Utah Summer 2015- July Fun!

After we finished our fun Yellowstone retreat, we had just a little longer in Utah before we left for California.  Jeff left us soon after we returned, he headed to Houston, mostly for work and then his visa arrived and he flew out to Angola before we headed to Paris.  It was nice not to have to change all his flights, but it would have been fun for him to come to California for a little bit before our trip.

Right when we came back we had some quality Sparky firework time!  We only had a couple days to keep using fireworks before they stopped so we had a lot of poppers, smoke bombs and one night at the ball field with a Sparky spectacular!

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My parents took the big girls and I to see The Little Mermaid at Hale Center Theater.  It was great, and the girls loved it!  Such a great theater, and such a fun show, especially for 2 little girls!

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We ate a lot of lunches with Daisy and the kids!  Hattie loved “BUBBA” and “BABY”  which she always said as loud as possible!  She had so much fun with her cousins!

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We headed to another splash pad, at Gateway center, and of course, the sun disappeared as soon as we arrived, it was pretty chilly!  We headed to the Pop Shop and picked up a bunch of delicious sodas afterwards.

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The girls got to do a couple more gymnastics classes, and this time Sophie got to play too!

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Sophie got to have a special day with Grandma and OGO because she turned 8.  They spent a day at Lagoon, and she had a great time running the show, which included the rapids ride about 20 thousand times in a row… they were soaked when they left the park!

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While Sophie was out on her special day we took the little girls to Jungle Jim’s with Andy and his kids.  It was perfect as Sophie would have been bored, but Violet was able to ride everything and help Hattie out.  They had a good time.

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The night before Jeff left we had a BBQ, we were going to head up to the canyon, but rain looked like it might show up at anytime… so we headed to the Stake Ballpark, where we would have cover if the rain showed up.  An added bonus- lots of room for the kids to run around like crazy people!

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Kristy and Kylie treated us to lunch at a DDD taqueria, it was delicious!


After Jeff left we headed out to Boondocks for a day, where Sophie got to drive her own GoKart and Violet got to be a backseat driver as OGO and I tried to beat Andy around the track.

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Other fun things… LOTS of family time, and Grandma Phillips came to stay at my parents house right before we left so we got some good visiting time with her.  Our last night we headed to the frozen yogurt place near my mom as they had Dole Whips on tap… and had a fun last dessert before saying goodbye to Andy and his family for at least a year.  Super sad, it is always so hard to say goodbye, especially to those littles who will not be so little next time we see them.

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Until next time Utah!

Yellowstone 2015- Nevada and Virginia City

Happy 4th of July!  We headed to the historic towns of Nevada and Virginia City for the 4th. We planned on riding the train, but they didn’t have any tickets until late.  Instead we wandered around an old “museum” with historic items set up.  The girls liked the snow mobile and desks the best!

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While looking for lunch there were limited options without hour long waits in our first town, so we headed to the next stop hoping to get lucky.  We found a bakery with a set holiday menu, and it turned out great!  One of the best burgers we had… yummy!  After lunch we headed to the Historic Museum and “town.”  It was so cool.  All kinds of old buildings set up to work and a bunch of volunteers/workers who dressed in period costume and knew their stuff.  There were blacksmiths, wheelwrights, a lady making rugs, a guy who knew all about guns.  It was pretty cool.  We had a great time walking around.  Jeff was happy to find his sarsaparilla!

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After the historic town we took the big kids gold panning… we found a lot of garnets and Vi got one speck of gold… tiny, but she was happy!

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And then our vacation came to a sad end!  Sunday morning we packed up and drove out.  We had a great time, can’t wait to go back!


Yellowstone 2015- Part 3

We spent Friday hitting up the stuff we hadn’t see in Yellowstone.  One last day to see what we could!

We started at the rim of Yellowstone Falls, considered the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  We ran into a little mishap.  We thought we parked at the trailhead, and we were wrong.  The boys already had the babies on their backs so they said they would hike down to the next spot and meet us there.  But after a couple potty stops and walking back to the car, we assumed they beat us to the spot.  When they weren’t there we kept driving.  We went all the way to the end, and realized we had passed them somewhere else.  Because no one had a way to contact each other, I started hiking back along the trail so we wouldn’t miss them (I hiked a lot that day).  I ran into them at the very end.  Turns out the boys had seen us drive away from where they were, and there was nothing they could do about it!  Unfortunate timing.  But I did hike a lot and the boys hiked one trail to realize none of us wanted to take the kids down that steep trail.

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After we all reconnected we headed back to the first parking spot and hiked to the top of the waterfall.  No brood pictures of the girls… too much sun, but you get the idea!

