Spring Break in Moab

I’ve been looking forward to spring break for a while now. I’ve needed a little getaway and something to make time go faster as the countdown for this pregnancy drags on. We picked Moab Utah for our destination this year and started researching places to camp, hike and climb. We’ve been to Moab before, mostly in our college days for mountain biking trips, but there is a lot we haven’t done there. I soon found there was more to do than time we had to do it in.

Prepare yourself for information overload…

Here is my schedule of our final plans. We didn’t stick to it completely but it gave us a pretty good idea of things to do. I picked our favorite activities and tried to keep meals simple.

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We had friends joining us for the trip and looking back now I wonder if most families enjoy more down time than we do. We are a go, go, go type family. We tend to really pack it in and get the most done. I’m thinking this makes for one exhausting trip if you’re not use to it. I don’t dare ask how the other family fared because they had some major mishaps (one involving food poisoning) but I think over all they had a great time.

I picked a campground along the Colorado River. It’s close to town but enough out of the way that you feel like you’re having a real camping experience. It had nice trees and a sandy ground that made sleeping comfortable enough. I worried about sand getting all over in the tent but it didn’t make for too much of a problem.

After setting up camp we wanted to explore up the road, Kane Creek, and check out the climbing there. We loaded in the car and drove and drove. The climbing wasn’t to be found and before we knew it we were headed up Hurray Pass which was absolutely fun and beautiful.

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We turned around and finally found the climbing wall, Ice Cream Parlor, that we were looking for. We had a couple hours of day light left and put up a couple ropes and let the kids and grown up kids go at it.

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The next day we had a slow start and decided to stop and check out a little tiny side canyon off of Kane Creek road called Moonflower Canyon. It was a darling little place and I dream of camping there. There were lizards galore for all the reptile lovers, petroglyphs for the studious, and a log ladder climb for the adventurous. At the end of the canyon is a little pool. All very delightful!

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After that little side trip there was a bit of fiasco of locked keys in a car that delayed our next hike for an hour or so but we finally made our way to Negro Bill Canyon for a nice long hike that ends at Morning Glory Bridge. It was such a beautiful hike.

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This snake found along the trail sure made Emma’s day!

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I was really sore and worn out from the hiking and we decided to take it a bit easier the next day. My prego body just can’t keep up to the normal pace. The kids and I hung out in the shade of the giant petrified sand dunes while the big boys tried out the Slickrock practice loop.

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This big boy loved it. I really wanted some action shots but missed the opportunity because of a fussy Sam.

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Next stop was to cool off and wash off some of the camping grime in the local swimming hole that isn’t so local anymore, Mill Creek North Fork. There is a little swimming hole just steps from the parking lot that we stopped at and ate lunch. The water was ice cold.

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After a little break, us dare devils wanted to check out the bigger swimming hole a mile or so upstream. It was another nice beautiful hike through the stream despite the fact that I had my waddle on. The kids had a ton of fun jumping off the cliffs and I even gave it a go on the smaller side of the waterfall. Can you spot me?

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On our last day we packed up camp and went to check out Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s beautifully scenic and a must see. The smoothies and ice cream from the snack shack were a nice addition too.

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The kids and Jeremy tried out the biking trails while Sam and I enjoyed the views. It was a hit. Even the girls gave the easiest trail, Intrepid, a try and loved it. I think it felt like a pretty big accomplishment despite a few spills and scraped elbows.

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The boys took a second loop on another trail, Great Pyramid, which proved to be a little tougher but it was still all smiles.

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Last stop was Canyonlands. We thought we might as well check out the north part, Island in the Sky, since we were so close. Amazing!

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It mostly involved driving to breath taking overlooks but we did fit in a little hike at the end up Whale Rock, in order to prep for the drive home.

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Overall, such a fun trip. I’m looking forward to exploring even more in Moab. It really is a great place. Now… on to more mundane things like laundry and toilet scrubbing.

Later.

2012 Scrapbook Done

Hurray, Hurray!! All of my crazy mass production scrapbooking has paid off.

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I ordered all of my 8×8 scrapbook pages for the 2012 year. It’s so exciting and satisfying to finally have all of that hard work in print.

