a park, and the boys and I headed there for a picnic lunch. As we pulled into the parking lot, Drew asked, "Can we eat in the car? Can we stay in the car, please?" I told him that no, we were going to get out and eat and play at the park, expecting that to be exciting after spending the last 4 and a half plus hours in the car, but Drew, oh surprise, had different ideas, and a fit to end all fits ensued. We sat at a picnic table and while Zach and I ate lunch, Drew screamed and screamed, threw his applesauce (which still had a lid on it and didn't break open, thankfully), screamed and cried some more, all while about 20 people walked by, staring, and Zach and I mostly carried on like we were oblivious to the pissed off toddler sitting by us. There was one grandma who was waiting for somebody, and she kept staring at us, probably wondering what the heck I was doing to torture my kid. Somehow the fit finally ended, and Drew ate lunch while Zach played a little. It was about 100 degrees and humid out, so the playground equipment was all hot and it was tiring to just sit in the heat, so not a lot of playing took place. I couldn't wait to just get back on the road, really.

So we got back in the car and after looking at some books for a while, I told the boys it was nap time, and they both were good and fell asleep for about an hour or so. Once they woke up, I was able to stall them until we hit Julesburg, which is the first town in northeastern Colorado. In Julesburg we topped off the tank and went potty, and once again, Drew started to get mad about getting out of the car. I still can't believe that in that whole, long day, the only times the 2 year-old got mad were the 2 times we got out of the car, and not at all during the 10 hour ride in the car. Not what I expected, that's for sure! So as we left Julesburg, I started a new DVD- Pete's Dragon, a classic Disney movie that I loved as a kid that the boys wanted to check out from the library. They loved it, and it occupied them for the next couple of hours, until we were about 20 minutes from my parents' house. So the drive out to Colorado proved to be very good compared to what I was expecting. I'm still not sure how my parents drove from Denver to St. Paul with my sisters and me all those years without a DVD player in the car- I'm not sure we'd have made it without ours!

We were happy to get to my parents' house and see Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Becky, and cousins Cam and Myles. We brought some delicious Iowa sweet corn with us and had a good supper of burgers and corn, and then got some good playing in before bedtime.

Becky had to work the first few days of our time out there, but Cam got to spend lots of time with us. On Monday my dad set up a little train and the boys went crazy for it. Probably a little too crazy for Grandpa's liking, since they ended up having a little bit of a difficult time sharing it. At one point Drew had one engine with 2 coach cars, which he was pretending were Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel, and Cam and Zach each just had one other train car. Cam wanted one of Drew's, and tried to take it from him, and it was so funny to see Zach's reaction. Zach said, "No, Cam! Drew's pretending those are Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel! I don't like that he has 3 cars and we each just have 1 either, but I'm dealing with it, so you need to, too!" There were a few cases where Cam would try to talk Drew into a trade of some sort (with the trains and other toys), and even though Drew wouldn't agree, Cam would think that because he talked about it first, it was ok, and he'd make the switch, and Drew would get mad. Then Zach would swoop in and defend Drew, which is pretty interesting, since Cam was doing the same things Zach normally does to Drew at home, but of course when it's Zach doing them, somehow it's ok in his mind. Funny how that works.

Anyway, some shots of the boys enjoying the train:

We decided to head to the Colorado Railroad Museum that day since everybody was in the mood for trains. Zach and Cam have been to the museum a lot with Grandpa Dick, but Drew had never been there. Given that Drew is more unpredictable than Zach, I wasn't sure how he'd do at the museum. He did ok. He enjoyed this little train a lot.

All three boys really enjoyed the huge model train layout in the basement. Then we headed outside to see the real trains. Zach and Cam loved getting up on any trains they could, and having Grandpa tell them about the engines, coaches, etc. Drew was a stinker about getting up on the trains (perfect example of his unpredictability- I'd have thought that'd be his favorite part), so he and I only got on one, but there was no way he was posing for a picture.

On Tuesday I just wanted to do something low-key, so we headed to downtown Golden to Clear Creek, which is the creek/river that provides the water for Coors Brewery. We had a little picnic lunch and watched the people tubing and kayaking.

Then we took off our shoes and went down into the little beach area. Since it's summer, I always have our pool toys in the car, so the the boys enjoyed playing in the water and the sand.

In this picture Drew was just starting to say, "I too cold!" It was a nice day, but the water in Clear Creek comes right from the snow melting off the mountains, so it is very cold water.

Zach and Cam experimented with different mixtures of sand and water for sand castle building.

Drew, of course, drove trucks around in the sand.

What a view! That mountain (really it's just a foothill) in the background is where Mike and I got engaged, and across the street from this beach is the building where we had our wedding reception. Golden is such a pretty town. It has changed a lot since I was a kid.

Drew also enjoyed throwing sand and rocks of all sizes into the water.

And he did dip his feet in a few more times.

