Thursday, November 8, 2018

Utah - Part 2

In addition to seeing family, the kiddos wanted to see Utah outdoors, so the next morning, we hopped in the car and drove down to St. George for some vacation time together with the Walkenhorsts. For the first time, we rented an Air BnB and it was fantastic! Plenty of space for everyone, the ability to cook our own meals, and access to a great community pool. Definitely will be using those again!

St. George delivered just as we'd expected it to be - hot and dry!

The first morning, we headed out on our hike a bit late, and it became one of those "we can do hard things" experiences the kiddos will remember! It was one of those times where I actually found so much joy from seeing them struggle with hiking in the heat (of course we kept them safe with water, rest breaks and sharing the little patches of shade when we could find them), but there are so many life lessons that can relate to that tough hike. That sometimes things are different from what we expect. That we can still find gratitude in moments when things feel hard. That what we focus on grows, and if we choose to see the beauty around us, we will. If we choose to see everything negative around us, our brains will find evidence for that too. That all paths lead somewhere, but we need to heed and focus on the path we've planned and prepared to take. That as much as the destination is beautiful, it's who we become in the journey that truly matters. That when we are struggling, sometimes the best thing we can do is look around and lift others. We loved watching them dig deep. We had some great chats about how blessed we are to walk out of the heat to air conditioned cars, houses and swimming pools and took some moments to think about life throughout history - and today in other parts of the world - where luxuries like that don't exist. Great conversation and a broader perpective for the kiddos as they thought about the pioneer ancestors, and while we aren't asked to bear the same burdens, our trials are ultimately what empower us to learn and grow as well. Their favorite part of the whole hike was this little stream next to the picnic bench where we had lunch. It was completely shaded and they loved catching the tiny fish and playing in the water. So fun. And everyone was thrilled for the swim in the pool that afternoon.

 That evening we headed over to Tuachan for an outdoor show - Matilda. It was our first time attending, and has been on my "bucket list" for ages, so we were so exited this worked out with our schedule. It was such a cute, cute musical! We weren't sure how Abigail would digest the experience (because it is outdoors, the show starts SO LATE!), but figured we'd just flow with how it went. We were surprised that she was on the edge of her seat, completely engaged in the whole show! The rest of our trip, the kids requested we play the music from Matilda, and now, months later, Abby still runs around the house regularly quoting lines from the musical, naming all of us as characters (I've been named Mrs. Trunchbull a few times, only to be renamed into Miss Honey!). Both Tayler and Alexis have re-read Matilda on their own since then, and it's been so fun to enjoy such a fun story together. So glad we went!

The next day we knew a water activity would be the best outdoor option, and while we were planning to swim at the pool that afternoon, we popped over to the nearby reservoir, rented some SUP paddle boards and spent a few hours playing with those! That was our first-ever SUP paddle board experience, and we LOVED them! The time flew!

More swimming, and an evening hike at sunset along the Red Rocks overlooking St. George. So beautiful! Down time was filled with bracelet making, card games, and loads of laughter from the kiddos enjoying time with cousins.

Our last morning there, we played at the fun playground with the volcano, rode the train, and got plenty hot to hop in the car and head home!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ft. Myers

We were so grateful to spend time together with a few of Mike's coworkers and their families in Ft. Meyers. I'm scratching my head a bit that we never took a picture of everyone together, but it seems when we're all either in the pool or at the beach, we're all beautifully unplugged, and that's a memory worth cherishing just as much as any photo.

The red tide was still in swing, and while we were in the southern pocket of it, you could tell it was around. Beyond chasing the crabs, we really didn't play "in" the water as much as we would typically. But that didn't stop us from having a wonderful time together! Kite flying, beach volleyball, and digging in the sand. We loved the accessibility of the pool! It was pretty amazing to stay at a place where you could walk in and out of a pool right next to the beach!

We surprised the kiddos with a jet ski rental and they had such a blast! Mike and I took turns taking everyone out. I loved all of their reactions and how they each absorbed the speed and the overall experience of being in the ocean differently. And it was really interesting to get out on the ocean - the water was amazingly clear, and no signs of the red tide were anywhere to be found. So interesting!

Abigail screamed and giggled the whole time - she said "this is amazing!" over and over and told me "it was like a roller coaster on the water." Tayler laughed and laughed. Alexis loved seeing the shoreline and LOVED the speed. She held on tight and wanted to go as fast as possible. Max loved everything about it and was fascinated how you could move and turn so easily on them. I think I had a permanent smile.

The view from our room that morning. The sunrise was beautiful!!

 We're all fascinated by the sea turtles this time of year. Loved this info letter from the hotel!

So grateful to create these memories together. There are so many beautiful places to discover!