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I ordered my photo book and extra pages from Amazon instead of running to the craft store. It must have been a really lazy day. I tried a Pioneer 8×8 Inch Snapload Leather Memory Book. I like it so much better than the post bound books I’ve had in the past. It was so much easier loading all the extra pages I needed. The extra pages are here too.

Here is my cover page. I covered my last name because I’m paranoid like that.

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And here are some of my favorite double pages layouts from the year.

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I hope you are getting your own scrapbooking done as well.
XOXO

Getting my Craft On

I know I’m due for a post and I’ve been thinking about it all week. I really need to get a new template fixed up and ready to share. I have a couple I’ve been thinking about using but they really are plain. More squares, anyone? I just have to remember that I’m not the only one who wants to throw on 100 pictures and call it good.

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Yes, I realize lemonade is spelled wrong. I’m awesome like that.

March is flying by for me… and I’m SO happy since February felt like such a drag. The blossoms are out and the weather has been absolutely lovely. Hello spring!! It’s time for some fun, it’s time for a road trip, and I guess it’s time for lemonade stands.

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My sister’s kickstarter campaign is up and running for her new mermaid monofin. We are all so excited but especially my Emma girl because she’s in the videos. I had no idea what kickstarter was but it’s a neat way for brand new companies like hers to raise funds to manufacture cool products. You can watch the video below to find out more about it.

If you have a cute little swimmer in your life who’d love to swim like “A Real Live Mermaid!!” then now is the time to order a monofin from the kickstarter program. It’s a good deal and you get to back up her project and have good happy feelings that you are helping her out. If you know other little mermaids that might like one as well then I urge you to share it. One click can go a long way.

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This week I’ve had a major case of boredom. You know this is an issue of mine. There is plenty to do but nothing I want to do. I started rummaging around for a project to keep keep me busy and low and behold a dear sweet child of mine did a flip on the couch and kicked one of my picture frames down. It was a an old frame that I had glued together several times and I thought there was no point in gluing it again. Time to re-imagine a display for my instagram photos.

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I went to Joanns and picked up a new white frame. This one was just an empty open frame with no glass. Perfect. I also bought a roll of cork and came home and glued it to cardboard cut to the size of the frame. I had no idea the cork would be so fragile so if you do this, be careful. I tore in several places but luckily I could glue it together really good and now you can’t even tell it’s torn in a few places. I had some cute push pins laying around and pinned up some instagram pictures. It made me want to order some new one and rotate them out more frequently. I think I’ll do that today.

Ta da! Project done.

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Sorry, this picture isn’t that great a quality because I wasn’t planning on sharing it.

That project took me less than an afternoon so I soon needed another one pronto. I convinced my mom to go to the fabric store with me (it wasn’t hard -she loves fabric even more than me!) and browse around for some baby boy fabric. I really have no need for anything for this upcoming baby so it’s more fun than anything.

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The funny thing about the fabric I choose was that when my mom and I walked into the store she pointed to this fabric and said “I really hate that line.” Hum, that kind of grabbed my interest. It’s from Cotton and Steel. I’d never heard about it but my mom, who is up to date with the fabric world said it was all over the internet. Again, my interested was piqued. Super modern and funky colors aren’t really my mom’s thing but after browsing around the store I ended up coming back to this line and wanting some of it. I didn’t want anything that screamed baby boy. Some thing more cool and funky. So this is what I ended up with.

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I decided I wanted a new car seat canopy. I’ve made a bunch and kind of love and hate them at the same time. I eventually get sick of them and take them off when baby is old enough to not really need it. I’ve made the kind where you sew two pieces of fabric together, add straps and your done. I’ve made ones with minky fabric, rickrack or bows on top. The problem with this kind is they blow in the wind and fall in baby’s face. So I wanted to try one with elastic around the edges to keep it in place.

It wasn’t hard finding a tutorial on how to make one. It’s basically the same design as the flat ones but with elastic around the edges.

I also had a hard time picking just two fabrics so decided to piece it. I cut 5 inch squares and laid them out in a random pattern. 8 squares by 10 squares, to get the right dimensions.

