Archive of ‘Family Adventures’ category

Summer 2015

Last I checked in I had just had my 5th baby.

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Luckily summer was just around the corner. This allowed me plenty of time to recover and start feeling normal again. I mainly had to keep an eye on kids while they ran around the neighborhood.

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June was pretty uneventful. There were summer chores, afternoon play dates and the occasional outing. The older Henry got, the better I felt. I started getting out more; little hikes and some evening mountain bike rides.

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July brought our big summer trip to the East Coast. We had been looking forward to this trip for some time. Henry was going to be about 6 weeks so I was barely feeling ready for travel. We still have family that live there so accommodations were nice and cousins plentiful.

We spent a few days in the DC area seeing the sites.

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Here we all are at the Mall at the Sculpture Garden. Walking through the airport and at museums we got a lot of looks from people counting the number of kids following after me. Yes, 5 kids. I’m not sure how it happened.

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We spent a lot of fun time with cousins. Look at this cute line up of cousins at Frying Pan Park.

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There are currently 22 total grandkids (not all pictured here) on this side of the family. Imagine the fun and chaos!

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We spent a dreamy and relaxing day at Lake Anna with friends on the 4th of July .

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Then after a long drive and a lot of crying from Henry we spent a wonderful full week at the beach at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

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The kids boogie boarded the days away.

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We even took some pics on the beach for Suntail Mermaid.

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And I did a lot of this… Henry and my kindle were never very far from me though I did manage to get in a few boogie boarding rides.

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We attempted taking family pictures on the beach. I hadn’t made much of an effort to put outfits together so we just used what we had. I don’t think they worked out so well… these wont be going up on the wall.

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When we got home from our trip we had a bit of vacation withdrawal and didn’t know what to do with ourselves so we escaped to the mountains as often as we could. Here we all are on the 24th of July.

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My darling Emma turned 12 and for her it’s a dream come true. I’m not sure she could have waited much longer.

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So summer has been great. It’s always sad when it’s over but there is also some peace that comes with the school year. The kids are off and the house seems to maintain order a little better. There has been so much chaos lately that I can use all the help I can get. The little boys and I are finding nap times much more regular and relaxing.

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I hope you had a great summer too.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

What a Sad Sad Blog and a Summer Update

I looked over the other day to my husband who was on his laptop. I noticed he had Mandagirl opened up and I said “Hey, why are you looking at that!” He easily replied, “Just looking to see if you’ve posted anything new.”

Nope. I haven’t.

In fact, I hear crickets over here.

Chirp, Chirp.

So sad.

In fact, I’ve been thinking of reinventing things over here. Total Overhaul, people! Something new and Jazzy! Yes, I just said Jazzy.

My scrapbook templates are just as sad and tired as this old blog. I love digital scrapbooking and will never quit but I’ve run into a bump or two.  No creativity going on here! Plus I don’t have a photoshop program. I never figured out how to transfer it over to this new computer (some mac vs pc problem). So… I either need to buy a new version or continue to dream about fixing it somehow. Sigh.

So while we dream about me actually scrapbooking…

I’ll entertain you with some favorite photos from our rock’n summer.

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Actually, a lot of these are photos that didn’t make the Instagram cut. I worry about posting to much on instagram because I don’t want to Overgram anyone. “Oh my gosh, is she climbing AGAIN!” I don’t want to make anyone sick. I personally know most the people on Instagram so I try to hold back a little. Betcha couldn’t tell. Hah! I don’t want people to think I have some strange outdoor problem. Here I either don’t know you or you are my mom or my sister. You probably already know I have a problem.

Hi Mom. Do you like my lavender plant? It’s taking over my front yard.

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Addiction? I might in fact… is it possible to spend too much time outdoors? Hah! No way!! I Need More! More, more, more! There’s nothing wrong with choosing to breathe fresh air instead of going to a movie. Is there?

Mom, our next picnic destination is Silver Lake up by Brighton Ski Resort. Purty, eh? I guess there is always a moose or two munching around.

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In the rock climbing department I have been working really hard to improve on harder climbs. I discovered a couple new places near by and have been happy to test some of my skills outdoors instead of in the gym. It’s been really fun.

See… I’m making you sick aren’t I? This is some really cool white limestone and it has fun pockets to jam fingers into. This was my birthday climb. Loved it!

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Here is pretty view looking down at Alta Ski Resort from the rock.

