Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

Spring Break 2016: Day 3

The morning of our first day in Saint George was taken over by settling in and getting food…at least for me! The kids climbed this mountain behind our rental and felt so big and brave!

Before Lunchtime, we took a tour of the Saint George Tabernacle with Nana and Papa, followed by lunch at one of their favorite cafes while they went on to their shift at the Jacob Hamblin home. We walked off our sandwiches as we searched for Swig, then headed back home. After naps we met up at Chuck a Rama for a deliciously traditional Utah dinner! It may seem a little dorky, but we were so thrilled to each pick our own dream platter of food! The kids thought it was the coolest!

In the evening Papa attempted to serenade Nora…she takes a while to warm up to people though! Luckily, our free spirit, Clara, was game for a little music and dancing! We went to bed early in preparation for what we knew would be our big day with Nana and Papa- their day off!

untitled-364 (Large)

WP_20160307_09_53_09_Pro_LI (1)

untitled-383 (Large)

untitled-374 (Large)

untitled-382 (Large)


Spring Break 2016


It looks like a disaster, and at times it felt like a disaster, but it was really a beautiful thing when everything was neatly tucked away for our 9 day road trip over spring break! untitled-140

I staged activities and food for the ride on the dining room table. It was so hard for the kids to keep out of these tempting boxes of new activities and treats!

untitled-139 (Large)

Each kid had a series of stacks similar to this. A bag with everything for their overnight, their day 1 outfit, and then stacks of clothes for the trip. When I discovered something that needed to be added to their stacks I wrote it on a stickynote for find before I packed everything away. I was able to fit the 4 big kids clothes in a single dufflebag!

untitled-138 (Large)

On the Road, Day 1

From DFW to Albequerque

Man,we had this day planned so well! We stopped on a few times and made the most of each one. Our routine was to stop to potty, feed Nora, stretch our legs, and either eat or get gas all at once. My photos of this rest stop don’t do it justice! We enjoyed walking tacos for lunch at this roadside stop in West Texas and then the kids played on the playground while Nora ate. It was so cold! And the kids were concerned by the rattlesnake warning signs!







untitled-170 (Large)

untitled-188 (Large)

Our second bit stop on our way to overnight in Albequerque was at Russell’s Rest stop in Glen Rio, New Mexico where we rewarded ourselves with ice cream and a trip to the car museum. Also some awkward car nursing for Nora. There were people crawling all of this place! :|





On the Road, Day 2

from Albequerque, NM to Saint George, UT

We had another great drive! lots of fresh car snacks, the kids were patient riders, Madilynn didn’t get sick, Nora only cried when tired and Clara actually napped! The kids didn’t sleep so well in the hotel and all were up around 5:30. We ate an early breakfast and hit the road before 7:00! (thats big for us)

Our path from Flagstaff, Arizona led us through Indian Reservations and up a winding two lane highway 89. If you have time, google map Marble Canyon and the Vermilion cliffs. It was in this area that I couldn’t sit in the car anymore. We stopped into a small pull off just before 89 loops back over the Colorado River to take in the crisp air and gorgeous surroundings. The girls stretched their legs and picked wildflowers in the blinding sunshine. Cash didn’t want to leave the car and ipad behind, but we eventually convinced him to leave one behind. I’d love to spend a vacation just in this area!

As we entered Vermilion Cliff National Forest, the road got pretty intense! We’re talking tiny, windy, and with no barriers before a drop off! The kids were petrified (and I was white knuckling it) but when we reached the top we discovered Jacob’s Lake and the Kaibab Plateau. Seriously breathtaking forestry with patches of snow all over the ground! Little did we know we were in the heart of the Grand Canyon National Forest, yet another reason to explore this area more! As we were driving this day, I seriously wanted to stop and explore everything! We visited the Indian City gift shop. We stopped to see Native homes built into rocks in the Vermilion Cliffs, etc. It was really spectacular and I wish we’d had more time!













untitled-282 (Large)

untitled-257 (Large)

untitled-304 (Large)

untitled-355 (Large)

This was us, waiting for Nana and Papa to get done with their shift at a church historic site and come visit with us. The kids were so giddy for them to finally get to the rental too!