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I debated putting a window in it because I wondered if the elastic would make it hard to peak in at baby. Once I put the whole thing together I decided I didn’t need one because it’s still easy to lift up the sides and look in. The elastic is loose enough for that.

Sorry, the light isn’t so good in this pic. Basement + evening doesn’t make for good picture taking.

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Done. We’ll have to see how baby and I like it. This project took an afternoon of fun shopping and less than a day of sewing.

Last night I was looking around for something else to do and figured I had some cute scraps to use up. Emma designed a stuffed monster for me and we started cutting and laying pieces out.

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It’s not done, obviously, but it was kind of a fun little evening project with my girl. We decided that our monster kind of looks like a potato but maybe baby boy will like it. Ha!

I don’t have any stuffing on hand so another errand to Joanns is in order.

Hum… what should be next?

February- A very long, short month

The last few weeks of my pregnancy have really dragged for me. I’m in the later 20’s and it feels like I’ll never hit week 30. Thus February, even though it’s the shortest month of the year, seemed to go on and on for me. I’m so glad it’s finally March.

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February was record braking warm in Utah. Lots of other places where getting snow but we hardly had any. It seemed my daffodils and tulips popped up earlier than normal. About a month early. I always take a picture of the first signs of green. It’s always so exciting.

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Because of the warm weather we have spent a lot of days basking in the sun at the park. My rug rats haven’t complained one bit.

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One thing I’ve been doing to help time go faster is a few upgrades around the house. I updated my mater bedroom (in January) with new bedding, new paint and new nightstands.

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I even built the nightstands myself. It was craziness but I figured it out and did it. I order the mid century legs from homedepot.com and built the box and drawers using my dad’s table saw. I have very little wood shop skills but this project was pretty do-able. Making the drawers were the scariest but they work and I’m super happy with the results.

After my bedroom was done I moved onto my banister and fireplace. Ever since we put in new hardwood floors over 1 1/2 years ago I’ve been wanting to update the oak. I’ve been scared to death to make such a big change but now that I’ve done it I’m sooo glad I did. It looks so much better and makes a big difference in pulling the house together overall.

Here is the before:

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And the after:

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There are a ton of tutorials out there on how to paint banisters. I read several of them. It turned out easier than I thought but it was still time consuming requiring lots of coats painted by hand. First the primer, then 2 coats of white paint, then a clear polyurethane coat. Painting spindles is a pain! But the fireplace was easy. For the dark wood I used a tinted polyurethane. Most tutorials use gel stain but the girl at Home Depot convinced me to use PolyShades that requires no sanding nor an extra polyurethane coat. Thinking that would save me I went for it. I ended up doing 3 or so coats of the PolyShade anyway so I don’t know. It was kind of tricky to put on. It was sticky and hard to work so multiple coats and touch ups were necessary. I’d want to try using a gel stain before I said which one I preferred.

Once those projects were done I was pretty burned out. I’d still like to do quite a few things around the house (touch up baseboards, touch up baby boy room, build entertainment unit for downstairs…) but… as 3rd trimester approaches I think I’ll wait.

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This is a crummy picture of me. It’s blurry. It’s from a hike that my husband and I went on for Valentines day. I haven’t taken any good belly shots of this pregnancy. That’s what you get with #5 but my belly is growing. Slowly but surely. I am slowly getting bigger (everywhere!) and my least favorite thing has become bending over. Bending over to put shoes on, bending over to pick up the endless stream of toys, paper and pencils on the floor.

Pregnancy isn’t nice.

Despite the fact that it’s super uncomfortable to put my snowboard bindings on and we’ve had very little snow, we’ve been on a couple really fun skiing trips. (Midwife approved) I do feel really comfortable on the slopes even though my snow pants don’t fit. I take it easy and spend most of my time on the greens with Leah. We have a great time.

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She didn’t particularity want to be in my selfie though.

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Our ski trips wear everyone out. It’s great family fun.

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But mostly life is pretty mundane. Grocery store trips, homework, and everyday life.

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So here’s to March, more spring weather and hitting the 30th week in my pregnancy.

Mermaid Awesomeness

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have already seen my post about my rad cakes big sister’s. She’s been working on a new mermaid business for a while now and is finally getting ready to launch.

Introducing Suntails Mermaid!!