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Sometimes my kids enjoy exploring the great outdoors with me.

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And sometimes they don’t. I think she wants to pinch me with those sticks because I’m taking to long.

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Rock Climbing hasn’t made my bottom any smaller so for my cardio workouts I have started mountain biking regularly. No thank you to treadmills.

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I got a new bike as my Mothers Day/birthday/Christmas and next Valentines gift. I used to hate going up hill and now I still do but I’m faster than I was. I had no idea that a 15 year old bike would slow me down so much. It’s made riding much more enjoyable.

I heart the trails by my house. They are the perfect morning workout even if my legs feel like jelly for the rest of the day.

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I know that I’m super silly… so when I say that I not only wanted to go climbing for my birthday but I also wanted to go for a nice long beautiful bike ride for my birthday, I give you permission to laugh at me (or roll your eyes.) My good friend’s birthday is the day after mine so we always declare a Birthday Ride.

Wasatch Crest, baby, here we come!

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When it’s mommy time and I still want to be outdoors we plan little fun picnics by the river and try to convince someone to join us. Wanna come? I know some cool places.

This one didn’t make the Insta cut because I have some salad in between my teeth. Gaafaah.

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We occasionally try to hike but it more often than not, it turns into playing by the river. There are a “whole lot a” trails that we’ve only seen the first half mile of.

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This next one didn’t make the Instagram cut because Isaac’s arm is growing out of Leah’s side. I still love it though, bare feet and all. Leah was so brave and wanted to cross the log all by herself.

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Love this one too. Sam can be a real stinker but makes up for it in cuteness. I’m biased, of course. Note his dirty feet.

Silver Lake

That’s it for now. I will make no promises for my next post.

Memorial Day Weekend -Exploring St George

Hello dear friends. Summer is in full swing and it’s time to play, play, play.

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We started off the hot months by heading down south to the hottest part of Utah… St George. My climbing friend and I have been wanted to check this place out for a while we we convinced our family to join us on this wild, fun packed weekend. We had so much fun exploring and learning are way around town. Here are some of the highlights from our trip.

Green Valley Gap.

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There is both climbing and mountain biking around Green Valley Gap. We were really just scoping out the area, figuring out where the trailheads and routes were. We ran out of time to really do either but the kids had a lot of fun climbing around on boulders and spotting wild life. We saw a road runner, couple bunnies and lizards. Emma also found a left behind Easter Egg with $5. Score!

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Chuckawalla Wall.

Saturday morning my friend and I woke up early to beat the heat and the crowds to the best climbing wall in town. I was super excited because I’d heard so many great things about this place.

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It didn’t disappoint. The sandstone pockets were amazing and created the perfect climbing wall. Don’t be fooled though, it was a lot tougher than it looks. The kids joined us later at the crag and spent the rest of the morning hunting lizards.

Snow Canyon.

Next stop was Snow Canyon State Park. We grabbed a map and planned out a little loop hike involving the Lava Tube hike and the Petrified Sand Dunes hike.

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The lava tubes turned out to be better than expected. The kids had a great time exploring the dark underworld and luckily I had had enough sense to grabbed some flashlights.

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Sam had a major tantrum/freakout under the ground. I’m not sure if he was claustrophobic or just didn’t understand where we were or what we were doing but he screamed the whole time. Not so fun, although he does looked pretty happy in the above picture. It must have been in the beginning before he realized he was trapped.

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Walking around the slick rock/petrified dunes was fun. We climbed up to a little look out point that felt airy and exposed. Sam must have wore himself out for all his crying because he’s catching a few zzz’s in this pic.

The wind was rushing past us making it a fun wind dancing sort of place. Don’t wear any skirts here unless you’re under the age of 5.

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(I’m sorry if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve already seen a lot of these pics.)

The biggest highlight for the kids (and husband) was spotting two rattle snakes. I know most people would be slightly freaked out but this was a big time moment for my reptile lovers. I made sure to keep my distance.

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After our hike everyone was pretty beat and the only thing the kids wanted to do was head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool. Sam tried out his new life jacket. Independence at last. I’m in love.

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This cute little boy didn’t realize that it was his birthday. (On second thought, maybe he did and that is why he wanted to try being a Terrible Two by throwing a tantrum in the lava tubes. Hah!.) We celebrated by getting some custard ice cream cones and singing to him. Not very celebratory of us but it worked.

