Vacation Bliss

Girls’ trip 2012

I’m never prepared for how much fun I have when I escape with friends, whether it be for a night out or a full blown weekend getaway.  Plans for this trip, the annual Sewing Night Girls’ Trip began almost a year ago.  IMG_1269We thought it’d be genius to plan it after school was back in session so our kids wouldn’t be home all day with a babysitter.  Turned out it wasn’t the best idea since it created lots of run around for the husbands with school, sports and scout schedules.  A very HUGE thank you to Carl for letting me dump all that on top of his crazy work schedule so I could go and play!!  We chose to try Newport Beach this year, something a little more local and still packed full of everything we want in a vacation: sun, sand, and shopping.  Not to mention that the idea of spending a day at the beach with nothing but a towel, sunscreen and a book sounded magical.  So we packed a Suburban to the brim with all the necessities (nail polish, brownies, beach chairs, clothes, clothes and more clothes) and said goodbye to the husbands and kids for a few days.


We found this little cove in Newport to hang out for the day. ( I pretended that the house at the far end was mine.)  The weather was a little overcast but still calm and plenty warm to enjoy the down time.



Then we rode the trolley back to the car.  We were a little slap happy at this point.



We still had some grocery shopping to do (our hotel suite had a small kitchen) so rather than waste time getting ready and driving back and forth, we chose a chill little hamburger joint in Huntington Beach called T.K. Burger for dinner.  Conveniently located near shopping, of course.


Jana is our resident foodie and always knows the best places to stuff your face.  This place didn’t disappoint.


After that we went in search of an old friend.  We were so happy to smother Lauren with hugs!


After that we shopped until every store in the area closed up shop for the night.


(I know this next picture is fuzzy, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.  Tami, Jana and I were laughing at a street musician and his…unique voice.  And again, we were slap happy.)


The next day was rainy and overcast so we filled it with more shopping, lunch at Rodrigos and junk food for dinner back at the hotel.


{Tami, Jana (and expected little one), Krystal, Autumn, Shannon and me}

I geeked out about being this close to the ocean and living in California in general pretty much all weekend.  Thank you friends for putting up with me!


I seem to catch a picture like this of Shannon and Krystal every year.  Shopping can be exhausting.


Every night ended just like this.  Who needs TV and movies when you have iphones, ipads, macbooks and PINTREST?!


By day 3 we were bound and determined to spend some good time in the sun.  So we went back to Huntington Beach and found more shopping too.  Big surprise, right?






Like all our trips, we laughed until we cried, we stayed up late and slept in way too long, we had some really deep conversations, and even shed some tender tears.  But this year we also missed some very dear friends.  I’m hoping next year we’ll be able to coordinate everyone’s schedules and get us ALL together.  I’m so very blessed to have such amazing friends here in California!

Categories: Beach babe, Friends, Sew inspiring, Vacation Bliss | 2 Comments

Spencer palooza 2012

Right after the baptism we packed our car to the brim and drove to St. George for another Spencer Palooza week!  We stayed in an amazing house with rooms and bathrooms for all, a pool and lots of space to roam, play, watch movies and hang out.  It was exactly my kind of vacation!

Crew was first to give the waterslide a test run.

IMG_1362The water was freezing cold, but it was perfect for the 100 degree sunny weather!

IMG_1343When you’re on vacation, clothes are never a first priority.

IMG_1348Eating between swim sessions. {Peyton, Milo, Jax, Carl and Crew. Boston in the highchair}

IMG_1350Boston cracks me up!  I just wanna squeeze him silly!

IMG_1352Nerding out is totally ok when vacationing.  Jax took full advantage.

IMG_1355Milo and Peyton were in a constant giggly conversation with each other.


IMG_1380The remains of my Tigers Blood.  Good to the last drop.

IMG_1381Nana brought a craft for the kids to make.

IMG_1384Custom door hangers!


IMG_1386Getting all these kiddos to hold still is practically impossible.  Here’s a fuzzy but happy picture of their craftsmanship.

IMG_1391Greg helped Crew, Jax and Daxton trap this enormous lizard.  And when the ants killed him, they caught another one.

IMG_1393Carl tried, oh how he tried, to win me in swimming races.  But he was no match for my aquatic skillz.