Hurray!!

We are so excited for her!! And I want to get the word out to everyone I know… because heck, (I love her to pieces) but doesn’t every little girl pretend they are a mermaid at the pool? I know I did and I wasn’t even that girly. I would have loved a real tail.

“Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat…”

Over the summer we were able to help her test out monofin prototypes. My girls (and boy) were in mermaid heaven. We had lots of swim parties with shark and mermaid games going on. Oh the destress of the mermaids getting captured… Swoon!!

We helped her tweak her monofin design and its finally perfected and ready to go.

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This is how excited we are…

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We’ve been holding in our excitement for months now and we can finally let it out. Emma and Leah have been able to be in the demo videos and pictures. I think they feel like super stars. If you watch the video you’ll see Emma in blue and Leah is demonstrating the toddler tail without a monofin underneath.

Before my sister starts selling she is having a give away and launching a kickstarter program. Enter to win here. You have to check it out. She’s giving away one monofin and swim tail in order to get the buzz going. Please help.

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She’s blogged all about her journey here if you want to learn more.

Template 109

I’ve been cranking out scrapbooking pages like a mad women. I wish I could make even faster progress but computer time can be so limited these days.

I thought I’d share one of my favorites lately. This template is not very fancy but it gets the job done. Hopefully you can put it to good use.

Download here.

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I used this same design idea multiple times, flipping the rectangle photo spots around, using more squares where needed and more rectangles where I wanted to show off larger pictures. Change out the papers and you could uses this for pages and pages.

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It’s been ages since I’ve uploaded a template to the web. I’ve had to really jog my memory. Let me know if there is a glitch.
Thanks. Enjoy.

The Past 6 Months

In order to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to I could summarize with one word.

Pregnancy.

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Yes. That is the biggest news I have and probably the main reason things went really quiet over here. We have a new little one on the way. My pregnancies are generally pretty easy but I did have a few rough months in the first trimester of feeling like a piece of poo. I spent many afternoons nauseated and sleeping in bed. Mornings tended to being my best time of day but I just couldn’t function in the late afternoons and evenings.

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Along with feeling sick, I’ve had a rough time emotionally. I mean, we wanted this pregnancy, decided together and planned it all out but honestly my heart isn’t 100% into having 5 children. It’s a lot. I’m nervous and scared and, quite plainly, have some pride issues about dragging that many kids around. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kiddos. But 5 is going to stretch me. I’ve had some major down times and battled with a little depression over the whole issue. I think that has contributed to some of the quietness here at Mandagirl.

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I’ve just been plum overwhelmed. And trying to prioritize has left Mandagirl on the back burner. I don’t think anyone can blame me.

Family comes first. And I better be ready to deal with 5 kids come May.

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I had the idea to update you on what I’ve been up to these past 6/7 months. I looked through all my photos and picked some of my favorites. I uploaded 43 photos to flickr and that is probably too many to put in one post. But looking through them sure was fun. It reminds me how much fun we’ve had (despite my pregnancy) and all the wonderful things we’ve been up to. Pictures are always of the good times and not the bad. My very favorites are of exploring outdoors or having some sort of adventure.

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6 months is a long time and it feels like a lot of seasons have gone by.

There are summertime memories.

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The school year beginning.

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Lots of fun mountain biking rides.

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Nerdy pictures of us in helmets.

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Memorable climbing trips.

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And a whole lot of everyday life photos.

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Aren’t the kids growing up so much!

There are beautiful fall pictures (which tend to be my favorites.)

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And some winter time fun even though the snow this year has been less than ideal.

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Looking back I feel a lot better about these past 6 months then I previously did. Maybe I just need to keep my chin up, keep busy so this pregnancy doesn’t drag on to much and remember my priorities and what makes me happy.

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Maybe blogging again will help keep the important things in perspective. We’ll see.

Surprise! It’s 2015 and I’m Posting

Wow, this little place on the internet sure is dusty. I thought I had completely given it up, left it behind and considered it dead.

