Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Summer Fun

Alright, mostly this is so I can look back and remember what actually happened over the summer! It was a busy summer, the highlight being my trip to Europe and our family trip to Yellowstone and Colorado to visit Ben’s parents. I should probably break these into separate posts, so yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’m gonna do Yellowstone first (even though it was right in the middle) just cuz it’s what is on my mind right now.

We decided to go to Yellowstone last winter, probably, and tried to plan it for a late spring trip, but with Ben getting frustrated at work and looking for a new job right at that time, it never got planned and didn’t happen. So we put it off and finally planned it for August. We drove to Yellowstone and camped in the park for four nights. Three nights probably would have been sufficient! Smile We got rained out the last afternoon we were there, with the rain continuing all night. Made for a soggy departure. But it was still such a memorable trip and so much fun. The kids talked about it for weeks afterwards.

Picture dump, with a few captions when I feel like it.

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First time out of the car (minus potty breaks) Saturday afternoon to stretch our legs and see some little geysers!

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Of course it wouldn’t be a Yellowstone post without a picture of Old Faithful!

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Yum! This kid loves food!

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At our camp spot. Ben and I always sleep on an air mattress. But I forgot the pump. Sad smile So for the first two nights we were pretty uncomfortable, until my husband the hero bought us another pump from a convenience store. Yay!

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Gorgeous Yellowstone lake. We were so bummed that it never worked out for us to go swimming in it. The day we had reserved for swimming was the day we got rained out!

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Buffalo! Well, technically bison. Lots and lots of bison. This is what we saw the most of while we were there. It was so fun to just see them everywhere, walking right past your car, taking dust paths, and the little “red dogs” – the baby bison. They are pretty spectacular!

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So many waterfalls! I don’t even remember which falls this was, I just remember that we had to climb down and then up so many stairs to get to it. It was one of the first (or the first, I think) waterfalls that we saw the first full day we were there.

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Just a portion of the stairs!

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One of Adam’s favorite activities while there – playing with bugs. Cutie.

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Red dog! Lily loved seeing the baby bison.

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Wish I could remember all the names of the waterfalls we saw. This one was either Upper or Lower Falls, I just can’t remember which. :/ Oh well. We saw this one the second full day. (We got there on a Saturday a little past lunch time, but in my head I always think of Sunday, the day we really started driving around the park, as the first day. Thus labeling it as our first “full” day there. Just helps me keep it straight in my head.)

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Lunch time. We stopped at the same park for lunch two days in a row.

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Haha, we didn’t actually get McDonalds while at Yellowstone. We saved a few of the containers and used them to pass snacks back to the kids while we were in the car. We spent so much time in the car driving from spot to spot within the park. The kids actually did really well. Lily and Michael really enjoyed keeping a lookout for animals, and when they got tired of that, they would play with little toys or read or color. Adam also enjoyed lots of books, although he wasn’t quite as content as the kids. They all got lots of snacks!

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My perfect family. I sure love them.

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Oops. Yup, that’s our van. It was pretty scary. Just a case of misjudging how much room we had. We were so glad it didn’t go all the way over. 3 hours, a tow-truck, and over $300 later, we were safely (and with no damage to the van!) on our way.

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Yay for tow-trucks! The big crowd of people standing around all clapped when he pulled it up. Funny story, almost every single person to walk past our van in the time we were waiting for the tow-truck to get there took a picture of it! One lady even told us “Well the petrified tree we came to see was pretty lame, but my boys really enjoyed seeing your car!” Haha! (She was right, the petrified tree that was the reason for our stop was pretty lame. Not worth a scare and $300, that’s for sure!)

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But the baby bear made up for it! We wouldn’t have seen this bear at all if we hadn’t gotten stuck. It was all by itself as far as anyone could tell, not a mamma bear in sight. Which made this mamma more than a little nervous! The little bear was probably 4-6 months old, not very big at all, and so cute. So not scared of any of the people standing around taking pictures of it. In fact, it kept coming closer and closer. At one point it was probably only 15 feet away. We decided to get back in our car then, cuz we didn’t want a hidden mamma bear deciding we were too close to her cub and getting mad. It was really cool though, such an awesome moment from the trip. One of my favorites, for sure.

