Cross Country Road Trip – Rocky Mountain National Park

We started our road trip by picking up my mom. With my husband overseas I needed another driver and another adult to keep the other kids in line 🙂 My mom was a true hero on the journey, she bought individual DVD players for the kids (in different colors so they didn’t fight over who’s was who’s) and we brought a huge bunch of movies, mostly from the cheap bin at Wal-mart and a few copies of what we had from home. I liked doing it this way because then I didn’t worry about them getting lost or scratched, but it still entertained the kids on the long stretches of highway each day.

The first day we took a straight shot down to Ogden, Utah. This day was one of our longest in terms of driving without stopping. We have been through this area plenty of times, so we just wanted to get in the miles and not really stop much. We did stay at a nice hotel, with a swimming pool, so my kids were happy.

After resting for the night we left bright an early the next day to head into Colorado. We left Ogden and went through Echo Canyon, along I-80 into Wyoming. There was some construction which slowed us down, but what do you expect in the middle of summer. About halfway through the state, we turned down into Colorado. We were going to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, and wanted to drive along the Trail Ridge Road.

Red rock in the canyons in Utah

Talk about a Scenic Byway! The road was breathtaking. It starts low in the mountains with lush forests and lakes, then takes you up into the top of the Rockies with gorgeous vistas (and lots of switchbacks). We stopped along the way for a quick 1-mile hike on the Coyote Valley Trail. It was super easy, totally accessible and, of course, beautiful. The kids liked the break from the car, and it wasn’t so long of a hike that they got overly tired or cranky.

We then continued on the road to the tops of the mountain and stopped at the Alpine Visitors center. We got there just before it closed, and I got another stamp in my National Park Passport Book. After that quick break (and bathroom usage), we headed back down the mountains and into Estes Park for the night. And that was the end of our first leg of the journey.

Click on this panoramic to view it bigger, trust me it’s worth it!

 

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Zoo Day

It has been about 4 years since I took my family to the Woodland Park Zoo. They had so much fun. I think we saw just about every animal there. We went for most of the day, and only had one minor meltdown. Overall the kids really enjoyed it, although I think the playground may have been the biggest hit for all but the oldest.

Budgie on a stick

penguins

tiger

holding a bird

big bear head

hanging out on a hippo

african animals

big cat

gorilla in thought crocodile looking at me

playground

Lights of Christmas

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We are lucky to live close enough to visit The Lights of Christmas every year. They have millions of lights, a train ride, petting zoo, light maze, crafts, performances, and don’t forget Santa! My oldest has performed here several times, as did I when I was in high school. Visiting the Lights of Christmas is a great family Christmas tradition we look forward to every year.

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Butterfly Birthday Party

My 5 year old had her first ‘friend’ birthday party last month. She decided she wanted a butterfly theme. So, I made a chocolate cake with frosting flowers and white chocolate butterflies. We colored butterfly (and dragonfly) pictures while waiting for everyone to arrive. Then we made butterflies out of coffee filters, played pin the butterfly on the flower, danced around to pretty classical music, and played duck duck goose. The party was in the middle of the day, so there was butterfly themed lunch food. We had butterfly shaped sandwiches, butterfly shaped crackers and pretzels (pepperidge farm), and lots of yummy fruit. Then we opened presents and played until parents arrived to pick up their kids. It was lots of fun. But, I’m glad birthdays are done in our house until spring.

Once a Month Cooking

Have you ever done Once-a-Month cooking? The idea is that you do all your dinner cooking/prepping in one day and freeze it all. Then you have ready-to-go meals the rest of the month. It saves time and money, and it’s healthier than store-bought freezer meals. I’ve decided to give it a try. During winter I do a lot of crock pot cooking anyway.

I’m kind of a picky eater (thankfully my kids aren’t), and can’t always find recipes we will all like. Over on Pinterest I have pinned a bunch of crock-pot and freezer meal sites and recipes. I sifted through them and found 24 recipes that I wanted to do, including ones I do already. 2 of the recipes even made double, so at the end of the day I had 26 meals ready to go.

On Friday, with only 2 of my kids shopping with me, I bought what I needed. And on Saturday I prepped and cooked. I spent about 2 hours prepping/cooking and $180 on ingredients (thank you Winco). I got freezer bags and pans at our local dollar store, and labeled them with masking tape and a sharpie. The labels have the recipe name and cooking instructions.

Here is what I made (recipes linked):

For crockpot

Honey Sesame Chicken

Curry (mine)…no link yet

For Oven
Cheese Lasagna (basic)…no link
Baked Macaroni & Cheese (mine)…no link yet

And a bonus link! There are a few recipes in here that call for a ‘cream of –‘ soup. Instead of using a canned soup, I used this recipe, and will add water at the time of cooking.

Cream of “something” soup recipe