Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Zion National Park

Even though I have lived in Utah for pretty much my whole life, I have visited very few of the state and national parks.  We have so many here and I decided it was about time to start taking advantage of them, so Joe and I planed a 3 day trip to Zion National Park and went this last weekend.  I have to say I was not disappointed in any way.  The vivid color of the mountains and the peace of being in nature there was just amazing and I loved every minute (well…almost).

We left after Joe got off work on Thursday and drove down to Cedar City to spend the night.  I have to say that I don’t know what parents did before portable DVD players, because our kids would have been a nightmare.  As it was it took them like an hour to fall asleep after we got to the hotel, even though it was late because they were just wired.  (Side Note – I have to give a quick shout out to the Best Western Town & Country in Cedar City – it was VERY nice and a we got a great price.  The room was clean and new looking and they had a full breakfast included in the price.  If you ever have to stay in Cedar City I would highly recommend it.)

On Friday morning we drove east out of Cedar City and took the scenic route to come into Zion through the East Entrance.  This gave us the chance to see some of the unique features of that side of the park.  The colors are so rich and it was just a wonderful ride.  We drove all the way through the park and checked in at our hotel in Hurricane (which I will not give a shout out to…) and then had to go swimming because that’s pretty much the only thing Brad wanted to do on the whole trip.  We discovered Lucy has basically no fear of water, which is not really a good thing.  Then we went out for pizza and let Lucy open her presents because it was also her birthday!  It was even more impossible to get the kids to bed that night.  They are both so used to being put to bed in their room with the lights off and the door shut that being in a room with everyone else was just too much.  They did eventually fall asleep about 9:30 and I think Joe and I were asleep right after that.

On Saturday morning we had signed up for a 2 hour guided bus tour of Zion Canyon with one of the park rangers.  It was a great way to get our first look at the canyon because the ranger, Rosalie, told us all kinds of interesting facts and stories that we would not have heard on our own.  The ride was a little long for the kids and by the end Lucy was saying “No stay with the group!” but Joe and I were both really glad we did it.

From April through October no cars are allowed into Zion Canyon – you have to take one of the shuttle busses that are run by the park.  Before we went I was a little worried about that, but once we got there I understood why.  The canyon is only about 8 miles long and it’s very narrow – just one lane of traffic each way.  Apparently before they started the shuttles there were cars and RV’s everywhere and you couldn’t even get through.  Now there are just the busses running every 8 minutes or so and it’s very efficient and peaceful.  I honestly can’t imagine it any other way.

After lunch of PB & J’s on Saturday we started out on a hike to the “Emerald Pools” which are 3 different pools you can get to in just under 3 miles round trip.  Joe carried Lucy in the backpack and Brad managed to hike the whole way (not that he didn’t complain, because believe me, he did.  We just kept telling him how tough he was and that not may 4 year olds can do a 3 mile hike and that kept him going).  The hike to the first pool was pretty quick and easy but to get to the middle and upper pools you have to hike up what amounts to irregular stone stairs.  It was fairly steep but the scenery was so beautiful and when we got to the upper pool it was totally worth it.  The colors there were just amazing – really like nothing else I’ve every seen.  Because there is a lot of snow run-off right now we saw 4 or 5 different waterfalls and were able to hike through their spray.  Such a great hike!

That afternoon we had to go swimming at the hotel again (ask Brad and he’ll tell you that was his favorite part) and then Joe had the idea to have a cook out at one of the local parks.  We picked up some hot-dogs and chips and some marshmallows for roasting and hit the park where the kids played while we cooked.  It was a great evening and a low cost way of doing dinner on the go.  The kids also tired themselves out and went to bed much better that night.

