Not all unicorns and rainbows: Grading our behavior after a week together on the road

Almost a week into our 2 month trip, I can imagine anyone viewing our blog or social posts is thinking it’s all rainbows and perfectly roasted campfire marshmallows over here. It’s true, we’re blessed to be on this journey together, and we’re reveling in a whole lot of goodness. 

Like the rest of life though, no day would be complete without plenty of whining, flaring tempers, and multiple sibling fights ending in tears. It’s real life, just life on the road and with the backdrop of some of the most beautiful sights in the natural world. Whining and complaining cares not for natural beauty. 

The personalities of are kids are on full display. Here’s how I’d grade everyone this far:

Hayden, A+:  He’s been an absolute joy. Ever our naturalist, he loves charging ahead of the ground, and hasn’t complained a single time. So easy going, and just a blast to be around. With the exception of a couple spastic, dumbass moments where he “accidentally” injures a sibling (e.g. randomly whipping a plastic water bottle across the RV and hitting Grace in the face), Hayden has been our all-star. 

Grace, A-: Ever the pleasure like her mother, Grace is upbeat and energetic most of the time. Most of the time. When Grace is pissed or uncomfortable though, she makes it known with no qualms. Prone to aching feet towards the end of long hikes, the only knock against her is her vocal discontent towards days end. She also has a keen knack for pushing Brady’s buttons, which she does with abandon on a continual basis. If those towould just get along more often, the bickering would be substantially reduced. She has been a savior by being the “Quinn whisperer” on hikes. Those two are best buds. Extra points for that. She’d freak out to know she didn’t get an A+ and her brother did, and that alone would likely be enough to correct the behavior...for a short while. 



Quinn outside the North Rim Vistor Center, refusing to walk down twoflights of stairs to see “just another vista” of the Grand Canyon. I left him there. 

Quinn, C-: He’s not even 6 years old yet, so he’s admitted being scored against a standard above his age group. He’s the most difficult on hikes, and will break down and tears at the mere mention of the word. Yesterday on a .6 mile out-and-back to the lower falls at Zion, he proclaimed through tears upon reaching the falls, “There are only two things I hate in the world: hiking and being wet. This is JUST. THE. WORST.” 

He claims he does not have the stamina for hiking and that his legs hurt easily, but that’s really BS, as he has no problem wrestling for hours with his brothers without tiring. Of course, he claims “Yeah, but wrestling isn’t walking, Dad. It’s different!” If you can make him think we’re not hiking, but walking along a river and throwing rocks in it on the way, he’s fine. But if he even catches wind that we’re on an official “hike”, he loses his shit. I’m almost to the point of getting a toddler backpack and throwing him in it preemptively, even though he’s far too big for that. He’s killing my neck riding on my shoulders though, but I’ll take that over hearing him bitch incessantly. 

Brady, NI: I’m just going to go with the elementary school grading of “Needs Improvement”. Unsatisfactory. Significantly below grade level. When he’s good, Brady is amazing, and he has so much potential to be a joy. And yet, for some reason, every. single. argument. involves Brady. He’s the antagonist who can’t stand being antagonized. He persistently torments, and yet claims he’s the victim of everyone’s ire. Brady has always been the child who is most negatively impacted by lack of sleep, and with it staying light out until 9:30pm, we’re not exactly setting him up for success by roasting marshmallows by the campfire after dark. He is also a persistent complainer, and yet will end a several mile hike in a dead sprint to the RV to beat everyone, and then ask who wants to play family football. Brady has been at the center of every brawl over seating and sleeping spots, and can’t stand not getting his way. He’s stubborn, but we’re hoping that once he gets in a flow with the trip, he’ll up his grade. When he’s good, he’s so, so good. We just need him to decide that he wants to be good more often. 


Grace and Quinn on the Riverside Walk in Zion


It’s a bit unfair to grade the kids without levying a grade on the parents too, so here goes:

Justin, C:  The start of the trip has me struggling a bit with disconnecting from my normal day to day, and I’m admittedly moody and somewhat volatile. The RV can break down in the middle of nowhere, and I’m unfazed and upbeat, laughing and cheering through our misfortune. And yet I can get completely spun out by something as simple as realizing I forgot a grill brush or hearing the kids argue over who’s sitting where. Just yesterday, I voluntarily took a trip to the dumping station to empty the black and gray water tanks, and I peeled out of our campsite, kicking up dust in frustration as I sped away from the five of them. I was more getting away from the bickering and using the waste tanks as an excuse. I need to get better at not letting little things spin me out, because right now I’m prone to it. 

Allison, A+: Like Hayden, this girl is at the top of the class. Radiant and energetic, she’s been beaming for SIX. STRAIGHT. DAYS. She’s all positive energy, and completely unfazed by the antics of the kids around her. She’s basically the opposite of me. More than once daily, she looks over at me, her eyes dancing and nearly watering with emotion, an effortless smile lighting up her face, as she says “My heart is so full! and “I’m so happy!” She continually reminds both me and the kids to look around and take in the natural beauty around us. A few mornings after a morning run, she came back sweaty and alive with happiness and exclaimed “Now this was the most beautiful run ever!” 

Her positivity and effortless love of life can leave you questioning “Is she for real right now?” Kinda like how when you’re in that pessimistic headspace and Tony Robbins message of empowerment feels more like an act than reality. “Yeah, whatever. This dude’s all show. I’d be that upbeat too if I were pulling down speaking fees like that.” But then you realize your issue isn’t with Tony and his message, it’s that your jealous that you can’t seem to get there, and you realize that you’re being challenged to be better and be your best self by even witnessing the energy before you, and you resolve to be better.

Yep, that’s what it’s like being with Allison on this trip. She’s perfectly in her element, and to watch her absorb and reflect the beauty around us is as stunning as the scenery itself. I’m challenged to be better by seeing at her at her best, and I know our kids are too. And that alone makes all of the stresses and frustrations that we may encounter completely worth it. 


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