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Summer Travels

We spent the first 9 days of July traveling. We live about 1,000 miles away from my family and had not been back to visit them for 3 years, so it was a well overdue visit. Road trips are SO not my favorite. I really REALLY don't care for long road trips, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Driving costs a fraction of what it would cost to fly and rent a car when we got there, and we also got to stay overnight with my grandparents on the way there and back, so it was well worth the drive. We decided to rent a minivan to make the trip so that we didn't put the wear & tear on our own vehicle, and it was a great way to go. We have an SUV, so the kids think vans are really cool.

I do not like road trips. Really. When it comes to vacations, I'm not the "enjoy-the-journey" type. I'm the "let's-hurry-up-and-get-there" type. Unfortunately, one can only hurry up so fast when driving from Arizona to Idaho. Thankfully, it was a very uneventful trip, and I mean that in a good way. The only problems we had were that I underestimated the volume of pee that the 2 diapered children would be voiding between some of the stopping points, which resulted in some unanticipated clothing changes. There was also the time that Raya accidentally yanked her G tube out when she was getting out of the van when we stopped for lunch.
We were all hungry and had to go potty, so rather than move things out of the way so I could lay her down and put it back in the way we normally do, I just deflated the balloon, lubed it up, and popped that puppy right back in her stomach. Bam. Tubie momma level-up for me. I also got bonus points for my super-efficient packing job and having the emergency kit easily accessible. (kinda proud of myself...) I think it was a level-up for Raya too. I know that putting a G tube back in while standing in the parking lot of Jack-in-the-Box in Page, Arizona was not on either of our summer bucket lists but we got 'er done. :) Once the tube was back in place, we had lunch and got back on the road.

After 12.5 hours in the car, we finally made it to my grandparents' house. The kids were SO excited to be there, and SO excited to be out of the car!

Grandma had dinner waiting for us when we got there, so we ate dinner and then the kids went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather in the big, beautiful back yard. Grandpa is quite the gardener, and the kids couldn't wait to see what was growing in his garden.

I suppose it was a little bit mean of me to stand Piper up in the grass like that. She hadn't really ever been on grass before. She was fine at first but then she wanted off, but couldn't walk on that surface so she had to crawl off of the grass instead. She wasn't very happy with me about that. She LOVED crawling around on the concrete driveway though. She crawled around so much that she made her knees sore but even so, she was happy as could be.

Cole found some slugs in the pea patch that Grandpa didn't know were there.

Grandpa turned 91 in June and his mobility is finally to a point where he consented to getting a little scooter to help him get around. I'm not sure that it is intended for the off-roading he's been doing with it but it makes it a lot easier for him to get out to his garden.

He helped Raya find a pea pod to pick and then showed her how to open it to get the peas out.
She was not interested in eating it like he suggested, but she thought it was pretty neat.

After spending the entire day in the car, a beautiful Utah summer evening was exactly what we all needed. The kids did a karate demonstration for their great-grandparents and Grandpa took the kids for rides on his scooter. We played outside until the sun went down.

When it got dark, we headed inside and got the kids into their pajamas. Raya climbed up onto Grandpa's lap and decided it would be funny to put his glasses on. She is such a funny kid!

The older girls have been taking piano lessons for almost a year now so they decided to play their songs for Grandma. I grew up listening to Grandma play the piano, and I don't think there is another piano anywhere that I love as much as Grandma's piano. As cheesy as it may sound, seeing and hearing my girls play Grandma's piano touched my heart. They loved playing for her and she loved hearing them play.

We sent the kidlets off to bed and decided to let everyone sleep until they were ready to get up and then stay until lunchtime before heading off on the next leg of our trip. We wanted to spend as much time as we could with Grandma & Grandpa since we hadn't seen them in so long.

The kids decided to play outside in the cool morning air after breakfast.

I went outside to get something out of the car and found Raya like this:
When I asked her why she had her blanket outside she said, "I was cold so I have to wear my blanket dress." Always the poser!

We had lunch before we loaded everybody into the car. We hadn't been able to convince Raya to eat anything the day before. Traveling was hard on her body and she just didn't feel like eating. On Thursday, the corn from Great-Grandpa's garden was too tempting for her and she decided she felt good enough to eat some.

Great-Grandma fed Piper some lunch too. This is the great-grandma that she's named after, so it was special for them to meet each other, and I was really glad that Piper was friendly to her. She's finally starting to get past her stranger danger phase a little bit. Giving her food is usually a pretty sure way to make friends with her too.
Piper made herself right at home

We had a few more hugs and kisses, and some more antics from Raya, and then we headed off to Idaho.

Being at Grandma & Grandpa's house was a breath of fresh air for me. It is and always has been my place of refuge. There is no love like that of a grandparent (or great-grandparent!) and being there was like medicine for my soul. I hear so many stories from my friends whose kids have special needs or medical concerns like food allergies, of family members not being kind and accepting of those issues. Going to Grandma's house couldn't be further from that. While we were en route to Utah, Grandma called my mom and asked her what foods Raya could eat. Then she made a special trip to the grocery store to buy margarine, and she came home and baked a bunch of potatoes (even though it heated her kitchen up to about 90 degrees) so that when we got there, she would have something that Raya could eat. She made sure not to put regular dairy butter into the bowl of corn so that if Raya wanted corn, she could have some. I noticed when I put some things in the freezer that she had a bag of rice flour and a couple packages of gluten-free things in the freezer. One of my cousins and a couple of his kids have celiac disease, so she has those things in the freezer in case they come to visit. THAT is what family is supposed to be like. Unconditional love and support. We are used to taking care of ourselves, especially when it comes to our family's dietary restrictions. It's not a big deal to us. We are used to bringing what we need and Raya is used to not eating what everybody else eats most of the time. Having someone go to the trouble of preparing food that she can eat with everyone else is a small gesture that means the world to us. The kids adore their great-grandparents, and the adoration is mutual. They all had their love tanks filled. The whole time we were there, I kept overhearing the sweet comments Grandma and Grandpa would make to each of them. They told the girls how beautiful and smart and cute they are, and Cole how handsome and strong and wonderful he is. Each of them heard over and over again how special they are. They are so blessed to be old enough to make memories with their great-grandparents!


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