binary girl: the secret blog

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shh!

ridiculously long vacation post, part one

January 10th, 2014 at 9:30

So. We took a long vacation. It was LONG! And this is what happened!

We left to go to Green Valley, AZ, where B’s parents live, on December 23rd. The last time that we drove there was when Katie was almost 3 months old, so we knew from experience that it took about 12 hours straight through (which was far too long to have driven the first time we did it) — there was no way we were going to manage that with the two kiddos. Instead, we booked a hotel called The Curve in Palm Springs and made that our destination for the first day. We woke up really early and got on the road by 6am, so it was still dark out and each kid was carried, sleeping, to the car. I was hoping that they would fall back asleep on the road, but they slowly started to wake up and look around, and spend the first hour or so chattering to us and back and forth, with Max sleepily speaking so softly I could barely hear them.

When I got things for this trip, I did so with the hope that we wouldn’t be using the iPads on the road a lot — I imagined this as a road trip like those in my youth. These are the things that I ended up with, by stars next to the things we actually used:

* lace and trace boards (we had Pets and Farm)
* Water Wow books — I had five different ones
car bingo
Mad Libs Junior
Color Blast books
iPads

We also listened to lots of stories on mp3 (the favorites being those from Story Nory) as well as some of our favorite songs, and played with stuffed animals and the like. Brandon, who was in the passenger seat, did a lot of work with the kids making sure that they were getting the toys they wanted, and interceding in fights and the like. I also made sure to stop every 1.5-2 hours at rest stops or at gas stations to get things like Cheetos (who knew this was the ultimate car-ride bribery food?) and soda, and we made a lunch stop in Pasadena at a McDonald’s with a Playland where the kids got their sillies out for an hour. Then, at the hotel, we made a bee-line straight for the pool and I ordered delivery dinner.

The next morning, we did the same sort of drive — and the fact that the scenery was changing helped a lot. Although we got started early, B used a series of misdirections with his mom (aka leaving out details and saying things like “We left Palm Springs” about 3 hours after we left) to make her believe that we were going to entirely miss Xmas dinner, which … did not amuse her one iota. We got to Green Valley around 3ish and the kids immediately fell into playing with their cousins and (re)meeting their aunts and uncles. Then we had Christmas dinner, and the kids were very curious as to how Santa was going to know where they were — but luckily, he and his elf and Mrs. Claus called me and we talked a bit about how their presents were going to make their way to us.

Christmas was great, and started off with the kids freaking out with excitement that the cookies and milk we had left in our room (at this table at the foot of our bed) were eaten! Max’s big gift was this sweet castle that we had gotten because he played with it in every toy store we went to, and he literally played with that thing every day for the rest of our visit to Arizona. Happily, it was supplemented with a dragon from his aunt/uncle/cousins (who were tipped off ;) ) and then some knights from his other aunt/uncle/cousin (for who it was just a lucky guess!). Katie got the little pink-haired mermaid she had asked for, and a couple of other toy dolls that she had wanted.

The day after Christmas started with us going to the Tucson Zoo with B’s older and younger bro, and families. The trip was a little hard in that both kids were overtired and emotional, but we did see an elephant, which was Max’s ultimate goal. :)

On the 27th, Katie spontaneously lost a tooth! I was brushing her teeth that night as she was watching a movie with Max and cousin Tristan when she made a funny face and spat out something, which she handed to me. I thought that maybe she had some hard toothpaste stuck in her toothbrush or that something gross had been caught in the toothpaste tube or her teeth, so I went to look at it, and rolled it around a bit. Then I looked at her and pulled her lip down to find a bleeding hole where a tooth was formerly located. Seeing that she had gotten her teeth late, she was expected to go through teething milestones on the late side, so I was STUNNED that she had lost one so soon. I drove down to the only store open in Green Valley (Safeway) to find that their safe locks at 5 so they had no way of getting me any “funny” money, so we called the Tooth Fairy (formerly known as Santa) to tell him that we weren’t home and to reschedule our pickup for the next day.

The next morning (the 28th), Katie wrote the tooth fairy a note. The kids were super bored with being inside, but unfortunately for us, Green Valley is decidedly kid unfriendly, so we had to do some real searching to find a frickin’ place for them to play outside. Thanks to the joy of Google Maps, we drove around Sahuarita to find a place for the kids to play– they have these crazily boring housing developments with small parks sprinkled about, so they got to play for about 2 hours with two similarly-aged kids we met there. When we got home, Brandon went out with his dad to acquire some $2s and Sacajawea coins that the tooth fairy could give her, and that night, I replaced the tooth with said monies and a note that said that it was clear that she was taking great care of her teeth and brushing often. :D So, when Katie woke up on the 29th, the tooth fairy had been there!

Sadly, for us, the arrival of the tooth fairy also meant that all of the cousins left, save for one who is much older than the kiddos. We took Grandpa S with us to crash on a fancy play structure for a few hours, and went on a walk of Sahuarita’s copper safari (a bunch of copper statues of animals that the kids totally adored playing on). That night we took the family + B’s parents, Aunt Maxine, and Tina/Drew out to dinner (my first trip ever to a Red Lobster), and the kids were uncharacteristically horrible the whole meal, even with iPads in tow. It was mildly embarrassing but I’ve happily learned that as long as I’m making a parenting effort towards my kids’ behavior when they’re being rough, that I don’t give a crap what other people think. Yay!

On the 30th, we found what turned out to be the holy grail of the rest of our Arizona trip, and something that we will definitely do again: The Children’s Museum of Tucson. Not only is this a downright amazing children’s museum, the people who work there are incredibly friendly, as well. The grandparents accompanied us on the first day, and we explored all of the rooms — they have one with a real police motorcycle, firefighter suits, and a mini-ambulance; one that is an actual kid-sized grocery store with little carts and checkout lanes and a pretend citrus grove with magnetic fruit, a pretend garden, a pretend smoothie bar, and these huge giant parts of the body (I am not sure how that last bit ties in but whatevs ;) ); a pretend vet clinic with actual microscope; a train room; a wooshy air room where you can blow things through tubes and do other sciencey stuff; a huge art area; two small “3-and-under” areas for quieter play and building, etc. It is REALLY fabulous and I would recommend that anyone with kiddos visiting Tucson check it out. For lunch, we headed to the University district and are at a place called The Hub, which we thought would be a diner/ice creamery based on the face that the museum listed it as “american/creamery” but it turned out to be fancy instead. REGARDLESS, I had the best frickin’ ice cream there: “grown up chocolate”, which included port wine, huge pieces of fig, and chocolate ganache. NOM.

We went back to the museum the next day, it was that fab. And we went to bed early on New Year’s Eve because the next day we were going to D!

(Katie spent a lot of the ride to Arizona looking very closely at the map. The waypoints were: A (home), B (Palm Springs), C (Green Valley), D (Legoland), and E (Disneyland). Since the actual places D and E were a surprise, we just kept referring to them by their waypoint names or, in the case of Disneyland, “Potato”, which was a codename that Brandon and I came up with while making dinner with potatoes one night.)

Side note: At some point on our trip to AZ, Katie told Derek and Aubrey that she is going to to get married and be a mommy. When she’s 13.

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