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Sunday, March 27, 2011


Such a controversial subject. Much more than I could have ever imagined. I don't usually delve into the reasons behind my hippy choices, but I thought in this case I would. Mostly because everyone had to give me their opinions.

The thing is that no one actually knows anything about the chicken pox. No, I am serious. Some doctors that I have talked to think it is liken to the plague, while others are not bothered by it at all. Some nurses encouraged me to expose my kids, while others thought it was one of the worst things that a person could do. No one could really tell me much about it, how to catch it, how to manage it or how long it lasts....but they could tell me that there is a vaccine.

I have chosen to delay vaccinations for my children because I had an extremely adverse reaction to the DPT vaccine as a 18month old child. So bad that they could not get my fever down for many hours, mis-diagnosed me with meningitis and gave me a spinal tap. I do not feel that I need to take that risk for my sons. I also do not like the fact that the vaccine for chicken pox is now conveniently located in the MMR shot...which is the most controversial shot out there at the moment.

Also, the vaccine schedule changes for children at the age of 7, where you get LESS vaccines and single dose vaccines...shouldn't it be the other way around?

In any case I exposed my middle child because he has the highest immunity and so I thought I would get him done, and then he would pass it to the other two...however, the biggest one got it first, and then the middle.

It is a lot different than I thought it was. They had a mild fever, wanted a little more of a cuddle, and were more wired than anything else...of course they have spots, but at most we have 30. I know that this is probably a mild case, but it makes me wonder why people think the vaccine is any better. Some kids still get it even with the vax, and McLeans just put out an article stating that the risk for shingles (which everyone seems to be up in arms about) is on the rise SINCE the vaccine has been released. But wait! They have a vaccine for shingles now so I guess we are all covered.

In the end I wanted my kids to get it before they were 7. And if they had made it to 7 without catching it naturally then I would have vaccinated them...oh and if you are over 7 and never had it - there is a vaccine for you.

I think what I have learned from this whole experience is to continue to listen to my own gut, do my own research and hope for the best.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flagstaff to Tucson

Arizona is such a neat state as it goes from desert canyons to mountains with pines to saguaro cactus. It really is amazing.

The kids were pretty happy at this part of the trip because we were so close to getting to granny's house. They just sat quietly and played with the myriad of toys that were now strewn around the back seat of the van.

While in Utah I had googled for a store that sold my coconut milk yogurt (which is not available in Canada) and got a hit for Whole Foods in Phoenix. The husband was not happy to be driving through gridlock in the afternoon of a strange city, but it was really cool to see and we liked it instantly.

The problem with this trip was that we were flying through all the cities while the kids were good or the baby was sleeping and missing the travelling part. Seeing the real people in a different city, so stopping to go to a grocery store was actually really cool.

When we got to Whole Foods I felt like I had just hit Disney Land for people like me! Almost everything had a vegan option!! It was amazing! And so many different snacks for the kids. Things that I just can't buy here. I dropped almost 100 dollars in no time....hoping that my food wouldn't spoil before we made it to granny's.

We got some great sandwiches to eat on the way (and these weird smoothie bags for Ewan) and we were on the way.

Less than 2 hours later we pulled into Granny's house! The kids were so excited and we were happy that we just didn't have to sleep in a hotel for another night.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Provo, Utah to Flagstaff, Arizona

I don’t think that I have ever seen anything as beautiful as the drive from Provo, Utah to Flagstaff Arizona. We took the Scenic Byway – Hwy 89 and the sights were something out of this world. From the amazing red rock canyons all the way to the pine trees of Flagstaff this part of the trip was like candy for the eyes.

Of course the kids were less than enthused that we would have 1 more sleep until we saw Granny…”But we are in Arizona mom!!” and so I brought out the sticker books and Bakugan Stickers and all was well for a couple hours. I had also invested in dry-erase crayons and white boards from the dollar store. (much smarter than dry erase markers…)

By waking up early, the baby would nurse before being put in the car and then we would stop for a snack at 10am, then noon for lunch and then 2pm for another snack (unless he was sleeping from 1-3pm) in which case we would push through unless someone had to pee.

