Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Anlie’s Baptism / Cross Country Summer Trip

=Warning. Boring travel log.=  :) Wow- I am horrible at documenting our family journal/blog. Oh. Well. At least I’m documenting today, right? Well, I suppose I should mention that last December 27th, 2014, our family moved from San Tan Valley, AZ to the Cincinnati, OH area. Michael accepted a position with The Art Institute of Ohio- Cincinnati as the Sr. Director of Admissions & Marketing. I will also mention we are still renting out our house in San Tan Valley (and have been since we first moved to Indianapolis in the summer of 2012). We lived in Arizona for about a year and a half before moving to Cincinnati.

So now that we’re all up to speed :), this last June 20th Anlie turned eight years old! We really wanted to have family be able to attend her baptism so we decided to make a fun summer trip out of traveling across the U.S. Michael wasn’t able to come with us unfortunately. He was under obligation to accept a temporary work assignment in Santa Monica, California. We flew him from L.A. to Phoenix for the weekend of Anlie’s baptism.

We left about 5pm on Wednesday, June 10th, first traveling to Idaho to visit my brother and sister-in-law, Timothy & Kristy, and their family. We arrived Friday the 12th sometime between noon and 2 p.m. I think. They took us up to Yellowstone National Park, Lava Hot Springs, cave exploring and even an evening out at Stoplight Pizza. They had fun slippin’ sliding on a giant tarp in the backyard Kristy hosed down with soap and water and later listened to Uncle Timothy’s true “ghost” stories around a fire while eating s’mores. It was really fun playing and getting to spend time with their family since we rarely see them.

While in Idaho I was also able to attend my Great Aunt Shirley Pincock’s funeral which was nice to be able to go to. Due to the funeral, my mom drove up to Idaho with Cory & Amy who also decided last minute (as in the day of leaving) that they could cram in a quick get-together with my family & Timothy’s in Idaho since they needed to be in Sacramento soon after for Amy’s Uncle’s funeral. Due to Amy’s Uncle’s funeral, they couldn’t stay for Aunt Shirley’s funeral, so that meant my mom needed to catch a ride to AZ with us. That worked out pretty conveniently that the kids got to have Grandma travel with them!

Early Wednesday morning the 17th, we left Idaho and traveled to Arizona for Anlie’s birthday and baptism and my mom’s birthday.  After those events we were able to cram in some dental appointments for the kids with their familiar dentist, a physical for Camby’s school’s cross-country team requirements, and Ryker’s 3-year well visit. Both boys are above 95th percentile for height and about 75th percentile for weight. They must be related. :) Every day we were in Arizona ended up being crazy-busy! I completely spaced getting together with Tiffany Johnson and her kids- something we were looking forward to for several weeks since we haven’t seen them for a couple of years. I was so sad to get a text from her as we were leaving Amarillo on our way home asking if we had already left. Ugh. I was so mad at myself. Oh, well. Anyway, the evening of my mom’s birthday we were also able to go out for frozen custard at Nielson’s with Grandma and Grandpa Neus and spend time with them one last time before going home.

The day after my mom’s birthday, June 27th, we decided to take advantage of being on the west coast and travel on over to L.A. to spend the weekend with Michael in his temporary work-paid-for apartment on the beach for a few days. Hey- might as well visit the beach since it was right out the front door! The kids had a blast. We would have loved to stay longer (um, like the rest of the summer!) but Camby had to be home in time for scout camp. We were also able to walk down to the aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier to let the kids see eels, fish, stingrays, starfish, help feed the swell sharks and touch sea cucumbers and starfish. The day before we left to go back home to Ohio (Sunday the 28th), Cory & Amy and their daughters Ella & Raspberry (Raspberry is a foster child we’re hoping they can adopt) stopped by for about an hour on their drive back to Mesa from Sacramento. It was great to be able to see them one last time before heading back.

I woke up at 4am on Monday the 29th, got ready, and had Michael and Camby help me load the car up for our trip home. We left about 5:30am and traveled to Amarillo, TX where we stayed the night at a hotel. I think we got there around 11 p.m. We left about 10:45 am the next morning and drove all day and night. By the time we reached St. Louis, MO I really wasn’t tired at all so I figured I’d take advantage of the sleeping kids and peace and quiet and kept driving all the way home. We arrived around 6 a.m. Of course it was really like driving only until 3 a.m. since my body was still on west coast time.  😉 We completely unloaded the car, I got the shower I desperately wanted, then I took a little 5 hour “nap”, if you will.  :)

I set my trip odometer just as we left to begin our trip. I check it when we arrived home. 6,502 miles. Yep. We did a LOT of driving in 3-1/2 weeks.