San Antonio Getaway

untitled-51 (Large)

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I took a much needed opportunity to slow down and explore a bit of Texas. I say “slow down”, and while we were CONSTANTLY moving, it felt less hectic because we were on our own agenda. Nora was an excellent little travel buddy and so we were able to get lost, or change our minds and directions without stress!

We’re so excited to bring the rest of the family back now that we feel so at home in San Antonio!

Day 1

We got a bit of a later start because our sweet Madilynn received a character award at the school assembly that morning! She was recognized as being her class’s example of Curiosity! It fits her so well!

However, this did work out perfectly for Nora’s schedule. By the time we were loaded and driving, Nora was ready to settle in for her morning nap. She slept all the way to Austin where we stopped for a long lunch and to wander the city.

After checking into our hotel that afternoon, we geared up to spend the rest of the day on the town, stopping by San Fernando (I’m sure that’s a nod to my uncle, Fernando!) Cathedral as we walked out to the Mercado. We were hoping for some Mariachi music, but I guess we picked the wrong day! Luckily, the shops were crowd free and we picked out adorable (if see through) white dresses for the girls and a lucha libre (read nacho libre) mask for Cash! The talevera dishes were calling my name, but I was too indecisive and am still kicking myself that I didn’t at least buy a spoon rest!

For dinner we walked across town to a local favorite, exploring the beautiful King William neighborhood along the way.  On our way home it started to rain, however we made it to the hotel (running most of the way) just as it proved itself to be a decent Texas storm! . We walked 5 miles in all this day which is pretty remarkable considering that we drove for 5 hours!

That night Nora rolled over for the first time while lounging in the hotel room.


(taken with my phone) Taken in front of the Black History Museum. The murals were calling my name!


(taken with my phone)


(taken with my phone)


(taken with my phone)


(Taken with my phone)


(taken with my phone) Exploring King William neighborhood. Anyone know what this is??


(taken with my phone) rainy walk home


(taken with my phone) rainy walk home


(taken with my phone)


(taken with my phone)

(Taken with my phone)


untitled-51bw (Large)

untitled-54 (Large)

San Fernando. I wish I had more pictures of this beautiful building. It is the oldest Cathedral in the state of Texas.

untitled-60 (Large)

untitled-69 (Large)

Day 2

On Day two, Nora woke us at around 6:00 and so we were down to breakfast by 7:00! We wandered the River walk a bit before getting on a River Cruise. If you’re headed to San Antonio, this is the way to start off! The cruise shared some fascinating facts and gave us the general layout of the area. Did you know that the River Walk was founded during the Great Depression? It was a stimulus package intent on providing jobs and generate tourist money!

Afterwards we wandered back through King William Historic District. Its the oldest district of San Antonio and absolutely filled with Greek Revival, Victorian, and Italianate homes! Honestly, with Mike’s interest in remodeling and mine in architecture, this was a happy spot for us to explore! Interestingly, this land was once Alamo farmland, but when the mission was secularized ( the final step in Spain’s colonization plan) the properties were distributed between resident Indians or sold off. Many Germans happened on the scene around this time and bought these tracts at auction earning this area the nickname “Saukraut Bend”

Our final destination was lunch at Guenther’s Mill, home of the Pioneer Brand (think biscuit and gravy mixes). SO yummy!

After Guenther’s we were pretty hot and tired. We took a little siesta at the hotel before deciding it was time to visit the Alamo! Along the way we passed a wedding taking place on River Walk’s famous (supposedly) the heart shaped island. We had learned on our boat tour that nearly daily weddings are hosted there and sure enough we got to see one first hand. We waited and watched, feeling awkward about walking along the river walk between the couple and their guests, but eventually decided we needed to move on. Unfortunately, being inexperienced with the timing of weddings, I picked right before the bride and groom kissed! I think it was the worst photo bomb moment in history!!!

