Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Grand Canyon: The Bad (but not horribly so)

Even during their best moments, traveling with two small kids was every bit as EXHAUSTING as I had predicted: cleaning sippy cups and bottles in hotel bathrooms; getting them to sleep at night; calming them when they woke up disoriented; waking up on TX time to give them their morning milk; dressing them; bathing them; brushing teeth; applying sunblock; taking G to the potty; changing Nico's diapers; scavenging for something besides bread and yogurt that they would eat; cleaing up after their messes; keeping them hydrated and fed even when we were waiting until later to eat; keeping them busy and entertained with the few things we brought; keeping them quiet so as not bother other guests at hotels and restaurants. I haven't been that tired at the end of a day in a long time... I mean drag-ass, dog-tired!

Actually viewing the Canyon looked a little like this:

Fortunately I was the official photographer, so the hubby had Nico in the back pack or toddling to move his little legs and we both chased after G a little.

What about grandpa you might ask...

Well, he paid for the entire trip, so bless his heart (or whatever)... but he was totally ON VACATION!! (i.e. not all that helpful with the kids.) He had his own room so he slept like an angel--no interruptions. He was also on his own time schedule (that wasn't always convenient for the rest of us).

The first day we were there I got up at 6:30 to shower, exhausted from the previous day's journey from TX to Northern AZ (pretty much all day on an airplane, processing the rental car and then driving 4 hours to the Canyon). He calls at 7:00 and says that he had woken up at 5:30, and had (a relaxing) breakfast. He was getting ready to get in the shower. He suggested we go have breakfast and he would wait for us in his room.

Naturally, he has no idea how loooooong it is going to take to get two adults and two kids ready for the day, to go down to eat (a NOT relaxing) breakfast, get the kids' stuff (drinks, snacks, diapers, lotions, potions, toys, jackets etc.) ready for the day etc. When he called (waaaaaay) later-- we had just eaten breakfast but hubby still had to shower. So he says, I am going to start walking to the park entrance, pick me up on the way.

Of course, that evening he hinted that he'd like to get an earlier start in the morning. So, I got up at the crack of freaking dawn to get as much ready as possible. We had a quick breakfast at the big yellow M and got back to the hotel only to find that Tata had gotten a late start after sleeping in and was not ready. We had to entertain the kids for an hour before we ended up leaving... at the same time as the day before.

He was one or two steps ahead of us most of the trip and we were scurrying to keep up... Ah the joys of traveling on someone else's dime.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grand Canyon part I: The Good

So now that I am back (and partially rested) from our journey to the Grand Canyon, I will fill you in on some of the trip. There is too much to say and too many fotos for one post so I will break it down into segments.

I will start with the positive, because that is just the kind of person I am, (as if you hadn't noticed!)

The Positive: We saw the Grand Canyon!! (which is, of course, in a word, grand) As luck would have it, our first view of the great abyss looked like this:

That's right folks, fog! Our first morning at the canyon was filled with thick dense fog; you could hardly see past the railing. Our two days touring the Canyon's South Rim were mostly cloudy, sometimes foggy, with a dash of rain and a few moments of sunshine-- to let us really appreciate her full depths.

We were undaunted however, and I actually think the clouds lent something to the experience. Some of the shadows that the clouds cast and the occasional rays of light from the sun made for added dramatic effect.

The clouds and rain meant that the Canyon rim and the rest of Northern Arizona that we visited was much cooler than normal for this time of year, or at least much cooler than we had expected... Translation: we were grossly underprepared for the 50 degree temps and chilly breeze. I had packed shorts and light T-shirts. We all had one pair of jeans and a jacket that we ended up over-wearing.

I was born in Mesa, Arizona, but only lived there a year before my parents moved to Utah. For many years, up until my parents divorced, we drove to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with my dad's family. I hadn't thought about that landscape for a long time. I didn't like the area surrounding Phoenix (Mesa is pretty much a suburb now). But I loved the northern part of the state: the mountains, the pines, the canyons, the red rock formations. It was all so familiar to me and it brought back a lot of memories of those trips to Mesa.

Friday, May 15, 2009

OK I'm going... I'm going

Ok, so we are going to the Grand Canyon. We are flying. I have put aside my fears of defunct rental child safety seats--we will not be carrying those on the plane! (yay) (I hope my faith in things beyond my control is not squandered here--they better be in perfect working condition).

Naturally, buying the plane tickets, reserving the mini-van, reserving the hotel rooms (no easy feat at the Grand Canyon one week before traveling at the beginning of peak season), has been left in my hands. Abuelo tries to help, but he is from the generation that wants to go to the airport to buy a ticket. He is also from a country that has fewer inhabitants than the Grand Canyon has visitors in a year--so he was totally baffled when I told him (after calling and checking on the internet) that no single hotel could put us up for 6 nights straight with this short of notice. So we will be winging the lodging a little bit... and that's ok, even for this control freak.


I left gramps with both kids for a few hours the other day while I ran to the U to administer an early final. I left at nap-time and figured he'd be ok. It was fine in the sense that nothing bad happened, but when I came home G was in the front yard alone (just a few moments--but I am wary of even that), Nico was crying, and there were several messes to clean up. I had wanted to go have lunch today with a few friends who are graduating and leaving the country (back to their home countries) but I don't think I can do that again in good conscience. He does fine with one child, especially G who is 3.5, but taking care of two is hard, as even I can attest. So, I will not be lunching with the girls today--boo!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ahh summer... and the in -law

My semester of teaching is over... YAY!!

Last Saturday my suegro (father-in-law) arrived from Chile... to spend a MONTH visiting.

It is great when he visits. He SPOILS us. (even if he doesn't cook, clean or change diapers). He comes loaded with gifts, He takes us out to dinner, gets us all licquored up, and buys us gifts (not necessarily in that order).

Of course, he also pushes my comfort limits as far as outings with the kids. He's all: yes, let's go to a five star restaurant with two small tots... WAY PAST THEIR BEDTIME... no problem; they'll be fine! They are naturally fine, most of the time, but I am a nervous wreck the entire outing.

So this year he's all: Let's go to the GRAND CANYON!!! and I am all: "Yay, always wanted to go there... but... two small problems...they're called KIDS!" We'd have to drive. I don't even want to think about going by plane with two kids and all their gear and carseats blah blah blah. The Grand Canyon is one of those places you want to take your kids--but at an age they will remember it. Not at an age where you constantly have to worry if they will plummet off some precipice while you are snapping a picture of an awesome sunset.

Maybe I am a worry-wart (I AM!) but traveling 10 days in a rented mini-van with two kids and all the sleeping arrangements, eating arrangements, bottle-washing, potty-going, pit-stopping that it entails--- sounds like the very definition of hell.

My husband says that we can't be the first family to travel long distance with small kids, and I know he is right, but I also know that all the planning --the rentals, the reservation, the route, the scenic visits, the packing, the feeding, the washing, the sleep-prep, the meal-prep, the planned entertainment, etc--will rest on my shoulders. Maybe that is why he is so optimistic and laid-back about it (damn him).

Am I just being difficult? Please tell me... honestly... would you want to go?