August 09, 2017

Happy 5th Birthday...

Today marks the end of you telling everyone that you are "four & a half" as you hold 4 fingers up because you are now 5! My babies are 5 and this fact has me in total disbelief. How did this happen? Where did the years go? How are my youngest 5 and really not babies anymore? I am sad and in a way grieving that my days of parenting  a baby are over but at the same time I can say I love that my kids are all the ages they are. Are you easier now that you are 5? No, not at all, but the challenges are different. We no longer have to feed you every three hours or get you dressed or carry you to the car and buckle you up but now we do have to tell you why you can't use so much toilet paper and why "no" really does mean no and why we don't care that so & so won't let you play with their fidget spinner. All of this comes with the joy of watching you blossom into amazing kiddos who can introduce yourself to people and tell them you are not a twin but a "kwadwuplet", you can stand still and follow along at church, you can tell us thank you for making you a yummy dinner, you can tell us how excited you are to start school again because you want to meet your new teachers. You simply amaze your mom and dad every single day and though some days we may forget to appreciate those moments, we never lose sight of how proud we are that you are ours.

Oh how badly you want to be exactly like your big brother. You have been like this for a while but over the last year this desire has only grown. You dress like him, you play the same which means sports and guns, you make the same faces right after him and you are frequently seen dabbing because Drew loves to dab. Out of all of our kids you are the one who voices their opinion the most on choices of clothes. You only want shorts and it doesn't matter what the temperature is. You will only wear short sleeve shirts and for the entire school year you threw complete fits if they had buttons. Thank goodness you would wear sweatshirts but of course only certain ones. You are worse than any of our girls and you were only 4!! You have a love for sports and are so excited to turn 5 because you know that is how old you need to be to join swim team with your brother. You were the first to decide you didn't need puddle jumpers anymore this summer while in the pool and you haven't stopped for a second as you dive and jump to be just like Drew. You have an amazing arm and even your t-ball coaches were impressed every time you threw a ball to 1st base this season. Tater Tot I am so lucky to be your mommy and I can't wait to watch you on those sports team just like I do with your Big Brother.

You remain our peanut even though you have grown but you have no problem being the littlest and wear this badge with honor. When asked what you want to be when you grow up your response is always "Baby Annabelle". I think you would be happiest if you could stay attached to my hip because you love to be carried and still dislike when I tell you that you can walk. I don't think you've gone to mass yet in your 5 years in which I haven't held you for the majority of it. I will not complain for a second though because I know my days of carrying you are limited and someday the weight of you on my hip will just be a memory. You are, for the most part, a pretty laid back person but when you don't like something a very loud whiny, screechy voice can be heard. You haven't figured it out yet but you will be my child that someday I will have to wake and tell you to get moving because you love to sleep. You wake at 6am but you are so not ready to be up. You come downstairs with your hair a complete mess, sucking on your thumb with your blankie in your hand. Your eyes shout to us that you are still tired and even though you go lay down on the recliner chair you tell us you aren't tired anymore. I wonder at what age you will realize you are still sleepy and just how awesome sleeping is? You started gymnastics this year and it is so fun to watch you flipping all over the place and just simply loving life.

Rylan James you are such a character. You are so, so sweet and at the same time you are such a pain in the bottom. You have a way to know how to pick on everyone and for the most part you think you can get away with it but when we catch you your response is "what?" with the most sly voice and if we ask you why you did something you again use the same voice with an "I don't know" response. You are also by far our biggest crier. Anytime someone does anything to you that you do not like you cry like you are being tortured. I know you think you are going to get someone into trouble by doing this but in the end it's yourself that gets the bad rap because of your outcry. You would be most happy if we would just allow you to sit all day with the tv on. You don't care what is on but you will sit and watch as long as we will let you. You very seldom sit on the couch and instead love to watch from the table. Surprisingly, mom and dad do not just let you veg all day so instead you keep busy putting together perler bead projects, playing baseball with the other boys, finding ways to annoy your siblings which usually means deciding you were playing with the same thing as someone else and screaming at the top of your lungs that you had it first! You were the last to realize you could swim this summer and you figured this out when mom basically said "I need to know you can swim so either you show me or you watch from the side." It was a game for you to wear your floaties because we knew you could do it but you refused. You quickly, well after you threw a fit and got thrown in, realized you did have the ability to swim without drowning and haven't stopped swimming since. You love school and the minute you are inside you are off and playing. Very seldom did mom get a hug or kiss from you at drop off because you had other things to do. You remain our trouble maker but there is a side to you that mom just loves and that is the part of you that will take you so far in life.

