Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Greetings from Vail! It is a little icy here. Not much snow to speak of, but we are making the most of it.

The amazing bright sun was out all day, which made up for 1/3 of the mountain being closed. It was truly a beautiful day!


We all met mid way up the mountain for a high quality lunch consisting of butter noodles, chips and Gatorade. (the entire family needs to go into carb rehab)


I took a lesson with Dalai Daniel (age 7) and my niece (age 8) and they constantly had to wait for me. It was ridiculous.

After accidentally tripping Dalai D twice (once causing the lift to shut down), he frustratedly yelled “See, that’s why I didn’t want you in my lesson!”

Whatever, Dalai D. I may suck at skiing, but I looked good. Not everyone can have a hot mom like this…

Have a great week and I’ll be back in force next week! I love you guys!

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 St. Louis Arch


They may look peaceful. Even cute.


Annabelle in the Arch


But they are complete terrors.


Daniel at the St. Louis City Museum


Three and a half hours with  them in a car and two tourist attractions later,  I question why God allowed me to raise 4 children.


Because I don’t like them anymore.


Max at the top of the St. Louis Arch


If I hear one more interpretation of Fat Bastard, have to endure another burp contest in the car with my 85 year old grandmother, or listen to them yell “STOP IT THOMAS!” for the 249th time, someone might get hurt.


Thomas in the St. Louis Arch


Why do I keep pretending that I like traveling with my children?


I always forget to remind myself.  They kind of. Well.  Suck.


There, I said it.



It doesn’t mean I don’t love them.


It just means I’m locked in my hotel room right now, venting, because its best for all of us.


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We just got back from Napa and as I am writing this, my body is confused why it isn’t drinking wine. Or maybe it is confused because I am still full and intoxicated from dinner two nights ago.

A quick explanation: we spent the weekend in Napa with 16 people, celebrating some 40th birthdays. Namely Dalai Dan and my brother-in-law, Metro Mike.

He carries a man purse and gets his fingernails buffed.

(I’m actually kidding about the buffed nails, but I am certain he secretly longs for a pedicure)

So, back to the weekend and the story of grapes. They look so innocent, hanging on the vine, don’t they? Waiting to alter rational thought patterns after their metamorphosis into the Devil’s brew.

They only way one can keep up the pace of all day tastings is to eat. Lots. Who could blame me? Look at one of our “healthy” meals. I couldn’t get a photo of the Taylor’s Refresher (now named Gott’s Roadside) burger and garlic fries because I ate them too fast.

After a full day of wine tours, I attempted to work off the 12 glasses of wine I consumed in order to get ready for dinner and another round of eating. (They were only “tastings” so surely the total was only 4 hefty glasses)

Meadowood resort has the most amazing hiking trails that I have ever experienced. Who would have expected to get charged by a flock of wild turkeys? I nearly fell down the hill racing after them to get you some sought-after turkey photos. I didn’t want to let you down.

Introducing, your free-range Thanksgiving dinner:

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I’m sorry I went MIA. If I was a blogger worth a bag of beans I would have prepared better for my absence – maybe a guest blog? What do you guys think about those?

So, here is what went down: a four-day Pissy Missy and Dalai Mom ultimate weekend of girl bonding. You see, Dalai Dan and the two middle boys went on a boy’s trip to Southern California, leaving us girls behind. When Dalai D was planning this trip, I had just returned from my epic Brazil adventure and couldn’t fathom getting on another airplane for at least 6 months, so I opted to stay home. Little did I know the Midwest was going to get stuck in a high pressure weather pattern and experience three massive heat waves. Stupid Dalai Lina. Never give up a trip to California.

The nice thing was Pissy Missy and I had an entire weekend together. While her left hand was already beginning to fuse to my thigh after 5 years of skin-to-skin contact, this girl intensive weekend made us certifiably conjoined.

Let me bore you with the details (you can stop reading now)

On the first day we both got massages, went out to lunch, went shopping for a Ken to get married to Barbie, got ice cream, watched Bed Knobs and Broomsticks until 10:30 and had a sleepover in my bed where she spent most of the night perpendicular to me, kneading my butt with her feet.

The second day was filled with the new Winnie the Poo movie, shopping for soccer cleats, looking at Pet Smart animals, playing with the treasures we unearthed in the basement revival, swimming at the pool, and having a slumber party with our only girl cousin.