Camby had Thursday through Sunday to recover from all his fun before heading off to scout camp at Camp Friedlander early Monday, July 6th. He comes home tomorrow morning. Yay! Guess who gets to mow the tall grass after all the rain every day this week! (Shh… he’ll be so excited!)

Neus & Johnson Families Spring Break!

I almost completely forgot to post about the awesome spring break trip we took a couple of weeks ago with the Johnson Family.  My friend Tiffany Johnson and I wanted to go do something fun with our kids during spring break, despite the fact neither of our husbands could get time off work to go out of town.  So we decided we would leave “the boys” home and go have some fun ourselves!

Tiff suggested getting a cabin somewhere, so I did some research and we decided to spend our time at the X Diamond Ranch in Greer, AZ. When I called X Diamond Ranch to make reservations, Wink Crigler answered the phone – a unique name that I happened to remember from several years back while working in the Speaker’s office at the AZ House of Representatives.  I had several phone conversations with Wink when making retreat arrangements for the Speaker and Majority Staff.  It was fun to chat with her about old times.  :)

So Tuesday through Thursday (March 15-17) we spent at the Butler House at X Diamond Ranch.  It was just perfect for us and we had tons of fun!  The Butler house sits up on a small hill and down below is a large pond the kids loved to head down to. They used nets to catch tiny baby trout about an inch in length (yes – they let them go when they were done staring at them!)  Further down the hill was the small river that the kids all went fishing at (this time with fishing poles).  They also played in the jacuzzi out on the back porch of the house, pet the horses on the property, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores, drank hot cocoa, went horseback riding, painted a craft I brought up, and even got surprise treats from some leprechauns on St. Patrick’s day (the 17th.)  They got to run around out doors and just be adventurous kids.  It was wonderful.  Camby even went down the stable all by himself and helped with some “chores” – shoveling horse manure!!  And he liked doing it!  Just plain weird… I’m sure the lady in charge had a good laugh.

After checking out of X Diamond Ranch, we stopped by Grandma and Grandpa Neus’ home for a visit; their house is 10-15 minutes away from where we stayed.  Grandma kindly prepared a wonderful lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings and even a bunch of cupcakes.  The kids all had huge appetites and ate a ton – the best they had the whole trip!  (Thanks Grandma!)  Grandpa Neus was down in Mesa/Queen Creek, so we didn’t get to see him that time.

I must make mention of something I did not like about our trip. The morning after we got home my kids all woke up with pink eye and the following day I discovered they also had all contracted foliculitis from the hot tub.  SO not cool – it ended up being $170 in doctor bills, eye drops, and finally antibiotics.  OUCH.  But… I must say it was still worth it.  :)

To wrap things up, here are some photos from our trip:

10.14-20.09 Sandi & Kids Visit Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah with Sandi’s Brothers Casey and Gregory

This was such a fun and relaxing trip!  Yes, including the time we spent at my Great Uncle Merrell Sharp’s funeral.  Michael had work and school, so he wasn’t able to go with the kids and I, but my brothers Casey and Gregory did go with us.  They were awesome help to say the least!  We left Wednesday, the day after Maille’s birthday, and drove up to Mount Carmel, UT, where we stayed overnight at Best Western.  Before we departed Thursday morning, my brother Casey took the kids mountain climbing just outside our hotel room.  Okay, so it wasn’t a mountain, but don’t tell that to my kids!

Kids climbing rock pile outside of Best Western hotel in Mount Carmel

We then drove up to Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, UT and went to the Museum of Ancient Life.  I love that museum.  It was only our second time going.  The last time I was there, Maille was about 10 months old.  I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.  We had lots of fun of course!  There are more pics posted in our photo gallery.

Camby, Maille, Merik, Anlie, Gregory & Casey McDowell outside the Museum of Ancient Life

Anlie, Maille, Merik & Camby in the museum

Camby, Maille, Merik, Anlie & Sandi outside the Museum of Ancient Life

After the museum we drove on up to Timothy and Kristy’s new house in Ammon, ID (just outside of Idaho Falls) and got there that evening just after  the sun went down.  We stayed with them for the rest of the time we were in Idaho.

Friday morning was my Great Uncle Merrell Sharp’s funeral in Pocatello, ID.  It was a gorgeous day!  Below is a photo of the kids sitting on the steps inside the church building where the funeral was held.   My cousin Rebekah Kaylor’s little boy, Houston, is on the far right.  I must say funerals make for good family reunions.