Sunday morning we got up early again and hit the park by about 8:15 to ride our bikes up the canyon.  Because only the busses are allowed on the road it makes a great place to bike.  The first 3 miles or so were pretty difficult because of the incline, and at one point I made Joe stop so I could just catch my breath, but after that it leveled out a little and the rest of the canyon was great.  It was 7.8 miles from the visitors center to the end of the road at what’s called the Temple of Sinawava (the whole canyon circles around two columns which represent the alter to Sinawava) and it took us a little more than an hour.  Not very fast, but we were pulling the kids uphill!  We took a break and went on a little walk along the river there and then headed back and I can say that I really enjoyed the ride down the canyon more than the ride up.  It was an incredible place to be able to ride.  It was so peaceful and the grandeur of those mountains is just breathtaking.  We were out early in the morning in the crisp cool air, and it was perfect.  I wish I was more poetic because I just can’t do it justice.  It truly makes you think about God’s love for us in providing such a beautiful world for us to live in.

Anyway, we drove home Sunday afternoon and stopped in at Joe’s parents house for a little break before hitting the last 60 miles into Salt Lake.  It’s wonderful to live so close to places like Zion so that we can do it in a weekend.  I’m really looking forward to more of these quick trips now that the kids are getting older.  I guess as long as the hotel has a swimming pool the kids will enjoy them too!

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures, but I posted the rest of them on Facebook.  You can view the album here.







Lucy Mae is Two!

On the 21st of May our little Lucy turned 2 years old!  We were on a little vacation to Zion’s National Park (which I’ll write about later) so I didn’t get to post on that day, but she had a great day.  Here are a couple cute pictures of her opening her presents at the hotel:


(Of course Brad is right there to “help” her)




Lucy is such a fun and happy little girl.  She laughs and smiles and sings all the time.  She sings “Follow the Prophet”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and of all things “Good Morning Baltimore” but she just sings “Oh Oh Oh, look at my hair!” over and over again.

She loves Brad so much and wants to do everything he does.  She copies what he says and follows him around like a shadow.  So far he seems to enjoy her most of the time and doesn’t mind her tagging along.

On the flip side, Lucy is also very stubborn and likes to do things HER way.  The thing that drives me the most crazy is when she just whines instead of actually speaking and saying what she wants.  For some reason she thinks if she just whines enough I’ll figure it out.  She also likes to be the queen of the castle and order people around.  Earlier tonight she was sitting at the table saying she wanted her binkie and I told her to go find it.  She said, “No, Mommy go find my binkie.”  I told her I was busy doing dishes and that she should go find it and she said, “No, I’m busy eating my snack".  Gotta love it.  (I did not go find it for her by the way, she can think she’s the queen, but really she’s only the princess and things always go the queen’s way).

When we got back from out trip on Sunday night Lucy decided she wanted to sleep in the toddler bed instead of the crib and has been in the “big girl bed” every night since.  I’m hoping at some point she’ll give up the binkie just as easily if I let her do it on her time.

Two is such a fun age and I look forward to spending this year watching Lucy grow and develop her personality even more.  I love her so much and can’t imagine our little family without her smile.

Here she is with the cupcakes she took to daycare for her birthday treat – Happy Birthday Lucy Mae!


Friday, May 14, 2010

My Nana’s Diamond

My Nana (my mother’s, mother’s, mother) was an amazing little woman.  She was born in January of 1900 and live do be 97 years old.  Having seen nearly an entire century gave her an wonderful perspective on things and she had this way of making everyone she came into contact with feel accepted and loved.

When I was little I always looked forward to going to Nana’s house because I knew she had a candy jar and she would offer me a piece as soon as I came in.  She had a display case full of figurines and music boxes from her travels all over the world and I would sit in front of it looking at all the knick-knacks for what seemed like hours.  She would tell me stories about the places where she got them and the people she met.  Her home overlooked the entire Salt Lake valley and I looked forward to walking out on the balcony and taking in the view.  Visiting her was always very special.

Nana was five feet tall, although she always claimed that when she was young she was 5’6” and that she had shrunk.  She was very healthy and happy until nearly the end of her life and she was an important part of mine. 