You may be our 4th and final girl in the family but you are such a little mommy. You also have so much of your older sister's personality in you! You are head strong, independent, have your mind made up and stick to it no matter what anyone says yet you are so caring and nurturing. Your life goal is to be a mom and you plan to have 2 girls, 2 boys and 2 babies. We have explained that the girls and boys start out as babies so you will have 4 kids but in your mind you are having 2 girls, 2 boys and 2 babies no matter what we try and tell you. You are our one child out of 7 who enjoys playing with toys. You love your baby dolls and coloring the most. You are always making mom pictures and you get annoyed with me when I throw them away. If you were not part of a set of quads you would be the only one I would consider sending to kindergarten this year. You enjoy learning and will soak preschool up this year even more than last year. Telling us the color of everything is a favorite of yours. Actually talking in general is probably your highlight each day. According to Google the average person uses 16,000 words/day. I am pretty sure you use up your allotment by 9:30 in the morning. Sometimes I just have to tell you to be quiet for a moment because you will fill any silence with announcements such as the sky is blue and has white clouds. You are a beautiful young lady Bella and you are 100% girl and love to be in dresses and the more they twirl the better. I hope your birthday wishes are grand and that they all come true for you.

Babies you are 5 and it simply amazes me. August 9th, 2012 will always be a day I want to go back to. As I watched your birth video a couple nights ago I just sat with tears in my eyes as each one of you took your first breath. Those 4 minutes of listening for each of you to cry as we found out if you were a boy or girl where minutes I never knew if we would get when I was pregnant with you. Now looking at you 5 years later I wish I could go back and whisper to that scared mom on the OR table that each of you would amaze me more than I could ever imagine. That you all would be perfect. That you would all hit your milestones even if delayed. You would all give me more love than I deserve and that 5 years down the road I would never imagine life without the 4 of you. Today is your day Kenzie, Isabella, Tate & Rylan and I hope your 5th birthday is one of the best yet.

Happy 5th Birthday Babies!!! 
We all love you like crazy...

June 21, 2017

And Then He Was 7

When I started writing birthday blog posts over 5 years ago it was because I was writing just that...a blog post. Over the years though this became a highlight of your birthday and turned into a tradition. About a week before each of your birthdays, which often coincides with when you start counting down the days until your big day, you start asking when we can take birthday pictures. I usually push it off for a couple days and then a day or 2 before your birthday I can't take the constant asking any longer and we get them done. What I realized last night while taking your pictures was I had been looking at this all wrong the last couple of years. It is more than just a blog post to you. It takes less than 15 minutes total but for you it is time I devout to you alone; letting you direct where we take your pictures, letting you pose however you want to pose and allowing the plans you have made over the last week for your pictures to be captured forever. Your smile never left your face last night Drew and I couldn't believe my little man was turning 7.

This year you went from being a preschooler to a kindergartner and now you will be a 1st grader in just a few short weeks. This year you grew more than any other year and I am not talking height. Never once were you nervous to go to school. You walked in on your first day and didn't think twice about it. Yet at the same time you still wanted me to walk you to your room and wait for you to use the restroom so that you could give me a kiss and hug before I left you for 8 hours. You love school, I will never say you love the learning part of school,  but you do what you have to do and you do it well. What you do excel in is sports. It doesn't matter what sport it is, you give it your all. You haven't found a sport you don't like and are willing to try anything I sign you up for. You don't care if you are with all of your friends or go on the first day to a team that you know no one. You become quite competitive when you are out on the field but you never put down a team mate for your own competitiveness. You had one baseball game in which you tried out smack talking but Dad and I put a stop to that faster than you could get the trash talk out of your mouth. You never tried it again!

Making friends comes so easy to you and it doesn't surprise me. You are your father's son which means you get along with everyone. When you arrive at school you have kids from preschool all the way to 8th grade that know you by name and call out to say "hi". You have multiple girls vying for your attention but you were dedicated to one in particular all year long. You listen to your teachers and you are respectful. Your teacher didn't believe me when I told her you often fall apart when we get home by becoming whiny and throwing fits when you don't get what you want. That was until this spring when it had rained for days, school had been busy and you were exhausted. This combo lead up to a day that you fell apart at school and you had to change your color on your behavior chart. I believe this may have been the only day you ever got in trouble your entire kindergartner year and Mrs Childers finally saw the side of Drew I occasionally mentioned.