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Look how cute!!

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The third and last full day we were there we went out for a bit in the morning, came back to roast some hot dogs over the fire, and got just dumped on. We all hid out in the van for a while waiting for the rain to stop, and when it finally did, there was a least an inch of water in our fire pit! We ended up putting our canopy over the fire pit with our camp chairs around it to finish lunch and spent most of the afternoon there. We were all tired of being in the car and needed a small break before leaving the next day to drive for 10 hours to Colorado. That was also the day we took a boat ride on Yellowstone Lake and learned a little bit of the history of the lake.

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Playing with sparklers in a clear moment between rainstorms.

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Kids in their jammies the last morning there. Such a fun trip! I’m pretty sure we’ll do it again in a few years, even being there for four days we still feel like we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to. I think one of my favorite things that I took away from it was just how beautiful and gorgeous God has made our earth and the creatures in it. I loved seeing all the animals in such a natural setting. And being able to just look out and see only nature – no big highways or buildings or people – was inspiring. And all the variety – the plains, the forests, the geysers and paintpots, river and lake, so many different animals. It was amazing. I highly recommend taking a trip there if you haven’t before. Or even if you have! We all really really loved it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


We started doing FHE (Family Home Evening) when Lily was around 2 years old and Michael ~6 months. We wanted to keep our expectations low and keep things simple, in the hopes that we’d continue and not give up out of frustration. Somehow, we’ve kept going and barely missed any over the years. It helps that Lily and Michael LOVE family night. Not even exaggerating at all. Usually around Wednesday or Thursday one of them will start talking about how excited they are for Monday, and asking how many more days until family night. We still keep things super simple: opening prayer, each person gets to pick a song, 3-5 minute lesson, quick activity like playing tag, or hide and seek, and then the much anticipated family night treat – often nothing more than a few marshmallows, a piece of candy left over from the most recent holiday, or a handful of chocolate chips. (Yup, we go all out. Winking smile) Oftentimes our activity has nothing to do with the lesson. We just try to keep things engaging for the kids while still getting some gospel lessons into the night.

Lily has recently begun wanting to do the lesson herself. Her most recent lesson included a visual of different sized blankets laid on top of each other, from largest to smallest. She directs our attention to it and says, “Pretend this is like a really tall mountain. Can you see over it? (All of us respond no) Can you see through it? (No) But do you know who can? That’s right, Heavenly Father and Jesus can see to the other side. So when you can’t do something or see over something, you can pray and Heavenly Father and Jesus can help you. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

It was the sweetest thing, and just something she came up with all on her own. I loved it. She tried to recreate it a few weeks later when my parents and Anna were over, but she kept getting distracted by wanting to ask each person a new question and being in charge and in the spotlight. Funny girl.

For a different family home evening, we had a lesson about not littering and how we can give service by picking trash up, and for activity, we walked around our neighborhood picking up all the trash we could find along the sidewalks. The kids thought this was awesome, and have asked to do this for family night a few times since then. They also notice trash along the roads, or parking lots, etc, and always comment that “that’s sad, people shouldn’t litter.” It’s cute, and it’s nice to see when something you’ve tried to teach your kids has stuck.

Can’t have a blog post without at least a few pictures, so I’ll leave you with pictures of our donut-eating activity from a few months ago. One of the very few times our treat was more than old Halloween candy. The kids were really excited about this one.

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Apparently I didn’t get any pictures of Michael or Adam enjoying their donuts, so you get these instead.



My happy boys. They make me grin. The end.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



A little over a month ago we got a light dusting of snow. Not much, and it mostly turned to ice even just in a few hours. But if your name is Lily or Michael, it was the best snow ever! I bundled all the kids up, armed myself with my camera, and everyone was blissfully happy for 45 minutes. It was Adam's first experience in the snow, and he loved it. Just sat there grabbing it and eating it the while time. And then we went inside and drank hot cocoa. It was a wonderful morning.