On Wednesday morning, we had planned to go to a place called Tiny Town, which is a little town with buildings built to 1/6 the normal size and a railroad going around the whole place. It was built in the early 1900's. We took Cam and Zach there a few years ago, and they loved it, so we thought it'd be fun to go back again. That morning my parents had a meeting with a guy giving them an estimate on replacing their gutters, and the meeting was supposed to last about 20 minutes. After about an hour and a half of my dad outside talking with this guy, I decided to go for a run. Being 24 weeks pregnant, at a much higher altitude, and the fact that it was about 90 degrees out did not make for a great run for me, so I kept it pretty short. When I got back my dad was just finishing his meeting, so I quickly showered and got ready, all the while feeling guilty that I'd be the reason we weren't getting to Tiny Town when they opened. Anyway, we left home and made the 20 minute drive to Tiny Town, but as we turned onto the road leading to the place there was a police car blocking the road. We were the third car in line, and as we waited, expecting that there was an accident ahead, an ambulance and a fire truck sped by. Shortly thereafter, the ambulance sped by the other way. When we got up to talk to the policeman, we found out that Tiny Town was closed because the train had derailed! He said there were multiple injuries, and we later found out that 15 people were taken to nearby hospitals, and 3 were in serious condition. I just read online that the train, which normally travels at about 3 to 4 mph, was going between 12 and 17 mph when it approached a curve and tipped over. Needless to say, my dad and I were both thankful that our various morning activities took up the extra time, resulting in our delayed departure to Tiny Town.

Since the kids were all excited about riding a train, we knew we needed a great back-up plan fast. We decided to go to Heritage Square, "a Victorian entertainment and shopping village" in Golden that I remember going to as a kid. When I was a kid, the big lure there was the Alpine Slide. A couple of years ago Becky and I took Zach and Cam on the Alpine Slide, but this year my parents weren't interested, and I wasn't about to go three separate times with each boy. So instead we bought a bunch of tickets and let the boys ride some rides.

Zach and Cam enjoyed the banana airplanes.

Drew was going to do the airplanes, but then saw this mini train roller coaster and could only focus on riding it. Of course, pregnant women can't ride most of the rides, and if I couldn't ride, Drew wanted Grandpa Dick, so my dad was a good sport and crammed his long legs into this tiny car. I think he seriously just barely fit. I was a little nervous about whether or not Drew would even like the ride. It took a little persuasion to convince him that he couldn't sit in the engine car with Zach and Cam, but eventually he settled into the second car with Grandpa, and away they went.

I think you can see from these next two pictures that Drew enjoyed the ride. He told Grandpa during the ride, "This really fast!"

Drew totally picked his rides based on what shape they took, not what actions they took, if that makes sense. Drew loves trucks and trains and cars, so he wanted to ride on the train roller coaster and the ride that looked like a big bus. Grandpa wasn't interested in going on the Crazy Bus, and again, I couldn't, so this time Drew got to ride with Grandma Ruth.

Zach and Cam rode the Crazy Bus, too.

Cam and Zach then decided to go on this ride that goes around and around in a circle. They looked so small in the car they were in, and I quickly looked at the sign and didn't see anything saying pregnant women couldn't ride it, so I quickly asked if I could ride with my boys, and they let me. I love amusement park rides, so I was happy to get one little thrill in.

The big boys went on a little bit bigger roller coaster with Grandma and Grandpa while Drew and I went in search of water, and Drew had a little mini fit because he wanted water from a drinking fountain and I couldn't find one. Thankfully he got over it pretty quickly once he realized I just wasn't going to put up with it. Then we headed to the carousel, but not before my dad snapped this quick and hilarious picture of Zach and Cam. Cam especially cracks me up in this picture, but you really should click on it to enlarge it in order to do it justice.

Drew and I were the only people on the carousel, and he enjoyed his horse.

By the time we were done on the rides, it was almost 1:00, and definitely lunchtime. We hadn't even ridden the train that goes around the park, but somehow we managed to get out of there without that fact even dawning upon the boys. Maybe they thought the train roller coaster was THE train at Heritage Square. I don't know, but we were prepared to go back (it's close to my parents' house) if any of them mentioned it, but thankfully they didn't.

The next couple of days were mostly spent at my sister's house. Thursday Zach had a low-grade fever and started complaining of his neck and head hurting, so we decided to mostly just lay low, playing at Becky's. We did go to a little park with a cool splash pad, but that was about it. Zach and Drew were thrilled to get to play with Cam's toys, and I enjoyed hanging out with Becky and spending more time with Myles, too. Cam even let us borrow his "humongous Mack," as Drew calls it, to play with at Grandma and Grandpa's house. That was much appreciated, because I had a night out planned with some of my high school girlfriends, and Drew was happily distracted by this cool toy (Mack from the movie Cars) to care that I'd be gone. I had a really fun time with my girlfriends; it's always fun to catch up with them.