When Nana died, my grandmother, Nadine, inherited Nana’s wedding ring which Nana had worn along with her husband’s on a chain around her neck when it would no longer fit her finger.  One day just after Joe and I had announced to my grandparents that we were going to get married my grandmother asked to talk to me.  She asked me if I had an engagement ring and I told her that we had not bought one yet.  Joe and I had both just recently returned from missions for our church and we didn’t have a lot of money.  I was not really interested in having us go into debt for a ring and we hadn’t decided what to do.  My grandma then told me that she wanted to give me Nana’s diamond for my ring.  I was completely overwhelmed by the gift.  Not just because of the monetary value, but because it meant I would always have something to remember my Nana by.  Joe and I were able to pick out my ring and Nana’s diamond was mounted in it – giving me exactly what I wanted and a very special gift.

Today I threw my ring and Nana’s diamond in the garbage can in my kitchen.  I was an accident of course.  I was making cookies and I’m usually very good at placing my ring in a specific spot on the windowsill when my hands are dirty, but for some reason this time I left it on the counter and when I cleaned up it was swept into the garbage.  As soon as I realized it was gone I started frantically searching the kitchen.  I looked on the counters, the floor, and even in the garbage disposal.  I quietly said a prayer that I would be able to find my ring and soon realized I would have to search the garbage.  I took a few things off the top and figured I would need another bag to move things to, so I got another bag and was just about to transfer a mostly empty can of pineapple tidbits when it slipped out of my hand.  When it hit the floor my ring rolled across the room.  I was so thankful to have found it, tears filled my eyes.

The sad thing is that this isn’t the first time I’ve lost my ring.  I’ve misplaced it a few minor times and once I was literally sitting in a Broadway show when I noticed it was gone, only to find it in the finger of my glove.  The only other time I really thought it was gone was while I was pregnant with Brad.  It was summer and I was very pregnant and my fingers were huge and puffy.  I had moved the ring from my ring finger to my pinky because it was just too tight.  I was walking back to my office from lunch when I suddenly looked down and realized it was gone.  Being pregnant and overly emotional probably didn’t help the situation and I totally panicked.  I back-tracked to the cafe I had eaten at and asked the man behind the counter if he had seen it and he replied that he had not, however he knew I had been wearing it when I came in because he specifically noticed it on my pinky finger.  I walked outside and began looking around the sidewalk table where I had been sitting to eat when a random man sitting on a bench asked me what I was looking for.  Choking back the tears I told him that I had lost my wedding ring.  He said “Look in your purse.  My wife always loses hers when it drops into her purse.”  I opened my purse and sure enough Nana’s diamond was at the bottom.

I love my wedding ring.  It’s beautiful and the simple band suits me.  I love that it symbolizes the commitment Joe and I have made to each other for eternity.  I also love that the diamond came from someone else I loved and that loved me.  I can’t help thinking each time I’ve lost the ring that Nana has had something to do with helping me find it.  Whether it’s placing someone with good advice on the street at just the right time or making me drop the pineapple can, or maybe it’s providing me a feeling of comfort during a particularly difficult day, I’m grateful to have my Nana watching over me.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Photos by Brad and a trip to the Zoo

A while back one of my co-workers, Nick, upgraded his digital camera.  He found out that his old one wasn’t worth much in the world of e-bay and decided to pass it on to me to give to Brad.  I didn’t give it to Brad right away since I thought it needed to be a special occasion, and I decided when I took the kids to the zoo that it was the perfect chance to let him try it out.  He did take a LOT of pictures of the sky and the sidewalk, so I’ll try to spare you those and give you the best ones.

Lucy and the back side of an elephant.


Lucy and some garbage cans


Me – from Brad’s perspective


Self Portrait




Wild Cat




Tiger (we went up to the back of the tiger enclosure and the mother and 3 cubs were all sitting really close to the cage, it was so neat!


I think he’s quite the budding photographer – what do you think?

And just for fun here are some of the out-takes: