Tuesday, May 28, 2013

190 lbs, 20 miles, 48 hours.

This Memorial day weekend, we bravely decided to go on our very first family backpacking trip.  It took the week to get the packs organized, the food distributed, the fleece hoodies accounted for, the checking and rechecking to make sure we had everything we might possibly need.  It takes a lot to pack for 7.....and then cram it all into trail backpacks!

When all was said, done, packed and weighed........we carried 190 lbs on our backs between us all!  190 pounds, really?!  Yes, really...here's the breakdown:
Bill: 52lbs
Me: 31lbs
Gregory: 29lbs
Jacob: 33lbs
Eric: 20lbs
Luke: 16lbs
Laurel: 9lbs

Impressive right?  I sure thought so.  And worried.  And wondered if we'd actually be able to hike ourselves into camp 6 miles from the parking lot!  Of everyone, I think Bill and Luke were the most excited.  Luke was thrilled to pieces that he was actually carrying weight in his pack!  He got new trekking poles the morning of-

The least excited?  Laurel.  She was so disappointed that she did not get to carry a backpack EXACTLY like Luke's and was relegated to carry a school backpack.  It was a darn good thing that ALL she had to carry because she complained about how heavy it was.  A lot. But it all started out with smiles and great attitudes!  We picked the kids up form their last day of school, they changed in the car, we made our last civilized pit stop at a McDonald's
 Little did we know she'd be carried like this again.....
Strapping on the packs.......saying our prayers!
This was only me second time backpacking, and I should clarify that by saying the first time I backpacked was when I was 14 years old!  I think I did pretty darn good.  I was NOT one of the big complainers!  
It didn't take long once we started the hike into the wilderness area for the beauty of that area to make itself known.  The weather was perfect-not too warm and not too cool-and hiking with a view made it that much better!

A little map reading training along the way.  Bill was really good to bring all the kids over and pull the map out whenever we came to a trail marker.  The older boys, from their backpacking trips with scouts, knew a fair amount, but the refresher was still good for them.  Me?  Still lost, even with a map.  For all the directional skills my mom has, I am like my grandma.....lost in a paper bag!
And on we went.....
After the first 2 miles in, we got our first reward....a beautiful meadow where we took our packs off and enjoyed a 20 minute snack break.  And for others, a shirtless break.
At about 3 miles, we knew we might be in for a little bit of whining when Bill has to resort to prodding Laurel to keep walking.  Using his trekking pole!
 But cool things like this kept us all going-and they are all smiling too!
Things got a bit iffy when Bill kept telling the kids 'we're almost there, just a little bit farther!'  In fact, I even caught myself telling him to stop saying that!!  We FINALLY made it to our campsite after 4 &1/2 hours of hiking.  Whew!  It was worth the hike!  It was secluded, surrounded by pine trees on one side, high rock walls on another side and a huge granite rock slab in the middle, perfect for throwing all our stuff on, cooking on, standing on....
The first night of sleep was.....umm...cold!  Despite beanies, long johns and a warm bag, I was still freezing!!  It didn't help that my inflatable sleeping pad evidently had a few holes we were unaware of until the middle of the night. Yeah, sleeping and camping are NOT synonymous!
But the morning arrived sunny and beautiful!

 I think he likes those trekking poles!!
There was a stream that ran right behind our camp and was so convenient when we needed to filter more water.  The filter pump was SO interesting to many!
We ate breakfast....2 packs of oatmeal for everyone but Laurel, who packed her own dry cereal because the smell of flavored oatmeal makes her gag...then packed up our lunch and some snacks for another hike to another beautiful area that was 4 miles away.  Thankfully, we made the smart decision to leave our tents where they were and just make it a day hike.  Best decision of the trip!  Because the boys and Bill are still building endurance for their big Philmont experience this summer, they carried packs for the day.
 Hunting for fish in the streams helped pass the miles.....
 And yes, we did wear the same clothes for 2.5 days!!
There were marshes that we would stumble across and Bill would ferry Laurel across since she didn't have hiking boots-
We even saw snow!  Lots of it along the way actually......
Look.  A smile from the Gregory...
The further we hiked, the more sweeping the views became until we found ourselves in the middle of the San Pedro Park.  10,200 feet in elevation.  Can you believe we have such amazing views in New Mexico?!!
 Perfect place for a lunch break!

