Archive for the 'Family' Category

Spring Break 2016: Day 9

All photos from this day are from my cell phone.

Last day on the road! Unlike our hyper organized trip West, this leg of our trip home was impossibly unorganized! We didn’t have healthy treats stocked and didn’t keep a consistent stopping strategy, and as a result we made horrible time! To top it off, Cash got sick during the last 5 hours of this day and we had a pretty unpleasant last few hours in the car!

Just outside Amarillo is a place called Cadillac Ranch that is a perfect little stop to stretch your legs. Its actually a row of old cadillacs partially buried in the ground. They sell spray paint at the gate, or you can pick up some that was discarded by previous visitors, and leave your mark on the cars. We had a blast!

Five hours from Dallas in a tiny Texas town, we suddenly heard gut wrenching sounds from the back seat. Without any warning, Cash had thrown up all over the floor in front of his seat. We pulled over at an abandoned gas station, but quickly realized that it was not a simple cleanup. Mike and Cash ran across the two lane highway and the girls and I doubled back to buy supplies at a highway down the street. $12 and 30 minutes later we kinda had it cleaned up, but knew we’d need a full detailing once we got home.

It seemed like everything exploded after this.

We couldn’t find anywhere to eat dinner. The kids were constantly griping. When we did finally find dinner, the restaurant was closed so we had to eat in the stinky car we’d been sitting in all day, then our dinner was “stolen” by the car in front of us in the drive thru. The kid who took our order flipped out, throwing his hat and kicking the garbage before he came to break the news to us. We then waited for 20 minutes for them to remake it. Yup. It was super cool.

But really, even though it was a rough end to the day, we had an incredible trip. It taught us a lot about we’re capable of. I didn’t think we could enjoy so much car time together, but we did! We were able to manage things really well, which makes me feel empowered to take on more adventures with my family! Also, we slept in hotels that were more cramped than I’d like, but the 4 kids were fine in the same room! Maybe not something I’d like t do long term, but again! This was a big step for us and I’m proud that we stretched ourselves in ways we once questioned we could.















waiting for the car to be cleaned out. In a parking lot. They were on such a rock collecting kick that they were gathering in this gas station parking lot. When I examined closer, I realized they had their pockets full of a broken car window (tempered glass chunks!)

IMG_0251(waiting for our dinner in a very stinky car with lots of wiggly kids!)

Spring Break 2016: Day 7

Arizona is so gorgeous! I’m not sure what my ideal landscape is, but I could definitely spend some time exploring the Arizona-Utah border area. Our first morning with the Bramwells was spent hiking White Tank Mountain to a very dried up waterfall. It was a crazy kind of dry heat, but everyone was at their happiest! Clara, who was nervous during previous hikes was bouncy. She was so determined to keep up with everyone on her own, but kept getting passed by. You could see her frustration on her face, but she kept trying and eventually found a buddy of her own level in Hadley.

Madison and Madilynn were instant buds, however it was entertaining watching the dueling personalities as they are both the oldest and tend to mother everyone around them!

We finished off this day with swimming, lawn games and grilling out at the neighborhood pool.

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IMG_0200If anyone was sick before this visit, they ALL were at the end. They all have such sharing hearts!

Spring Break 2016: Day 6

We left Saint George before lunch on Thursday. The kids spent the morning at the Children’s Museum with Nana and Papa while Mike and I loaded the bags I had packed the previous afternoon. Clara was supposed to be napping while we packed, but unfortunately our incredibly well laid plan was spoiled by a slamming door and missing shoes as the kids left the rental house that morning!

Nora and I waited outside the tabernacle while Mike ran to collect the kids from the museum. These pictures were taken of my sleepy girl while we waited in the sunshine!

Our drive down to visit our wonderful friends Jeremy and Stephanie outside Phoenix was only 6 hours and we made it before dinner that night! No pictures of that first night but the kids had a great time getting to know each other while chasing through the park after dark and avoiding their dinner :) I loved how the girls took to each other so quickly. They were like long lost cousins, which is of course what we hope for when we finally see some of our favorite people again after several years.

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From my iphone on the road:

Spring Break 2016: Day 5

I honestly can’t remember this morning…but I think that it may have included go-carts because Mike shared this image from his phone!


On the afternoon of our last day in Saint George, we met up with my friend Jessica from freshman year at BYU. She lived at the opposite end of the floor from me and we bonded over Spanish music and our Texas roots. She and her family escorted us on a long and bumpy drive down a dirt road to glitter mountain. Glitter mountain is what remains of where the original Mormon pioneers collected gypsum selenite for the walls of the Saint George Tabernacle. (its hard to find! Directions here.

I think this was likely my very favorite Saint George activity for kids! It was a simple hike, and there are rocks all over the ground, or more challenging pieces that can be chiseled away from the mountain- making this a fun activity for kids of all ages! It helped that we caught up with great people as we explored! Cash was thrilled to meet Jessica’s family because they are the reverse of us! 4 boys and 1 girl!

We left Glitter Mountain and headed directly to meet Mike’s parents at the end of their shift at the Temple Visitor’s Center. What an incredible new exhibit they’ve just put in! Its very interactive, personal, and powerful! Pictures at the bottom of this post. One very special exhibit is a series of videos following the mission experience of several young missionaries. Behind the movie screen is a display of missionary name tags that includes Mike’s parents!

Images SOOC, I’m just desperate to get our March activities posted before I forget everything (although I’ve already forgotten much!)

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untitled-823 (Large)From Mike’s phone



Spring Break: Day 4

On Tuesday, Nana and Papa had the whole day off to explore with us (the rest of the week they have a 4 hour shift that rotates locations from the church’s historical sites to the Temple Visitor’s Center and Tabernacle.) We started the day by heading right out to Snow Canyon for a bit of a hike. We went down lava flows and found Butterfly Rock and then I waited with Nora and Clara while everyone climbed down into one of the caves for a bit of exploring (I’ll have to raid Mike’s cell phone for those pictures, but there was very little light). Clara and I played I Spy while we waited, sharing a rock that was way to tiny for both of our bums!

Clara spent most of this hike very scared to venture down the sloping lava flows. She frequently begged to be held. Nora was in my front carrier and took a couple tiny snoozes while we hiked. The big kids were ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE. They frightened me with how eager they were to race up (and down) the mountains. I felt doubly concerned because I was hindered in how much I could chase after them with Nora strapped to me.

After a rather big climb, we all rested and snacked on “pioneer food” of beef jerky and dried mango :P On the way back, Clara had gathered her bravery, and as she was hiking up a nearly horizontal surface you could sense her feelings of accomplishment. She was yelling “I doing it! Wohoo!!”

After this busy (Read: Exhausting) morning, we headed to the Jacob Hamblin home, which is one of Nana and Papa’s favorite sites to give tours at. Its impressively big for its time and location, but not nearly big enough for the number of people who lived within! Jacob Hamblin was a fascinating guy who spent years and years as a missionary to the Native Americans.

We followed this visit up with lunch outside a burger shop in the little town of Santa Clara, then the big kids went to visit Nana and Papa’s apartment while I took the littles home for an afternoon nap. Our evening included a very cold, and disappointing portrait session at Sand Hollow and an indoor picnic.

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The Jacob Hamblin Home

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untitled-479 (Large)From my iphone:








Photos from Mike’s cell:





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!

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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!

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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!

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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!







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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!













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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!