Monday, September 29, 2014

2 Great Granny's House We Go: A Hepworth Family Trip Memoir

Squire had his big Step II CS (clinical skills) exam to take up in L.A. this past week. We decided to make it a family trip so we could all spend a little time visiting with my Granny Shanks. The only problem was, our Jeep has been kind of having a lot of problems lately. The air conditioning? Yeah, it hasn't worked since I got back from visiting my family at the beginning of July.

*Speaking of which: Did I ever tell you all about that time I drove to Phoenix and back with two kids, by myself, huge, pregnant - in a Jeep with no air-conditioning in 110* degree weather? To buy a nice bunk bed for a great price? And how I (with help from the gal at the consignment store) took apart the bunk bed and tied it on top of the Jeep with my big pregnant belly and two children, ages 3 and 1? And all my granny knots kept the bunk bed attached to the top of the Jeep the whole time? And how I got us all home alive - with crazy 70mph wind-blown hair, but alive and happy nonetheless? We made sure to visit to the Mesa Temple Visitor center to cool off, enjoy a break, and to feel some peace on those sacred grounds before we made our way back to Tucson. I'm sure that contributed to the success of the day. But, I kind of consider that day one of my major life accomplishments at this point. It prepared me for what we did this last week . . .*

Yeah, we drove, to California - without air-conditioning. About an 8-9 hour drive with kidlets. With no air-conditioning.

Here is Squire preparing for that trip, the kids helping him fill the tires for the long drive . . .  

This time however, we were not unprepared! Haha! ;)

Like the routered edge on that high-class solid wood fan stand? :)
And these little ice pack pillow beauties I whipped up for the kids, to help them keep cool?
Now, not only were we prepared to face the lack-of air-conditioning. We were also able to get there and back without the car overheating, which it had done a couple of times recently. Long story short, the fan wasn't cooling the radiator. Squire did lots of stuff to fix the problem. Perhaps there is a problem with the computer in the car, or the temperature sensor, but the fan wasn't turning on on its own when the car was idling and due to time constraints, we couldn't fix the problem completely in time. So, Squire came up with this genius little fix - a manual switch inside the car to turn the fan on and off. The red-neck creativity of this switch and the fan stand, perhaps rival the "fix" of our hand-held immersion blender . . . but, it's a close call. You'll have to decide for yourself:

A red-neck solution it was, but work - it did! We got all the way to California and back with no car trouble.

But, let's get back to the beginning of our trip - and our absolutely adorable children:

Ready to embark with her ice pack:

Ready to go, too. Although, not really wanting me to be taking a picture of him:

The kids helped to wash our whole car with the window wipers at a gas station called, "Zip" on the way. Little did we know how appropriate the name of the establishment was. As we loaded our kids into the Jeep, we battled about 200 flies that were zipping all over the inside of our cozy space. I am not exaggerating about there being 200+ flies, either. We fought and flailed and shooed those little buggers out the windows for at least an hour. Note to self: Don't go to gas stations that are located right next to large cattle outfits. Oh, and don't leave your windows open at gas stations, either. :) Lesson painfully learned.

Lincoln, showing his little sister the ropes of car care:

At another gas station stop - Lincoln still smiling. He wanted me to take a picture of him:

And one with me, too - in all my sweaty glory. Love that boy's cheesy little face.

Lincoln and Atley did great on this leg of the trip. They especially loved the rolling roads leading into Palmdale, where my Granny lives.

Crazy, sweaty hair on a happy little girl!

We had a fantastic visit with Granny Shanks. My kids haven't seen their Great Granny Shanks since my sister's wedding last May - over a year ago! Atley is a bit stand-offish with people she doesn't know very well. She certainly gives no affection to us or anyone else who she doesn't want to. Which is alright with me! Though, it is a bit sad when we visit family members she doesn't know well, and she doesn't warm up with them in time to have (m)any nice close lovey moments. But, with Granny, she was different. She held Granny's hand to walk into her house from the moment she got out of the car, and was happy to be held, cuddled, tickled, and kissed the rest of the time, too! Gran called Atley her little pal. And she was! Lincoln loved seeing his Great Granny, too. They really enjoyed visiting with and being close to her.

Lincoln and Atley loved seeing Granny's Desert tortoises. They helped to feed them:

They watched them:

They blew bubbles near/on/all over them:

And so, they got to wash their shells:

Those tortoises, Max and Maxine, they were well-tortured loved during our visit. The two mornings we were there, they were up before six, staring into their little tortoise house, to see if they were awake. I'm pretty sure Lincoln also pulled up half of Granny's back lawn to feed them. Oh, kids.

While Squire was away taking his test, we went to a great little park near Granny's, to help Lincoln and Atley get their energy out. They had a great morning:

Gran even rode the slide with them:

They were very tired after their time at the park and lunch - they slept for 3 hours! Which was great. Gran had a HUGE tote full of family history documents: piles of amazing old photos, (auto)biographies of several ancestors, and a whole lot more. I was able to go through the box with her and get a messenger bag full of precious family documents that I am going to scan, transcribe, and make available to my family through email and I felt like I was going through buried treasure, finding all of that stuff. Happy day! :) The project was so much work it gave Gran a headache, but I am grateful she stuck it out with me - I needed her help to identify many of the people in the photos, and we got a lot of work done together. Plus it was nice to be able to get some time with Gran all to myself while the kids were down.

When Squire got back from his 8 hour test (for which he left at 4:55am to beat L.A. traffic), Granny treated us to dinner at the Hometown Buffet. It was delicious. The kids enjoyed dinner, and playing Pat-a-Cake and Itsy Bitsy Spider with Granny before they went down to bed for the night.

The next day we had a lazy morning with Gran, and packed up all our things. Gran treated us to Shakey's pizza and Mojos, because Squire had never had Shakey's before. Quite the shame - now finally put to rest. ;)

We got pictures with Gran on her famous porch swing before we left to go back to Tucson:

Squire wanted a picture with Granny - Twilight Zone style:

And true-to-life style:

I love my Gran. Isn't she just beautiful? She is one of my most favorite people in this world. She always makes me feel so loved and more centered on the things that matter most in life. I love spending time with her. I was so sad to go.

Squire took a shot of my pregnant belly - 34 weeks, 1 day in this photo. Baby is a comin' soon!

And Gran got a shot of our family: A little crazy - because that's just how things go with photo shoots with kids this age. They were done. :)

And they were done about three or four hours before our trip back to Tucson was complete. But we made it home safe and sound - with fewer flies (and a few more cries) than the leg up to California. All-in-all though, it was a wonderful visit. The only thing that could have made it better, would be for it to have been longer.

We love you, Granny! Thank you for the wonderful time!! We hope we can see you again soon!!

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