Saturday was the pinnacle of girl entertainment: the American Girl Store. Pissy Missy’s grandma “Annie” took her, her cousin, and me (lucky) to lunch, mall shopping, and finally the American Girl store where my appendage acted like an entitled brat who had warrant for emancipation on the grounds we would not buy her the new Kanani doll. Annie would ONLY buy her a $30 tennis outfit for her Rebecca doll. Oh the horrors.

It was at that moment I realized she may be spoiled. And I may be responsible. Maybe I went a little overboard. Was it the massage? The trip to three toys stores searching for the perfect Ken doll?

What, dear God, have I created?

A Pissy Missy, doggonit.

A funny, silly, beautiful, kind, smart, loving HOLY TERROR. And I thank heaven every day for that little imp.

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Well, my oldest is off to camp – for a month! Not only did I just send him off today, with no chance to see him for 28 days…I sent him on a plane by himself for the first time in his life.

I am still a little shocked how easy it was for me to hand him over to a stranger and trust that another stranger is going to pick him up on the other side. Will they let him call me when he makes it or will I have to find out in a couple of days after spotting him in a random online archery photo?

It just about killed me when I saw what he picked out to fly to camp in. They most hideous lacrosse shorts ever manufactured. Yes, those are bananas. And monkeys. Constructed from a grade of polyester fabric that was only intended for Halloween costumes and Dairy Queen uniforms.

It took every ounce of self-restraint not to meddle in his camp fashion statement that included a 2-year-old stained tee shirt he got free one summer. If he turned around you could see “DICKINSON” clearly spelled backwards because he wrote it on the tee shirt (not the tag) in black sharpie that bled through onto my kitchen table.

My sweet, kind, high maintenance son. What will I do without you here to make me play cards with you a dozen times a day? To feed every two hours? To tell you to be quiet? Even though some days it may not seem like it – I will miss you. Terribly.

After three weeks. Maybe two and a half.

Bye, Bye, my big boy! Now it is the jetway to camp. Next to college. Then your wedding…it is going way too fast!

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A lot of you are wondering how my sweet husband fared with three kids while I was away for 7 days with Dalai T. You also are curious how and why I ended up in the Amazon rainforest.

A quick explanation: a good friend of mine works a lot in Brazil (above in purple) and has many great connections. Her son and my son are in the same 3rd grade class. They spent most of this year studying the rainforest so she came up with the great idea of taking some of the boys on a rainforest adventure with their moms. Sold!

This meant that Dalai Dan would have to fend for himself with the other 3 kids: Max (11), Daniel (6) and Annabelle (5).

Before you give the man too much credit, you have to take into consideration my formula, n-1. Simply put, no matter if you have 2 kids or 8 kids, take one away and it is exponentially easier. And there are usually diminishing returns after one child since then they feel entitled to your focused attention. Jeez.

I got a sense they didn’t miss me much almost immediately. My first interaction was with Dalai Daniel:

“Oh, honey, it is so good to see you – I missed you so much!” I said to him. He is very stoic and not one to say anything too loving, so I was surprised when he said,

“I was SOOOO different when you were gone.” My heart was melting.

“We got to eat junk food all the time!” Well, doesn’t that just warm the heart…

Over the course of the next few hours, I learned that dad is basically a GOD. The Messiah had come for 7 days, saving them from the dark forces of chores, bedtimes, healthy eating and general sound parenting.

1. They ate out for every meal.

2. They stayed up late eating popcorn and watching Modern Family every night.

3. They rotated sleeping with dad.

4. They each got to pick out a toy at the toy store.

5. They got ice cream frequently.

6. They each picked out their own cereal: Coco Krispies, Frosted Flakes, and Captain Crunch.

7. They went to the movies and where encouraged to eat candy.

8. They went to a friends ranch, swam in the creek, and got ticks.

9. They practiced baseball batting at the park to test a new bat and batting gloves.

10. They went to the pool and the Messiah actually got in and swam with them.

How do I even begin to pick up the pieces? I am doomed. Jehovah has given them a taste of the sweet life and now they expect fudge bars and Family Guy.

It’s going to be a long summer…

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If you ask the boys what their favorite excursion was, they would all say cayman hunting. Hands down.

Now, when I envisioned cayman hunting, I figured that the creature would be about 4 or 5 feet and would have to be caught with a net or some kind of loop on the end of a stick.

I was completely wrong.

