Category Archives: 2016

Our First Epic Trip – Moab

Moab, UT was the hottest place that we visited on our trip.  We had been used to temperatures around 75-80 degrees.  We were certainly not thrilled to be back in the heat (100 degrees when we were there), but we were thankful for air conditioning at the sketchy RV park where we stayed.  We were one of the few campers that did not live at the park.  It ended up being fine.  While we really enjoyed staying in the bungalow for 3 days, we were glad to be back in the camper and so close to nature.
Arches National Park
was incredible to see.  We couldn’t stop staring at the rocks and we enjoyed picking out shapes and making up what we thought they looked like.  The size and beauty of the rock formations cannot be expressed in a photo.  Sadly, we were not able to make it to the Delicate Arch.  Maddie was hiked out…
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“Rock Energy”img_7347 img_7350 img_7352 img_7360 img_7361img_7366
Overall, the Arches National Park is a very nice place to see and we would definitely come back for a visit, just not in the blistering summer.

Next up, Telluride, CO.

Our First Epic Trip – Salt Lake City

When we were planning this trip in the late spring, we thought that it would be nice to rent a place to stay, in the middle of the trip, in order to get a break from our camper.  So, after 2000 miles of driving, we stopped for 3 days in Salt Lake City to stay in a bungalow.  It was really great to have basic amenities that we take for granted.  For example: sometimes we had electricity, sometimes not,  for half of the trip we didn’t have running water, our method of cooking was using a propane stove and fighting the wind, and getting ready for bed meant that we had to shuffle our clothes off of our beds and rearrange the stuff in our tiny camper.

The kids enjoyed getting a bit of TV time as we had been electronic free up until this point and then again after this.  The parents enjoyed being able to cook soups and beans to stock up for the next stretch of the road trip.

To help them not become total zombies, we went to an awesome park directly across the street each night.  Sometimes twice a day.
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We attended church at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  The message was simply Episcopal, love and help your neighbor.  Sadly, several families let their children continue to disrupt the service so the cool vibes we were feeling quickly faded.

After church we went to a great museum called The Leonardo Museum.  We were all free to explore the wide range of exhibits.  We stayed here close to 4.5 hours and definitely could have stayed much longer.  Us parents were getting tired!
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We ended our stay here watching the large firework exhibit at one of the many parks having firework displays.

Salt Lake City is such a cool place to visit.

Up Next Moab, Utah.

Our First Epic Vacation – Grand Teton National Park

After leaving Yellowstone, we got to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet: the Grand Teton National Park.  The kids were so tired that they missed most of the drive (including a huge herd of bison crossing the road).  Due to the magnificence of these mountains, we couldn’t quit gaping at them.
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Then, we drove through Jackson and Alpine, WY and stayed in Star Valley, just outside of Afton.  We were mesmerized watching a farmer bail hay behind the RV park we were staying at.
Near Afton, we got to visit the Intermittent Spring.  It was a one mile round trip hike to the spring.  Although, we didn’t visit during the right season, the spring flows for a while then stops periodically. IMG_7164 IMG_7169
Next up, Salt Lake City and Moab, UT.

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.

Our Kindergarten Graduate

Our sweet Max has officially graduated from Kindergarten.  He is the whole reason we started a kindergarten program this past year at our school.  Max, along with our other two children, is also the reason we opened Little Bird Preschool in the first place.  It was my hope to get to spend as much time with them in an environment that I helped create.

Max started his year slightly behind academically but miles ahead artistically.  He finished on top and is now a great reader and loves all things learning.  Since his birthday is September 1 (and actually makes the state cutoff for kindergarten) we always knew we would keep him home an extra year.  However when the chance came to teach him at our school, we jumped on it.  I am so glad for the opportunity to have been able to be his teacher.  We shared such sweet moments.

Here he is growing up at Little Bird
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And here is a sample of his favorite things he made this year
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Max, we love you to the moon and back. We are so glad you have chosen to remain with us at school for another year.

Wedding Vow Renewal

After thirteen years of marriage, we decided the time was right to renew our wedding vows.  We were really glad to share this experience together surrounded by our family and church friends.  It was so wonderful to have our children there to help us celebrate.  We are glad they were able to witness their parent’s recommitment to each other.

While the actual renewal part was really short (our wedding was a traditional Episcopal service and lasted about an hour and a half), it was very meaningful to us.  We actually got married in the same chapel and our beloved priest, who has been with us for thirteen years, was able to renew our vows before her retirement two weeks later.

We are both so in love with each other and committed for life.  We love this Epic life we are living and so very thankful that we are on this journey together.  We really do make a great team.

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Thanks be to God that we were joined together.

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!