Thursday, July 29, 2010

She TRI'd!!

Madison competed in her first triathlon last Saturday and had a great time. It was made more fun by having friends to do it with. A big thank you to my friend Karin for capturing the photos for us. It is a bit hard to take pictures when the memory card is in your computer at home. OOOPS!!!

Ready to start the swim in cold Lake Wilderness. Madison was really excited about the swim cap. I think it made her feel very important and professional:-)

The "swim" was 75 yards through waist - shoulder deep water. Madison could have easily swam it but said she thought it would be faster to walk because the water was deeper. Not sure that is very logical, but the majority of kids did walk. I think putting their face in the cold, murky lake water may have been a bit intimidating. Something to work on for next time!

The bike portion was next with a 2 mile ride. Our Lopez Island ride was good preparation for that. Click HERE to see a good picture of her ride.

On to the 1/2 mile run. She started out strong but then a side ache slowed her down a bit.

Congratulations and the post-race talk with daddy

Thumbs up for a fun race. I think they definitely will be doing more in the future and Nora is excited to participate too.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer

After 3 weeks of action packed adventures the girls and I took full advantage of our clear calendar this week. Yesterday we didn't get up until almost 9:00 (I thought the day would never come when my girls learned to sleep in!!!). We had a day full of board games and crafting. Tom came home to find me cooking dinner like this
Yes, that is me barbecuing in my flannel Christmas pajamas:-)

Today was a good day lounging by the lake. I only ask, why do moms spend so much time lathering sunscreen all over their children to then not apply it to themselves???? OUCH!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Riding in Style

Nora has been asking for her training wheels to be taken off for awhile but we just haven't had the time to invest in the process. While camping all the kids were riding around the campsite but she didn't have a bike since she was on the tag-a-long attached with me. So she decided she wanted to borrow Levi's bike and try riding 2 wheeled. Tom took her out and within 5 minutes she was riding!! What a perfect place to learn to ride her bike. We will never forget how she learned!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bike Camping - The Highlights

The time at the campsite was so wonderful. The kids all got along great and were self-sufficient for the majority of the time. I would even find myself realizing I hadn't had visual contact for fairly long periods of time, which is very unlike me. But they were having a ball playing spy games with the walkie talkies, creating bike jumps over the sand pit and so much more. I have to say there is much to be said for camping directly on the beach. Yes, sand gets EVERYWHERE but the convenience can't be beat! No needing to haul stuff down and then realize you forgot something back at home, hotel, camp.... It was all right there with no need to pack up and go anywhere. Though the ladies did take a ride into town to the local bakery for goodies and ice coffees!
Kid Fun Highlights

Setting up camp, Swimming in Seaweed, Sand Throwing
Ice Cream Ball, Hammock Craziness
Relaxing, Crab Collecting, Tree Climbing
And we can't forget this sweet little guy who was hanging around the beach most of the day. I only wish we would have had visual confirmation of him being connected to his mom at some point. We saw no signs of her but hope she returned at night since he wasn't around the next morning. He was so adorable and looked like a little stuffed animal that you just wanted to pick up, hug and take home. We made sure to keep our distance though, in hopes of his mother's return.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bike Camping - the logistics

We just returned from a fantastic bike camping experience on Lopez Island. I really doubt that the trip could have gone better than it did. No bike wrecks, only one bike malfunction that was fixed with impressive McGyver-like techniques, amazing weather, great company, fabulous scenery........ It really was a great time.

Some may ask, how you go about camping using only bikes to transport people and gear? Well, it is a fine art that I think we mastered well. I really wish I had gotten more photos of the transportation, but it is a bit hard when you yourself are on a bike, with a backpack on and small child attached at the back. I wasn't thinking as much of photography as getting everyone to the final destination in one piece.
The big secret to transporting is BIKE TRAILERS and lots of them!! For our family we had one bike trailer that was packed to the gills. Tom's use of bungy cords was truely an art! Note the paper towels:-)
One of the riders in our crew had his bike, with a train of TWO bike trailers attached and another had his bike, 3 year old on tag-along-bike and then the bike trailer behind that. It really was an impressive site that got many looks from passer-bys! It was our own little parade with 19 people!

