Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My day alone with the kids

When Jesse asked me if he could go an all day hike with Richard my heart sank and I felt a bit nauseous. I have gotten so used to having Jesse's help with the kids all day every day that the thought of him leaving me alone was truly daunting. When I woke up the next morning, the guys were already gone and Bailey was sitting on the sofa mesmerized by the TV. I thought, 'I can't let them sit in front of the TV all day (we don't have a TV at home so the kids have really been spoiled this week by getting to watch TV, daily. Their favorites are Looney Tunes, Animal Planet and the History Channel), we need to get out of the house and DO something.' We started off the morning by hitting up the local Goodwill Store for some new children's books, a few cheap toys and flip-flops for Harper who lost her new ones from Bitsy (sorry Bitsy). Then we came back home to put Larkin down for a nap. While she was napping I did some research on the computer to find some free things to do around town with the kids. And, whatta ya know, there is an awesome park right down the street. Liberty Park has just about everything: cafe w/ ice cream, ferris wheel, giant swings, carousel, paddle boats, water fountain/steps that run through man-made boulders and trees, HUGE playground, swimming pool and tennis courts, OH and an Aviary! Wow, we are definitely hitting that place up when Larkin wakes up.  I hurried to get the big kids ready. We got to the park around 3:30 and stayed til 5:45. We had a blast and the kids were awesome! Here are a few pics from our day:

Harper learned a valuable lesson from her brother that if you ask for a bigger cone then you get more ice cream. Next time she is going to ask for a bigger cone like Bailey. Here she is back up at the counter asking for a sample ;)

Can you just barely see Larkin's new tooth?

Harper continues to be her creative self by painting the backs of her puzzle pieces. In the car, she used her princess nail polish to "paint" it worked very well and I was amazed at her creativity.

Monday, June 25, 2012


This post is for all you folks out there who want to know what we've been eating. You can see what the family has been eating and what Steph has been eating on her strict grain-free diet. Steph has kept a detailed log of all snacks and meals:

Day 1-Tennessee
Snack- Fam: ritz crackers, slices of bread; Steph: banana with almond butter
Dinner- Fam: PBJ, hotdogs; Larkin: banana, applesauce and bread; Steph: banana, SCD bread, SCD crackers
11pm snack for Steph: SCD bread with all natural peanut butter

Day 2-Memphis-Arkansas
Breakfast- Steph: SCD bread/crackers with cheddar cheese; Fam: leftover caramel rolls, bread, cheese, grape juice for all

Second Breakfast with Paul Norman at Brother's Juniper in Memphis, TN
Steph: pesto scrambled eggs with roasted red peppers, pine nuts, spinah, tomatoes & provolone
Jesse: scrambled eggs, potatoes
Kids: pancakes, sausage and bacon

Lunch: PBJ, bananas w/ peanut butter, applesauce, carrots, tortilla chips, raw kale

Dinner: Rice-a-roni with sausage; Veggie saute with sausage and cheese

Day 3-Arkansas
Breakfast- strawberry oatmeal; banana, raisins, apple, peanut butter and sliced almonds
Snack- kale, carrots, banana, cheese sticks
Dinner- leftovers but added spinach to the veggie saute; family had chocolate pie from Oark General Store

Day 4-Oklahoma
Breakfast- same as yesterday plus 3 kiwi fruit
Snack- fresh blackberries, chips/crackers, cheese sticks
Dinner-Tortilla pepperoni pizzas, cauliflower pepperoni pizza (steph)

Day 5-Oklahoma
Breakfast- Oatmeal; Steph's nut/raisin/banana cereal with Almond milk
Lunch- snack foods
Dinner-ate out at Buffalo Bills in Pawhuska, OK Jesse had a patty melt with fries, kids had corndog/burger with fries, steph had a chicken breast w/mushroom onion, avocado

Day 6- Smithfield, Oklahoma
Breakfast and Lunch the same---added sugar snap peas, pepperoni and cheese to our lunch snacks
Dinner- Sausage with sauteed spinach, onion, garlic, cauliflower; Kraft mac n' cheese for kids minus milk and butter.

Day 7- Walsenberg, Colorado near Bishop's Castle
Lunch/snacks- PBJ tortilla wraps, sesame sticks, snap peas, craisins, walnuts, tortilla chips, cheese sticks, cereal mix
Dinner-Tacos with avocado

Day 8- Westcliffe, Colorado
Dinner: ate at a local restaurant/bar- Burgers, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, fries, milk, saute green beans with mushroom, onion in a yummy chipotle sauce, plantain chips

Day 9- Rio Grand Forest, CO
Dinner- Beans, rice, sausage, veggies, cheese

Day 10-Rio Grande Forest
Dinner- spaghetti sauce with ground beef, cheese, risotto

Day 11- Ouray, CO on the Imogene Pass
Tortilla pizzas, leftover spaghetti sauce with cheese, snack type foods

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 3:
Our third day in the woods we moved away from the steep rocky mountain paths with lots of stream crossings of Western Arkansas into the rollings hills of eastern Oklahoma. We were caught off guard by the beauty of the hillcountry in Oklahoma. We'd imagined it a flat and sparse place but found the eastern portion of the state to be fair and abundantly green with few residents - at least, where we traveled.

