Category Archives: Outdoors

Our First Epic Vacation – Yellowstone National Park

We were fortunate enough to spend three days in Yellowstone National Park.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect of this place.  We have heard stories from previous visitors about how amazing it is.  Our first few hours in park were unimpressive, but as we pressed on, we started seeing the magic is this place.IMG_6837 IMG_6852 IMG_6841

Dragon’s Mouth Spring – This cave continually rumbles and breathes and was fascinating to hear.IMG_6870
A bison stopped by the mud pots to warm up.IMG_6877

Old Faithful – Luckily, after a long walk, the geyser erupted after about 15 minutes.  Although, the gift shop took a lot longer to see.IMG_6898

We got to see a herd of elk in the distance.IMG_6910 IMG_6920

Artists’ Paint Pots – The water in these hot springs reaches up to 143 degrees.IMG_6929 IMG_6932

We stood for about 20 minutes watching the mud pots splatter and pop.  It is funny how entertaining this was.IMG_6938 IMG_6944

Mammoth Hot Springs – It was so beautiful to see how the mineral deposits formed.IMG_6947 IMG_6951 IMG_6952 IMG_6956 IMG_6959

Mount Washburn and the surrounding area – Simply beautiful!IMG_6984 IMG_6986 IMG_6987 IMG_6989

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – We all felt that this was the most impressive site in the whole park.IMG_7002 IMG_7007

The water is so incredibly clear.  It felt too sacred to even step in.IMG_7068 IMG_7072 IMG_7073
Grand Prismatic Spring – This place was beautiful.  This is the place the Sara was most wanting to see, but it fell short of expectations due to the fact that you can’t see the colors in the same way as you can from an aerial view.  IMG_7091

We all worked together to help Max become a junior ranger and got to learn so much about the park in the process. IMG_7059 IMG_7057
We tried to book camping in the park about 2 months out from taking the trip.  Well, that didn’t work out.  So, we stayed at the KOA outside of West Yellowstone, MT.  We all enjoyed this camp spot and the mini-golf.   And, on the last night in town, we got to have s’mores. IMG_7052IMG_7010 IMG_6906 IMG_7013 IMG_7035
Poor Maddie came down with pink eye within the first few days of our trip.  Her eyes starting getting worse and we had to take her to the doctor only to find out that she was allergic to the medication eye drops another doctor had prescribed.  Her eyes continued to bother her for most of the trip.  She was a trooper though.IMG_7042
We couldn’t get over the fact that we were standing in the caldera of an active volcano.  There are so many places in the park that were magical.  Even the kids agreed that they would want to return here one day.

Next up, Grand Teton National Park and Star Valley Wyoming.

Our First Epic Vacation – Mt Rushmore

After a few days of shorter drives around Denver and Colorado Springs, we ventured through the endless hay fields of eastern Wyoming to Custer, South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore.

We hadn’t planned take this route but this was Ethan’s top pick of things he wanted to see.  Most of us thought that our drive to see Mt. Rushmore was just a have-to thing that we would only do once in our lives.  We had heard that the monument was less than impressive from others that have taken the trip.  We were pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed touring the grounds and hiking to closer spots to take pictures.  We all agreed that we would want to come back if we are in the area.  We enjoyed learning the history of how the monument was created and Max even became a junior park ranger.  All of the kids enjoyed the “Souvenir Ice Cream.”IMG_6809IMG_6812

Shortly after we showed up to Beaver Lake Campground in Custer, our pop-up was tested in a hail storm.  In between the waves of the storm, the kids enjoyed the camp ground bikes and playground.  This was a great place to stay.IMG_3245IMG_6792IMG_6764IMG_6779 IMG_6786
After a beautiful and scary drive (the grade is really steep and roads are narrow) through the Big Horn Mountains, we drove on to Cody, WY.  Other than the RV park we stayed in, none of us enjoyed this town.  Well, the gun show was mildly entertaining.  After reading through the trip journal, we are seeing words like: Yuck, Hate, Tourist Trap, and Bad.IMG_6821 IMG_6824 IMG_6829
Next up, Yellowstone National Park!

