The 11th Birthday



2014 Abby's Cake

The second birthday of the month looked a lot like the first- only there were girls instead of boys. Abigail was excited to have friends from school, the old neighborhood, and here in our new neighborhood come together to celebrate. Instead of a movie they played Just Dance 2015 on the Wii. We heard a lot of laughing and they seemed to have a great time.

2014 Abby's Birthday 2

2014 Oct Abby's Birthday 1

2014 Abby's Birthday 4

2014 Abby's Birthday 6

2014 Abby's Birthday 5

Abby’s favorite gift was her new pet. She wanted a goldfish but I decided that a betta fish would be a better choice and live longer. She named him Dragon, but I mostly call him Fishy. Fishy happily has been living in her bedroom.

2014 Abby's New Fish

Celebrating at Frightmares


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2014 Lagoon Teacups edit 1

Warning: Be prepared for some of the worst photo quality ever. This probably doesn’t bother anyone but me, but these were all taken on camera phones and we got what we got. Nevertheless- at least we have some photos of the day.

The day after Sam’s birthday we took the kids to Frightmares at Lagoon- the amusement park here in Utah. We have been to Lagoon several times in the summer but we didn’t have time for Lagoon in the summer this year so we decided to go to when they opened for Frightmares- their Halloween themed time.

We spent about 12 hours running around the park until we were completely exhausted- as usual. Mike and I had an agreement that he would take kids on wet rides and I would take kids on spinning rides. As the high was only about 70 degrees- I thought I got the better deal. But at some point we split up and I ended up with Kaitlyn on a wet and spinning ride so that didn’t turn out as planned. Fortunately I managed not to get too wet.

So here we are in the spinning teacups while I fulfill my end of the bargain.

2014 Lagoon Teacups 2More bad photos of the day:

2014 Lagoon Bumper cars sam edit

2014 Lagoon Bumper Cars Mike and Kaitlyn

2014 Lagoon Wild Mouse

2014 Lagoon Roller Coaster 1 edSomewhere in the front car is Abby and Sam. And here is Mike fulfilling his part of the bargain by going on the wet rides- there were only a couple open.

2014 Lagoon Log Flume 1

2014 Lagoon Log Flume 2

2014 Lagoon Raft ride 2

2014 Lagoon Raft ride 3I feel chilly just looking at these pictures. The temps were in the middle 60′s when they went on these rides. We did bring a change of clothes for everyone so they could warm up afterwards. It was good we did because once it got dark it really did get chilly. Had we waited another week to go to Lagoon, these rides would have been closed. Probably the ideal time to go to Frightmares is at the end of September when they first open up again.

2014 Lagoon Carosel ed

2014 Lagoon Skyride

The Frightmares attractions all opened around 6 p.m. There were quite a few haunted houses but some were too scary for our kids. There were some for kids that were not very or not-at-all scary that our kids loved.

2014 Lagoon Coffins 1 edit

2014 Lagoon Coffins 3 editWe discussed whether we preferred summer or fall at Lagoon. One advantage to Frightmares is that Pioneer Village is so much more interesting haunted, don’t you think?

2014 Lagoon Pioneer Village haunted 1 ed

2014 Lagoon Coffins 5

2014 Lagoon Pioneer Village haunted 3 ed

I decided I prefer Frightmares to summertime at Lagoon. Here is why:

1- The weather was perfect. If I timed it again, I would go the last week of September. Then those wet rides would be a little more tolerable.

2- The haunted houses add more attractions and they also take people away from the regular rides which means lines are shorter in the evening.

3- Going in October means no water park access, but we didn’t care. We prefer the water park where we have season passes in the summer so we wouldn’t take the time to go to the water park at Lagoon even if it was open.

4- The Halloween theme is fun- including the zombie actors who are out trying to scare people.

The only drawback is that there is no bounce-back passes available. In the summer you can return to Lagoon within a time period for less than $20. I don’t know when we will go next year. Maybe we will get out of Utah and try another park somewhere else. We are already throwing around ideas for summer vacation plans.