IMG_1395Nana lounged around and laughed at all of Papa’s cat calls.  (You’d think they were in love or something.)


There was a creek behind the house, perfect for shooting rocks with the new sling shots Carl gave the boys.  I think he loved those sling shots as much, if not more than the kids did.

IMG_1402Milo shared his sling shot with Daxton so Carl took him and Crew out for a round.

IMG_1404Aw.  Love this one.

IMG_1406Enjoying the last sunset before saying goodbye. {Chantel, Carl and Daxton}

IMG_1407Milo knows how to enjoy the pool!


IMG_1374Sadly, it was time to head back home.  We had a fabulous time with family and can’t wait to see them again!


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Escape to Utah: Part 7 – Catching up before leaving

We have some great life long friends in Utah.  They always bend their schedules to get together and we love, love LOVE them for it!  This time we hung out with Deanne (missed you Matt), Chris and Charles for an evening at the pool.  Kids everywhere, ice cream on demand and bees tied with string (hilarious)!  What more could you ask for on a summer night?

It was tough to say goodbye to everyone but this was definitely a satisfying trip home.  Until next time!!  We love you Utah!

Categories: Vacation Bliss | 1 Comment

Escape to Utah: Part 6 – Silver Lake

We had to take at least one trip up the mountains before leaving Utah.  We took a drive up my favorite canyon to Silver Lake.  The boys and I had a pretty good time last visit so we brought Carl along this time.  I seriously love these mountains.  Here’s what our day looked like:




We climbed a big rock and went for a picnic up the hill.

Can you see the chipmunk in the spotlight?

If you haven’t ever visited Silver Lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon you totally should.  It’s so beautiful that you’ll be frustrated your camera doesn’t capture it’s true beauty.  I love it.  Did I tell you that this was the lake Carl took me to late one night before we were dating?  I tried so, so hard to get him to kiss me that night on this very spot but he just wouldn’t. He had a girlfriend.  But I won him over eventually.   And now look where we are!

Categories: Family, Vacation Bliss | 1 Comment

Escape to Utah: Part 5 is zoorific

My kids love animals, science, and all things nature.  Today we explored the Hogle Zoo with Nana, Court and Peyton.  So, so fun for little boys who are fascinated by all things science and nature!

{Crew, Jax, Peyton and Milo}

And Britney was crazy enough to invite the zoo back to her house for a cousins sleepover.  I don’t think she’ll be doing that again any time soon, but my kids had a great time!

{Boston, Daxton, Jax, Crew and Milo}

Categories: Family, Vacation Bliss | 1 Comment

Escape to Utah: Part 4 – IKEyah!

The nearest IKEA from our house is about an hour away so we don’t visit too often.  Crew and Jax have renamed it “the ball gym” because the Kids’ Zone here has a ball pit to jump in.  They loved playing there last time we went.  But I had to shop with Milo who was too small to go with them and that made it kinda hard.  Crew and Jax always beg to go back but the drive just doesn’t make it worth it without something specific to shop for.  But there’s an IKEA pretty darn close to Nana and Papa’s so  I promised I’d take them while we were visiting.  When I heard that kids eat free on Tuesdays, there was no question.  IKEA or bust!  While looking up the kids’ zone hours I found out that Milo was old enough and tall enough to play there too!  YESSSSS!

I checked the boys into the Kids’ Zone with promises of dinner in the cafeteria when I returned.  Can I just tell you that hour was heaven!  Shopping without the boys doesn’t happen all that often so I browsed and admired and price checked and shopped up til the very last minute when it was time to pick them up.  I cut it so close that I didn’t actually have a chance to pay for my things beforehand.  So with grumbling tummies, I dragged them through the rest of the store to the cash register.  Funny, soon they were so caught up in all the colorful and fun gadgets that it was me who was grumbling that they were taking so long!  Eventually we made it to the food.  Crew and I opted for meatballs while Jax and Milo went with chicken fingers.  Then we shared some chocolate cake and declared our IKEA trip a total success.

It might sound like a lame outing for some, but it was something they still talk about and something I definitely want to do again.  And on the way out to the car I  bumped into an old friend from high school that I haven’t seen in 15+ years.  (Man was I glad that I’d bothered to “get ready” before leaving the house!)  Liz, it was such a fun surprise running in to you!!

Next up: Hogle Zoo!