Friday we decided to go to a swimming pool/aquatic center with Becky, Myles, and Cam. It was a lot of fun, but busy! Being there definitely made me appreciate the small private pool we belong to, where I don't have to worry about anybody stealing my stuff, or if I'll be able to pick Zach out of the crowd of kids. We had a good time, but that was a time that I actually appreciated the humidity of the midwest, because even though it was hot out, there was just enough of a breeze/dryness to the air that made being wet and out of the water slightly chilly. So we headed home so Drew and Myles could nap and Cam and Zach could have some quiet time. That evening we went to see some of Becky's friends that we both know from college, and that was fun, too. The boys and I didn't get home until after 9:00, which was way later than I had wanted, especially considering that Zach still didn't seem 100% himself and that he hadn't napped in days, but oh well.

Saturday, despite going to bed super late, the boys were up early again. Some nights they shared a room at my parents' house, and some nights Zach slept upstairs if it wasn't too hot. Sharing a room proved just to exciting for them to ever sleep in, or even come close. Saturday may have been the latest they slept, and they were up by 6:45. We didn't have any big plans for the day, so the boys got to play with Grandma and Grandpa while I went for a run, showered, and did some packing. Zach and Grandpa enjoyed a game of lawn darts.

Then Zach helped Grandpa pick up dog poop.

Drew got outside for some fun, too.

Becky and the boys came over around lunchtime, and she and I got Myles and Drew down for their naps and then headed out for some shopping. I had my mom put Zach down for a nap because I could tell he was exhausted, but that little stinker would not give in and did not sleep. And we all seemed to pay for it later. My brother-in-law Tom met us all for dinner at Woody's, our favorite pizza place in Golden, and Zach and Cam struggled a little to get along there. There was once incident involving some overreacting and some scratching on both boys' parts, and poor Cam came away with a small wound on his chest thanks to Zach's nails. It wasn't pretty. I was actually shocked that Zach was the pain in the butt that evening out and Drew was pretty much an angel, because it's often the other way around. We said our goodbyes to Tom, Becky, Cam, and Myles, and headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's for one last night's sleep before the long drive home.

And it actually turned out to be one crappy night's sleep, at least for Zach and me. I had Zach go to bed a little early because he was clearly completely exhausted- weepy, whiney, and just annoying in the way that only an exhausted child can be. He slept fine until somewhere after 2:00 a.m., and then it seemed like all hell broke loose. My dad brought him down to my room around 2:40, and he was complaining of a sore neck and a sore ear. I tried to have him sleep with me, but the was fidgeting too much, so I put him in the room with Drew. And basically for the next 3 hours Zach played musical beds (between Drew's room and the room upstairs), cried seemingly non-stop, pulled out what seemed like all kinds of excuses (i.e., "That bump on my ear feels weaker than it should be," "I miss Daddy," "I'm hungry," "My hip hurts," etc.) and left me wondering how on earth I'd be able to make the 10 hour drive the next day. I think that from 2:40 until 5:50, I slept about 45 minutes and lost any tiny bit of patience I had for Zach and his many ailments.

We left my parents' house around 7:40/7:45 on Sunday morning, and by 8:05, Zach was out cold in his car seat. I had a splitting headache that is typical for me the day after not getting enough sleep, and I was a little emotional for the same reason. Amazingly, the drive home went pretty well. I never had to pull over for a power nap, though I felt on the verge a few times. My mom was trailing me in her car because she was on her way to MN to see my sister, so it helped to know somebody had my back and could stop with me if I needed to nap. We stopped 3 times, including once for lunch, and thankfully Drew didn't pitch a fit this time. It still felt like a much longer day than the drive to Colorado, and by the time we got home, we were all so happy to be here. The boys were happily surprised by their new bedrooms- Mike had been working hard the whole week we were gone to get the crib and matching baby furniture out of Drew's room and get his big boy bed and new furniture in, and to get Zach's new room all painted and get everything set up in there. Somehow he managed to squeeze all that work in between working a full work-week and playing 6 (I think) rounds of golf. The rooms look great and hopefully I'll get pictures posted later.

Anyway, it was a fun trip to Colorado, and as I said before, the boys did awesome in the car; much better than I expected. They watched 2 DVDs each way, which I don't love, but hey, what else are they going to do when they're strapped into a car seat for 10 hours? The one thing that totally annoys me is that I didn't take a single picture with Myles in it! He's such a happy little cutie, but by the time I spent much time with him (Thursday-Saturday), I pretty much had quit taking pictures for no good reason. Sorry Myles! It was also a little weird to go to and come home from Colorado not knowing when I'll get back there. With Three on the way in a few months, I don't see us getting out there for a while, and I'm not sure when I'll be confident enough to travel out there on my own with 3 kids. Not that Mike can't go with, but with his work schedule it's often difficult for him to take enough time off for me to feel like we get a good visit in. So, who knows? Usually we'd be back at Christmas, but with Three being due early December, I don't think that will happen this year. At least I know now that Zach and Drew can handle the long ride, and I think part of the trick to that is starting them when they're young so they get used to it and it's sort of an adventure.

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