Category Archives: Vacations

Summer – Short but Sweet

While most of you are still on summer vacation, here in Arizona we are already back into the school routine. The girls only get 6 weeks of summer vacation. I personally think it’s the perfect amount of time. Long enough to get a lot of fun activities in, but not so long that the kids get bored.

So here are some of the fun things we did this summer:

Trip to Utah #1

We headed to Utah to visit my Mom and Dad over the 4th of July. We were lucky enough to be joined by my two brothers and their families, and my sister and most of her family (We missed you Aldo, hope you had fun in Peru!) It was so good to see everyone.


We went to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple open house.



We went camping with the cousins. Who cares that we got rained on? We still had a lot of fun. Can anyone say SMORES! (Emily, 7 was way too many!!!)



4th of July at GG’s, of course… eating, playing games and watching fireworks.







Trip to Oregon

Next we headed to Oregon to campout in our house there (we were between renters). While we were hoping to escape the heat, we weren’t quite prepared for the cold temperatures that greeted us. When John flew in to meet up with us (he didn’t make it to Utah), we had him bring some sweatshirts and jeans for everybody.


Hiking in the coastal mountains.





A trip to the Cannon Beach… one of our favorite spots.


This was Fluffy the dogs first trip to the beach. He was so excited!



Trip to Utah #2

Next we headed back to Utah to spend a few more days with grandpa and grandma before heading back home.


I was very excited to be able to get together with my best friends from high school/college. Thanks Amy for putting it together! Loved seeing everyone!!!



Then it was back home to swim in the pool everyday until school started.  That’s our summer in a nutshell. Fun Times!


Catch up time

I’m not dead! Just in case you were wondering. Wow! I didn’t realize it had been so long since I had posted to my blog. Time just flies by when you are keeping busy. Here are some of the things we have been up to:

Whoville Hair Day at school


Cailyn opted out of this one. She’s a little too reserved to sport one of these crazy hairstyles.


Swim Lessons – outdoor… in February… only in Arizona!

Softball season is here again. Between the three older girls, we have practice 5 times a week. Yikes! Games start at the end of this month.

(These pictures are from last season. Haven’t taken any new ones yet.)

Spring Break – a last minute trip to California to visit Jason & Sandy


We went to Knott’s Berry Farm and Sara rode her first big roller coaster… Montezooma’s Revenge. When she got off she was smiling from ear to ear. I asked her how it was and she said, “That so freaked me out! Did I really do a loop-de-loop? Did I really go backwards?” After that she was done with the big rides.


Germany – 2nd Edition

Day 3

Our plan was to drive from Frankfurt to Freiburg, tour the city and then on to Titisee to spend the night. We borrowed this GPS system from Kim to help us out.


It ended up taking us off the autobahn on a very scenic detour through the black forest, making our drive a little longer than anticipated and we didn’t end up making it to Freiburg. It was an absolutely beautiful drive, though!




We stopped in Freudenstadt for lunch and had a delicious Doner Kabap at the local high school hangout. We might have been a little old for the place, but the kids know where the good food is :) .  Next we stopped in Triberg to check out the cuckoo clocks and wood carvings.




Finally we made it to our hotel in Titisee. We had a nice room overlooking the frozen lake. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant which was fabulous! Best meal we had in Germany. Then we headed downstairs to bowl. That’s right… the hotel had a little 10 pin bowling alley in the basement. Of course I totally whipped up on John… sorry honey… better luck next time :) .



Germany – 1st Edition

Okay… okay… I know I’ve been home for over a week now and I’m way overdue on posting pictures from our trip to Germany & Switzerland. It really is a daunting task. We saw so much while we were there and I took so many pictures (over 700 but with my photography skills only about half of those turned out :) ), that I really don’t know how to condense it all down so it doesn’t bore everyone to death. While I’ve been thinking about it, it’s gotten kind of late so I’m going to have to do it in more than one post. So here I go…


Day 1

We left Phoenix at 8:00 am and arrived in Frankfurt at 6:00 am the next day (it’s not quite as bad as it sounds, remember there’s a time change). We didn’t sleep much on the plane, so we were tired (to say the least) but decided the best way to handle the jet lag would be to stay up the entire day. So we went to Kim’s, freshened up and headed out to Koln and Bonn/Bad Godesberg.