Our First Epic Vacation – Boulder, CO

Next up on the trip was a quick drive to Longmont, Colorado to explore the area.

We often visit a quaint little campground at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, usually just to sleep in the car after a concert to save money.  But, this time it was much nicer to have the camper.  We quickly found out on our trip that no matter where we were, the kids immediately jumped right into playing a game of soccer.  Our spot at the campground accommodated this nicely.
IMG_6659 IMG_6660 IMG_6661 We spent the next morning at Golden Gate Canyon State Park taking in a hike.  We thought that this hike was going to be doomed because the 2 littles complained during the entire car trip.  It turned out to be a great 3.5 mile hike with no complaints.
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Maddie had a blast teasing Sara about getting energy from the rocks and trees after she overheard her explaining this to Max.  This was a laughing point for about a week….”Mom, I need some Rock Energy. “IMG_6681IMG_6686
Then, we took a short drive to the Butterfly Pavilion to catch up with some friends.  The kids got to hold Rosie the Tarantula, view tons of insects, and watch butterflies take their first flight.
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Next up, Mount Rushmore.

Our First Epic Vacation – Colorado Springs

One of the main reasons we wanted to work together was because of the opportunity to travel.  We have thrown around many ideas of how extensive our travel would be.  One idea was to sell everything and buy an rv to travel about the land for a year.  Another idea was for John to take a telecommute job and travel all summer.  We decided to compromise and travel one month each summer.

This summer we were able to take a much-needed, long-awaited, trip.  We traveled 3,600 miles in 23 days!  We had originally planned to tent camp the whole way but decided that our trip would be a little bit more sane in a pop up camper!  With a tight budget and sacrifices throughout the year we were able to save just enough money to make this happen.

The first few days we drove from Amarillo, Texas to Colorado Springs.  On the way there, we stopped at Bishop’s Castle.  It is a quirky little wonder.  The kids had a blast trying to climb to the very top. It is a bit scary trusting the workmanship.
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After Bishop’s Castle, our camping adventures began.  It was a learning curve to figure out how to: back the camper into tight spots,  pack up efficiently each day, figuring out the correct order to disassemble the camper, store the banjo, etc.  We figured out, early on, that we packed way too many blankets and clothes.

We were unfortunate to be stuck next to loud, belligerent, party animals our first night.  But, we had a great time.
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The next day we visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  Even though this is a great zoo, it is hard to witness animals in captivity.
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Next stop Boulder, Colorado.

Mother’s Day 2016

I am so very lucky to have three wonderful kiddos.  I am thankful I was chosen to be their mommy.  My life would feel so empty without them (maybe a little quieter that’s for sure)!

Our celebration started off with a pedicure and manicure arranged by Maddie.
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Then sweet gifts!
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We then went to church.  It was such a wonderful service and Ethan was an acolyte which made it even better.  Followed by a brunch with my mom and my sister’s family.  Sadly, we did not take a single photo of our afternoon together.

I always choose to stay home on Mother’s Day so I can be close to my babies.  Since we have been talking about making the kids a tree house since Christmas, I chose to have a family work day and finally get that thing started!  We are all excited about the final outcome.  The kids keep adding things to the wish list.  We will see if we can fulfill their dreams.
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We wrapped up our day with a delicious meal shared outside and two family art projects.
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It was truly a great day.  I love my family so very much!

Our First Camper Adventure

The Epic Family has been very busy lately between life and self employment, but we have also squeezed a few adventures in the middle of the rush.

We are gearing up for a long journey, in July, and decided to buy a camper to for our trip.  We are taking a month-long trip and were planning on staying in a tent half of the time and hotels for the rest.  We figured that the cost of our modest camper would equal the cost of lodging.  So, it was basically a wash.