At Christmas time I logged in to my Paypal account to send some money and low and behold I had actually had a few template purchases. {Thank you my dear faithful digi scrappers!!} It was a total surprise, you see, because I hadn’t received any email notifications from my Mandagirl account since the summer. I thought it was nothing but cobwebs over here. I could hardly believe that there had been some activity when I had been so neglectful. Maybe I can keep my domain name after all. Yea!! Happy dance.

Today I logged on to fix my mandagirl email account and it looks like everything is in working order. It’s been so long that I had to look up passwords and user names and long forgotten cpanel addresses. In fact, I’ve never learned to use cpanel very well. It scares me. But my email should be fixed and I apologize if you ever tried to contact me and all you got was crickets. (Although I do doubt that anyone tried… He he.

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Once I found out I had some activity I had to make a decision. It would be sad to shut the whole thing down when a few of you still can use some templates. Hum…What to do now?

I knew I wanted to do one thing… and I was going to do this even if I shut things down. I wanted to make some blog books of all my posts since the beginning of life here at Mandagirl. In January I did a little research and found the easiest quickest way to print my blog. I had 7 years worth of blogging to print so I didn’t want to spend any time sorting or arranging post. I just wanted to hit print and be done… and I did.

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Ya, I wasn’t very creative with my titles.

I used blog2print.com and it was super easy. The covers aren’t so great but I can’t complain. The price is great. All I wanted was a hard copy. I kept the price cheap by printing in black and white but that’s okay because I have my pretty, colorful scrapbooks for enjoying pictures.

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Once my books came in the mail it was so much fun to flip through and see the posts and pictures from over the years. They really are journals of sorts. It brought back a teeny tiny blog spark of love in my heart. It’s now going to be even harder to quit blogging all together. Look at all this wonderful history… even if it is just for me.

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Another month and half has gone by and there has been this little voice in my head saying I should get on and blog. Bring this sucker back to life. But why… what is there to write about it… Oh yea, for history sake. Because I do love scrapbooking and sharing. Because I like to share our wild adventures. Oh ya, and my mom likes to see pictures of my kiddos.

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Is that reason enough?

I have picked up scrapbooking again but I’m so far behind that I’m in boring mode. Make some squares, load them with pictures, save and move on. Seriously, there is no creativity going on here.

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Get. As. Many. Photos. On. The. Page. As. Possible!

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But I am getting pages done. Whoo hoo.

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Stay tuned for more exciting blog posts from the one and only Mandagirl.
Hah!

Yosemite National Park Family Vacation

I’ve been itching for a family vacation this summer. We haven’t had any big plans on the calendar this year so I threw out the idea to take a road trip and everyone embraced it with open arms. HOO-RRAY! I’m really excited, can you tell?

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We like to throw together last minute trips. Do you? Even though it causes me undue stress, that’s how we roll over here.

So lets take a trip.

How about Yosemite?

What’s there to do at Yosemite?

I dunno. I know there’s a great big granite mountain face named El Capitan that’s famous for rock climbing. Didn’t that one guy free climb it? Isn’t it one of the most awesomest, beautifulest national parks in the US?

Yup.

Well, lets go.

After much research in the few short days before our trip, I learned that all campgrounds and lodgings fill up months in advanced; like February-advanced; like when-they-first-open-the-camp-sites-for-reservation kind of advance. BUT there are a bunch of camp sites that are first-come-first-serve. That made me a bit nervous not knowing where I was going to lay my sweet babies heads but I set my sights on a couple campgrounds that sounded nice and away from the crowds, hoping there would be a site available.

Boy, did we luck out. We first stopped at White Wolf because it had tap water and I wasn’t too keen on pumping or boiling all our water. It was a fun looking place but it was full so on we went to our next pick.

Tamarack Flat

Love! Love! Love! this campsite. It was 3 miles down a rugged road (which made it all the more quaint) and didn’t have tap water but my goodness, I didn’t care. We packed plenty and could fill up at the gas station later. This place was so dreamy and perfect. We found a cute little site near the end of the campground and near a stream. We had nothing but forest behind us and only one neighboring camper from the way the site was set up. It was perfect for my noisy little family.

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One day we explored the trail that ran along the stream leading from camp. It lead to the most delightful set of granite pools and little waterfalls. It was heaven and we didn’t see a soul. (Who said Yosemite was a tourist trap?)