Anlie, Camby, Merik (back), Maille Neus and Houston Kaylor

The cemetery had the most beautiful trees and the kids had tons of fun throwing the leaves around.

Maille Neus, Houston Kaylor and Kelsey McDowell

Houston Kaylor and Anlie Neus

Anlie Neus playing with leaves

After the funeral and the luncheon following, we went to my Great Aunt Shirley Pincock’s House.  She and Uncle Kenton live in a cute little pink house.  Uncle Kenton showed my kids the player piano they have and Aunt Shirley treated them to M&M’s and gumballs from her gumball machines.  Aunt Shirley gave each of the kids a puzzle before we left, too.  We don’t call her “Great Aunt” for nothing!

Sandi's Great Aunt Shirley, Maille, Merik, Camby, Anlie & Gregory

Camby, Maille, & Merik watch Uncle Kenton at the player piano

Aunt Shirley treating Merik & Anlie to the gumball machine

Later at Timothy’s and Kristy’s, Maille, Merik and cousin Trent had great fun launching themselves off the top of the stairs.  I took their pictures when they were airborne, and then they would come check out their photo on my camera to see how high they got.  Then they would go back and try to jump even higher.  I think they did that for about 30 min.  Trent must have springs for legs – that kid got some good air!  Casey thought he’d out-perform them all with a cool spin during his flight off the stairs, but I told him he looked like a dork in the picture.  A wrestling match for my camera ensued (he wanted to delete the picture after he saw it), but even though he won by getting the camera away from me, guess who gets the last laugh?  Me!  His photo is below.  Enjoy!  (Ha, ha, Casey!)

Casey and his "cool" twist off the stairs

Maille's stair jump

Merik jumping

Trent McDowell jumping

Saturday we all went to my Uncle Reed and Aunt Jennifer Haymore’s house in Rigby, aka “Kid Heaven”.  Reed and Jennifer have a small farm with plenty for kids to do and explore!

Merik, Maille, & Anlie looking at deer

Anlie, Merik, Anlie & Kelsey

The kids looking at the rabbits

Merik & Maille playing on the teeter-totter I used to play on (made by my G-pa Haymore)

THe kids playing on the swingset (also made by my G-pa Haymore)

Anlie & Merik on the tractor

Sandi's cousin Brianna (Reed's daughter) giving her little brother & Maille a ride on the quad

Sandi giving Maille, Anlie, Merik and Reed's son a ride

Anlie & Sandi riding Reed's dirt bike

Merik & Camby riding Reed's horse

On Sunday, we packed up all the kids and followed Timothy and Kristy and their family on a two hour scenic drive to Taco Hole and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  We stopped at spot along the Snake River in Taco Hole.  It was just as beautiful as Timothy said it was.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  Why do I live in Arizona again?

Snake River - Taco Hole, WY

Snake River - Taco Hole, WY (Sandi & Kids)

Maille (Snake River - Taco Hole, WY)

Anlie (Snake River - Taco Hole, WY)

Camby (Snake River - Taco Hole, WY)

Anlie & Gregory hiking out (Snake River - Taco Hole, WY)

Running back to the car to avoid the rain! (Snake River - Taco Hole, WY)

Some picks from Jackson Hole, WY:

Sandi's Kids & Timothy's Kids in front of the antler arches

Camby, Maille, Trent, & Merik standing in front of a buffalo outside a shop

Anlie, Camby, & Merik in front of a $35,000 polar bear

Along our trek back to Timothy and Kristy’s, we stopped to say “hi” to a web cam on Teton Pass that Timothy knew about.  It only takes updated photos once every 5 min., so we all lined up beside our Yukon and waited for the photo to take.  I called Michael from my cell phone and Timothy and Kristy called Grandma and Grandpa McDowell from their cell phone and told them to get on the internet to look at the webcam.  It was so cool that they could see us!  It was fun.  Below are some webcam photos they saved for us as well as pictures that we took.  The actual webcam address is

Webcam photo

Webcam photo

Webcam photo

Webcam photo

Kids playing in snow at Teton Pass

Kids playing in snow at Teton Pass

The next day we left Idaho and traveled down to Highland, UT, where my cousin, Rebekah Kaylor, and her family live.  Rebekah and her husband Dave were kind enough to let us stay with them overnight before having to leave early the next morning to travel home.  Below is Gregory airing up our giant soccer ball we brought to play with, in front of Dave & Rebekah’s house.

Gregory airing up our giant soccer ball - Anlie behind him

That ended our Idaho, Wyoming, Utah fun!