About Turning 9



2014 Sam 9th Birthday 1

The birthday month starts with Sam. Instead of having big theme parties this year, we talked the kids into more low-key parties instead. The trade-off was that we would take them to Lagoon for Frightmares.  The boys arrived for cake and ice cream and later watched a movie. Here are the highlights:

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 2

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 3

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 6

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 4

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 5

Sam had a good birthday. He got a remote control helicopter, lots of books and money, and a basketball- which he was excited about. It’s hard to believe this baby boy is 9!


Speaking of October…

2014 Box House 1So as usual, October was full of birthday parties, activities, and Halloween. Now that it is over, I have time to tell you about it. We started the month with beautiful weather and watched the leaves change color up on the mountains and eventually all around us on the bench. We have still been working on unboxing ourselves and I am happy to say I finally unpacked the last box. We are officially all moved in.

The kids took the boxes from our new IKEA corner sofa and didn’t just make a box house- but a big box house complete with garage. There is no shortage of cardboard around here.

Box House 2

Box House 3

October Trees House 1

October Fall Leaves 2Here is my favorite tree in our yard. This is what it looks like today.

Favorite Fall Tree in yard 1

Favorite Fall Tree in yard 2We have also had some amazing sunsets. Here is the view from our kitchen.

October Sunset 1


Time with Cousins


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2014 Hike around Silver Lake Kaitlyn smThe beginning of this month we did get to see some cousins from both sides of the family. I am finally downloading pictures so here they are. Over Labor Day weekend we met with our Utah cousins in Big Cottonwood Canyon for some hiking and marshmallow roasting and telling stories around the campfire. They camped but we just went up for the day. We still had too much to do at home but next year we promised to camp out with them.

2014 Hike around Silver Lake 1We first did an easy hike around Silver Lake with our Aunt Debra. Then later we took a longer hike to Donut Falls. We didn’t make it all the way to the top of the falls because we were not prepared to hike all the rocks. It was pretty anyway and a hike we need to do again since it isn’t too far from home.

2014 Abby and Sam at Silver Lake 2

2014 Hike around Silver Lake 2 sm

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 1

2014 Hike to Donut Falls sm 4

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 2

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 3

2014 Sam at Donut Falls sm

Goofy Sam. Our other cousin time came just a week later with cousins who flew in from Maryland. Unlike our Utah cousins we don’t get to see these cousins very often at all – once every few years. We decided to take the opportunity to have a photo shoot at the Provo Temple since it may be years before we see them again. Unfortunately we should have taken pictures about a hour earlier. It was getting dark fast and these were taken in very low light so we did the best we could.

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 1 2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 2

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 5

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm Julia AbbyThese two girls are only about 3 weeks apart. They had such a good time together the couple of days they had to play.

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 6

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 72014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 8 2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 9Until next time…

Home Sweet Mess


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2014 Kaitlyn with SunflowerMoving is always overwhelming. I’ve decided that cross-town moves are harder than cross-country moves. At least with cross-country moves you have one big truck and everything goes on. If it doesn’t go on then you don’t keep it. With cross-town moves it seems you are driving back and forth and back and forth and it seems to never end. We still had a truck, but it didn’t cut down much on our driving.

Moving Garage 2014

Here is the update on what’s been happening since we started moving.

Once again Mike had to move right over his birthday. That has happened a few times.

2014 Mike's 41 Birthday

The first week we were in the house we didn’t get much unpacking done. It was the last week of summer vacation for the kids and Mike had work out-of-town. So I took the kids and we did our last trip to the pool and other activities and we did lots of back-to-school shopping until….finally the first day of school!

2014 First Day of School 3

Abby started 5th grade, Sam started 3rd grade, and Kaitlyn started 1st grade. They were all excited to start school and see their friends again. The beginning of school and just having moved into the new house was a big adjustment but we made it through with just a few bumps. Doing homework again has also been a change.

2014 Sam and Abby homework time

One advantage of an old home is finding quirky stuff. The kids were excited about our old-school pencil sharpener in the garage. It still works well too.

