Our Family Unit
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  • July11th


    After touring the Country Boy Gold Mine, we drove to a beautiful little campground right outside of Redstone, Colorado.  Although it was a popular place (nearly every spot was full while we were there), it was still so quiet and secluded.  I had reserved a shared camping spot for our Roo and the In-Laws’ RV, and it worked out great!  Room for all the vehicles but still close enough that the kids could go over to Omama’s and Opa’s for breakfast every morning.


    I’m sure camping with family could be a traumatizing experience for some, but we’ve had smooth sailing each time we go.  That’s primarily due to Kurt and Tammy being so relaxed and laid back about what we do.  When traveling with Littles, it seems that nothing ever really goes according to a schedule and you always have to consider your day being about half as long as normal since they all need naps at some point.  But Kurt and Tammy just left all the planning to us and were willing to go with the flow each day.


    Logistically, we had a rough agenda for each day but left lots of room for flexibility.  We even had an entire day of ‘nothing’ to let the kids just play and nap and not have to sit in their carseats.  For meals, each family unit did their own breakfasts and lunches and then we ate the dinner meal together.  Since we camped four nights, each family was in charge of cooking two meals.


    Pretty much every waking moment we were at the campsite that was not taken up with eating, the kids were out exploring the meadow…looking for bugs, animals and treasures.  We were lucky enough to spot a deer one morning.  The grass was tall enough that if they laid down it was difficult to see them, so they invented their own version of hide-and-seek.


    On the ‘nothing’ day, we went into Redstone to wander around the cute shops and inn.  It’s an old coal mining town and these are the coke ovens situated right at the entrance to the town.


    Opa and the kids played at the playground, while Omama and I checked out the antique shop.


    File:General store and adjacent building, Redstone, CO.jpg

    It was such a beautiful area and the little town was so quaint!  I fell in love.  We even checked out a property that was for sale there…  It wasn’t meant to be this time around, but who knows what the future holds.  ;)


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  • July5th

    country boy mine-2

    The big adventure on our second day camping was visiting the Country Boy Gold Mine in Breckenridge.  I married Kyle for better or worse, in sickness and in health.  Part of the worse/sickness is his inexplicable infatuation with ridiculous gold mining shows.  We’ve seen gold mined in Alaska, in the ocean, in the jungles of Africa, in South America…the drama that surrounds each show is unending, and to be honest, more than I can take.  However, seeing history in real life is something I do love.  This stop had something for everyone.

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    We took a tour of the mine itself, which was fun.  It was crazy to see, feel and hear about the working conditions the men, and even young boys, worked in.

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    After the tour we all got a chance to pan for gold, but sadly came up empty handed.  I thought I’d won the jackpot though since no one fell in.

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    The slide down the old mine shaft was definitely Woody’s favorite part!

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    But Jessie liked picking out her bag of souvenir rocks, every one of them pink.  This was a great stop for the kids: lots of history, lots of hands on, and again, an absolutely beautiful drive getting there.

    country boy mine-4

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  • July3rd

    trail ridge road-4

    After all the wedding festivities were over, we spent a week with Kyle’s parents camping in the Colorado Rockies.  It was GORGEOUS!  Ever since moving away, I’ve missed Colorado, but mostly just because that’s where family is.  This camping trip made me fall in love with the beauty of Colorado again.


    The first day we drove up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park where I got to take a trip down memory lane.  As a kid, every time my family went to Estes Park we stopped at Ride-a-Kart for Go Kart racing and Bumper Boats.  I couldn’t drive through with my kids and not stop.  The kids had a great time, the grown-ups acting like kids may have even had a better time.  After a picnic lunch, we headed out of Estes to drive Trail Ridge Road.

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    Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, crossing the Continental Divide and soaring to over 12,000 feet!  There was still plenty of snow, despite it being the first week of June!

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    And the scenery was beyond spectacular, just jaw-dropping beauty around every turn.

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    We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center to learn more about the area and let the kids play in the snow.  Our California boy was loving every minute!

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    As we drove down the western side of the trail, we saw all kinds of animals…especially elk.


     We stopped for the night at Stillwater Campground on the edge of Lake Granby.  This was literally the view right outside the door of our Roo.  Fantastic!