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Then we ate lunch and more ice cream!

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Our last stop in Yellowstone was back to the Firehole River for more swimming and floating in the river.  We did love that place!  Sad to leave this gorgeous park, and can’t wait until we can visit again!

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Yellowstone 2015- Jackson Hole and Island Park

We headed into Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park on Wednesday.  We started at Jenny Lake, and hiked around the Lake, halfway and then took the ferry back to shore.  It was a bit more intense than we had figured it to be and the kids were serious troopers (and the babies were happy to nap).  But, can I say again, it was SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!  Seriously, I can’t even believe how gorgeous nature is and those mountains and the lake and the trees… swoon.

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We walked around town for a while and then headed to the Bar J Ranch for dinner and a show.  Man, those guys were good singers, and the show kept my kids entertained the whole time.  It was really nice and a lot of fun, and the food was pretty good too!

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 The next day we spent around the cabin.  We hiked around a river and we rented a raft and stand up paddle board to travel down the same river.  It was a lot of fun, but I took no pictures, which was a good plan as the raft had a constant layer of water in the bottom… not waterproof!  It was a lot of fun, and all the kids got to paddle/ride on the board.  We had a great time!

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Yellowstone 2015- Part 2

We started day 2 in the park at Old Faithful.  There was a decent amount of driving during the day, so we kept the kids busy with phones and treats.  Hattie liked the Oreos!

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We arrived 15 minutes before Yellowstone went off, good timing!

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We started hiking around Upper Geyser Basin after we watched Old Faithful.  Most people were heading to lunch so we thought we would take advantage during the less busy time.  It was a great path because the strollers could go the whole trip, down to Glory Pool.  The hot springs were such amazing colors, and the geysers were so cool, so many different shapes, colors, and splashes of water.

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After lunch we hiked around couple smaller geyser basins, my favorite was Black Sands Basin, it had lava rock all over and had the most pretty hot springs and a geyser that went off at least every 5 minutes, at varying heights.  So pretty!

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After all this hiking we headed to Firehole River to swim.  It was really nice, and you could just float down the river for a ways, the current was pretty strong, but the girls did great, and we had floaties on the boys.  The water was perfect after the hot hiking of the day.  I didn’t take pictures this day, but I have a couple later in the week.

Yellowstone 2015- Part 1

When we found out Jeff would have to come to the states for a time due to visa issues the thing I was most excited about was that he was going to get to visit Yellowstone with us!  Vacation is always more fun with your husband!  I hadn’t been to Yellowstone in forever and I was excited to share the natural wonderfulness with my family!  We loaded ourselves into a giant 12 passenger van and headed to Island Park, our cabin home for the week.


When we drove through Rexburg we drove by the house I lived in until I was 8…


The next morning we loaded up again, and drove into the park.

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We started driving one half of the park and just stopped when we wanted to.  Our first stop was the Artists Paintpots.

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Next we walked our way around the Norris Geyser Basin.  There were some amazing views of the mountains!  (I miss mountains, and love having them around in the summer… they are just so beautiful and majestic- end tangent).

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Our next stop was an area I cannot remember the name of!  But the pathways were all under construction, which was a big bummer, because you could walk through all the geysers, it would have been pretty cool.  But it did mean a shorter hike and the kids were ok with that!  We also saw our first buffalo along this drive!

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The next stop was Mammoth Hot Springs- one of my favorite places, amazing springs, and amazing colors and formations!  I couldn’t believe how cool it looked, and the ice cream in the store was delicious as well!

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On our way to our last stop of the day (Tower Falls) we stopped at a turn off with some amazing views.  Yellowstone is just so pretty!

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Our last stop was a quick, but steep hike, up to Tower Falls.  ON the way back to Island Park we saw a couple buffalo, one of which sauntered down the center of the road, which caused all kinds of traffic issues, but it was cool to see the buffalo just walk right by the van.

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That was our first day in the park.  Our cabin was pretty cool, plenty of room for all of us, and a hot tub and fire pit.  Daisy and I took turns making dinner most nights, and we all packed lunches in during the day.  It worked out really well.  We watched movies and played lots of games every night after the kids went to bed.  Always fun times!

June in Utah- More Fun

We were lucky enough to overlap vacations in Utah with Chelsea, so that all the girls could get haircuts (it was Hattie’s first).  We also got to meet Chelsea’s adorable baby, Max, and visit with Kris and Jeff.  Always nice.

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We played at the house and ate delicious things.  We also enjoyed my parents outdoor area a lot, and broke out the big bubbles again!