Now, for the TMI part of this post.  Bill has said that his favorite memory of this trip was the circumstances surrounding the sap that went up the back of my shirt and pull over.  Well, my first and only experience with 'dug' the shovel and needing to use the restroom led me to lean on a tree that was literally dripping sap all over the place.  But I was too concerned with making sure NO ONE could see me, that checking out the tree itself was so far from my mind.  So, I found relief in one way but made a mess of myself in another!  Oh well, live and learn right?!  Yep, I'll choose my trees more wisely next time!  The boys laughed at me too......
On our way back to camp, Gregory was determined to try and fly fish.  He was also pretty sure he'd catch one.  Well......he tried but didn't catch one.  It was nice to just stop along the way and relax by the stream!
One of my favorite photos of the weekend-they were 'very quietly' watching G try to fish.
As luck would have it, after getting back to camp, Eric picked up G's pole, dropped a fly into the water and caught a fish!!
Eric was thrilled.  Gregory was annoyed. 
We finished up night number 2 with some more backpacking meals (actually NOT all that bad if I do say so myself!) and sunshine.
Sunday morning we packed it all up, looking forward to less heavy packs...but knowing full well we had a looong way to get back to the car!
 Ever seen a skunk cabbage?  We saw plenty of them and the kids thought they were great fun to poke their trekking poles into also.  They did give off a hint of skunky smell and after getting home, I looked up whether they are edible.  Turns out they are, so long as you boil the leaves.  But be prepared, apparently eating the leaves makes your tongue feel like it's burning.  Good times!
 Laurel had fun collecting dandelion bouquets.  Those flowers were everywhere!
 Some silly play in the meadow after we stopped for a quick pack lunch (beef jerky, tortillas and peanut butter, fruit chews, granola bars).
 All in all, we hiked 20 miles is exactly 48 hours!  We made it without any major injuries or arguments and only minor complaining considering the scope of the trip!  Luke was the rock star of the trip.  He had the best attitude and the least complaints!  That boy was born to be a camper!

The end result of eating a lot of the food we carried-our pack weights on the way out:
Bill: 43lbs
Me: 27lbs
Gregory: 33 (his actually went up)
Jacob: 32lbs
Eric: 17lbs
Luke: 10lbs
Laurel: 4lbs

24lbs of food eaten!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Braces for 2. Painful in more ways than 1.

We knew it was coming.  For years we have known it was the inevitable choice.  Crowded teeth, cross bites, deep bites, overbites......they had it all.  So on a chilly January morning....we made our way to the orthodontist in preparation of what was to come.  Of course, being prepared to cover it all financially, I'm not sure there is ever a good way to do that.  It's pretty shocking!  We have been blessed with relatively healthy children so our health care spending account has had some time to build up a balance.  That we wiped in one fell swoop.

To the tune of nearly $8600 once the sibling discount and paying in full discount had been applied, our boys are the proud owners of tinsel teeth for 18-24 months!  The good thing is we love our orthodontist, the staff, and the office is close to home!

Gregory is pretty anti-photo these days, so Jacob was my smiling subject for the event.  Before:
During (he's not going to be very happy about this one, but it's for posterity!  Yes, strictly for posterity!) That gadget was pretty funny.......
And these days, they have a palette of colors to choose from when it comes to the elastics around the brackets.  I think the only choice I got was boring old gray!

After:  What? What's that flash of ivory and silver?  Oh, it's just a forced smile from Gregory.

The even better news is that after only 4 plus months in braces, Jacob has already moved out of cross bite and perhaps shaved a few months of his sentence!  It's the small things we rejoice in!