Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Moab Utah with a family

We recently returned from a fun family vacation to Moab, UT. It was a great time of year to go, not too cold and not too many crowds. We have a family of seven with children ranging in ages 12 down to 2. We put our little one in the backpack some of the time but also let her hike when we weren't in a hurry.  We went to Arches, Canyonlands, and Bears Ears. Here are some things we learned along the way.

MOAB

  • Lodging: Hotels there are expensive. I looked at both air bnb and hotels. The hotel was less expensive for our group than a air bnb. I would check both though. Also check early and check often. I had found a hotel but checked a few days before we left and found a hotel that was higher rated (on trip advisor) and a better price. We chose to stay at Moab Valley Inn. Their rooms were roomy (enough to have a roll away bed and it not be in the way) and beds were comfortable. They also had a hot breakfast (along with cold cereal). Their staff was also super helpful.
  • Gas is expensive, so be prepared for that. 
  • Eating: We ate at a couple of nice places for dinner. One was the Moab Diner. It's a 50's style diner. They are friendly, super helpful, and the food is good and not too expensive. It's a very kid friendly environment.   We also ate at Milt's Stop & Eat. They mainly serve hamburgers and other sandwiches. They have regular ones and also specialty ones. You can choose what kind of meat you want your burger to be. They also have fries and shakes. We loved the hamburgers and the shake. We were not big fans of the fries. The seating (inside and outside) is very limited. We opted to take the food back to the hotel. We also ordered pizza from Pizza Hut. It was pretty good. 
  • Shopping:  There are a couple of grocery stores and hardware stores but no big box stores in Moab. There are however lots of specialty stores that you can pick up some cool souvenirs from. 
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
We visited several areas in the park. I highly recommend going early into the park. You will miss some of the crowds and the heat (if it's a hot time of the year). Also take plenty of water with you, dress for the weather, and have good shoes on if you're planning on hiking at all. 
  • Windows and Turret Arches: We went here in the evening our first night. It was a great way to burn off energy after traveling awhile. It's a short .5 mile hike loop with a good trail. There are some awesome views that you can get as well. 
  • Double Arch: This is right next to the windows arches. It's also .5 mile hike (round trip). There is some slickrock climbing that you have to do to get up by the arches, but again great views and fairly doable with kids. It's really pretty at sunset. 
  • Devil's Garden: This is one of the most popular areas of the park. I assume it's because the trail is well groomed and the hikes to quite a few arches are easy and short. We visited Tunnel Arch, Pine tree Arch, and Landscape arch. It was about 1.5 miles round trip but the trail was easy with a few up and down hills but nothing too hard. 
  • Sand Dune Arch: This is an awesome arch. Again it's only about a .5 mile roundtrip  hike and the trail is easy. You get to walk through a little slot canyon. The whole ground is covered with beautiful, soft orange sand. There are lots of places to climb and play once you get to the arch. Some families had even brought buckets and shovels to use in the sand. It was by far one of our favorite places that we visited on our trip. 
  • Delicate Arch: There are two ways to view this arch. One is the viewpoint which has two paths. They are fairly easy and quick to go to. The other option is to hike up to it. It is a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike on mostly slickrock. On the way there, it's mostly up hill. On the way back, it's mostly downhill. There is about 200 yards that are along a trail with a drop off on one side. We had our smaller children touch the wall so they stayed away from the edge.  The opportunity to be right by delicate arch was AWESOME!  I have bad knees and this hike was probably the hardest one that we did. I have a hard time when it is constantly downhill without a break, but I made it and was glad I could go with my family. I HIGHLY recommend using a hiking stick if you have any knee problems. 
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK - NEEDLES DISTRICT
We decided to make the drive south to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It was a bit of a drive, but it was a fun day. It wasn't as busy as Arches and had some fun hikes to go on. 
  • Newspaper Rock:  This is just off the side of the road on your way to The Needles. It is fun to stop and see the ancient writing on this huge rock! 
  • Visitors Center:  They have some information about that area of the park. They also have water and bathrooms that you can use. Most of the hikes in this area are longer but we did find out about a couple that our family could do. 
  • Wooden Shoe Arch: You can see this from a pull out. It's fun to take a picture of. 
  • Pot hole Point: (.6 mile loop) To me this place looked like the moon. If it has just recently rained, you might get to see some life in the pot holes. We saw some snails in a few of them. The views are beautiful. By far, our favorite part of the hike was climbing on some HUGE boulders and finding some lizards! 
  • Cave Springs: (.6 mile loop) This was another fun hike. It follows along the edge of a rock where you are able to see an old cowboy camp (it's fenced off), a spring, and some native american ruins. Then you climb a couple of ladders and walk across the top of the rock and back down to finish the loop. 
BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT
We realized that we were super close to Bears Ears National Monument when we were in the Needles District. We decided to drive the rest of the way and do a little hiking. We only had time for one hike but it was fun. 
  • House on Fire: (.9 mile/one way) There are some ancient american ruins that are underneath a cliff. You follow a stream bed most of the way and if you get there at just the right time, it will look like it is on fire. We got there in the evening at sunset time, unfortunately, it wasn't on fire. After talking to a friend who also did this hike, she said that the best time to go is about 9:30-10:00 am. I'm sure it changes but during the end of March/first part of April, that is the prime time. 
  • Bears Ears: By the time we got done with the House on fire hike, it was dusk. We decided to see if we could see the Bears Ears from a distance. We were able to make them out (faintly, because it was dark) from the road.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK - ISLAND IN THE SKY
The day we visited Island in the Sky, it was colder and windy. We were also all hiked out. Thankfully, Island in the Sky, has some AMAZING view points and we got our fix that way. I really think that a fun way to see Canyonlands (both Island in the Sky & Needles District) would be in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. There are trails all over in both sections of the park. Unfortunately, our minivan just wasn't up for those kinds of trails. :) 
  • Mesa Arch: (.5 mile, loop) This was a short but worthwhile hike. The view at the arch is beautiful and spectacular! This is the only hike that we did, but it was well worth it. 
I hope some of this information is helpful and that you are able to enjoy a trip to this beautiful, unique area. Some other locations you could visit would be Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monunment, and Mesa Verde National Park. They are all with in a days drive. We have been to these areas before and loved them as well. Enjoy your travels!