The Hwy 89 is like one of those highways that you see in the James Bond movies or car commercials. Incredibly beautiful and roads that wind around and down the moutain ranges. Chris said that he would LOVE to come back with something with a little more horsepower and sleekness than that of a minivan.

We went into Bryce Canyon and I can honestly say that it was the most spectacular thing that I have EVER seen in my entire life and if you are going into Utah it is well worth the stop. We had a nice lunch of Subway that we had gotten from Panquitch, and then after the canyon stopped at the gas station at Carmel Junction to pee and get more water. (The bathrooms were really nice for a gas station! I was pleasantly surprised!)

The next stop was Kanab, but seconds before we hit the town we saw a place that we could go into a cave system, but in true Utah fashion the flow of traffic was going way too fast and the sign came way too late for us to stop and see them. We are going to try for the way back.

As the red rock changed to orange I thought of all the mothers who must have such a job cleaning dirty mud prints from their children and/or pets!

We passed over a dam and decided that when we drove back that it would be a stop, and we stopped at a scenic point to get our pictures taken. The kids were happily watching Ponyo (thanks to a great friend lending me her DVD library) and we continued with not much issue to Page, Arizona.

That is until we left Page. We should have stayed the night as the kids were done! So the next 2 hrs were the worst part of the trip so far. No amount of DVD’s, food or anything would make them happy. So we hit the road hard, and made it into Flagstaff….we did get a little lost and had to rely on the TomTom to make it to the hotel. We ordered from the Olive Garden and went fast to sleep!

Idaho to Provo, Utah

Once the children had been fed and watered at the Lava Rocks we continued on.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see outside because the weather was so bad. We happened to dive right through a snow warning and wished that we had invested in a couple pairs of winter at parts of the trip.

We were so thankful that we have a van with a DVD player in it, as the kids watched back to back movies. Since this day seemed so much longer because of the lack of secenery to look at we brought out the Tag Reader and the Leapster. I had gone out before hand and uploaded new books to the Tag (for Ryan) and we bought a new game for Keenan (which we would have had to anyway, since we lost all the games in the move…what is up with that?!).

But by far the BEST toy that we bought (and that I brought out) for this leg of the trip was a Lego Hero for each of the bigger boys. They played with those robots for hours and hours and hours! They were so obsessed with these toys that we actually bought two new ones for the ride home.

This was the day of great contemplation and conversation for the two adults in the car who do not always see eye-to-eye all the time. Topics ranged from spirituality, to school, to philosophy to 5 year plans and beyond.

I have said many times on my blog about how I have been a single parent this last year with my husband going away so often for work, so it was nice to be able to just have a conversation with him uninterrupted by the children who were glued to Finding Nemo and Lego Heros.

Once we hit Utah we were surprised how it was such a diverse landscape. Which would be a theme that continued with us on the trip down to the bottom of the states.

One thing I can say about Utahan’s is that they are incredibly nice people, so polite and helpful….but the most incredibly fast drivers that I have ever encountered. The flow of traffic was at least 30 over the speed limit making me and my family of travelers looking like an old man going for a leisurely drive on a Sunday afternoon.

Once we hit Salt Lake City we really saw what I would say was the first stereotypical American city that we would see on the trip. HUGE. I thought that my home city was big…um no.

Salt Lake went for miles and its subdivisions were as big as my own city. The architecture was amazing! It was such a beautiful city. We did not have as much time as I would have liked to see it all, but we are hoping to see more of it on the way back.