We took our camper for its first trip a few weeks ago.  We had an awesome time and can not wait for our trip.  We slept so much better than tent camping.  Sara is now dreaming of tiny home living once again…pdc_camping_denver 017
It took way too long to figure out how to mount the support poles! pdc_camping_denver 055pdc_camping_denver 019
We went on a short hike and played in the river.pdc_camping_denver 025 pdc_camping_denver 027 pdc_camping_denver 028pdc_camping_denver 034
We need a healthy alternative to s’mores.  Any ideas?pdc_camping_denver 041
Sara got us out of bed to do some water color painting as the sun was setting.  We all really got into this activity.pdc_camping_denver 045 pdc_camping_denver 046 pdc_camping_denver 052
Overall, the weekend went well and we are definitely looking forward to the next time we get to venture out.

Easter 2016

Easter this year seemed very laid back.  John and I both wanted to go to Taos for Easter, but the kids protested!  They wanted to spend Easter in town, with family, at their own church.  We ultimately decided to stay home.  We were all glad we did.  Plus, even though it lightly snowed here, Taos was very cold and wet the three days we would have been there.

This year John and I felt strongly against egg hunts.  Mostly because of all the candy, but also because we feel it has no place for the Lord’s day and takes away from the reason we are celebrating.  Then again, I guess commercialized Christmas traditions could be argued as well (and definitely has been around here).  However, the kids really wanted to participate since this has been all they have known.  We ended up having an awesome glow in the dark hunt with friends, a simple hunt in the back yard, and a large hunt at the church.  In the end, we had a great time watching the kids have fun.  We didn’t feel that it took away from Easter at all.easter 082 easter 090

Maddie does not like to have her picture taken.  The photos of her below were part of our 2nd annual “pay Maddie $5 for a day of pictures.”  Oh how she delivered!easter 096 easter 097 easter 104 easter 114 easter 118 easter 121 easter 126 easter 132

We finished our day celebrating our Grammy’s birthday.  We enjoyed visiting with our family, playing games and participating in an egg drop.
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Happy Easter.

Spring Break

This year for spring break we went to Fort Worth to see our Geeg.  It was a quick four day trip.  Before leaving, we had a bit of down time at home.  The kids put on a crazy fashion show, games were played and Max made the jump from his tiny tricycle to a larger bike with training wheels.
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While in Fort Worth, we were treated to a day at Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  The children and adults had a blast.
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We also played at the local park.  It is a beautiful wooden park close to a pond.  We played tag for an hour then went to feed the ducks.  It was a bit rainy but it didn’t keep us from playing. DHDC spring break 164
Thank you for a great visit Grandma!

February Happenings

This winter we chose to stay inside quite a bit more than last year.  Well, the weather is finally warming up and we are coming out of hibernation.  My, it feels lovely getting outside more.

We are spending our days making volcanoes, shooting off bottle rockets, playing soccer, hiking, making mud pies and mud villages and just being outside.

Maddie went to a Rubix Cube workshop and mastered it!100 days of school 052 endoffeb 009 endoffeb 016 endoffeb 059 endoffeb 084 endoffeb 092 endoffeb 104 endoffeb 108 endoffeb 116 endoffeb 118 endoffeb 164
Ethan started taking piano lessons in January and knows a few songs already! endoffeb 167
Valentine’s Day was low key.  We exchanged simple cards and mostly ate fruit. We did get out to make art with the seniors where our Gigi once lived.  They were so grateful to have company.  It would be worth your time to adopt seniors in your area. Valentinesday 025 Valentinesday 104Valentinesday 112Valentinesday 122 Valentinesday 124

Winter Solstice

Our family doesn’t usually celebrate winter solstice due to the busyness of the season.  This year we wanted to take part in our earth’s celebration.  We researched and adapted a ritual of our own.

We started the night with a candlelit dinner.  Each child took turns lighting their own candle to remind us to retain our light during the dark days of winter.  Our peaceful moment was interrupted briefly with our kids struggling to light their candle.  We took a five minute break, recollected ourselves and the rest of the evening was beautiful.

Each of us listed our intentions for the new year and wrote down some of the negative things that happened during the year.  Then, we placed our paper into our fire pit and reflected in silence.  This was a lovely celebration for us.  It felt so good to have a night of pause before the rush of Christmas.

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Let us all remember to keep our light shining bright even in the darkest of times.