Once all the trailers were loaded and gear in place we walked onto the ferry for a gorgeous ride in the Puget Sound. Somehow we have not had ferry rides on our list of to-dos so this was Nora's first ride and Madison's second. They really enjoyed it all!
The ride itself is was just under 5 miles to the campsite, which is a fairly short ride in biking terms. Of course, the longest non-stop riding Madison had done before that was probably 2 miles of very flat terrain. All reports we were given was the ride was nice and flat. Of course, the reports were given from a person who rides over full mountain passes, so maybe we should have considered the source a bit more. Overall, for adult riders with any riding experience, the island is relatively flat but there were a few big hills. The biggest being straight off the ferry, which was a bit tough and demoralizing for the kids. We were really proud of Madison and all the children who powered through with great attitudes to keep pedaling through the toughest of hills.
The final test was to physically get the bikes and trailers down to the campsites on the beach. The sites were not car-accesible and you had to go down a steep dirt trail to get to them. Once the momentum starts on a 100+ lb loaded trailer it is a bit hard to stop it! But we did get all the gear down safely and the campspot was well worth the effort! The view from our tent:
Tent City

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dugout Ranch

We were able to visit "Dugout Ranch" during our stay in Fort Benton on the Fourth of July. This ranch was purchased by my Great Grandfather, Adam Johnstone, in 1907 and still belongs to our family to this day. It started out as a sheep ranch. This is a photo of my grandfather on the farm taken around 1930

It is now a wheat farm and here we are with this year's wheat crop.

The family home being built in 1915


and now

We had a wonderful time exploring the area. The treasurers and history around are incredible. Even though no one has lived there for 40+ years, there is still so much to see like the old farm tractor and other farming implements, the bunkhouse still with beds inside, the sheep corral and so much more. My main want for this outing was to get some photos to capture the location and I got a wonderful collection.

I am all ready looking forward to going back next summer prepared for a more extensive exploration of the site. We will come prepared with lots of bug spray, full length pants and shirts, boots and gloves. I am hoping to bring back wood for a reclaimed wood project in the house along with some other possible artifacts for some cool home projects.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Home never looked so good!! I am very much looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. And after 12 nights of sharing beds or sleeping on the floor, the girls requested a sleep-over in Madison's room! I denied that one, hoping everyone can catch up on their zzz's tonight!!

A little recap of life on the road:
Total Miles Driven
(I told the girls we really should drive around for 100 more miles to get it to an even 2,000)
Total time spent in the car
On the road again
These orange construction signs made me want to SCREAM. I lost count of how many slow downs we had due to them. And the frustrating thing was that most of them had no obvious signs of any road work being done but I would still have to slow down through the construction zone.
Passing away the hours
Never out of my reach: food bag, multiple drinks (usually dr. pepper, water bottle and a chai tea), sunglasses, purse (with camera inside), cd case and everyone drives with their own wildflower bouquet, right???
We survived quite easily video free. The girls will probably regret their good behavior, as it proved that we really have no need for that silly dvd player after all. In fact, I had every intention of pulling out my laptop today and draining the battery to allow at least one movie. I also planned to make a stop at a wal-mart to allow for the purchase of some junky toy that would entertain them for 20 minutes. Neither tactic was necessary. Though I will admit to resorting to the use of SUGAR. I can't tell you how far a box of Everlasting GobStoppers will take you on the road. And the girls were thrilled when I let them buy those horrible baby bottle candy things. They both squealed and said "but mom, you NEVER let us have those." I may regret that purchase for awhile:-)
But really I am SO PROUD of my two girls. They were such troopers this entire trip. Hopping to a different house at least every 2 nights, sometimes more often. Getting thrown into groups of relatives they can't remember, or maybe haven't even met yet. And many more opportunities for the worst in a child to show through. Of course there were a few moments of craziness. There were some times of fabulous sibling drama over one sister looking at the other wrong, or putting her leg on the other one. And one near catastrophe when the girls were way beyond tired and hungry and starting to completely lose it in the fancy restaraunt with 40+ relatives looking on. The bread plate arrived just in time to save our sanity on that one!! Overall, I think it was an amazing trip, with lots of memories to last a lifetime. I will be blogging out of chronological order (which I hate) over the next few days to recount a few more special moments we have and then I will be putting together a Shutterfly book to help remember all the people, places and events that happened on our journey.
Mommy Boot Camp starts bright and early tomorrow morning. Topping the list are sugar de-tox, summer chore chart and monitored screen time. Back to reality girls! Of course, it is also back to reality for me with the attempt to be up bright and early for 5:30 swim. Not sure which is going to be worse, the 5:00 a.m. alarm clock blaring in my ear or the brutal swim workout after not being in the pool for 2 weeks and eating horribly (sugar detox begins for me tomorrow too!!).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Winding Down