LDS General Conference April 2018: "Who Said It?"

This past weekend was LDS General Conference. This is where the leaders of the LDS church speak and share wonderful words of inspiration. (To find out more info or watch the conference talks, click here.) In an effort to help my family remember some of the things that some of the speakers said, I made up a game called "Who Said It?".
I used quotes from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  First we put them into the correct order of seniority, then guessed who said which quote. We played it for Family Home Evening, but you could also use it for Primary, a Young Mens/Womens activity, or even seminary.
Here is the link to the files for the game.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Perspective Changing Experiences

I think that you experience things in life that changes you. It changes how you view life, what your perspective is, your understanding of things, and many other things. Sometimes these experiences are things that happen to you but sometimes they are things that happen to others that you know and love. In my life, I have had both.
Just over five years ago, one of my good friend's husband was killed in a car accident. She and I were both expecting and it really hit home for me. Thankfully, her husband had very good life insurance, but no amount of money can replace a loving, kind, and good man to have by your side. She was able to get through the difficult time with faith, love, and support from family and friends. She recently married an very good man who loves her boys as his own.
Almost a year later, one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer. This was her third time trying to fight this terrible monster. The first two times were breast cancer and she was victorious. This time it had gone after her liver, and unfortunately she passed away about two and a half months after the diagnosis. She was a lady that shined with goodness and light. She tried to think of others and was always there when you needed her. She left behind a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. Two who were in their teens (or close to) and one sweet girl that was three. I had the blessing of watching her little girl for a few years. It gave me the chance to stay close to her family and have a little bit of her in my home each day. Her husband remarried a beautiful woman and her children have grown into wonderful people. There is hardly a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of her. She has influenced my life far more than I think she knew.
Just over two years ago, I had a beautiful daughter. She came after a long line of boys and is a joy in my life. However, after giving birth, I began to experience a dark time in my life. I had postpartum depression. I have already written about it in a different post. Suffice it to say, it was one of the hardest times in my life.
This month, I've experienced two more of those kind of experiences. First, I suffered a miscarriage early in January. I was about 8 weeks along, although the sac only measured about 5.5 weeks. Thankfully I was able to have an ultrasound to see what was going on and they could not see a baby inside of the sac. The term is called a "blighted ovum". Sometimes the sac forms but no baby formed. It was a great comfort to realize that although I did lose a pregnancy, I didn't lose a baby. It was still a loss, but not as emotional as if there had been a baby there.
Then last Saturday, one of my dear friends, suffered a venous stroke. She is a few years younger than me and has three children, one that is only two weeks old. Last I heard, she was struggling controlling the right side of her body and with speech. I hope and pray that she can fully recover from this life changing event.
All of these experiences have taught me many things. I'm constantly reminded to be grateful for the time I have with my wonderful husband, with my children, and with other dear loved ones. I have also been humbled and learned again and again that I am not in charge. My plan is NOT always what GOD's Plan is. HE is the one in charge and He knows what we each need. I also have seen many tender mercies given to my friends and myself to know that GOD does LOVE US!
So as you go forward and have life changing experiences, know that you are not forgotten, even when you feel like you are.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Living Life even when you Struggle

Hi All,
I don't really know how many people read this blog. I know that I'm not very consistent with writing, but hope to find a way to do more this year.
Life for the past two plus years has been crazy for us. We bought, remodeled, and moved into a new home all while I was pregnant with our fifth child. After the baby was born, the house was a disaster still from moving (we moved when I was eight months pregnant about three weeks before Christmas), I was sleep deprived and had a new baby that took sometime to figure out. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love our new home and our baby, but I was overwhelmed!