The Alamo was incredibly moving. We had the opportunity to listen into a oral history of the Battle of the Alamo and, while I know I’m a bit biased when I say this, it was so moving to be in that space when discussing the bravery of those men. What stood out to me was that even though the Alamo was lost, Santa Anna was overly confident moving into the Battle of San Jacinto several weeks later. He split his army, but still had 1400 to the 800 Texans ready to stand. The Texans took the upperhand, attacking during the Mexican’s siesta, yelling “Remember the Alamo”, and winning the battle within 18 minutes. The victory at San Jacinto cost Houston’s army a mere 9 killed and 26 wounded. However, for Santa Anna, the casualties were much higher with 630 killed, 208 wounded, and 703 captured. They searched the area for Santa Anna, but he had exchanged his uniform for that of a private (ehem, coward). When he was captured he was not recognized…until his soldiers began saluting him as “El Presidente.” He was offered his life in exchange for Texas. And THAT is a little bit of Texas history for ya!

For dinner we got in our car for the first time since arriving and drove out to the Pearl District where we had the most delicious meal EVER. Nora slept in my arms as we enjoyed a beautiful outdoor meal.

Also of note, when we were on the elevator that afternoon a couple got on with us looking very shaken. They informed us that they couldn’t get into their room because there were a man and woman standing at their door….NAKED! The hotel gave us free dessert since we were privy to that information. Random.


(Taken with my phone)


(Taken with my phone)

untitled-76 (Large)

untitled-77 (Large)


(taken with Mike’s phone) This one is for Mike’s Dad, who wrote a song called County Line Cafe about the paradigm shift that caused him to found Mamma’s Hands


(taken with my phone) Guenther’s Mills


(taken with my phone) Preparing to nurse at a stop along the river trail while waiting for our lunch reservation. Mike was my lookout so that I didn’t flash joggers. It was too hot to keep a blanket over her head!



(taken with my phone) Lounging in her stroller at lunch

untitled-102 (Large)

Outside Guenter’s

untitled-112 (Large)

untitled-121 (Large)

untitled-126 (Large)


Back on the Riverwalk


(taken with my phone) The wedding we crashed

untitled-145 (Large)

untitled-147 (Large)


(taken from my phone)


(taken from my phone)


(taken from my phone) Hat bloopers


(Taken from my phone) All of the sweet Hispanic couples were constantly cooing over our little girl in her puebla dress.


untitled-158 (Large)

Sleepy baby


(taken from my phone)

Day 3

We had a bit of time on our way out of San Antonio, so we decided to stop at another (the Alamo is also a mission) of San Antonio’s five missions, San Jose, which is located downstream from downtown San Antonio. The church, which is still operational and was hosting mass that morning, is a beautiful, gothic building situated in the center of the mission’s walled in courtyard.


The mission was founded in 1720, during a time when Texas was still governed by Spain as a form of colonization. This particular mission was founded by Fran Felan who. At its height, it provided sanctuary and a social and cultural community for more than 300 Indians- not only converting them to Catholicism, but to the Spanish way of life- and was surrounded by acres of fields and livestock herds. The mission had its own gristmill and granary, which are extant.

untitled-163 (Large)

partially reconstructed frescos at the base of the bell tower

untitled-168 (Large)

there are several little families of birds nesting within the nooks of the facade.

untitled-179 (Large)

The Native American’s quarters were along the exterior walls

untitled-187 (Large)

untitled-188 (Large)


(taken from Mike’s phone) Wooden spiral stairs to the bell tower. I think this construction is so fascinating! All 25 risers were hand-hewn from a single log and assembled without the use of nails or pegsWP_20150927_003

(Taken from Mike’s phone) Me playing tourist


We also stopped in San Marcos for lunch with my cousin Veronica on our way home. She was working that day, but we had to take the chance to introduce her to Nora!





Serben-715 (Large)

I have honestly been running on fumes the past month, so I’m very behind on my blog. I’ve got tons of fun family photos from our Spring Break trip to Dallas, but this is all that is edited!

We had our eye on this patch of bluebonnets all week, but it wasn’t until the night before we left that the timing lined up so that we had nice lighting as we passed by. The sunset in the background was phenomenal and this pictures just melt me.