     We setup the camper and then while the boys (sans Buzz) went fishing, the girls grilled steak and we ate fajitas for dinner.  Jessie is a wonderful “mommy’s helper”.


    It’s hard not to fall in love with this place when the sunsets are like this!  :)



    Enjoying breakfast and the view the next morning before heading out on a new adventure.  If you can’t play outside in your pajamas when you’re camping, when can you do it?



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  • June26th

    park with 3-4

    We’ve had so much success with our Obedience Chart that I thought I’d share what it is and how it works…maybe it would be helpful to some of you.  Surprisingly, my genes did not produce a single perfectly behaved child!  I know, you’re probably as shocked as I am!  Instead, they all need lots of guidance, correction, and praise…not to mention a good example to follow…in order to learn how to obey.  Talk about a time intensive task, it’s never-ending!  The Obedience Chart is a tool that I dreamt up to help me stay consistent and keep us all on track.

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    Kids go through stages in everything, including discipline.  As young as 6 months, you’re teaching them the word “no”.  Then at a year, you want them obeying simple rules or following your directions.  At two, you have to go through the frustrations of lack of language skills compounded with increased physical independence.  But as they get older and start to develop their reasoning skills and abilities to make choices, it seems like everything gets kicked up a notch.  I felt like my entire day was filled with just correcting, saying no, or dreaming up some creative punishment that would hopefully get the message through THIS TIME.  Enter the Obedience Chart.

    What It Is

    In Excel, I made this chart

    obedience chart-1

    and we have it on our fridge.

    At the top I wrote out Ephesians 6:1-3 and over the first week or so that we used this, I had Woody memorize it.  Kids ask WHY about everything, and obedience is no different.  They need to know the reason and logic behind WHY they must do what I ask them to do, otherwise frustration and resentment build up inside of them.

    Next I put in very clear terms what I expected – First Time Obedience and Respect.

    Each time I “catch” him doing something right, he gets to make a green mark, but if he chooses to disobey then he has to put up a red mark.  For every 25 green marks, he gets a prize.  Originally this was a basket of Dollar Store prizes that he picked from, but now it can vary from a special prize to extra time with a game to his choice of rare activity.  The most recent one was doing a project with Dad (building this wooden car from a kit I’d picked up at a flea market).

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    For every 10 red marks, there’s a consequence.  These vary too, from a favorite toy being banned for a few days to a time out to chores…just about anything that I can think of to keep him on his toes.

    Why I Set It Up This Way

    He is the primary mark-maker.  I want him to be very aware of whether he is choosing right or wrong, this provides a tangible way to do that.

    25 Green vs 10 Red.  Life doesn’t always pat you on the back when you do right, but there are always consequences to doing wrong.  I want him to be rewarded for making right choices, but not “expect” a reward for every good deed, if that makes sense.  So I have the reward be harder to earn, not to mention that I don’t want the bad behavior to go on and on and on before a punishment is enforced.

    The Unknown Consequence.  10 red marks does not always result in the same punishment.  I don’t want him to weigh out the consequence in his head and choose to disobey.  (ie. I don’t mind losing my transformer for 2 days, lieing about picking up my toys is worth it)  When it’s unknown, the risk is greater.

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    Why It’s Working

    I’m more consistent.  All disobedience (aside from something really major – “I bit my sister and stole her toy”) gets the same reaction – Put Up a Red Mark.  It’s easy!  I can do it if I’m cooking dinner, if I’m in the grocery store, if we’re at the park, if I’m feeding Buzz, whatever.

    • Did you talk back?  Put up a red mark.
    • Did I have to ask you three times to pick up your cars?  Put up a red mark.
    • Did you throw a fit in the middle of Target?  You’ll have to put up a red mark when we get home.

    It goes the same for green.

    • Thanks for helping your sister find her shoes.  Put up a green mark.
    • Thanks for obeying the first time.  Put up a green mark.
    • You used great manners at dinner.  Put up a green mark.

    It also reminds me to notice the good and praise him for it.  Sometimes my tendency is to only notice the bad because that’s when I get tired or frustrated, but reinforcing the good benefits us both.

    I realize it’s not rocket science, but it has revolutionized our home and saved my sanity.  Maybe it’ll help you and your kids out, too.  If you’d like a copy to try it for yourself, click here.

    park with 3-5

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