You have a love for life and are so willing to always help me out around the house. You still call your older sisters "the big girls" and I continue to love it. You have a best friend in Tate. You are so gentle with Kenzie and Bella or at least until they don't want to play your game with your rules. You love to wrestle with your brothers and act how brothers do but this year you found you have a little more strength and often forget that you can't hit or push your brothers when they are driving you crazy. You are also still really good at throwing a tantrum when things aren't fair. This most often happens when you are overtired and often we know it is all for show because if you are not careful you will start to laugh and then you know your gig is up. You eat like a teenager but are only 7. You despise being cold at swim team and will swim a whole practice crying if the water is anything but warm but will refuse to quit early. You are not to big to need cuddles with mom and you get pure joy from dad spending even 10 minutes with you playing baseball. You officially graduated to a 50cc motorcycle this year and you couldn't wait to ride it. First Uncle Jess had to clean it and check it, next you had to wait for daddy to buy you gear and finally when you were ready to ride it you lost your motorcycle privileges after the first ride because of lying to mom and dad. That week was so hard for you and I both; you because you were looking so forward to it and me because I needed to be strong and follow through with your consequence. 

You are so excited to turn 7 this year. I don't think it has anything to do with you getting older though; instead it is because you have been looking forward to getting the mail all week to see if there is anything with your name on it, you get to pick the snack out at Vacation Bible School, you get to spend the day with your whole family, you got to pick your dinner of tacos and you get to have a cake with a motorcycle on top while opening presents and let's not forget about your birthday pictures that you planned all week! Turning 7 had nothing to do with being 7 but everything to do with a day dedicated to you. Drew Bear you are 7 and though I keep telling you I only want you to turn 4 again I am okay with my little man getting older. The only reason why is because I love who you are becoming. I love seeing you as my athletic, caring, responsible, life loving, smiley boy who I hope will always know how much brighter you made my life on this day 7 years ago.

I love you buddy in a way that only a mother can love her "single" child!!

Happy 7th Birthday my little Dabber

April 02, 2017

Big girls are 9!!

I started to title this post "My baby girls are 9" but that did not seem fitting at all. Natalie and Aubrey you have not been my baby girls in years. You have always been so much older than your actual age. Thinking back I don't think this happened when the babies joined our family or even when Drew made us a family of 5; I think maybe you knew that you were going to have a big role in our family and you just started filling it from a very early age.

You are 9. I remember in years past I couldn't believe that my girls were turning 5 or 7 but this year it seems totally appropriate that you are turning 9. You are still kids at heart but yet you are yearning to be one of the older kids. This year your birthday list had one apple watch! You also have asked how old you have to be to get a cell phone (at this time the answer is 18), you have already started counting the years until you can drive and you really want to start babysitting. At the same time you have trouble reading time on a hand clock, you get scared to go to the chicken coop at night and you still love to play with your American Dolls. You may want to be older than 9 but you are still just 9.

The memories I have as a kid are really sketchy until around the age you are now. It makes me wonder which parts of your childhood will you remember? Will it be that Natalie was always the fashionista? That Natalie loved helping mom until she was actually given tasks. Will your wooden spoon book report that you loved doing be something you always remember or will you forget all about Jane and her yellow house? Aubrey will you always remember that you hated to have your hair combed and had no problem going to school with bedhead? Will you remember how you found your birthday presents ahead of time and opened the box and then acted like you never found them? Maybe the time of going to see Beauty and the Beast or Moana will forever be etched in your memory.

When I look back at you at age 9, I hope I remember that this was the time in your life that you learned the words to the songs on the radio and asked us why "damn" was in a song if it was a bad word. I want to remember that you had no fear to be in front of people. If there was a reading, a part or a solo you wanted to have it. You volunteered yourself for things before checking with mom and dad if it was okay and it was pretty hard to tell you no you couldn't be in the Christmas program or the choir for Easter mass. I want to remember that this was the year that you became best friends with each other. You are more than just sisters; you have found a person that gets you no matter what kind of day you are having. You haven't slept in the same bed in years and all of a sudden you can't imagine not sleeping together. You are with one another all day in school and in the same activities yet the minute we get home you are off together. There have been times we have had to separate you because you get silly when you spend too much togetherness! You get annoyed with your other siblings but for some reason you two very seldom argue or get frustrated with each other. I don't understand it but I'm guessing its a twin thing. Today you thought it was so cool that at 2:41pm Natalie was 9 and for four minutes you were different ages. Natalie was 9 and Aubrey was 8. You both counted down the minutes on your new "fitbits" (that aren't really fitbits) until Aubrey was your twin again. I never thought I'd have two girls who are the same age but you two complete each other.