There must be something in that Texas water because I don’t know of a Texan who isn’t moved by all things Texas! I’ve said it before, but the sight of the shape and curves of Texas does something to my heart! Bluebonnets are right up there on that list of things that are unequivocally Texan, so I love that I finally got to plant my kids in a big patch of them and let my camera work its magic!

It was actually a crazy little errand because everyone had to go the the bathroom as soon as we pulled into the church parking lot beside this field! Cash hopped out doing his potty dance (its like a step, together, step together type routine!) and my mom said “just pee on my tire, Cash!”…and he did. We’re a classy bunch, ya’ll! Lily may or may not have left a little puddle behind the church. Yeah, classy.

As soon as we were finished, we raced home to have smores with my brother Nick and his girlfriend (the girl is a gem!) Mike was racing to transfer Rick’s info to a new computer, the firepit wouldn’t start, and despite nearing bedtime we still needed to drop Mike, Lily and Cash off at a hotel closer to the airport so that he would have an easier time getting the kids on their 7:00am flight! It was a classic case of poor planning! Our kids were absolute troopers and thank goodness for my mom pitch hitting to get Mike to the hotel while Clara got to bed. It always, ALWAYS backfires on me when I try to fit in more activity than I’m comfortable with. Something inevitably goes wrong and prolongs the drama! Luckily, we were able laugh it off and have a great night despite the chaos!

Here’s Clara loving on her uncle Nick and Allison. Nick has a special place in Clara’s heart…despite the fact that she adores men in general!

Serben-703 (Large)

Serben-743 (Large)

Serben-752 (Large)

Serben-767 (Large)

Serben-782 (Large)

Visiting Sequim…

We took a quick weekend trip out to the peninsula to visit Mike’s grandparents in Sequim this past weekend (you may remember out last visit?) . Boy did it pour (its been such a damp Fall!!) Due to the rain and Clara’s naps we didn’t get to any of the excursions we’d dream of, but we rarely have much time with grandparents- especially undivided time- and it was so nice to sit and chat with them, to explore with Grandma June, and just see how they live. I love the simplicity of how they live. Grandma spends hours gardening (we learned this trip that she is often out deadheading until 9:00pm in the Summer!). She shows tough love. She has such a sharp mind. Grandpa uses a walker now but still insists on keeping his routines and doing them himself, even if it means a slower pace. He gets up early to wash the dishes for Grandma June. He likes mixed drinks before dinner each night. We just love them!

My first visit to Sequim was when Mike and I were dating, and was around this time of year. I could tell because it was frog season again this trip and I remember that on my first visit I was concerned with saving the frogs that hopped into grandma and Mike’s paths. :) Madilynn, Lily and I had fun catching frogs in the rain this visit. I think grandma thought I was just as nutty as she did on our first meeting! :)



 Holding her frog!




Grandma’s GIANT lab, Sam, was emerging from a swim in the pond. Lily ran for cover because after showing off his swimming skills, Sam would give a hearty shake!


Apples for the horses. Cash was terrified of them and ran halfway across the field to put some space between them. To his credit, he was only responding to one of the horses’ being pretty feisty in his quest for every single apple that was offered. 


picking shrub beans for dinner



He is going to win all of the ladies with that look!




Digging potatoes! You just wouldn’t believe how many potatoes came from one plant! They kept finding more. 




Borrowing Grandpa’s walker






Me and my girluntitled-334





On the ferry ride homeuntitled-380

Seabrook 2013




We just returned from an amazing vacation to the Washington coast with my mom and Rick. The coast has been on my list of destinations ever since moving to Seattle six years ago and I think the location we picked will become a repeat for our family. It was a bit of a rainy week, but the resort we were staying in, Seabrook, was darn near perfect for our family’s needs and style! Although founded in 2009, walking down the streets of Seabrook feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Each home has so much character and the property is scattered with community activities that you can take at your own pace. With four kids who have various nap schedules, being on our own schedule is an important part of finding a place that works for us.

