Thursday, August 06, 2015


Cramming as much as possible into July - we went to adventureland! Mom got a great deal on tickets through her volunteer organization - so we thought that the kids would enjoy it!

The day started on a bi-polar note. Zachary REFUSED to do the ferris wheel. He was having a boarder line panic attack in the line - but we assured him he would love it if he tried it. So we coerced him into the car and he cried for about 20 seconds then a huge grin came over him - he loved it. He wanted to go again and again. He is Mr. Cautious - but once he likes something he's good to go!

Josh and Kenna went to do the big scary rides and I took the boys around to some of the smaller ones. They really loved the Tilt O Whirl the first time we did it! I screamed and made a fool of myself and Zach said "Mom, I have NEVER heard you laugh like that!"

Then Kenna, Daddy and Grayson waited in an hour long line to ride the log ride. This is the last year it is open as it is leaking at like every possible year they start on a giant roller coaster to replace it. So one last run!

You can kind of make out Grayson's terrified face!

We attended a circus, went on a few rollercoasters (man I got a headache!) ate lots of junkfood and really just had a great family day! It was a lot bigger than I remember!

Board Games

This summer has been filled with a TON of games, puzzles and coloring. Wouldn't have it any other way! So fun that we can all play things together now!


WOW, this is happening, my baby is getting glasses. He was SO excited to get them - I just can't believe he is starting school - where did the last 4 years go?!?!?

Maquoketa Caves

I have been looking forward to this trip all summer. I planned it when Josh made the statement "I want our kids to be campers - lets camp a lot this summer!" I did my research and found out that in Iowa there is a campground and nature trail where you can camp and hike for around 6 miles and explore caves! The caves are near Maquoketa (town) and it was only 3 hours from home!

So, Friday we ventured out around 330 on our adventure. And wouldn't you know it....Ace broke down AGAIN!!! We pulled into a nearby GM dealer and asked them to run a check on it - we had JUST gotten it back from Omaha and H&H the day before! Needless to say, the same error code came up - apparently it had not been fixed. I was literally in tears as we called an Ankeny dealer and drove back to Ankeny. Our vacation was ruined, I was so upset. As I was calling rental places Josh called his dad and asked if we could use his car. As luck would have it, Denny was leaving for Sturgess and he said he could meet us with his car!

Vacation saved! So, we drove the hour back, got our stupid car checked in, traded into Denny's car and we were now off again, at like 630. So the dinner I had planned around the campfire turned into a drive through and a DVD in the car...but we made it! We pulled into the campsite around 10 and starting setting up the tent and unpacking everything. The kids were real troopers, helping unload and holding the flashlight for daddy. We probably all finally fell asleep around 11...what a night!

The next morning everyone was in great spirits and excited to start our hike! Zach enjoyed scavenging for bugs and was my expert firewood collector! He stumbled upon the snail below and was just thrilled! We had breakfast sandwiches that Kenna and I had made the day before, just reheated over the fire! Also, during breakfast Zach lost his first tooth! Quite an eventful morning!

Josh and I had purchased these hiking backpacks and bladders for the kids - they were a HUGE hit! Grayson drank like 2 liters of water in one day and ended up peeing every hour the following day - whoops! I will say with utter bias that he was the cutest little hiker I have ever seen in my life though!

I just love the energy that Zach gets from the outdoors. Something clicks in him that changes him from cautious little boy to adventurous leader. I was so proud of his ambition and drive to climb the highest rock, lead the way, and remove any rubble that was in the way for everyone - such a sweetheart!

The hike started out sort of lackluster. There were definitely beautiful rocks and somewhat cumbersome terrain - but we hadn't seen any real "caves" for the first 1/4 of the hike. I was loving the scenery and the canopy that made it really a pleasant walk!

The latter part of the day we started running into what were really caves. We saw people emerging with helmets, kneepads and totally muddy clothing. People were actually climbing into and through the caves - which was probably more spelunking that actual cave hiking. Luckily we did not bring the right gear, so we could just look versus climb inside :)

Finally we stumbled upon the best cave of them all, Dancehall cave. You could actually walk all the way through on a paved walkway, with lights. The kids thought it was really awesome, and I was totally amazed an how cold it was in there! Natures air conditioning I guess!

After a long day of hiking and snacking we headed back to camp for a late lunch and chill time. I was also taken aback by Zachary's nurturing treatment of his giraffe! He brought his favorite little giraffe that he got in disneyworld - named Joy Thunder. He has this whole story about how she was born during a thunderstorm and that is how she got her name. Every time he would get near the tent you would hear him rocking her to sleep and humming twinkle star so quietly. It was just the sweetest thing ever!

For lunch we had a pizza log I made and hot dogs. We just gathered firewood, played in the woods, and at the playground at the campsite. Daddy created an obstacle course of sorts with some rope to entertain the kids. Kenna had a hard time being not "bored" but by the end she was doing okay doing nothing.

For dinner we had walking tacos and the ranger came by to tell us that they would be having a soil lesson and clay building in the playground's courtyard. We went down their and learned about the clay soil in the cave and the kids made little pots. Grayson made an "ear of corn" that unfortunately resembled a big turd....and during the night the squirrels stole it, was quite sad.

The kids showered and had smores - which is a must for any camping trip!

Also that evening the rangers came around to let us know that they would be showing a movie up near the restroom building. We headed up and they had popcorn for everyone and a giant projection screen. The movie was utterly terrible and Grayson and I retired early - Kenna close behind - but Josh and Zach stayed through the whole thing :)

Although this was a ton of work to prepare and execute I would say it was a perfect vacation! We had a great time together, explored the outdoors, and the kids survived camping! Next time the goal is to not have car trouble, not have the mattress that Grayson and I share have a hole, and the rest we should absolutely duplicate :)