Natalie & Aubrey, now that you are both 9 I can officially say Happy Birthday. Each year I say what my wish for you is and this year is no different. For the next 365 days my hope for you is that you can just continue to be a child. You have years to grow up and I know your innocence of being a child will be gone sooner than I want it to be. And may you also always remember that your best friend is right next to you even if for 4 minutes you are different ages.

I love you Talie & Aubrey and Happy Birthday!!

August 09, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday Babies

I cannot believe you are turning 4 today. This is the age Natalie & Aubrey were when I had you and they seemed so old when they would visit you daily in the nicu. How are you 4 already? There were often moments since you born that the days seemed to take forever. I couldn't wait to stop making 32 bottles every single evening. I couldn't wait for Tate to stop spitting up after he ate which would mean he wouldn't have to wear a bib 24/7. I couldn't wait for you to walk, and then pushing it I couldn't wait til you could walk from the house to the car and climb into your car seats all by yourself. I couldn't wait for you to get more food into your mouth than on the floor. Then all of a sudden you could do all of those things and you went from babies to big kids. Now that you crossed all of these things of my list it makes me sad because I miss the cuddles on the couch when I would hold two of you at a time. I miss tucking you into your cribs at night all swaddled up. I miss giving you baths each night on the kitchen table and catching your first smiles. I miss trying to get you to take your first steps and then cheer for you when you took 6 steps in a row. I miss your baby days. I miss your toddler days. I don't want to go back to those days because I really like who you are becoming but I just wish the years wouldn't have slipped by so quickly because I didn't have enough time to soak up those moments in the busyness of those days.

"How old are you going to be?"
You are 4 but could easily be mistaken for someone much younger because you are so petite. You still own a pair of 3-6 month shorts that fit you perfectly. Though you are a preschooler you still love to be carried a lot. When we go around the table at dinner and say what we are thankful for it is always that you rode on mama's back if you did that day. Though you like to be mom and dad's little one you also like to act like the oldest quad; you voice your opinion and usually in a yelling type of way, you get yourself dressed most mornings and usually your top and bottom match but often you dress for the wrong season and you do not always like to be touched or carried by your older sisters. As of right now you are excited for school to start because you have your very own lunchbox but on the first day of drop off I can guarantee you will be the one who starts the round of crying as mom & dad try to escape. Kenzie, mom & dad love you like crazy. and you will always get whatever you want if you ask your daddy because you've stolen his heart baby girl. The other night as we were driving I looked back at you in your car seat and just couldn't imagine that someday my pixie cut blonde won't always be my little girl. Who will tell me "I love you Mom. I like your hair. I like your purse." in the sweetest little voice? I'm not ready but I do hope your 4's are amazing for you.

My Bella Boo. Prior to this year you were Isabella or Izzie but as your brothers and sister started talking you became Bella to them and I love it because it is a name that your womb mates gave you. Your voice is deep and when asked what your name is you say "Iz-a-Bella". You are such a beautiful little girl. Your long wavy blonde hair. Your blue eyes. Your deep dimple when you smile. When we ask you if you are beautiful you give us this half smile that melts our hearts. You are a very happy girl until you are not happy and then we all know it. Oh boy you can throw a fit and it will not end until you decide you want it to be over. Baby dolls are still your favorite and you love playing with your big siblings. You go along with whatever game they come up with as long as they include you in it. There are good chances you will be voted the 'most likely to have the shoes on the wrong feet' in high school because you always put your shoes on the wrong feet. How do your shoes even feel comfortable when you put them on this way? You are also excited for school but the minute your sister starts to cry you will follow her lead and cry along with her but when I come back to pick you up you will be all smiles. You are the artistic one and will sit happily coloring at the kitchen table but always put away your coloring books and makers when you are done. Happy 4th Birthday Boo-Boo, Mom & Dad love you!

You are only 4 but you may as well be 6 because you want to be just like your brother Drew. Anything he does you are right beside him doing it with him. I can't wait to see you next year on the playground and see how excited you get when you see your big brother on campus. You remain persistent and do not forget a thing. It drives your mom and dad crazy because you tell us your wants every 3.7 seconds. This summer you realized how much you love swimming and want to be in the pool all day long. You love to swim without your floaties but are afraid to try the deep end without them. You remain the biggest of all the babies and are often mistaken as older than the other 3 making them triplets but even though you are the biggest you are also the one who is least adventurous and the most scared of trying anything new when it comes to anything loud, fast or high. Somehow even with this fear you are the one who has had two double black eyes this summer. When we drop you off at school this year you will be the one to walk in, kiss us good-bye and never look back as you go give Ms. Stephanie a hug. Your brother Drew was a favorite of his teachers and I won't be surprised if you fill this role as your brother moves onto Kindergarten. I already know year 4 will be taken head on with you buddy!