We started in our canoe around 8:30 in the pitch blackness of the night. The sky was lit with thousands of stars as we drove our canoe down the river. Our boat driver had a flashlight that he would shine in the marshy areas, looking for a set of eyes peering above the water. We had to keep silent, which the boys did surprisingly well. The anticipation, energy and a bit of trepidation kept all of us on high alert.

Finally, after about 30 minutes of searching, our boat quieted to a stop.  Did they finally find one?  How was he going to capture it?  We watched with anticipation. And then it happened:  our boat driver, Oilson, dove into the water.

We all about shat in our pants.

Was he going to have to wrestle it with his bare hands?  Would it bite him?  How was he going to pull the beast back in the boat?

Then it all became quite clear:  the 18″ cayman resembled an overgrown lizard. How Oilson even managed to spot the little thing was amazing, let alone dive in with such precision that he managed to grab the little guy.

We drove back the the hotel dock in order to properly examine HER (which I know because they specifically showed us).  I found the photo below quite amusing.  What is the matter with my disturbing imagination?

Finally, Thomas got a chance to hold this ferocious beast, risking life and limb for an unparalleld experience…

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Hello everyone! I’m sorry it has been a couple of days – funny enough, we got great phone and wireless internet at our rainforest hotel, but nothing at our hotel in Manaus (the big city we flew in and out of).

It was actually quite funny to be in the middle of overgrown vines in a wooden canoe fishing for piranhas and hear a cell phone ring. I was too cheap to pay the $2 a minute rate, so my poor family got one “WE ARE ALIVE” text and had to rely on the blog for updates.

These photos don’t give the experience justice. It is so hard to capture vastness of the overgrown vines enveloping you as your canoe weaves through the engorged river. There were times we had to duck as low at the boat to avoid the low hanging branches, scrape between two trees, or drive right through a patch of foliage. And then there were the sounds! Monkeys, birds, frogs, bugs. Between the new sounds and sights, I felt my senses where on high alert, taking it all in.

The boys LOVED piranha fishing. Most of the piranhas we caught were young and small, but they still packed quite a mouth full of teeth!

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There were a lot of photos like the one above.  Long protruding flesh torpedos.

But we got some that look like this.  His beautiful pink underbelly was soft and squishy.

Even though we were in the river and these were wild dolphins, they were used to people.  You could feel them swimming past us, under us, and occasionally poking us.

Thomas (and all the boys, quite frankly) were pretty scared of them, which surprised me.  There was something about the darkness of the water that made the experience more uncertain.

I, frankly, loved them.  The pink river dolphins feel different from the grey dolphins we are used to.  More like soft sponges.

But even though they were WILD, they couldn’t help but put on a show for us. AMAZING!!!! Monkeys: Check. Wild Dolphins: Check. Coming up: piranhas and caymas. This place is incredible!

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Greetings, awesome readers! I’m so sorry I’ve been out of touch! As you may recall, Dalai Dan and I returned from France Saturday, May 21st evening, and only 6 days later Dalai T and I were off to visit the Amazon Rainforest.

To say the turn around was a bit stressful is an understatement. I had barely unpacked my bags before I had to repack them – but with an entirely different set of clothes. Between the laundry, organizing, emails, and various obligations I had put off for 10 days, I also wanted to spend time with my kids. I was about to leave 3 of them AGAIN and that thought was creating a lot of anxiety for me. There were times before I left that my heart was racing so fast I thought I may be experiencing a panic attack!  That is when practicing meditation, deep breathing and acupressure comes in handy 🙂

After a crazy long journey (going to Manaus, Brazil is not easy to do from Kansas City) which included flying from Kansas city to Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest, taking a car to the Miami International Airport, racing to catch our Miami to Sao Paulo flight, flying 8 hours overnight, laying over for 4 hours, taking a 4 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Manaus, waiting for 3 hours for our ferry, then finally taking a 2 hour ferry ride to our rainforest hotel…….we were all a little tired.

Can you tell?  Thomas is about ready to fall asleep on the ferry…

The wind and view perked him up, though…

And when we FINALLY arrived, these little guys greeted us:

Mommy monkeys and there babies were EVERYWHERE!

If we had to go back to Kansas City tomorrow, the trip would have been worth it!  Oh, but there is so much more, like cayman hunting, piranhas fishing, boat riding….I’ll show you it ALL!!!  I love sharing this with you and appreciate you enduring it with me 🙂

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