Sunday, October 18, 2015

The oldest city in the US...

might be lost on these three, save the pizza place near this old school.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

hot and crowded... but still magical

This has been the busiest fall break here yet, but we are still having a great time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pin Trading

Watching my kids interact with adults and other children is my favorite Disney pastime.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Swimming Kind of Morning

With Daddy at work, we hit the resort pools which boast several water slides, a massive splash park and a huge pirate ship.  Who needs Disney?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fishing with Papoo

The kids have been BEGGING for someone to take them fishing.  Fortunately,  Grandpa (called Papoo) was up to the task.  He outfitted then with poles, hooks and the whole lot.  He's getting a workout, though, as the first several fish garnered lots of "I am not touching it" shrieks!  When I left him, Grace was in the lead with four bluegill to Grant's one!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

October's Challenge--Read... and read some more

Did you know that reading for just SIX minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%?  Check out this great little article on the power of reading!

I don't need a lot of push to read... but with TV season gearing up, I thought it would be a great time to challenge ourselves to read... and read a lot.

So, this month, the challenge is to read FOUR books.  I don't care if you want to sit in the corner and read Harry Potter or if you are going to tackle Dostoyevsky; the choice is yours.

I'll try to update you on what I am reading.  I might tackle all new books, but I also might slip in a favorite.

Join me... please.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

September's Challenge--The Art of Saving

This summer was our big trip out west, and I had prepped, planned and saved for that trip for some time.  It was a GREAT trip!

But, we also realized that we had to use a week at a condo in 2015, so last month, Bret and I had to find some place else to go in 2015.  Woe is me, right?

But, we know we're not going to have a ton of money to spend on this second trip... so I need to save an extra $500 to make it happen.  The cost of the gas will already be covered (gas is so cheap now, I could do budget cheerleading moves about it); our great condo is covered, but that $508 price tag to get a family of five into the Magic Kingdom for one day is looming in front of me!

So, my goal this month is to save $500 IN ADDITION to what I am already saving.  I need this money to be "extra," or I can't justify spending it on a second vacation. I already save money each month, but that savings has a purpose: retirement, a bigger emergency fund, college accounts the kids, or our next car--so this needs to be on top of all of that!

For me, there are two budget categories that stick out the most as a possibility for reduction for the month: Entertainment (which includes eating out) and Household (which for us is clothes, groceries, household products, etc).  Additionally, I will try to sell some stuff on Craigslist to make it happen.

So, how about you join me?  Couldn't you use some extra money in the bank?  Maybe $500 is just too steep for your personal situation and your personal budget?  Maybe you don't really have that kind of wiggle room... I get it!  I bet you can, however, come up with a number that makes sense for you.  It's got to be big enough that it hurts a bit... changes your habits at the grocery store or the food court (or lack thereof), but it also has to be doable.

For me, $500 is the sweet spot.  It's enough of a change that it's going to take daily (if not moment by moment) intentional decision making (and a month of meals of rice and beans), but it's also by no means impossible.

If you need help thinking through this or setting up a budget, let me know.  I simply LOVE talking about and planning budgets--sticking to them is a whole lot less fun! ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cheap Labor

These two give a killer (I mean, really, really good) foot massage, and their going rate of $4 an hour can't be beat (plus Friday and Monday free, according to them).  This is the best 30 minutes of my day today, even if it confirms they have no business scruples.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Post church exhaustion plan

Working well, so far... They appear none the wiser that a 6:30 bedtime is looming.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

First Day of School

....and just like that.... they start second and third grade IN THE SAME CLASSROOM!  Is a bottle of scotch an appropriate Christmas present for a teacher?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

August's Challenge--The Early Bird Gets the Worm

I used to be a morning person.  Then, I became a mom.  I think that explains things.

But, for the month of August, I want to get up an hour earlier than I normally do.  The few times I have done this throughout the year, I am amazed at how much I get done in that hour and how much more smoothly the rest of the morning goes.

There's lots of research out there that shows how waking up early really does have a positive outcome.  People who get up early are:

1. Less likely to blow off a workout!
2. Are less depressed.
3. Eat healthier (actually eat 250 fewer calories a day)
4. Are more cheerful
5. Are more proactive in business
6. Make more money
and the list keeps going!

So, I'm going to get up during the weekdays an hour earlier than normal, and--don't type it, don't type it--I'm going to do the same on the weekends too.

I tried not to type it.  I tried to give myself a "break," but I really think good things are going to come from that early morning wake up!

So, who is up for 31 days of early rising?  Please don't make me do it alone!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Knotts Berry Farm

For our last day, we are at my childhood amusement park with cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents... for my kids, this is as good as it gets.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Gorgeous Day for a Ride

We had a nearly perfect time with Uncle Richie, save for Grant veering into traffic a time or two. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Movies, trampolines and burgers

With some cool weather and rain in the forecast, we finally went to the movies today (Inside Out) followed by Grant tackling the bungee trampoline.  Trent has been super tired today (vacation overload), and not even famous milkshakes and burgers at SnoFlake helped.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pope Beach

A day of swimming, burying kids in the sand, paddle boarding, kayaking with uncles, and playing with cousins.  Simply perfect.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

baby fever

Baby Layla is making me want #4.  Great Aunt Erin is in love.

Monday, June 22, 2015

one more park

Someone's not happy to be here.

July's challenge--STOP staring at that screen

I'm not going to use this as my soapbox for why I hate Facebook.  Many of you have heard me rant on and on about it, and there's no need to get all critical here.  I forgive Facebook... or, at least, I am trying to forgive Facebook.

But, even though I hate it, it kind of sucks me in... as does Pinterest... or Instagram.... or any other socialcomputerwasteofmytime!