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Sunday was low key for us. We went to church with my aunt and uncle who live in St George. The crazy thing was, so did the rest of the town. We walked in the meeting and found the place completely filled up to the back of the cultural hall. Crazy vacationers. The rest of the day was spent visiting with family and checking out the Brigham Young Home.

Monday was our last day so we wanted to cram in the last bit of fun we could get. We took turns mountain biking the Bear Claw Poppy trail (big fun!! but no pictures) and hurried and packed up before check out time.

Kanarraville Falls.

One our way back north we stopped in Kanarraville, Utah to do this hike we’d heard about. Oh my! This place was so cool. It was awesomeness I tell you. It is a river/slot canyon kind of hike and perfect for a hot day and my little hikers.

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The only problem was that we weren’t the only one who had this idea.

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There is this waterfall that requires climbing up a ladder in order to get past it. There was a bit of a traffic jam and we had to wait in line for our turn.

But it was well worth it.

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The highlight and a good stopping point for us was the natural water slide. More big fun! I have a video of it on instagram if you want to see how it worked. Even Sam took a ride down it.

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Good Things

Just look at this sweet face.

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We had a really special day this last Saturday. My second child was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was an amazingly special day. When I watched my son come out of the water I felt a rush of the spirit come into my heart and whisper to me that this was true and good.

Afterwards my sweet boy stood up in front of all the family and friends there to support him and bore his testimony about baptism. He said a few things but the one quote to remember is when he said “I know that baptism is… (slight pause and then a smile crept across his face) …the gateway to awesomeness.” How true that is. It was so cute and funny and sweet and totally Isaac.

I was also able to take a day off from being Mom and headed down to BYU Women’s Conference with my in-laws. For some crazy reason I was possessed while shopping the other day and bought these wide leg pants pictured below. They are comfy and flowy and I even got a compliment from a college student on them but looking at the picture I can’t help regret them. Is it because I’m comparing them to my sister in laws leggings? Maybe I needed to bend my leg in the picture so that I don’t look like a balloon. But really… perhaps I should never wear them again.

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I didn’t find my scrapbooking mojo at Women’s Conference but was inspired in so many other ways. It was a great spiritual boost listening to speakers and music. Gosh, we can always be just a little bit better, right? I walked around campus in the most amazing spring weather and had all kinds of college day memories come back to me.

Ah, good times. It would be nice if there were more days off like that.

Mojo, Where have you Gone?

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I’m really lacking in the creativity department. My scrapbooking mojo is just gone. I left it in bed or maybe left it dangling on the last climbing wall.

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Wait. Was it there? Blowing out of my brains, through my hair and down the cliff? I think my writing mojo is gone too.

Cooome baaaaack.

(The depth perception in this next photo is kinda weird. My foot is pushing against the rock, not floating. Can you see my miniscule car down by the road?)

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There’s my mojo, blowing down the road. Dunno where it’s going. But it’s gone and here sits a very unmotivated mandagirl. I’d much rather be looking up climbing routes for my next trip. Or how about watching YouTube videos for inspiration.

Sigh.

I had to look up Mojo in the Urban dictionary just to make sure I was using the word right.
:The word originally means a charm or a spell. But now its more commonly said meaning sex appeal or talent.
Not so much the sex appeal but maybe the talent part. How about this definition
:a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.
Yes, I want to be effective and successful. Where are you mojo? Heck, I’ll even take the sexy part if I need to. Hah.

I’ve given myself a little kick in the pants to just post a teensy, tiny update for you… Oh wait, I’m already way into it.

I haven’t made anymore progress on the newest vacation template package that I’ve been slaving way working on. In fact, catching up on Once Upon a Time has been my priority and is mainly to blame. Hum, what to do during nap time? Get comfy and watch a show or work on some templates that aren’t coming together? Good question… but I think you know what I picked.

There is also the fact that my 30 day photoshop trial has run out. I really wish my old photoshop version would work on this new computer. Boo. I’m am trying to get away without buying a new one. Do you think a new one will just magically appear on my front door step?

Me either. Might as well just go to the river and throw rocks.

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Now that spring is in full swing I find myself wanting to be outdoors more and more. My hopes of getting caught up on scrapbooking during the colds months have been smooshed into the ground. Oh well. There will be more nap times ahead and perhaps I’ll find it there.