The kids were melting by the time we made it to the hotel, so the pool was a welcome sight for us all. We also ordered Dominos and were FLOORED by how cheap it was. We quickly had dinner, went for a walk by the river to stretch our legs and went to sleep to get up early for the next day!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Butte Montana to Idaho

Day 2 started not too bad. The kids did not sleep that well because our dog (oh did I mention that we took the dog?) would growl or bark under breath at every. Single. Little noise that she heard…which was a lot when you factor in the partiers that just had to stay up until 1 am that morning. Should I mention that our kids were super loud at 6am and that we didn’t tell them to be quiet, to return the favor. ;P

The breakfast room was amazing! The boys had eggs, fruit, toast and cereal with 3 helpings of juice. We made sure to bring in our to-go cups and Chris filled his with coffee and I with hot water to make instant oatmeal for Ewan later in our trip. (I also took some plastic cultlery and a couple cups that were awesome for putting freeze dried blueberries in for the boys so that they didn’t drop them on the floor of the van.

We drove through the rest of Montana which was pretty chilly weather wise, so we are not too sure why people think that Canada is so cold…because Montana and Idaho are pretty much the same. FREEZING!!

We stopped at the Walmart in Butte to grab some more snacky foods as the ones from home were being depleted pretty fast. We got some buns, peanut butter and jam thinking ahead about lunch. There is a McDonalds in pretty much every town but I am anti McDonalds…I know, I know, every fast food place is just as bad as McDonalds, but I have chosen them as my boycott and so I don’t eat there (or let my kids either – that goes for Wendy’s, DQ, Harveys and the like..)

We had to stop about every two hours for a gas fill-up and a pee from one of the kids (who did really well btw – Ryan kept a clean diaper the whole trip!)

We ended up stopping at Lava Rock formations in Idaho when the weather cleared for a moment to make our PB&J’s and look at the scenery (oh, and feed that baby!!) It was cold! Really cold! They (the husband and the two older boys) only lasted out there for maybe 10 minutes. (they were only wearing polar fleece though.)

Ryan took this opportunity to have the blowout of the century in true vacation fashion and I decided since it seemed that less girls were using the facilities I would take him in to change him.

I did have a little hissy fit as I had not yet figured how to pack the van for optimal usage and the wipes were buried where they shouldn’t be. So I ended up throwing stuff and yelling, and having to meekly apologize once I had attended to the disaster in my 3 year olds pants.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lethbridge, the Border and Beyond

Once we left Lethbridge to continue our pilgrimage to the U. S. of A the ride was smooth sailing. We made sure to leave C-spot before the baby needed a nap so he slept for most of the trip down.

Going through Couts and Milk River was nice to see as we had only been that far once. We hope to make it to Writing on Stone National Park this year…as well as Ontario, and Victoria…lol.

The boarder was not at all what I expected it to be. I seriously thought that it would be a huge wall with guard dogs and guards everywhere…guess I watch too much TV! Not to say that there was no security there, because there was…just not to the extent (that I could see) that I thought there would be.

The guard asked the simple questions, where are we going, how long etc, and looked at the passports. As we drove away K exclaimed that he could see the guards gun.

Once we crossed the border we were heading for Butte Montana.

Montana is a beautiful state with mountain ranges and praire like fields. Other than the speed limit increasing to 130km/hr we didn’t notice much of a difference at all for the first jaunt of the journey.

As we headed towards little towns and cities we could see the shift from Canadian to Americanisms. The signs from the highway were over 50 feet in the air, so you could see them from the highway. Also, the towns were packed really really close together, so you would have nothing to look at but field for miles and then a huge city!

Another thing that we noticed right away was the lack of “Welcome to” signs. There would be a little sign that said Butte X amt of miles away, and then the turn-off but no big sign to say that this was the town. I guess it would be a bit redundant, but I like to take pictures of the welcome signs so I was surprised when there was none to be found.

Butte Montana was again not what I expected. I really thought that American cities were really big and full of super rich people, and in Butte it was kind of the opposite. One main road runs the length of the city and there are casinos on every other, if not every corner. The city looked a little like it was lost in the 1980’s but it was still a pretty little town with all the amenities (read Walmart) that you would ever need.

The best thing about the hotel that we stayed at was that it had a pool and room service provided by Perkins, who also provided the BEST breakfast room I think I have ever seen in all my days of travelling EVER. The boys LOVED the pool and the food and in the end isn’t that all that matters??

Happy Kids for Day 1.

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