We spent the week trolling the beach, enjoying the indoor pool, riding bikes (Bike scooted on his knee scooter with the best of them!), flying kites, roasting smores, and us girls made a stop at the pottery painting store. There was tons of delicious food, marathon games of Frogger on Wii, Fooseball, and a killer game of Monopoly Deal after bedtime. We loved having MiMi and PaPa with us- they always bring life to the party- but it was especially wonderful this time because we’re borderline helpless with Mike’s broken ankle!

I’m going to let the pictures tell the rest of the story!





Seabrook-285 Seabrook-281



















































What happens in Vegas…doesn’t have to stay there!

This past week Clara and I enjoyed a much needed girls weekend in Vegas with my mom. Yes, I said Vegas. Not quite the local that you imagine when you picture a girls weekend for two non-drinking, non-gambling gals and a 5 month old, but it ended up being perfect! We stayed at the Green Valley Resort where my mom was scheduled to present at a WINDS (Women in Default Services) conference for work.

This little dream trip all began with the really tough decision to skip a trip to Puerto Rico with my mother and sister in laws. I was devastated not to go- had several meltdowns about it with my mom and Mike- but ultimately decided that it would be very difficult to do with a 5 month old. She would have been the only baby and everyone else just desperately needed a break. I knew that with my need to structure her sleep and everyone else’s need to relax that I would either spend my time alone in the hotel room or frustrated as I dragged an exhausted little chickie around with me.

When my mom heard that I’d turned down the trip, she offered to bring me along on her business trip and help me relax while still meeting Clara’s needs. Perfect! I am so sad that I missed making those memories with my H. Family girls, but every few hours when things were tricky with naps or something I thought “man, this would of been a disaster in Puerto Rico” When Clara screamed for nearly the entire plane ride to Vegas (yes, she was THAT baby!), I thought “at least it isn’t a 13 hour trip, like Puerto Rico! The list goes on. I’m so grateful to my H. Family for being so understanding about my decision and to my mom for making such a wonderful excursion possible!

Our first day in Vegas we enjoyed breakfast in bed, a walk around the property and a spa day for me! After her morning nap, we headed downstairs to enjoy lunch with my mom and her WINDS friends. It was such a bright morning and, from our pre-nap walk we had discovered that we are both authentic Seattle MOLES! The sun was so overwhelming, especially for Clara who ended lunch early. We did discover, however, that Clara adores the attention of strangers. 99% of the time she just lit up when someone would talk to her…and just about everyone did since she was the only baby/child around!

Day two, Saturday, one of my closest friends from BYU, Courtney drove out from AZ to visit us. We all went shopping at the most amazing Vegas outlets (we’re so spoiled!), enjoyed dinner at PF Changs, and stayed up chatting. SUCH fun! It had been nearly 6 years since we waved Court and Jeff off as they drove away from their condo headed for a new life in Mississippi, us leaving for Seattle a month later. Its amazing when you get together with a forever friend like Court and while everything has changed in circumstance, nothing has changed in the friendship.

Day Three, Sunday, we had breakfast at the resort before Court headed home, then my mom and I took Clara back upstairs for her nap. In the afternoon Clara had her nap in the car while we drove out to Red Rock Canyon to explore the scenic loop. GORGEOUS! Well worth the $7 entrance fee…and the $60 rental car! haha!

Day Four was Monday, we had breakfast at the resort again, dipped Clara’s feet in the pool for good measure, and headed to the airport.

Our trip was so low key, but exactly was we needed! We had tons of fun, got to have quality time with MiMi and just simply relax! Until next year, momma? :)


Clara discovered her feet on our first morning in Vegas! We were hanging in the hotel for a bit before her morning nap and while MiMi presented on a panel. Photos below.



Clara was concerned, checking out a newcomer| She brightened quickly as soon as she was noticed, though






One of my favorite views at Green Valley Resort

DSC_0208 DSC_0219





The bell boys were making fun of me for taking pictures of doorknobs. One said he thought it was a girl thing, because his mother in law does the same thing. :) DSC_0257

DSC_0263 DSC_0271 DSC_0275



Love this image, its probably a bit overexposed for most people’s tastes, but thats how I like it! It must be because I live 8 months of the year in grey. I like to bring as much light as I can into my images!DSC_0299


This is going on my wall! DSC_0318