Categories: Family, Uncategorized, Vacation Bliss | Leave a comment

Escape to Utah: Part 3 – Together again

Carl and I gave our last hugs and goodbye’s to Paul and Lisa later that same day and continued on the rest of the way north to Jenni and Jerry’s house.  By the time we pulled into the driveway it was around midnight and we walked into a dark and quiet house.  Not wanting to wake anyone and feeling pretty worn out ourselves, we grabbed our sleeping bags and passed out on the floor for the night.  But not before going through our Powell pictures one more time.  Man, what a fun trip!  Early the next morning I could hear the kids running around and one by one they came in to give us hugs and say hi.  Well, Milo did and so did Crew.  Jax more or less said, “oh, hi.  That wasn’t very long, are you leaving again?”  He couldn’t decide if he was glad we were back or not.  Hahaha, crazy kid.  Speaking of kids, at some point the day before Jenni also took in her sister’s kids for the week.  A day or two extra in Lake Powell would have been heaven for Carl and I, not so much for Jenni and Jerry. (Yep, there are 11 of them!)  I’m glad we decided to come home as planned.

All that time sitting around and being care free really changes you.  This is “Vacation Carl” and I love him!

We wanted to spend a little time with Jenni and Jerry before saying goodbye so we all took a walk to the park for some kickball.  It was HOT and WINDY!

But good times were had none the less.  We broke up into teams: boys vs. girls.  The boys had it in their heads that they’d school us girls, but we taught them a lesson or two ourselves.  But only one team can win.  I’ll let you decide who won.

The celebrate, the girls put together a cheer.  It goes like this:  “Girls rock and boys bawk!”  I didn’t get it either until my niece explained, “You know, ‘bawk-bawk’ like a chicken.”  Oh, ok.

I just love these little squirts!

Jax wanted to take some pics to help us remember the day…

Between his overly cheesy poses, he kept coming up and hugging my leg.  “I’m really glad you’re back Mom.”  Awwww.  I love this guy.

After a fun day with the cousins it was time so say more thank you’s and give goodbye hugs.  We needed to get to Nana and Papa’s house so Carl could prep for his early flight to San Francisco.  I’m glad we’d be able to spend more time with family while we were missing him!

Next up: Nana and Papa’s house

Categories: Family, Good Things, Vacation Bliss | 1 Comment

Escape to Utah: Part 2 – Lake Powell!!

Paul, Lisa, Carl and I met up with the rest of our party group late that night in Bullfrog.  The houseboat was sitting there on the dirt, waiting to be towed by semi and launched the following morning.  We settled down pretty quick for the night and slept out on the boat deck.  You forget how many stars there are until you leave town behind!  The next morning we woke up with the sun.  No sense trying to sleep in, it was just too hot.  We needed to be ready for the boat to move anyway.  But first, everyone changed into proper attire.  (Carl kept taking random pics of me.  Sneaky, sneaky!)  This gives you a shot of where we slept each night, right there on the floor (on pads of course).  It was actually quite nice.

The houseboat was launched and we set out to find the perfect place to call home for the next week.  I got down to business working on my tan.  It was right about this time that I realized there would be no cell phone reception for Carl and I which meant no emails, no texts, no phone calls, NO DISTRACTIONS!

Carl and Jer took off on wave runners to help the two ski boats scout out a place for the houseboat.

And from there on out it was nothing but good times, tan lines and side aches from laughing so hard.  I even read a book, something I hadn’t been able to find time for in months.  Every night we ate  junk food (or healthier versions of junk food thanks to Zee Zee) and played games like Pirate Poker (seen below), Wakee Six and Guess Who.

{John T., Lisa, Gord, Jane, Lisa “Zee Zee” and Carl}

Gord, our cruise director, had activities planned for every day we were there and he insisted that everyone participate.  I wasn’t too excited about this at first, but each game was so fun I’m glad he pushed me into it or I would have missed out on so much fun!  The first day he set up an obstacle course for timed wave runner competitions.  I tried to bow out saying I’d never driven one before, but again Gord insisted.  After a few practice runs I got the hang of it and realized how fun they are!  I would have done pretty well except I got hung up on the last turn and came in at 39 seconds.  Boo.  But you should have seen the guys on these things.  You’d have thought they were kids on Christmas Day they were so giddy.