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We made a lot of trips to the library, enjoying a full fledged library nearby (I miss those).


One Saturday morning we headed to Strawberry Reservoir and went crawdad fishing.  The kids loved it!  We tied chicken legs and bacon and hotdogs on pieces of string and then when the crawdads were eating them you would slowly pull the string up and catch them in your net… we caught A LOT!  We also invited Kori and Dan to come with their kids and it was so nice to catch up with them and visit.  Brenda poked all the crawdads, so many of them, with very little meat in each one, but Sophie ate a TON of them… they were pretty tasty, just too much work for me.  Thank goodness Sophie had 3-4 adults peeling them for her!

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Another fun activity we had in June was going to see The Illusionists, they are a magic act that was on America’s Got Talent.  They were pretty cool.  We took the big girls and went with Grandma, OGO, Daisy, Andy and Jordan.  It was a fun night for the big kids!

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At the end of June we headed out to Yellowstone!  More pics and stories to come.

June in Utah- Summer Camps and Water Fun

The day we arrived in Salt Lake Violet had her first day of Fairy Camp with Ms. Sara… unfortunately she was a little under the weather, but she sure had a good time anyway.  They dressed up and played outside with a variety of things.  The next few days continued to be fun, they built fairy houses, painted fairies and fairy gardens.  So fun!

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Sophie also had camp, she attended rock climbing camp at a gym near my parent’s home and had such a great time.  She was a rockstar climber.  they also learned how to tie their own knots and played a lot of games, slack lining, and climbing games as well.  I snuck in to watch one time and Jeff did as well, it was a lot of fun to see her being so brave and trying so hard!

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The week Sophie was in camp the little girls had their first week of gymnastics class.  Hattie did great and listened, but didn’t like the trampoline all that much, and Violet had a great time with Jordan!

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While in Utah we visited a couple different splash pads.  The first was a great place in Sandy, so cool, and lot of fun.  The kids had a great time even though the water was cold.

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The second one was in City Creek, who had a weird rule that the kids couldn’t wear swimwear to play, so the girls all put shorts on over their suits and played to their hearts content!

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Having cousins to play with is so much fun!

Summer Starts- Johannesburg Fun!

Our original plan for the summer involved a weekend stopover in Johannesburg so Jeff could stock up and then he was flying back to Luanda while the girls and I headed to the states.  BUT- we had visa issues and so he ended up coming home with us!!!  Because we didn’t need to shop for his summer meals we had a bunch of free time on our hands.  We decided to explore a little.  But we started our first night with a steak dinner… I had a Flintstones style prime rib- huge and delicious.


The one stop we had planned was the Lion Park.  It was a drive and then had a small area to pet baby cubs.  We plugged The Lion Park into the GPS and it took us out a ways to a place that was great, except that when we arrived they asked if we had a reservation.  It was at that point we realized we had arrived at a totally different Lion Park.  The bad part, no drive… and the girls were too young to do the lion walk.  The good part was they fit us in to see the baby lions and the next age group up.  Unlike the other park where you had a 2 minute limit, the guide here was content letting us play until we were done.  Violet was in hog heaven… she couldn’t get enough!  All the girls loved petting and playing with the babies… they were just so cute!

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It was so much fun!  The next area we went to had the next older group of lions.  We weren’t allowed to let Hattie walk around because she was a little too small.  Sophie ended up with a small hole in her jeans from a lion playing, but it was fun, though these lions obviously were more grown and less playful.

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The shadows were boar, but I had to post the pictures of my girls petting lions!

The next day we headed to the actual Lion Park so that we could do the lion drive.  The lions weren’t very active, but because there had a been a lady who had died there a couple weeks earlier, they were very strict about making sure we knew not to unroll the windows, and taped them shut!  There were also a couple cheetahs in the area.  My favorite was the giraffe who just wanders around the area and had gotten himself into the parking lot to look around.

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After the lion drive we headed to the crocodile park down the street.  It was pretty cool, once we entered a man let us pet and hold the small crocs and snakes, and then instead of letting us go, he ended up giving us a tour around the whole park.  I love when we have someone the girls can ask questions to and actually knows the answer!  They also had a zip line for the girls to play on… always a good time.

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That night is was off to the great ole US of A… America- here we come!

Last Day of School 2015!

Last day of Preschool for Violet and the last day of Year 3 for Sophie!  My girls are growing up!

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At the bus Lisette had a cute sign for the preschoolers… so I had to borrow it and take a picture of Violet with the bus!


And because comparisons are fun… here are their first and last day of school pictures side by side… Love these girls so much!

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