2014 Sam and pencil sharpener

2014 Abby with pencil sharpener

The kids have been making friends in the neighborhood. We feel really lucky because 4 new families also recently moved into our neighborhood this summer and they all have school-aged kids. Kaitlyn has made friends with the kid next door who has this awesome treehouse:


This three story treehouse borders our yard and the kids ooh and awe at it. Kaitlyn and the neighbor kid have had a lot of fun up there. Abby and Sam are older than the neighbor kid but they were invited to play up there too. They didn’t turn down the invitation.

Now that we are in our house, we finally started measuring the kids so they can look back and see how tall they were when we moved in.

2014 height collage 2014 Kaitlyn reading in new house

The kids have been excited to unpack their stuff. Kaitlyn loves her new reading area. 

About a week after we starting living here we were happy to see these guys show up -

Google Fiber Truck picasa edit

Hello Google Fiber and goodbye Internet bills. We thought we would have to wait a couple of months before Google Fiber showed up but just a week after we moved  (and ordered Comcast) they came to bring us our free internet. Turns out our house already had fiber optic cable installed. We had to hunt for it but once we found it (with the Google Fiber tech) we watched as someone sent light down the fiber cable from a location several blocks away. When our end lit up the kids thought that was cool- Mike did too actually (surprise surprise – he likes things that light up). We could have free internet for 7 years but we are thinking of taking the gig in a couple of years when we have more things streaming around here. 

Since you were wondering, Boo has been adjusting well too. He doesn’t seem to care where he is as long as he is with his family.

2014 Boo in hallway

He likes his new backyard- it’s especially exciting because there are chickens roaming around just on the other side of the fence. He has started digging holes under the fence which doesn’t make me happy.

2014 Boo at fence with chickens

2014 Boo at fence with chickens 2

More updates to come as we clean up our mess.

Surprise Party


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2014 Aug K B-day blowing candles 2

2014 Aug K B-day blowing candles 3

Kaitlyn knew her birthday was coming up, but she didn’t know exactly what day. We didn’t let her know exactly either. All year Kaitlyn told us she wanted a surprise party for her 6th birthday. So we told her that her birthday was just before school started. On Sunday she really knew it was coming because they sang to her in Primary but she still was completely surprised when she arrived at her party. She had no idea it was her birthday.

Here was her reaction:

Being in the middle of moving, I wasn’t up to planning an elaborate birthday party so we simply had the party at Pioneer Park in Provo where they have a splash pad and a playground. It turned out perfectly. We took over some picnic tables in the pavilion, brought a Costco cake, a cooler full of Otter Pops, and some paper party plates and cups. Abby and Sam did some decorating with streamers and balloons. We didn’t even have invitations. I simply texted her friend’s moms and invited all their siblings also so our older kids had friends to play with too. Essentially, we had a playdate with cake.

2014 Aug K B-day Sam Blowing up balloon

2014 Aug K B-day eating cake 2

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn eating cake 1

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn with friends 1

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn water 1

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn water 2

2014 Aug K B-day Sam jumping 2

2014 Aug K B-day Abby Sam 1

2014 Aug K B-day Abby 2

2014 Aug K B-day Abby 3

2014 Aug K B-day Abby 1

2014 Aug K B-day Sam jumping 3

2014 Aug K B-day Sam water 1

2014 Aug K B-day splashpad 1

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn with friends 2

2014 Aug K B-day opening presents 1

2014 Aug K B-day opening presents 2

We still had so much cake Mike started giving it away to strangers in the park. He was also showing his enthusiasm for Google Fiber. (Installation is next week. Free internet here we come!) 

2014 Aug K B-day Mike eating cake

2014 Aug K B-day playground 1

Kaitlyn was so happy with her party and I was so happy it took so little preparation and planning. Love those splash pads! And we love this little girl who is now 6!

Happy birthday baby girl.

2014 Aug K B-day Kaitlyn on playground 2

The Hike Around Jenny Lake


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2014 July Tetons 7

One day of our vacation we traveled to Grand Teton National Park. We have been there many times but Mike has always wanted to hike around the beautiful Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The hike is supposed to be fairly kid-friendly and easier because there isn’t too much climbing- at least until you get toward Hidden Falls. To Hidden Falls it’s a little more than 5 miles round trip. Inspiration Point is another (steep) half mile beyond Hidden Falls. Honestly, I didn’t really know how far is was when we started out- maybe that was a good thing.