Carl came in first place!  Check out his run!

These three were hilarious!  You couldn’t be in the room with either of them and not laugh.  I think at this particular moment they were trying to decide who had the pastiest thighs.

{Paul, Jer and Carl}

It was so hot that we lived in our swimsuits 24/7.  The sun would rise, we’d get up and change into a fresh suit, brush our teeth, hop in the water for a quick morning swim and take off to catch the calm water for wakeboarding.  No makeup, no getting ready, no hassle.  This was our kind of vacation!

Everyone was assigned a day to make meals.  Paul, Lisa, Carl and I were given a day together so we made omelets for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and copycat Cafe Rio for dinner.  All the food was great (Ginger’s BLT’s were to die for).   And someone managed to bring tons of supersized Otter Pops.  I don’t even like Otter Pops but in that heat they were like manna from heaven.

The top deck was perfect for tanning and also made a perfect diving platform.  John gave diving and cannon ball lessons to the guys.  The rest of us were good to summon the courage simply to jump off!

{John, Paul, Jane and Sarah with soon-to-be-baby-girl}

Go Jane!

Carl’s cannon ball!

Paul’s backflip!

Jer’s swan dive!

Zee Zee broke in the waterslide (which is crazy slick when you squirt some Dawn on it)!

Carl was determined to get a tan.

Here I am, deep in conversation with the girls about nail polish colors and our favorites.  These girls had great style!

Gord set up bases with old orange life jackets and broke us up into two teams for a game of wiffle ball.  We had to hit the ball off the top deck of the houseboat then dive in and swim to the base.  Sorry, Nicole!  I gottcha out at first.  Nice play, Jer!

The wind was at it’s worst mid day so rather than trying to ski on it we’d pack up lunches and go explore the canyons on the ski boats.  I can’t believe how beautiful the rocks and coves at Lake Powell are.  The way some of the rocks were formed from wind and rain made them look like angel wings had been pressed into them.

Carl liked to try out all the random accessories left on the boats.  Lookin’ hot baby!

{Paul and Lisa}

Jer was our driver most of the time and happy to do it.  Put him behind the wheel of anything and he wouldn’t stop smiling.  That’s our houseboat in the background.

{Jer and Nicole}

The girls swimming in a randomly beautiful cove.

We snuck out early each morning for some wake boarding before the wind kicked up.

I won’t pretend to say that I’m good, but I got in and out of the wake a few times.  I’ll leave it to Carl to represent.

A word to the wise:  Don’t play Wackee Six with a math genius like Jessica (blue shorts).  You will lose.every.time!

John, Paul and Spencer were victims of Gord’s tubing run.  When I wasn’t getting sick from all the turning, I was laughing my head off at the faces these three were pulling while trying to stay on.  But you wouldn’t catch me on that thing.  This was the one activity I insisted on sitting out!

We did some hiking on our last day at the lake.

Our first stop was to a rock everyone called “Butt Crack”.  You climb up into the crack…

…and pop out the other side.  But there’s no way down unless you jump from an insane height so we turned around and hiked back down.

{top row: Spencer, John T., Jer and Paul … bottom row: Sarah, John, Zee Zee, Jessica, Lisa, Becka, Mary Jane, Ginger, Carl and me}

And then someone started looking down and before you know it…


Then Carl said, “I ain’t no sissy!”

And Paul had to try it out too, with John for moral support.

Carl and John went back for the waverunners.  The water was pefect!

And we hiked up to the Anasazi ruins.  Call me a geek but I though they were really, really cool.  The though that people were living here so long ago and left proof of it was fascinating to me.  A ranger hiked up and told us they had done studies on the petroglyphs to find traces of blood in the drawings.  To be immortalized like this was a huge honor.  “These were their superheros.”

Sarah left her shoes at the houseboat and the sand was too hot to go barefoot.  John’s solution?  “Here sweetheart, wear one of mine.”  Aww.


{John T. and Ginger}

{Jane and Gord}

It was over all too soon.  We would have gladly stayed the entire week with the rest of the gang but I needed to get back to kids and Carl had to leave to San Francisco for work.  We said goodbye to our dear friends with promises to find each other on Facebook, Pintrest and Instagram.  Well, I did anyway.  It meant a lot that they made several serious attempts to keep us there just a day longer.  Oh man, we would have loved to.  Sometimes reality bites.  Especially for Paul who ended up being pulled over on the drive home.  Sorry Paul, that’s me laughing in the back seat.  You’ve got to admit getting a ticket in the same place twice, out in the middle of nowhere, is sort of funny.