Route finding through Arkansas was fairly intense as we were off the map for a few sections on ATV paths that didn't show up on googlemaps or our topo maps. Not in the photos was one particular section that almost forced a turn-around that would have cost us hours and we probably would have run out of fuel. The Land Cruiser walked up a series of off-camber stone and loose dirt steps that no jeep or truck had climbed recently. Have I mentioned yet how much time we spent on ATV trails? It was an intense minute as Stephanie spotted from the outside of the vehicle and I maneuvered the top-heavy truck as it listed towards the deep ravine. Between the second and third step I had to reverse the truck to get a better angle on the last and biggest step. Any slipping of the wheels would have slid us closer to the drop off which was only inches (literally) away. Reversing I caught the muffler on a large rock and bent it down a few inches. In position I tried to ease the truck up the ledge with just the right amount of speed to keep moment but not rock or damage the vehicle. In the process my front left tire lifted a good foot and a half off the ground. Not bad for a big and heavy truck. 

Surmounting this obstacle we were faced with a downed tree and still had no idea what more lay ahead of us. Thankfully, that was the worst of Arkansas had for us. This is one of the hardest parts about navigating these routes: you never know what lies around the next bend, where a tree or an obstacle will force you to turn around, or to better estimate the abilities and durability of your machine. Running no spare fuel throughout Arkansas also added another stress. A forced turn-around deep in the woods might have left us stranded. I keep 10 spare gallons on the truck at all times now.

 The beginning of day three. After a short section of road, we climbed up to a ridge and followed gravel for many steep and rocky miles. Though in the photos it looks smooth and fast, in reality it was very slow going.
 Miles of this up on a ridgeline with views to both sides. Lots of red blackberrys.

 We didn't see a single other car throughout the entire run of national forest roads.
 Below is the test-piece for most dual-sport motorcycle riders who ride the Trans-America Trail. They say it's the hardest section east of the Mississippi. But we found it surprisingly easy compared to the ATV trails that we had routed through in the Ozarks.

 We had anticipated more difficulty here.
 And after the serious offroad sections of the day before...
  it was hard to tell if this was a let-down or a relief. 

 The hardest part of it was avoiding a low hanging tree which is just visible in the photo above. Remember, we are pretty tall compared to motos and ATVs.
 This mud-hole also proved a little sticky.

 Somewhere around the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma we crossed this creek on Creek Road no less. Video of the river-crossing. Steph didn't hit the record button the first time through so, of course, I had to go back through to prove I'd crossed it.
 We had a good swim and shave(?).

 And then back on to some beautiful winding gravel roads...

 where we were able to make up time lost in the Ozarks.

 Can you believe this is Oklahoma? On the highway, which Steph and I have driven four or five times, you miss this subtle and slow transition from mountains to plains.

 This is our version of a highway. Wide, well-graded Oklahoma roads. We could average around 45 on these roads and 55 later when they straightened out in the plains.
 Driven this way, it's impossible to miss out on the beauty of these forgotten places.

 Lots of preserves, ranches and cattle.

 Looks like rain here but that's just a mixture of bug guts and rain.

 We knew camping was going to be difficult to find as there just isn't much national forest or BLM land in eastern OK. It's mostly private. We checked out some state campsites on a reservoir oustide of Salina. But we couldn't stomach paying $20 to stay next to generator-running campers in close quarters.

 So we moved on down the line and settled here in a field with a bunch of locals on the shore of the reservoir.
 They assured us that no one would bother us as long as we were quiet and didn't trash the place. They also assured us that they knew the mayor and he stayed down there sometimes.

 Setting up with the locals in the background.

 As we prepared dinner, the kids did what they do.
The stats for day three are on Stephanie's phone I think. I'll get them up soon.

Steph's Addition:

Here are some of the hundreds of pictures taken in Arkansas. Sorry they are jumbled up ( I steph hijacked the blog while Jesse is at the pool with the big kids and I'm still figuring out how to get the pictures in the proper order). Anyway, you get the idea. We exclaimed over and over about how beautiful Arkansas was. We loved it (although it's nothin' compared to our love for Colorado). Jesse and I have been so amazed by the creativity of our children at the campsites. When we arrive at a campsite they immediately jump out of the car and get to work on some pretend play ideas, usually involving vehicles driving through dirt :) It hasn't been all fun and games though! We have had some really difficult times with our children as well. Anger, jealousy, pride, lack of self-control, selfishness have all come out in each of us daily! It has been very hard to know how to respond to each issue. Knowing that our kids are exhausted (and so are Jesse and I for that matter), it's hard to know when to discipline them accordingly and when to have grace and let things go but not let them get away with murder at the same time. wow! we did not expect it to be this hard but I am so glad Jesse and I have been such a great team through it all. I cannot think of a single argument we've had (other than a few differences on which road to take at a crossroad) and we have remained a united front before the kids. We are continuing to pray daily for our children to become more self-sufficient and pull their weight, love each other well, be kind to others, no hitting, screaming or throwing (geez, i wonder where they learned that from...) And we are hopeful that God hears our prayers and will continue his work in all of us. Thanks for keeping up with us. We have LOTS more posts to come. These pics are from the first 3 days of our trip and we've been gone for 18! Love to all, Steph
Game face on!

Ready to navigate!

Add caption

Just getting unloaded for our first night camping in the wilderness. The Ozark National Forest in Arkansas.

Hanging out with Sis at the campsite.

Exploring the campsite.

We eat a lot of this stuff with added veggies, meats, salsas etc.

Mama cooking dinner. 
Mommy's breakfast. I have since started adding Almond Milk to make it into a cereal.

Hanging out the window enjoying the scenery and fresh air!

One of Harper's two naps in the car so far.

We loved these old stone walls!

This huge Catalpa tree looks like a giant green bean tree!

This is the wretched campsite where Harper and I got our bug bites. She was bitten all over her face and I on my torso. These were the largest bites i've ever seen and I never saw a single bug! I am probably going to have scars from scratching them so much. It was awful! That was only our 3rd night, too.

Isn't Arkansas beautiful!
Another amazing stone wall.