Bonn/Bad Godesberg



Day 2

Kim took us to Wurzburg and Rothenburg. Wurzburg is a beautiful city. We took a tour of the Residence and it was amazing. The beautifully painted ceilings, the tapestries, the artwork and the history behind it all was so fascinating. Too bad we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside :( . Then we walked through the city and ate bratwurst at a little stand in the marktplatz. 



Rothenburg is just what I pictured an old German city would look like. I loved the wall that ran around it, the gate towers, the old houses. The clock tower was a little disappointing. As Kim put it:

Okay, yes, it’s a picture of a clock. So why a picture of a clock? Well, John’s trusty tour guide book by an unnamed source made it sound like this was not to be missed. So, we frantically ran to the square at 3:00pm so that we wouldn’t miss the “show”. Well, we get there and what you see is what you get! The two doors opened on the side of the clock and there were 2 figures there chugging their beer. I think their heads turned from side to side….very slowly. Becki and I were laughing so hard and John…..he stood there staring at it the whole time, probably wondering what all the hoop-la was about and thinking that SURELY something else is going to happen….well, it never did. By the time Becki and I composed ourselves the next time we looked up the windows were closed.

It was such a fun day. Thanks for showing us around Kim. It’s was great to spend time with you!! 




That’s all for now. I’ll try to put more up tomorrow! Goodnight.

Guten Abend


Hello from Germany! It’s really late here and I have to get to bed, but I just wanted to post really quick and let you all know that we are having an amazing time! Thanks so much to Dad for watching the girls. We’ve been here two days and we’ve been to Frankfurt, Koln, Bonn, Bad Godesberg, Wurzburg, and Rothenburg. All I can say is… WOW! Well, I’ll post more later! Good Night!

Fall Break in Utah

The girls had a couple weeks off of school for Fall Intersession, so we packed up the van and headed off to Utah. When I asked the girls what they would like to do while in Utah, they informed me that if all they did were crafts, they would be happy. Grandma’s house is the perfect place for crafts. She is very well supplied. So, while my parents were at work (they weren’t so lucky as to have a fall break) the girls did crafts, and I did my homework for the psychology class I’m taking. Then in the evenings the girls got to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. It was great.

The highlight of the trip for me and John was being able to take Cailyn and Emily to a session of General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake. It was wonderful to see their excitement to be there, and to look over during the meeting and see the tears in their eyes and know that the spirit had touched their hearts. It was a wonderful, rainy day!

The highlight of the trip for the girls was our outing to Cornbelly’s. What is Cornbelly’s, you ask? Well, it’s a corn maze and pumpkin fest.  There were rides, bounce houses, a haunted monster that you walk through, hay mazes, corn mazes, corn cannons, pumpkin blasters, pig races, and pedal cart racing… just to name a few. We had a spooktacular time!

Our Trip To California… Finally Posted

*Caution this is a very long post*

I know… I know… I’m the last to post about our family reunion in California. I really have no excuses. So that being said… let’s begin. We headed to Irvine California in July to stay with Jason and Sandy. We were joined by Mark and Emmett (Laurel was unable to come as she is expecting twins!!!), and Kim, Joe, Hannah, Mason and Ella. We owe a big thanks to Jason and Sandy for hosting all of us at their house. They were awesome hosts! I’m sure it will take them a few months to recover from all the craziness .

The first couple of days were spent at the pool, park and playing SingStar and Dance Dance Revolution on the playstation. The Saturday after we arrived, we rented a Bounce House and let the kids go crazy. John’s aunt and uncle and three of his cousins came for the day and we all hung out, went to the pool and just had a good time.