It was beautiful and we took lots of pictures which probably slowed us down quite a bit in retrospect.

2014 July Tetons 2

2014 July Tetons 7 Abby

Abby practiced taking better photos. While walking we talked about composition, framing, and texture. This kept her mind occupied and off of how much we were walking- at least for a while.

2014 July Tetons 9 Kaitlyn

2014 July Tetons 5 Sam

2014 Tetons 3

About half-way through our hike we got caught in a rainstorm. It was heavy for about 15 or 20 minutes. We huddled under a tree to stay dry but it make the trail muddy for the remainder of the hike. Soon after the storm Kaitlyn and Abby got ahead of us. I went faster to catch up to them and found Kaitlyn standing on the trail pointing up the mountain. She said their was an animal. Sure enough there was not too far away- a bear!

2014 July Tetons 12 Bear

2014 July Tetons 13 Bear

The bear seemed occupied and didn’t seem threatening so I started taking pictures. At the same time I was wondering if we should be hurrying ourselves down the trail just to get away from him. What we should have done was make lots of noise to let the bear know we were there and calmly walk away. We stayed in place until Mike and Sam caught up to us then calmly walked away. The bear had moved on up the mountain by then and they missed it. Good thing I had pictures.

Around this time – about 2 miles into the hike- the kids started melting down. Abby’s camera batteries were dead and she was tired. 2014 July Tetons 14

Soon after this picture was taken Kaityn started running on the trail and tripped landing right on some rocks. That was her demise. She wouldn’t stop crying after that. She too was done. Mike had a small first aid kit and was put band-aids on her wounds.

2014 July Tetons 15 Accident

We did make it to the falls but it was a climb. The kids were protesting and we felt lucky to have made it this far with them. Their biggest protests were not about how far we had come- it was about the hike back. “You mean we have to hike ALL THE WAY BACK?!!”

2014 July Tetons 16 Abby and Sam

2014 July Tetons 17

Just before we got to Hidden Falls we noticed a sign for a boat dock. The kids and I took a rest on a log while Mike went to see if we could get a ride back across the lake one way. Turns out we could (thank goodness it was like an escape route) and when we told the kids we were taking a boat ride back their attitudes changed dramatically. Instantly they were so excited and we heard things like, ‘This was fun!” Whaaa??? They also wanted to make sure they were the first people on that boat.

2014 July Tetons 18 Boat

2014 July Tetons 19 Boat

2014 July Tetons 20 Abby

2014 July Tetons 21 Mike and Abby

2014 July Tetons 24 Mike

2014 July Tetons 22 Boat

We gave up trying to get to Inspiration Point- another steep half mile but seeing the falls was worth the 2.6 mile hike. But next time we would take the boat across (saving about 2 miles one way) and then hike up to Inspiration Point. In the meantime we need to take our kids hiking more. We have plenty of opportunities in Utah. We should have prepared them more by taking them on shorter hikes first. Live and learn and bring lots of water and band-aids.


Our Star Valley Vacation


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2014 July Roasting Marshmallows 1

With another move happening so soon and because we haven’t been exactly sure when we would gt into our house we needed a summer vacation that was convenient and flexible without deposits or commitments. So heading to Star Valley, Wyoming was a perfect solution. My parents spend the summer at the Star Valley Ranch Resort in their RV. When we lived in Rexburg we made quite a few trips over to see them. You can tour their “summer home” here.

2014 July Roasting Marshmallows 2

We rented a tent cabin- which is a little cabin that provides the beds and mats to lay your sleeping bag on. It is a great alternative to tent camping which I never really enjoy. Maybe because I was raised on RV camping. I’m ruined because my idea of camping includes an electrical outlet, a TV, and a microwave. Anyway, the cabin was especially appreciated on the last night in Star Valley when a huge storm blew through. Our stuff would have been drenched and blown away.

