COVID Getaway

I rented a house with a pool for the long weekend to give our little family a mini COVID-safe getaway. We’ve been cooped up for so long, without a vacation, and we just needed it! I made it a total surprise. They knew we were going somewhere but that’s it. The only reason they knew that was because Chloe saw “COVID Getaway” on my calendar. Whoops! They were continuously guessing and I just kept saying, “I don’t know!” It was sooooo fun torturing them!

The morning of the day we left Chase said, “I hope it’s not camping” and I chose to use my acting skills to mess with him. I gasped and said in my best defensive/hurt voice, “Wait! What’s so wrong with camping?! Camping is fun!” He immediately stopped and said, “Wait… We are camping? I mean, camping isn’t bad, but…” and I just told him to go away and let me get ready. What worked out so perfectly is that I had bought stuff to make s’mores in the fireplace, so I made sure I packed that stuff on top of the food bag/cooler so it reinforced his suspicions even more. Hee hee! I’m so mean.

Anyway, after Chloe’s soccer game we started driving to Dallas and they watched the time count down on my GPS. When we were about 5 minutes away they got super confused because we were obviously not in some remote camping area. I pulled into the driveway of the house, turned off the car and said, “Come on!” They followed me to the front door and when I entered the code and opened the door they looked at me like I was crazy. That’s when I told them the house was ours for the weekend. They were in shock! It was the best.

The weekend was way too short, but we enjoyed every second of it! We swam….

…watched movies…

…played pool…

…and ping pong…

…and made s’mores!

It was a weekend that proved to be good for the soul. The kids didn’t fight at all! It was amazing….

“Quarantine”

Well, the kids are going to go back to school in-person tomorrow, so I thought I’d recap some of our quarantine experiences.

We built a mask collection (thanks to my mom)!

We did some baking:

…played games:

…got into escape rooms:

…played volleyball (until they shut the court down):

…read books:

…did some art projects:

We invented a new type of Ping Pong called “PE Ping Pong”. The rules:

  1. If the ball is on your side of the table, use whatever means necessary (using the paddle) to get it back over the net (even if you have to hit it 10 times).
  2. If you’re the reason the ball goes off the table, you have to run in place while playing until the other person hits it off the table.
  3. Add some dramatics where possible.
  4. Laugh a lot (though in this particular photo they are in deep concentration mode lol!):

I also learned how to cut Chase’s hair (not very well, but good enough for quarantine). Check out the before & after’s!

We learned how to do everything online, setting up our workspaces and even virtual Tae Kwon Do spaces!

Chloe and I started running again:

We did a lot of “drive-in” and “drive-by” activities: Drive-in movies, Drive-by last day of school, Drive-by birthday parties…

I did some organizing (in addition to my big home projects):

And the kids did what they do best:

It has definitely been (and continues to be) a strange time, but all that time “trapped” in the house together actually came at a great time for us. After the kids’ dad died, life was a whirlwind. This forced us to slow down a bit and just enjoy our time together. Man, I love my little family….

Kids’ Weekend with Aunt Jen

Brian’s sister was in town for a conference this weekend and she offered to take the kids for the weekend so she could spend some quality time with them, and I could have a weekend off! I invited my BFF Katie to visit, and while we had a pretty low-key weekend of talking, eating, talking, a movie, more talking, Netflix binge-watching, talking and shopping… the kids had much more of an adventurous time with their aunt! Here are a few photos she shared with me of their time together:

I’m so thankful she is in their lives. She is a very positive link to their dad, and they had a great weekend (as did I)! Thanks, Aunt Jen!!

Renaissance Festival

We decided to get away for the weekend to try to have a little fun, after all we’ve been going through lately. We met up with my BFF Katie and her crew at the Renaissance Festival! Overall we had a good time. Chloe had a hard time because their dad used to take them there a lot, but we got through it. Life is going to be full of moments like that, where things just don’t feel the same for them. All we can do is power through and take things one step at a time….

Chloe’s Schlitterbahn Birthday Experience!