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble! I will continue to say you have been trouble since the minute the doctors decided you all needed to be born because you kept dropping your heart rate. Somehow you love irritating your brothers and sisters and then acting like you have no idea what we are talking about when we tell you to knock it off. You have also perfected the look of innocence with your grin. And talk about whine and I am not referring to the stuff made with grapes. Even when you are just telling us something you have a whiny-ness to it. You also have a way of fake crying and clinging whenever mom & dad are not with you. This includes leaving you with babysitters or at kids club at the gym. All of this is maybe because you are the baby of the family and maybe you read somewhere that this is how the "baby" is suppose to be. When alone with mom & dad, whether in the house or out running errands, you are so much fun and are always so good. You would be a wonderful only child! Rylan mom will admit that writing to you on this birthday is not easy because you can be so sweet but you spend more time picking, whining and throwing fits than anything else right now. I am hoping by your 5th birthday you find some new hobbies to take up but I will say you are our trendsetter dresser and love polo shirts and flip flops!!

It still seems like yesterday that you made us a family of 9. When people ask me how old you are now I pause a moment because I can't believe I am saying 4. I am so proud to be your mama and I love the little people you are becoming. This is the first birthday of yours that I am not dealing with guilt for having you so early because you have all caught up to your peers and no one would be able to tell that you were born 2.5 months early. You have no idea how happy this makes your mama and today I will relive your birthday, not grieving, but instead with emotions of joy knowing 4 years prior I was meeting 4 miracles for the first time. I can not wait to see you all blossom this year as you become preschoolers and step out into the real world for the first time ever.

Because sometimes you just gotta really love your sister!

Happy 4th Birthday 
Kenzie, Bella, Tate & Rylan

July 31, 2016

A Minnesota Family Trip

A while back Paul and I decided this would be the summer we would go back home. Paul and I both grew up in Minnesota and then went off to college in North Dakota. Once we graduated I dragged him with me to California with the promise we would only live there for 2 years. Before long I was a girl who's heart belonged in California and apparently Paul loved me enough to stay by my side because it wouldn't have taken much for him to go back to the Midwest. The last time we were in Minnesota as a family was the month before we got pregnant with the babies. Once we found out we were going to be a family of 9 any hope of taking a vacation back home seemed far fetched unless we someday would buy an RV.

Fast forward 4 years and we wanted all of our family to meet our kids and to also spend time with Grandpa & Grandma Lesnau. Flying was not an option. Buying an RV was not an option. Driving our 10 passenger van was going to be the way we traveled 1820 miles. With needing to travel all those miles we knew we needed to make this family vacation a longer one to make it worth while. I worked my schedule to cover my days and Paul used a bunch of his accumulated vacation time and our dates were set.

I recently traveled to my dads with the kids which was an 8 hour drive and I was so glad that I had done this previous trip because it gave me great insight into what worked and what did not with kids in the car for many hours. We chose to leave at 6am which is normally right when our kids wake up. Waking them up earlier has always failed us in the past because we think our kids will fall back to sleep and they never do. This also allows me to wake up and get myself ready before the kids so when they do wake we basically have the kids brush their teeth, change into the clothes that had been laid out the night before, pee and we are off. With this early departure I have everything we possibly can load the night before so my checklist in the morning is very short. When we originally started thinking about our road trip we thought we would rent a trailer to pull behind our van but Paul decided driving slower than the speed limit to pull a trailer was not sounding fun. Instead I got serious on my packing. I am one who hates being on vacation and have limited clothes so that meant I needed to have plenty of wardrobe options for all 9 of us. I decided the Rubbermaid containers from Costco would be the perfect packing solution. I also ordered a bunch of Thirty-One bags that would slide under our seats for easy access to snacks and entertainment. A thermal bag to keep drinks and cold food options on hand was also used. Even I was surprised how well everything fit into our van without feeling crammed or needing to step over items every time we needed to get out. My organization OCD loved the packing game of Tetris!

Pulling out of the driveway at 6:02!
Mama had her oils going the whole way.