2014 July Star Valley Cabin

2014 July Roasted Marshmallow

We’ve had an ATV for a year but this trip was the first time we took it with us and we were glad we did. We spent a couple of days driving it up beautiful trails in the canyons. One day we explored the area around Cottonwood Lake and Mike tried to teach the kids to fish.

2014 July Cottonwood Lake 1

2014 July Abby Fishing 1

2014 July Mike and Grandpa Cottonwood Lake 1

Mike untangled a lot of lines and Abby and Sam did manage to learn to cast well but no fish were caught. That’s probably because neither kid had enough patience to wait for a fish to come bite. They just kept casting the line and reeling it in. Kaitlyn was only interested in fishing for about 5 minutes before she gave it up and went exploring instead.

2014 July Sam Fishing 1

2014 July Cottonwood Lake 2

2014 July Grandma and Grandpa Watts

2014 July Boo at Cottonwood Lake 1

2014 July Abby on ATV Cottonwood

2014 July Cottonwood Creek 1

2014 Indian Paintbrush

I loved all the wildflowers. We saw lots of Indian Paintbrush. Kaitlyn read a book in kindergarten called The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. She was excited to see real Indian Paintbrush.

2014 July Kaitlyn with Indian Paintbrush

2014 July Abby and Sam Fishing 1

One more post to come about our vacation in Wyoming. You can see our last vacation in Star Valley here.


The Calm Before the Storm


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2014  Bridal Veil Falls 1

I have taken a lot of pictures this summer but not taken time to blog. We just returned from our little summer vacation to Star Valley, Wyoming and we have about a week before we finally get into our house. Which means we have some crazy weeks in our very near future as we paint, prepare and finally move ourselves over to Sage Cottage. We are now packing and shopping for some things we will need right away when we move in. This week is the calm before the storm for us. I know there will be no blogging for a little while so I’m catching up now with some things we have been doing this summer.

We been having some outings around town. One was up to Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. Both Mike and I were surprised at how much our kids loved being up there. They played in the water at the bottom of the falls, wanted to hike the trail, and the most loved feeding and petting the fish. Yeah- I said petting. There is a small pond stocked with fish that you can feed. The kids could put their hands in the water and touch the fish. They found this fascinating.

2014 Bridal Veil Fish 1

2014 July Bridal Veil Falls Dad Sam 1

2014 July Abby at Bridal Veil Falls 1

2014 July Bridal Veil Falls Kids 1

2014 July Bridal Veil Falls Kaitlyn 1

Another outing was to Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake. I haven’t been there for decades so I had no idea what to expect but we got in for $1 each on Tuesday with our Pass of All Passes. Can’t beat that deal. Tracy Aviary is much bigger than I remember. The kids had a good time we liked the bird shows. There are plenty of places for kids to play too. I highly recommend it for a day trip.

2014 July Tracy Aviary 3

2014 July Tracy Aviary 2

2014 July Tracy Aviary Collage

Sam finished up his Little League season. Mike really worked a lot with him and Sam became a good player. He could always hit the ball when he was up to bat. It gave him some confidence and he wants to keep playing next year.

2014 Sam Baseball Collage

Abby decided that it was time for Kaitlyn to take the training wheels off her bike so she taught Kaitlyn to ride without them. It only took Kaitlyn a short time to figure out how to ride a 2 wheeler. She loves riding her bike now that she realizes how much faster she can go without training wheels.

2014 July Kaitlyn learns to ride 2 wheelerFinally we had Grandma and Grandpa return from their mission in South Africa and we had cousins come visit over the 4th of July. We decided to try out the Provo Parade. We got there early and learned that although the parade officially started at 9:00, the party started much earlier. People camp out for this parade so the street was already lined by 7:00 when we got there. We still managed to get a great spot and enjoy the hot air balloons, a dancing contest, a “pre-parade”, and free pancakes before the real parade started. Now we know.

2014 July Provo Parade 1

2014 July Provo Parade 2

2014 July Provo Parade 3

That evening we went to Thanksgiving Point to see fireworks. It was a good show and we liked the park where we could spread out and enjoy the fireworks.

2014 July Fireworks 1

2014 Fireworks 2Next post I will cover our vacation. Now it’s time to get back to packing boxes.


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