Then Summer hit and I hit a wall! I was grumpy with my kids, had a baby that was very fussy, a house that was still a mess, and didn't get much of a break from any of it. I would have thoughts about just driving into oncoming traffic so I could see what would happen. This WAS NOT me! Thankfully, my sweet husband told me "I can tell you are struggling. You need to get help NOW." So I went to my doctor and got a prescription for antidepressants and also started seeing a therapist.

Within a few weeks, I started feeling better and being more patient with my children. My crazy thoughts stopped coming and I finally felt somewhat normal. I have to say that most of that is due to the antidepressants.  I struggled connecting with my therapist and opening up to her. I tried, but I just didn't feel comfortable with her, so I couldn't be myself. I just put on the face that I put on most of the time. Anyway, by the beginning of 2017, I was off of the antidepressants and feeling good.

Then summer hit again and I could feel myself slipping. So I still had some of my prescription left and I started taking it more regularly. It helped. Once school started, I was able to wean off again. I can't say that I'm 100% but it's better than it was. I miss my old self and am trying to figure out who I really am. I think that mom's often feel like they lose a sense of who they really are. I know I feel that way sometimes.  This year, I hope to figure out who I AM!

Monday, April 4, 2016

General Conference Thank You Notes

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), we meet every six months in April and October for a General Conference (#LDSConf). It is an inspiring and uplifting experience and I always come away with a heart full of gratitude and a resolve to do and be better. 
This past weekend, we had General Conference. It was once again an amazing weekend of listening to those whom we believe are prophets and apostles teaching us the things that the Lord would have us do. 
As I listened to conference, I kept thinking of "Thank you" notes that I would like to write. I'm a Jimmy Fallon fan and love to hear his thank you notes that he writes. So I have come up with a few "Thank You" notes that I would write after General Conference. Here they are: 

1. Thank you, Elder Andersen, for letting us know that "While a child's earthly situation may not be ideal, a child's spiritual DNA is PERFECT!" That brings great comfort to this mom of a special needs child! Thank you!
2. Thank you, Elder Ballard, for telling us parents that what our children really need is someone to listen to them. And thank you for telling us all to put away the electronic devices and pay attention to each other a little bit more! 
3. Thank you, camera guy, for zooming in on Pres. Monson as he greeted Sister Ballard with a kiss on the hand. It helped us see how much he cares for other people!
4. Thank you, organist from Saturday Morning, for playing the hymns that were mentioned in the session as the postlude music after the meeting. It was beautiful. 
5. Thank you, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for wearing blue during the Saturday Morning session. It made all of the families affected by Autism so happy to see you lighting it up blue in your own little way! (April 2 is Autism Awareness Day)
6. Thank you, Elder Holland, for helping to create a new tradition for many families of having ice cream after conference is over on Sunday night. My children appreciate you! 
7. Thank you, Pres. Uchtdorf, for lettting us see your heart as you stood with tears on your cheeks to conduct after Elder Kearon's talk about refugees. It reminded us, that you too, were once a refugee. 
8.Thank you, Elder Hales, for gathering the up the strength to come and share a wonderful message about the Holy Ghost and your witness of the Savior Jesus Christ!
9. Thank you, Sister Durham, for reminding us that the Holy Ghost will teach our children in the way that they learn the best. 
10. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing a prophet and apostles in our day to help guide us through this journey of life!

I could go on and on but I will stop. Here is a link to a summary of the messages from this weekend. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Helping your kids make school lunch

This year, I'll be making 3 school lunches each day. In the past, I have only had to make one. To help streamline the process, I have created a lunch making area in one of my cupboards. I keep all of the supplies needed there. I'm hoping it will help!
I also decided that my children need to help make their own lunches. To help them understand what to put in their lunch, I made this handy little chart and hung it on the cupboard with the lunch supplies in. I'm hoping it helps them in deciding what goes into their lunch.
What are some things you do that help lunch making go smoothly?



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keeping a routine during Summer Time!

One of the hardest things for me during the summer is changing up our routine and helping my kiddos adjust to being home all of the time. This summer I'm trying to help them understand that just because they are home, it doesn't mean that they get to be lazy or just play all day. They still have things that they need to do each day before playing. Don't get me wrong, their day is mostly filled of having fun, but I do need to have some help around the house. I also want them to having active learning experiences daily to help them stay sharp and remember what they learned in school. Soooo with the help of Power of Moms Summer Camp and Family Systems Programs, I'm trying to have a fun filled summer with the kiddos!
First I made a daily to-do list for each child. My kiddos LOVE lists so hopefully they will LOVE checking off this list each day. It's a basic list of things that they need to do each morning, afternoon, and evening. I'm laminating them so that they can use them over and over. I think I will tape them to our wall by our calendar and other family items. Here is a blank one and one that I have filled out.  So far, it's working well.
One suggestion that the Summer Camp program says to do is to have themed days for the week. I found a couple online that I liked, but decided to do my own twist. Here is a copy of what I came up with.
I'm still working on the daily jobs and will share that schedule after I get it done. I hope this helps someone out! The most important thing is to enjoy your kiddos and make some fun memories this summer!