Tuesday, September 29, 2015

From Soccer to Soccer and Everything In Between (For the Week)

A peek back at the past two weeks:

September 13
We had lunch out at a fancy "small plates" restaurant (aka, a place with no kid's menu) before J went away for a few days.  The food--in particular, the waffles--was AMAZING.  (Thankfully, so were the kids.)

Later, while J was jet-setting, the rest of us spied a beautiful double rainbow.  (Photos and collage by M.)
September 14
It was a no-school day for Beza and we had friends over.

T was "floating" around with his scuba mask on.

September 15
The weather has been dreamy.  Sunny skies and just the right temperature.  We've spent a lot of time reading on the deck after lunch.  (Current lunch read--Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison.  We had been reading it at bedtime, but out of all of the books that we've read, this one was giving them nightmares.  It's a true story, so maybe it was all feeling a bit too real.)

I've been trying for a while now to get them to read the real Nancy Drew.  I finally hooked the audio up in the van via the magic of OverDrive.  And now we're all in love. :)

September 16
A lesson in "order of operations."  The challenge--use 4 fours and addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to arrive at the answers of 0-9.  We texted this to J when we finally solved it.

We're also learning about dividing kingdoms all the way down into species.  We divided our Little People into our own groups.  (Just like we did a few years ago.)

And it also happened to be the day that M got to do her M&M experiment to help understand survival of the fittest.  (Bonus lesson:  How many can you eat before you don't feel so well? ;)

And the cooler temperatures mean that baking seems novel and fun again.

September 17
(Yay, J came home late the night before.)
I love the freedom that comes with summer, but we really do best when we're operating under a schedule.  We've been working on keeping this one.  (Plus following a menu plan--J's been out a lot lately so we've had some pretty easy dinners--lots of PB&J.)

September 18
We went out to dinner to end the first (almost) full week of school.  And T--this dude is forever surprising us--he brought his own tip money.  

September 19
Soccer Saturday: Coffee in hand and because I can't wait for cooler temps, also slightly overdressed.

M made her first ever goal.  Ice cream to celebrate.

September 21 
I totally thought it was the first day of fall.  They got all dressed up with scarves for the occasion.

From Instagram: We totally thought that today was the first day of fall so we did the expected and celebrated with all things pumpkin. Then at dinner one of the more astute among us asked why the equinox on the calendar (coming up on Wednesday) didn't match up with the first day of fall. *Sigh.* I seriously think I might be completely lost when these little people grow up--I clearly need calendar help. The good news is that we can celebrate again in two days.

September 22
T's learning about vascular and non-vascular plants.  The paper towel draws up water much like moss.  (Also, the paper towel holds like 3x as much as our napkins.  Fascinating, huh? ;)

After soccer practice the light was golden.  It was summer's (actual) last hurrah.

September 23
Another day off from school for Beza so we got to hang out at the park with friends.  And Happy (REAL) First Day of Fall!

T has been building camp sites and sleeping in different spots in his room like he's camping.  (All because of the latest Land of Nod catalog.)

September 25
We've been getting together weekly since T was a baby.  Over the years the faces have changed a bit and next week we're saying goodbye to another one.  (So thankful for these friends.)

September 26
Soccer bookend.
(Bah!  This week I under-dressed--it was actually cold.  Better luck next week on choosing the right apparel.)
(Kind-of unusual, but each one of them is a "6" this year.)

Oh, and when we came home we found these lanterns in the yard--so fun!

Phew!  Finally all caught up! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crossing America (Yellowstone)

July 20, 2015

When we woke up early in the morning the kind hotel staff in Red Lodge, Montana had the name of our town along with our "home" time up on the wall.  And they told us that we had to stop at the first pull-out spot on our way into Yellowstone to meet the squirrels and chipmunks.  They were the sweetest people.

As the sun was just peeking up, we grabbed our breakfast to go and drove to the Beartooth Highway.  

It was one of the most beautiful drives of our entire trip.  I think my mouth was hanging open the whole way up the twisty steep road. 

Like the kind ladies suggested, we stopped at the first pull-over and the squirrels and chipmunks were one of their most favorite things.
(*We all wore a touch of yellow--for Yellowstone. :)

Then we kept on going up.  This is looking down on the walkway where we had just taken the picture above.

And the top.  We could not believe that we were just driving along the top of a mountain.  Unreal.
Lake pouring into lake.  Snow.  Wild flowers.  Crisp blue skies.  Towering mountain peaks in the distance.  Breathtaking.

At some point I stopped taking photos because it all seemed so uncapturable.  I think it took us two hours to drive to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone and I'm not sure I've ever gasped so many times in a row at the sights.  (And we saw maybe only a handful of other cars along the way.)

It wasn't long before we saw herds of buffalo.

They were just walking up the road.

We stopped at the Roosevelt Lodge to pick up a few snacks (oatmeal creme pies) before heading to Tower Fall.

And then we drove on to Artist's Point to view the Lower Falls.

By mid-morning Yellowstone was quite crowded.  We spent a lot of time driving around looking for a quiet place.  Along the way we spotted this gray wolf pouncing in a meadow.

We found (and smelled) some of the sulfurous hot springs.
(Beza's holding J's hand--see her shadow. ;) )

After dinner we had coffee and hot chocolates at the Old Faithful Inn before watching Old Faithful erupt. (Watch it HERE.) 
 (The fiddler.)

It was way bigger than we had imagined.

We spent the night near Old Faithful at a Snow Lodge Cabin.

July 21, 2015

The next morning we woke up before the sun to make the most of our day (and to avoid the crowds of yesterday).  We stopped by the Grand Prismatic but it was so early and steamy that we could only catch glimpses of the colors.  (That might explain why there was only one other person there.)

Then we drove to the Hayden Valley to see the morning buffaloes.  (The park is so humongous that it took almost an hour to get there.)

You always have to be on the lookout for buffalo, they can appear on the road from out of nowhere.  We met this guy on the way.

As we entered the valley, this one clomped down the road right beside us.  J turned off the van so that we could just listen to his feet.

Buffaloes in the fog.

They make a deep-throated grumble that I think I would like to use sometimes early in the morning. ;)

We watched them do their thing from the safety of our van.

Next we found Dragon's Mouth Cave.  (For real.  Hot smelly water rushes out in waves from the mouth of the cave.)

And Mud Volcano. (Muddy brown water constantly bubbling.)

We stopped at Yellowstone Lake for a cup of coffee.
I'm not going to lie, the climb back up the bank (while trying not to fill my shoes with dirt and carrying coffee) almost did me in. ;)
We spied our first elk as were leaving Yellowstone on our way to the Grand Tetons.

When you ask our kids what their favorite part of the trip was, they almost always say, "Yellowstone."  The mighty buffaloes up close were amazing.

Previous Trip Posts:
Crossing America: Trip Stats
Crossing America (Getting There)
Crossing America (First Stops: From The Badlands to Devil's Tower)