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Tuolumne Grove

We didn’t make it down south to Mariposa Grove to see the biggest grove of sequoia trees. Instead we checked out the little one closer to our campsite. We were trying to eliminate the amount of driving we had to do for the littles.

Here is one of the first giant sequoias that you come to, Big Red.

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Tuolumne Grove only has about 20 some mature giant sequoia trees, though I counted just 10 or so, but we didn’t mind. All the trees there are big and pretty.

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The hike consists of walking a mile down an old road to the actual grove then meandering around the grove for a half mile and then trudging back up the steep-ish old road to the car for a total of 2.5 miles. The kids complained a bit but in the end it really wasn’t that bad.

The kids favorite part was climbing in and around the old fallen giants.

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Their centers are hollow and make a cave like tunnel to explore. The roots make for fun bouldering problems.

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This old dead tree has been around for years and I can’t imagine the number of people that have walked underneath it. I think I read that they carved it out in the late 1800’s or so to encourage travel through there. There was an old picture of a stagecoach going through it.

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We even saw a little troll along the way.

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Yosemite Valley

Despite all the reports we’d read about “The Valley” being full of tourists, we didn’t think it was all that bad. Perhaps it was because we were there on a Thursday so if you’re planning a trip, try a weekday instead of a weekend.

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Beautiful. Breathtaking. Yosemite valley is all those things and more. No wonder it’s famous. The granite cliffs are towering above your head and too big to fit in your windshield as you drive through. The green meadows and forests are divine and the Merced River is delightfully pretty.

We gave ourselves a full day to explore and ended up going back for another half day to play in the river.

Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall was our first stop. We knew that, being July, that there wouldn’t be much water pouring down. And well, there wasn’t but as you looked up you could see a misty kind of fall catching in the wind and blowing around the cliff and eventually finding its way down. It was late morning and the sun was positioned a few feet from the fall making it difficult to look up and get a good pic.

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It was still pretty and as we reached the end of the short walk up to the fall you could see the polished granite rocks in the river bed that were exposed in the summer. They would be completely covered and raging with water in the spring. We, along with quite a few other adventurers, scrambled up the dry but very slippery rocks up to the bottom of the fall. There would be no way to do this in the spring. At the bottom was a deep little pool where some cascading water ended up.

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Isaac jumped right in after some short encouragement from Jeremy. But he quickly jumped right out because it was freezing cold water. Take you breath away kind of cold but it was too fun to resist and plenty warm for sunning on the rocks afterwards. Isaac jumped in a bunch more times and all of us ended up taking quick dips, clothes and all. It made for a fun memory.

Vernal Fall

Our next stop was Vernal Fall. This waterfall is not seasonal and has enough water rushing down to still make it spectacular year round and thus it continues to draw a crowd. This is one of the busiest trails in the park but the scenery makes it well worth all the people passing. Just nod and smile as they walk pass your whining, screaming, silly kid.

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At about 1 mile there is a bridge that goes over the river and gives you the first view of the falls. There is also a drinking fountain to replenish water bottles. I think quite a few people stop here and call it good but getting close up to the falls was worth the uphill for us.

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The pounding sound of the fall is amazing. I need to go back in the spring and experience it in all it’s glory. The trail leading up to Vernal Fall is called The Mist Trail but in July we could barely feel the cool refreshing mist blowing over to us. No ponchos needed.

The trail is steep and a bit of a haul for the little ones. But they made it. Even if it took some jolly-rancher-bribing to get them to the top. We counted 667 granite stairs. (You can keep going up more stairs if you want to continue on to the Nevada Fall.)

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The hike goes right to the top of the fall for a great view of where you’ve come from.

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Thank you for handrails.

At the top, the river is swollen into a pretty little pool called Emerald Pool.

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Isaac jumped right in. At the far end of the pool the river comes sliding down a gentle sloping granite slab making for a perfect natural water slide. After watching a few guys slide down, Isaac braved up and went down about a dozen times. I had so much fun watching him. I could just see all the thrill of childhood adventure in him. He’d talk to himself about where to enter the slide and how to land. In the end, Emma decided to join in and loved it too. Big fun.

