the 48 hour road trip.

We departed at 4:35 am for our family reunion. Excited for a weekend full of camping, camping food, lake activities, and family time. We left early for the 8 hour drive, hoping the kids would fall back to sleep after putting them in the car and planning for several stops along the way. Unfortunately, very little sleep actually occurred. That should have been our first clue.

The drive was beautiful, breathtaking at times. It's monsoon season in the Southwest, so we had ample cloud displays throughout. We stopped several times, one time even happening upon a beautiful, random little park in Aztec, New Mexico. As soon as we got to the campsite, we were delighted to find a picturesque little stream (water in any form is exciting for Arizona desert-dwellers) and quickly set up our tent. As soon as it was up, the rain began. Except for intermittent breaks, it did not stop for the next 24 hours. I went to bed with the boys, since I had developed a pounding migraine from only getting a few short hours of sleep the night before.

At 3 am, we realized we had a slow drip coming from the top of our tent, and water was entering through the seams at the bottom. The boys were on foam pads on either side of our queen-sized air mattress, so we pulled them onto our island, moved the suitcase back to the car, and put Jake's already damp pillow under the drip from the top. Somehow, we were able to sleep a few more hours until daylight.

The rain continued throughout the morning. Other families' tents soon began taking on water from the constant deluge. We made meals and pulled out a few rain-friendly activities for the kids, who also enjoyed plenty of puddle-splashing and rock-throwing. We visited and laughed together. We held a family council to set plans in motion for future reunions and vowed to do them earlier in the summer from that point forth. With most of our camping gear damp or soaked, we all decided to pack up and head back to our respective homes.

Sometimes the soggiest of adventures make for great stories.


Jake's First Day of Preschool & Fourth Birthday.

Jake started preschool on the Monday before his birthday. He was so excited! I wanted to capture a little bit of that first morning. It's so strange to me that I have a child old enough to go to preschool! I mean, he's ready and I'm ready, but it still feels a little surreal.

Even though he's a big boy, he still loves having a sippy cup of milk in the morning and still holds his ear like he has since he was a baby.
Major, less than impressed as usual.
Jake also likes doing his hair, so I decided to let him for his first day. I may have helped a little, but he's so proud that I usually just let him have at it.
I couldn't resist a classic first-day portrait, either. Jake is sensitive, kind, creative, and loves Star Wars (even though he's never seen any of the movies). He wants to be a fireman when he grows up. He tells us, "When I'm a grown up and I'm a fireman, you can call me when your house is on fire." Thanks, bud.

He also learned how to buckle himself in. Another thing I was ready for, and I know that part of being a mom is teaching independence, but then it's there and you realize that's one less thing they need you for.
This is a before of the bike we got Jake for his birthday. I found it on Craigslist. It's a good bike, but the white paint was scratched and scuffed, and the handle grips needed to be replaced. It turned out looking great, but I didn't get a new picture of it after I finished.
We invited our family that lives close by to have cake the night before Jake's birthday. He wanted a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting this year, and again wanted berries and sprinkles to decorate it.

On his actual birthday, we went to Joe's BBQ and cashed in on his birthday freebie there. Afterward we walked over to the water tower splash pad and let the boys play.

He's never far from mom in new situations.
And Jake could play all day if we let him. He loves new places and making new "friends" everywhere he goes. I love his passion for life even if it exhausts my introverted self.