Monday, August 15, 2016

Big Family in Big Sky

Only crazy people would load up 7 kids and hit the road for a 2 1/2 day trip to Big Sky, Montana.

We know this.

We still did it.

The adventure outweighs the work.

At least for us!

When we do a big trip, I start packing the kids a week or so ahead of time. This is important because we often travel to climates that are colder or warmer than our current season. Inevitably, I discover that at least a few children have completely outgrown their clothing. This time around, I needed to buy jeans and fall clothes for a few of the kids. Packing early gives me time to purchase the needed items well before. I pack after they are all in bed. I need a lot of brain power for this activity. If I don't concentrate someone could end up with no underwear. This is serious people!

I usually pack myself the night before.

EJ packs himself. God bless him.

The nice thing about having a big vehicle is that we can fit a lot of stuff in there. We pack a cooler for snacks and drinks. We also fit plenty of snacks in storage boxes under the seats up front. You do not want a van full of hungry children. This time around we decided to bring our big water cooler. It was so handy. We all had our refillable water bottles. When we stopped for a potty break we quickly refilled everyone's waters. They were nice and cold!

We also packed a small potty chair in the van but praise God we never had to use it!

The goal was to make it at least 2 hour stretches. This was easier sad than done considering our newest little blessing likes to holler "Poo Poo Potty" when she gets bored even when she does not need to go. The constant holler of "Momma, Poo Poo Potty" became our background noise. As well as, "Gonna Go Bye Bye!" Another of her phrases she uses when she is bored and wants to do something else. Rest assured, we made sure she got to use the restroom when she needed too. 

We met up with my cousin and her family for lunch. It was such a treat to see them even though it wasn't long enough!

We crashed at my Aunt's house our first night on the road. We had so much fun catching up with my Aunt and Uncle and their family. They fed us dinner and then sent us off with full bellies in the morning. My aunt even gave the kiddos each a little activity to keep them busy on the road. What a blessing.

This Daddy was calm, cool and collected. He kept us moving in the right direction and had patience beyond belief. There were plenty of times I thought I would loose my mind. He was my rock.

This is one of my favorite hotel pictures. Little Mei Mei was admiring her cute self in the mirror and had to give that darling girl a kiss.

Locked and loaded. Off for yet another day of driving! It best to keep little E close when we are loading up the car. He is the smallest and the fella most likely to dart into the street.

When we arrived at our hotel we were in awe. What a beautiful place to spend the week!

Unfortunately, we pushed a little past lunch time to get there. A major party foul in the big family travel game. Oh man. We found a restaurant on the property as soon as we could. Our oldest two are cool cucumbers in these situations. Our younger five are not. We survived that meal just barely.

This is my "I'm not sure why we thought this was a good idea, but, Praise the good Lord in Heaven, we made it!"

The view was amazing! As you can tell, it is a ski resort. The lifts were exciting for our kids and terrifying for me as a mother. Great Scott, what is wrong with you people? There are no seat belts on these things. A little person could fall to their death. I can't. I just can't.

My beautiful girls loved finding flowers and sharing them.

There was a face painting booth at the welcome dinner. The kids all love that! I'm pretty impressed with W's tattoo choice. The Beverly Goldberg in me was over the moon. (If you do not know this reference, do yourself a favor and watch every episode of The Goldbergs)

Daddy and the big boys went on a lot of afternoon adventures while the little four napped. It was a great set up. I could relax and enjoy the beautiful view and a cup of coffee. They would always come back with pictures and tales of their time on the mountain.

There was an awesome playground with a little rock climbing wall. Our little four played there daily.

These two cuties were pretty excited about heading to Yellowstone.

Until they figured out that it was an hour just to get there and then we continued to drive through the park. This little one was not impressed. A nap sounded much better.

We got to see Old Faithful erupt twice!

Sometimes I can't decide if I am going to do a full toothy grin or a closed mouth smile. Sometimes I get caught somewhere between and end up with this buck tooth number. I'm so glad I could do that during our perfectly timed selfie with Old Faithful erupting in the background. Nailed it.

I kept Mei Mei or Little E on my back a lot of the time. It was best to keep them happy and moving.

Big Brother W wanted to try carrying little E on his back. It didn't last long but I got this adorable picture.

The highlight of our Yellowstone day was this big fella walking down the road. It was a thrill to watch the bison walk right by us!

EJ took the older three back the next day. 
(The little ones were done after one day)

Back at the resort, our older boys tried rock climbing and another awesome ride called "the giant swing". I wish I had gotten pictures of them doing that!

The bungee trampoline was a hit with our kids! It was fun to watch them jump and flip. I was amazed at the bravery of our youngest ones.

The resort had laundry facilities. I joked that I was having flashbacks to my college days. Of course, I do a ton more laundry now. It was a great perk of the trip. I only needed to pack enough clothes to get us through half the week.

It took me to the very end of the week to get enough courage to take all the kids up the mountain. We put Mei Mei and Little E in our carriers and split up between two ski lift benches. I held on to my people with a death grip. They were all happy to ride up. No one was scared. I was impressed. Well, when I thought about it later I was impressed. At the time, I was trying to breathe steadily and stop considering what could happen.

(EJ with 3 kids on the way up the mountain)

(me with 4 kids trying not to hyperventilate)

The reward for the ride to the top was a beautiful view and the kids zip line. Our kids loved it. I cannot believe that our little ones did it too. They were so brave and adorable in all that zip line gear. They didn't cry or act scared at all. From the tallest to the smallest they just went for it.

All gussied up for our farewell dinner.

By the end of this very long road trip it was buck tooth grins for all! (This moment brought to you by two people who just cleaned up a child's puke at a rest stop. Those mountain roads can cause some serious problems)

We finished up our journey with an overnight visit to Papa and Nana's house. (my grandparents) The kids love it when we visit. It was a short but precious time. I hauled our dirty clothes in like a college kid and ran the washer and dryer the whole time we were there. It was such a blessing to come home with clean clothes.

(Mei Mei was smitten with them right away)

Sometimes you have to kick everyone else out of the picture and take a picture with your Papa and Grandma all by yourself. Move over children!

It was a wonderful trip! Now back to our busy life at the Barn House. We are gearing up for our 2016-2017 Home School Year.