For Chloe’s birthday experience this year I took her to Schlitterbahn. She was so jealous when Chase got to go with the band on a field trip there last year, so I thought she would like it. I was right! We both had an absolute BLAST. I splurged and got the wristbands that cut down on wait times for rides, and it was definitely worth it. We were there from open to close and would not have had time to ride all the rides we did otherwise. What a blast!

Big Bend Camping Adventure

For our family vacation this year we went to Big Bend National Park. I was inspired to take this trip after our Moab vacation 2 years ago, where I discovered my kids love to hike and explore! The one thing they were particularly excited to do in Moab was stargaze, but the moon was so bright when we were there that it didn’t work out. I decided to look for good places to stargaze in Texas and Big Bend was highly recommended. Because our camping experience in Moab was so positive (in a little 1-room cabin), I decided to do the same again… only this time I happened upon something a little more creative than a cabin. We stayed in a bus named Franny:

The kids knew we were staying somewhere “different” and had been trying to figure it out for some time. When we pulled into the campground they were like, “What’s with all the crazy buses and stuff?” I said, “This is where we’re staying!” and they fell silent. Then I heard a bunch of, “Whatever. You’re not serious. You’re kidding, right?” When I parked and got out they were still very skeptical. After looking around a bit closer they were not entirely enthused about the idea…. I didn’t know what exactly their reaction would be but I didn’t expect that!

They really thought mom had lost it! But after some exploring, Franny definitely grew on them….

We had a lot of fun camping. We cooked out on the campfire every night. We experimented with campfire recipes, and some were better than others! I tasked the kids with building the fire on their own the last night and we used Chase’s socks as fire starters lol!

This camping experience made me “rough it” a bit more than I had done in awhile. We used an outhouse and I showered in an outdoor shower. It was a very strange experience being naked in the desert with nature but by god I did it! And I got to wake up to this every morning:

The other thing we did every night from the back of the bus was stargaze. And it was amazing….

We also made some friends! The owner of the place has cats to eat the critters that bring nasty things like snakes around. Well 3 of those cats had kittens! One litter in particular loved to hang out with us. And they were serious hunters. One even grabbed the hot dog off my stick! I mean, I love cats but that’s where I draw the line (lol)! It was hard to keep them out of our bus, especially when food was being prepared. The kids absolutely fell in love with them. They named every single cat/kitten we met.

Chloe also fell in love with the owner’s burro, Sampson.

And just look at this sweet picture:

Anyway….

We did do more than just hang out at the bus! We spent one day exploring Big Bend. I had no idea how huge it was, really! We all decided we have to go back because there is so much we didn’t see, and it was too hot to truly explore like we wanted to. Still, we did our best with the time we had!

We decided to start our day with a hike that took us to the Rio Grande so we could put our feet in the water and cool off. As we hiked we heard singing, and when we got to the river we realized the singing was coming from Mexico! The man on the other side of the river spoke to us, asked if we liked the singing, etc. There were items placed around for sale and he pointed them out to us but we said no thank you. Everything was going very well until Chase said, “Uhhhh… Mom? He’s walking toward the canoe.” I said, “Well surely he isn’t coming over here. That’s illegal!” The guy got into the canoe and mama bear decided it was time to go!

If you click on the top right photo below and zoom in you may be able to see him, just right of center (and you can see his canoe there on the right):

The next day we went to the Turlingua Ghost Town, which was cool. My favorite part to explore was the cemetery. Chase thinks I’m weird for that. He thought I was even weirder for taking so many pictures there.

Chloe got a souvenir Big Bend hat at the Trading Company there and I just love it on her!

After a few days of adventuring it was time to say goodbye to Franny, and leave some words of wisdom to those who follow:

For being so skeptical of her in the beginning, all of our talks of returning to Big Bend included Franny. It was definitely a fun experience and we are excited to go back one day!

For more information on Franny and the other creative camping options at Tin Valley Retro Rentals, check them out at tinvalleyretrorentals.com!

Houston Getaway!

The kids and I went to Houston this weekend and had so much fun with my BFF Katie and her gang! They put us up at the Marriott Marquis and we got a lot of use out of the awesome rooftop pool and enjoyed a little bit of the city. We also saw Aladdin and did a lot of eating out! It was just what we needed before the last week of school!!!!