Lake Powell was so darn fun.  I can’t really describe it other than, *smile and sigh*.  I loved all the down time, the laughing and the kid-free time with Carl. By the way, this was the perfect getaway to celebrate our 12th anniversary!  But it wouldn’t take a special occasion for us to do it again.  This will definitely be in my top 5 favorite vacations!

Next up: More Utah Vacationing!

Categories: Friends, Vacation Bliss | 3 Comments

Escape to Utah: Part 1

Planning camp was so fulfilling but at times so, so stressful.  At times, looking forward to this trip was all that kept me going.  The idea of being able to disappear for two weeks right after camp was so motivating and once we left, so therapeutic!  For me and Carl both!  We left home later than expected (as usual) but not feeling in any hurry to get there, we took out time to pack and leave when we were good and ready.  We drove all night/morning and finally landed at my in-laws’ house around 3am.  Those last few hours of driving were rough!  But the kids travel really well and thanks to car chargers and ipods there was almost no complaining.  The next day the boys were let loose in the yard to run and play and make up for a day spent in the car.  It didn’t take long for them to find the water guns stashed outside.

Their house is surrounded by fantastic neighbors who have left an open-ended invitation for any visiting grandkids to make use of the play equipment on one side and a pool on the other.

Milo had never seen a diving board before but after watching Jax’s example (see above) he marched right over and launched off without warning.  I was shocked!  And proud!  And glad he had his vest on!

Carl installed a fan for his parents and then took time out to enjoy our favorite swing out back with his mom.

All the firework stands around town made me realize that fireworks are legal in Utah!  So I introduced my kids to my childhood favorites: sparklers and pops.  (Although, I swear sparklers were bigger and lasted longer when I was a kid.)

Milo wanted to climb the tree in the backyard too, and surprised me again when he showed he could climb it with the help of a 5 gallon bucket to stand on.  Once he figured that out we couldn’t keep him out of it.

Now he can hang with the big boys!

After a few days it was time to say a temporary goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and move on to stay with the cousins for several days.  Carl and I stayed the night and then said goodbye to the kids and thanked Jenni and Jerry hundreds of times.  Next stop, Lake Powell!  (I still can’t say it without smiling!)  Oh, and we happened to drive past a very special temple for me on the way.  Yay, Mt. Timpanogos!

Coming up: Our Lake Powell shenanigans.

Categories: Family, Vacation Bliss | 1 Comment

Now guess who’s back with a brand new track

Well, I’m back.  It’s been quite a whirlwind the last month but it’s been so, so amazing.  The boys finished up school and are already anticipating next year’s teachers and friends.  Crew will be in 2nd grade, Jax starts Kindergarten and Milo will enter preschool.  If I cross my fingers and toes and the stars align, we’ll get morning Kinder and I’ll have two blessed hours twice a week with NO KIDS!  I almost don’t want to think about it for fear of disappointment!

Ready or not, girls camp came and went in a blur.  I will say it was honestly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, physically (I really do think I walked a marathon’s distance that week) and emotionally (oh, those forms!) but it was one of the most rewarding things for me to participate in.  I feel like I grew leaps and bounds, realized I can do so much more than I give myself credit for and know what I still have yet to perfect (the list is long).  I can honestly say I’d do it all over again, especially with all that I learned through the planning and execution of camp.

But oh the girls!  They were so special and so fun!  I can honestly say I would do it all over again, especially knowing what I know now.  The women that I grew to know and love throughout this past year was rewarding in and of itself.

As soon as camp was over, Carl and I packed up the family and escaped to Utah for two fun filled weeks.  We visited with family, had a mini-getaway to Lake Powell and caught up with old and dear friends.

(More on those two fabulous weeks soon…)

Now we’re back and settling into summer.  We’ve got our summer to do list up and in action and I have a stack of books I’ll be enjoying out on my patio each night.  I love, Love, LOVE summer!

It’s so good to be back home and back to blogging!  I’ve missed you!

Categories: Church Stuff, Family, Friends, Vacation Bliss | 2 Comments

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