The babes are sleeping soundly as I listen to them snore and enjoy my first wi-fi fix in 5 days! The trip has been amazing but I think we are ready to be home. At least for a few days before turning around and heading out on our next adventure on Tuesday. I have a few more entries waiting to be posted from the weekend but they need a bit more time to compose so for now I give this quick update on our final days of travel.
Started out with me packing up the car this morning to realize that I had a dead battery from leaving the electric cooler plugged in all night. GRRRR, luckily it was easily charged up before leaving Uncle Pat's house. UNFORTUNATELY, something go messed up with the DVD player that I had just spent too much money replacing and it is out of commission. The first 30 minutes of the drive were painful as the girls whined about what were they going to do. But the next 4.5 hours were quite pleasant and enjoyable. In fact, I think I enjoyed that portion of the drive more than any other over the past week and a half. We interacted more, commented on beautiful scenery, played fun car games, sang way too loudly and out of tune and more. We even saw 2 moose, but by the time I realized it I was all ready past them and couldn't pull over for a photo.

The highlight of the girls' day could have been the numerous carousel rides in Helena, thanks in part to Madison getting the brass ring 3 times in a row!
And Nora getting none but having fun riding the triceratops, otter, horse, spinning cup and jack rabbit.
But even more special was the stop at their FAVORITE rest stop. Not sure how many children have a memorable state rest stop but my girls do. They have been talking about and requesting this one since day one of the drive and it didn't disappoint. There is a village of prarie dogs that live right there and are obviously well fed by the people who stop by.
I typically would not encourage the feeding of wild animals, but I seriously doubt you can classify these guys as wild so I gave in to the girls' pleas and opened up the cashew can. Their excitement was priceless!! I am embarrased to admit that I have 50+ photos of these little guys!!

It was a great time until 2 mini-vans full of wild children arrived. The girls were quite distraught with their rude mistreatment of prarie dogs so we made a hasty get-away before somebody started a confrontation that may have ended ugly!!

We load up tomorrow for our final 6-7 hours of driving. I look forward to sleeping in my own bed and getting back to some "normalcy" in our lives!

Friday, July 2, 2010

R & R

Ahhhhh, vacation with Rest and Relaxation. After a few crazy fun days with the cousins and long days of driving we arrived at the grandparents where vacation can truely start. For me, that means pretty much the OFF DUTY sign goes up. The girls are so happy and comfortable with the grandparents that I can sit back and take a break. Over the course of the week I got a good deal of scrapping done, getting caught up through May of this year. I also did a bit of shopping, a LOT of sleeping in and a little bit of working out (biking and running). And lots of good meals that I didn't cook or clean. What more could you want???
The girls have been having fun with both sets of grandparents going to the zoo, canoeing on the lake, reading lots of books, shopping at build-a-bear, seeing Toy Story 3, feeding the ducks, garden walks, going to bed way later than normal and all around good fun!

Tomorrow we are off to the next stop in the road tour. We are going to the small town of Fort Benton for a family reunion. I am looking forward to visiting the family farm that my great-great grandparents homesteaded and is still owned by our family along with many other family spots in town (including the original Nora's home). The girls are excited to see the Shep statue and family. One other bonus for me, the "off duty" sign gets to stay up a few hours since the girls are riding with my parents to the destination AND Tom is sacrificing his 3 day weekend by driving out with Micah to spend the reunion with us. It should be a wonderful time with family.