The sun was blinding as we took off in the morning. Drew and Kenzie took one for the team until we reached Tahoe and the sun was higher in the sky.
In the weeks leading up to the trip I read other blogs of those who had taken road trips with kids and got some ideas on things to pack to keep kids entertained. One of the best items I purchased were 7 metal baking pans from the Dollar Store. I would keep them up front with me and when the kids wanted to color, play a game or eat a snack I would place the items on the tray and hand them back to the kids. Then when they were done they could hand the whole tray back up to me. The sides of the pan were great because the kept the items from rolling onto the floor. We also packed along solo cups and paper plates which allowed us to hand out snacks without having to buy individual snack items. I'd prepare the plates/cups and then hand them out and these allowed the kids to eat food without making a huge mess. We also kept a plastic bag conveniently hung on the middle row so that all trash could be handed to Aubrey and disposed of in the bag instead of on the floor. I can't stand traveling in a messy car.

A bag of letters were great on the metal trays. This picture was found on Aubrey's camera and made her mama smile.
We found a park midday to use the bathroom and run around while daddy went and filled up with gas. A great 20 minutes out of car seats.

Our first day of travel we wanted to get to Salt Lake City by late afternoon. We did great and would have arrived by 3:30 but being blonde I forgot about the time change we would have so we ended up arriving at 4:30. We ate both breakfast and lunch in the car with food I had prepared at home. This allowed us to only have to stop two times to use the bathroom. The kids did really well and we even fit in me painting 60 toenails while driving (Rylan was asleep during out spa treatments). Once we got to Salt Lake we were super excited to meet a family we have known online but had never met in person. The Cox family also has 7 kids and we had so much fun with them. The kids swam hard for 3 hours and though it was way too short of visit we were so glad to have the chance to make new friends. After we left their house we had 4 more hours to go before we would arrive at the hotel I had booked our first night at. The kids watched a movie and then all fell asleep allowing Paul and I to have a quiet 2 hours to listen to Pandora and snack on trail mix as the miles passed us by.

Aubrey fell in love with Baby Noah and would have been more than happy to bring him along with us.
Not often you have 2 mom's with 14 kids between them!

Kids asleep, mama & daddy acting silly.
The next morning we woke in Rawlins, WY and had breakfast in the hotel before hitting the road before 8am. We made it an hour and the first kid already had to go to the bathroom. Besides the long boring roads of Wyoming, the kids had the need for many bathroom breaks. We gave them very little water throughout our drive and we quickly learned this was the kids new way to get dad to pull off at a rest stop. There were many times we told them they needed to hold it because otherwise we weren't going to get anywhere. As we entered South Dakota the kids needed out and mile after mile lead us to wide open fields. We stopped at the first town that held a promise of a grocery store and after picking up lunch meat and cheese we found ourselves a park that at night would be a little scary. Paul and I were both praying for naps once we got in the car and were so relieved when everyone fell asleep except Aubrey. It was then that I started looking at where we should end our driving for the day. We decided Mitchell. SD sounded attainable and wouldn't leave us with a ton of driving on our final day. While I was looking at the map, Paul asked me how far it was to Keystone and it ended up being only 20 miles out of our way and we could be there in 40 minutes. We decided instead of spending the evening at the hotel pool we would take a side trip to Mount Rushmore. I am so glad that we did this because we all had so much fun. I had never been there and thought it was a great experience. As we left the monument we got rained on and got stuck in our first thunderstorm. After a stop for pizza we drove our remaining 4 hours and got to watch a lightening storm the entire way.

On vacation and still checking work emails!

Trying so hard to climb like Natalie & Drew but the monkey couldn't even get off the ground.
But daddy made it and Tate was so excited for him.
The final morning of our drive we set an alarm for 7 and the kids and Paul got out of bed around 7:45. It was great having the kids sleep in a little and with the kids still wearing pj's we headed to the hotel breakfast and then allowed the kids to swim for an hour before our final 4 hours of driving. These remaining hours were by far the best we had with the kids but when we pulled into Paul's parents house we were all more than happy to get out of the car. In the end the drive was much better than Paul or I thought it would be. We've even said that we can see ourselves doing road trips more often and we know each year it will get easier and easier. For the next two weeks we are going to be spending the time with grandparents and other family members before heading to Montana for a couple of days before making the trek back home. It feels so good to know that we have gotten to an age were our kids can handle 27 hours of driving time over 2.5 days.

Day 3 can have you acting a little crazy and Drew grew facial hair between California and Minnesota!
We MADE it!!! 

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