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Including the walk back to our car we went just over 4 miles. The kids did great but were pretty bushed by the end. I felt pretty beat myself.

Yosemite Falls

If you combine the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls it is 2,425 feet tall. That is one tall waterfall. That makes it the tallest in North America and the 5th or 7th tallest in the world. (depending on which site you read) In July there was more water coming down it than it’s neighbor, Bridalveil Fall, across the way but it was still a thin looking thing.

Again- Must. Come. Back. In. The. Spring.

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It’s only a quarter mile stroll on flat paved ground to the bottom of the lower fall. It’s a short section (320 feet high) but worth the little walk. You’ll get a great little view of the whole thing along the way. We arrived there right at dark so this is the best shot I have.

Merced River

The Merced River runs right down the Nevada and Vernal Falls into the valley. There it meanders past the forests and granite cliffs and makes for a beautiful river with pleasant beaches and pools for swimming in. (I took some fun videos of the kids jumping in the river and posted one at Instagram.)

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The kids were really excited about floating the river (because it didn’t involve hiking!) so we had brought our tubes along. I was weary about the water levels but driving by, we had seen plenty of people floating by. Althought when we set out, we learned that in July there isn’t a whole lot of floating to be done though. It was more like we went for a paddle down the river. The current was SO SLOW and there were several low spots that required getting out for so our bums didn’t drag. We took off our shoes and used them as paddles for steering and maneuvering and getting some momentum. We had to play catch up with the kids a few times. It was still really fun and a nice change from hiking.

We were rewarded by finding a rope swing at the end of our journey. I didn’t note which bridge it was near though and I didn’t get one picture from the float either… I didn’t want to risk my camera getting wet. Boo.

Glacier Point

Just south of the valley is a road that wraps up and around to a point that looks out over Yosemite Valley. Jeremy absolutely loved this place. This is probably my favorite picture from the trip. You can see Nevada Falls right by my back and that’s half dome by Jeremy’s head.

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The Views Are Spectacular!

It was fun to go up there near the end of the trip and identify all the places we’d been. There was even a handy map identifying all the major sites, domes and waterfalls. I could point out where we floated the river to the kids. “This bridge to this bridge.” and the kids thought it was pretty interesting.

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We arrived near sunset and watched the sun creep up the prominent Half Dome and disappear into the sky.

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There had been a lightning strike¬† earlier in the month so there was a fire near Yosemite Creek. They fireman were managing it but you can see the dark cloud in the picture below is actually smoke. It never bothered us or got in the way. It’s really interesting how fire is important to these trees, helping the new seeds grow.

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Tioga Road

Coming from Utah, the shortest route to Yosemite is to enter through the north road. Tioga road was absolutely stunning. The views were amazing! I would recommend to anyone to make time to drive this scenic route. Coming over the pass at 9,945 feet in elevation was stunning. Driving from the dessert of Nevada into that oasis was shocking. Marveling at what a difference water can make is an experience in itself. I’m sounding completely nerdy but I think my jaw was dropped during that whole drive. I was bouncing and giggling over my excitement. Jeremy may have even joined in too. I think we might have shared a high five or two. I was driving so there is a lack of pictures and we only stopped at one pull out though there are plenty. This is Olmsted Point below.

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Tenaya Lake

On our last day and on our way out of the park, we stopped at Tenaya Lake for one last hurrah. This may have been my favorite place.

There is a delightful little trail that goes along the whole lake. We didn’t have the time or the umph to walk it but this little section had me breathing in the sweet smell of Lodgepole pines and wishing we didn’t have to go home.

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We stopped at the beach with our suits on and washed off the last of our camping grime and basked in the sunshine. That’s Isaac out there. He was such a little fish they whole trip.

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Heaven.

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We ate lunch and watch the climbers ascend the dome across the road.

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Did I mention it was heavenly?

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Yes. It was.

This is Mono Lake on our way out. It’s a salty lake but still really pretty. Love the sky, yes?

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So that is my full report. Perhaps my mom will read all the way through or perhaps you’re interested in Yosemite for yourself and will decide to plan your own family vacation. Let me know if you do? Maybe you have already been? What was your favorite part?

This wont be my last trip there, for sure!

I’m in love.