So, this month, it is NO [social media] SCREEN TIME!  It is going to be hard... but I picked a gorgeous month for the challenge.  It's not winter.  We don't need to be inside... and we don't need to carry our phones with us every waking second while we are outside enjoying the summer.

If someone sends me a message via facebook, I am going to answer it... and treat that like email, but the random scrolling, stalking, surfing the internet for WHO KNOWS WHAT... is over for the month.

I know it's going to be harder for some of you... because you don't actually HATE Facebook like I do. But, even though giving up Facebook will be easy for me, the random surfing of the web will not be!

So, unless it is something I need to do for work, church or family (like ordering medicine or buying toothpaste [yes, I buy our toothpaste at Amazon]), I'm out.

Anyone else want to be "out" with me?


What you let your kids eat when you have to empty the fridge, leave the beautiful barn, and drive ten hours on the Loneliest Road in America...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First and Last (please)

Last night, we headed to a rodeo here in Bryce.  But, this wasn't your average rodeo.  Oh, there were bull riders and bronc riders and ropers, but this rodeo also featured Grant and Grace too. 

Grace signed up to ride a sheep which, other than a few scrapes from the fall and a massive allergic reaction, went smoothly.  Grant was slated to ride a cow, and he was second in his group.  After the first kid went, this mama started praying because those cows were set to buck!  I swear that first kid almost died (even Bret was concerned)!  On the video, you can hear me audibly praying and then audibly relieved and thankful when he gets up off the ground. 

Grant and Grace loved it, and they each earned some rodeo winnings, and I am so proud of them!  Not much is once in a lifetime, but this might be... at least I hope so!

Happy Birthday

This beauty (inside and out) is seven today.  Seven never looked so sweet.  Happy bday, my silly, kind, helpful and smart little Wei-Wei.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Perfect Hike

My kids LOVE Bryce... But it has very little to do with the hoodoos.... and everything with this waterfall we stumbled upon today.


the kids are working hard on their way to being junior rangers... complete with junior ranger binoculars!  This morning's hike was to Mossy Cave.

Our porch

The porch of our barn has become the greatest part of our experience in Bryce, especially in the afternoon's shade.  Jesse (the dog), the cats (one for each child), and all the chickens entertain my kids for hours.  Plus, it makes an ideal ice cream eating spot!

Different Worlds

Grant and Grace went to a Kid's Camp at the previously discussed Mormon church camp we stayed in up at Zion National Park.  While no doubt being indoctrinated, they made friends with another brother and sister who were the same general age.

The evening of the camp, we ran into these same kids at dinner in the mess hall.  I immediately knew there were going to be some problems when they all began discussing where they had been prior to arriving in Zion.

Grace:  "We went to Las Vegas before here."
Girl:  "Really?  So did we!"
Grace:  "Our hotel had 11 floors!  We stayed on floor 3!"

(Here's where things start turning...)

Girl:  "We stayed in a hotel where we had to pay for our inner tubes for the lazy river!"
Grace (confused):  "Really?  A lazy river?"
Girl:  "Yeah!  It was the Mandalay Bay!"

Ok, so we didn't stay at the Mandalay Bay, but we did stay at the Embassy Suites.  Not bad, right?  But the conversation continued.

Boy:  "We went to Cirque du Soleil last night!"
Grace:  "We visited the Goodwill and went to the real circus yesterday!"
Boy:  "Goodwill?"
Grace:  "Yeah...where we buy CLOTHES?"

(Duh, right?)

Grant:  "We're going to California next!  We flew into Los Angeles!"
Boy:  "We live in Irvine.  It's an hour to L.A., and we go there all the time."
Grant:  "What book series have you read?"

(Argh...we have to work on this with him.  I was praying the "What's your Lexile score?" wasn't next.)

Boy:  "I don't really read much."
Grant:  "Oh yeah?  I read all of the Harry Potter books in a month!"
Boy (starting to drift):  "Nice...The chicks will be drooling in their Lucky Charms over that..."

(Ok, so I'm editorializing a bit...)

Grace:  "What are you drinking?  My mom is letting me have a Coke tonight!"
Girl:  "My mom doesn't let us drink soda."
OC Mom in Background:  "Honey, do you want me to get you some steamed milk?"
Girl:  "My mom doesn't let us eat vegetables that aren't steamed in Dasani water."

(All true.)

Boy:  "We flew here in first class and rented a Range Rover!"
Grant:  "One time I asked the tooth ferry for some soap!"

And so on...Different.  Worlds.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The views from the barn

are amazing... These pictures don't do it justice.  Love this place.

Off Roading

We took a family ATV out today.  The property where we are staying is over a thousand acres boarding the national park.  We all had a blast, but Trent loved it most of all, often screaming at Bret to "go faster."  We were able to stop at a huge gulch, and without getting too close to the edge (certain death) took one of the best pics of the trip.  Tomorrow night, we move to our three night stay in a barn.  Yeah!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Trent went for a ride this morning, while Grant and Grace fed the horses.  This afternoon, Grant and Grace will attend four glorious parent-free hours of kids camp where they will horse back ride, zip line and drive atvs.  The rest of us will be napping!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

And even more

Beautiful and tired

We were up early ready to hit Zion National Park before the heat.  We made our way to the Emerald Pools trails and started up.  With some coaxing and a rest stop to watch a wild tarantula, Trent made it to the lower pool, and with the promise of an Oreo and the chance to play in the Virgin River, he made it back too.

Bret and the kids traveled, much to Grant's dismay--who thought the river and a cookie sounded better too--, several other trails (and not trails) before returning hours later utterly spent.

After a break for lunch, we hit the River walk trail but stopped short of the Narrows, as today's forecast called for adult waist high water.  Another trip.

Now, we are headed back to the ranch to swim and recover and drink ore weight in lemonade.