Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Simple Summer Bucket List

As this summer began,
I asked the boys if they had any activities they hoped to do before the baby is born.
They were eager to give me ideas--
and I was grateful their proposals were things like
go on a picnic,
get snowcones,
go on a hike,
and draw with sidewalk chalk.
We drew up our list and have gradually been accomplishing their goals.

The fact that it takes so little to make these boys happy is yet another reason why I often long to keep them small.
And yet, as I've become an adult, I've grown to appreciate life's simple pleasures all over again.
It's one of the great things about having children--you get to experience childhood again, in a way.

And so it is with joy that I draw on the driveway, lick popsicles, read picture books, and play "Guess Who?"
Here's to the continuation of simple, summer happiness.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

2016 Cousins Birthday Party

My sister lives in Washington, D.C.,
but she has been in Utah for the past 3 months on a temporary work assignment.
Last year she started a tradition of throwing an annual birthday party for all of her nieces and nephews (remember the epic appearance of George and Martha Washington?),
so she decided to take advantage of the time she was in Utah and, with the help of my mom and my other sister, threw the kids a dinosaur-themed birthday party this year!

The kids had a fabulous time building dinosaur dioramas,
decorating paleontologist hats,
excavating for dinosaur bones in a giant dirt mound,
exploding water balloons,
whacking a dinosaur pinata to pieces,
and eating lots of fun, cute dinosaur-themed food!
They topped it all off with some pretty awesome dinosaur favors and some Dinosaur Train.
We are so blessed to be part of such a wonderful, caring family
and to have the ability to spend time with them!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Our Visit to Reno

Toward the end of May,
Sam called me in the middle of the day and told me he had to take a work trip to Reno.
Since Talmage didn't have school for the next few days,
I talked to him about the possibility of us coming with him.
He was on the same wavelength, and soon it was cleared with his boss and I was looking for hotels.

The nature of Sam's work there made it so he would basically be "on-call" the entire time,
and he would need to stay for an unknown length of time.
I found a beautiful hotel on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
It was about a 40-50 minute drive from the location he would need to work at,
and I thought it looked perfect.
He would work from the hotel during the day, the boys and I would play at the lake and the pool, and when he got his phone call he would drive to Reno to take care of business! It would be a dream vacation--something we've never had before. Not to mention the fact that the hotel, car, and gas would be paid for!

Less than 24 hours after his phone call, we were on the road.
The drive to Reno was fairly uneventful...and then we started up the mountain to Lake Tahoe.
As we drove carefully up the steep, winding road, we began to grow alarmed--we hadn't realized how high in the mountains it was or how tricky the roads were to navigate. When it started to snow and then we drove into a thick fog that made it nearly impossible to see the road, things started getting really stressful. What if Sam had to leave in the middle of the night? It was a much bigger trip than we had expected, but we hoped all would be well and the weather would improve when we got to the hotel.

Finally we arrived, checked in, made it to our room and...
discovered we had no cell phone service.
Cell phone service was essential for Sam's work and he needed to be able to be contacted at any hour of the day. We were growing increasingly panicked as we settled the boys to bed and sat down to figure out what to do.
Eventually we decided Sam would go back to Reno for the evening and the following day I would try to switch our hotel to something in Reno, closer to the place he needed to work and where we would have reliable cell phone service.
Thankfully, the hotel staff was very apologetic as I explained the situation,
and they cancelled the rest of our reservation without any fees.

The next morning I took the boys outside to explore the pool, the playground, and the shores of the lake.
We had a nice time despite the very chilly weather,
and by mid-morning Sam picked us up and we left the beautiful resort, lake, fire pits with complimentary s'mores kits, and stunning scenery behind and drove back into the city.

I had been fortunate enough to find a beautiful suite in Reno, and we quickly booked it for the next 2 nights. They kindly let us arrive early, so we settled in and spent the next 2 days enjoying complimentary breakfasts and dinners, swimming, celebrating Sam's birthday, and playing at a park.
And things were still looking pretty good despite the sudden change of plans.


But alas, after 2 nights Sam's work wasn't yet complete and we needed to extend our stay.
And, with it being Memorial Day weekend, our hotel was booked up and we had to scramble to switch hotels again!
We ended up in a very much less-ideal one literally right next to the freeway in a pretty run-down part of town. By this point, things were getting pretty stressful with Sam's work and the need to be immediately available was increasing.
We made a quick visit to the Reno LDS Temple to walk around the grounds,
and then for the remainder of the trip we needed to stay at the hotel.
It was amazing to feel the drastic difference between the city and the temple grounds.
As soon as we got out of the car, the stress of the situation subsided and the peace was almost tangible.
I'm always so grateful for the opportunity to show the kids temples during travels!

But then it was back to our hotel and the next 2 days were very long in our tiny room.
We swam, the kids watched way too much TV, and they did a whole lot more of this than I would have liked (despite the fact that they were playing educational games!):

I hadn't prepared to spend so much time in hotel rooms, so I had brought almost nothing to entertain the boys. Talmage and Wesley loved me to read chapter books to them, but that only held Lincoln's interest for so long before he was running around wildly. Sam and I realized that we probably aren't really hotel people because we are way too high-strung about the kids making noise!
Finally, Sam got the phone call he had been waiting for and was able to finish up his work.
Early on the morning of the 6th day, we packed up and made the drive back to Utah.

Even though the trip turned out to be stressful in a number of ways
and wasn't quite the dream vacation I had pictured,
I'm grateful for the fun moments we did enjoy,
and the boys really were troopers through everything!
But it's safe to say that we were all relieved when we walked through the doors to our home--
with its un-mopped floors and all.
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