 Connor and Lauren having a good time at the park.

“Just let us jump already!”

A family pic


Tide Pools 

On Sunday after church we went to the coast to walk along the beach. There were a bunch of tide pools there and the kids got to see all kinds of baby fish and crabs. They found a bunch of really cool shells, and were so excited to add them to their shell collection until a not so friendly beach goer informed them that this was a nature preserve and that they would have to put them back :(  So… a picture will have to do.

“Mom… I can hear the ocean!”

A sweet moment between John and Emily



What trip to California is complete without a trip to Disneyland? Lauren was very excited to go. She doesn’t remember our trip to Disney World, so this was all new to her. We got her a Minnie Mouse shirt at the Disney Store before we left Arizona, and every day she asked if it was the day to wear her shirt. Finally… the day was here.

Lauren in her Minnie Mouse shirt in front of the castle.

“We can’t wait to ride the Winnie the Pooh ride… again!”

You can see that Kim’s enjoying the Winnie the Pooh ride too!

Of course Lauren had to have the orange Dumbo.

We had a really great time at Disneyland. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. We were able to ride all of the rides that we wanted to. We stayed to the bitter end, and had some really exhausted kids. Here’s how Hannah and Emily spent the ride home.


Knott’s Berry Farm

While Cailyn and Emily were excited to go to Disneyland, what they were really looking forward to were all the rollercoasters at Knott’s Berry Farm. They’ve moved beyond the little kiddy rides. So once we arrived at the park, we had to divide and conquer. Kim and I decided to take one for the team :) and volunteered to go with the older girls (Hannah, Cailyn and Emily) to ride all the thrill rides, while everyone else headed to camp Snoopy to ride the kid rides. 

This car ride was one of the kids’ favorites. It would really whip them around the corners and they thought it was so fun.

Sara and Mayah showing the little kids how its done.

Mayah and Sara having a cute cousin moment.

When I asked Lauren what her favorite ride was she told me it was the balloon ride.

Here’s what the big girls were doing. This rollercoaster literally shoots you off going 80 mph in 2 seconds. Emily and Hannah were fearless. They rode this one four times. Poor Cailyn was just a little too short for this one, but I think she was relieved.

Our daredevils… Cailyn, Emily and Hannah


Bonfire at Corona Del Mar 

Sandy is always talking about how she likes to have a bonfire on the beach, so this was her chance to show us what it was all about. We headed to Corona Del Mar where they have firepits right on the beach. We went straight down to the water to get our swimming in and play in the sand before the sun started to set.

Uncle Jason had fun burying the kids in the sand. Here are Connor, Lauren and Ella playing a little game of ‘pass the truck’ while they’re buried in the sand.

Our mermaids… Emily, Hannah, Lauren and Sara

Mason with his creation

Then it was back to the firepit where we roasted hot dogs and made smores.

Another fantastic vacation! It was so great to see everybody, and to watch the cousins interact. I know this is a trip that they’ll remember for a very long time. I hope we can all do this again sometime soon.


We had a very good trip to Utah. All of my siblings and their families (minus Annie’s husband Aldo as he just graduated and started a new job) were there. We all crammed into my parents house, which actually worked out better than expected. I envisioned it being much more chaotic than it actually was. It was really great to see all the cousins getting along and playing together. There was really only one major fight between Lauren (age 3) and Aleea (2 almost 3) on whether or not you can wear pajamas during the day. Lauren got pretty heated about that one. She was adament that pajamas are NOT to be worn during the day.

The kids spent a lot of time downstairs where Uncle James had set up his projector and playstation 2 with the game SingStar. They were down there belting out tunes from the 80’s. Cailyn was a little shy at first, and only agreed to sing when everyone but her sisters left the room.

Grandma kept the kids busy with some crafts. They spent a whole morning outside working with clay, and another one doing embroidery. Grandma spoiled the kids with books. We left with at least twenty new books to read. Grandpa had the kids making marshmallow guns out of pvc pipe. They loved that. We took two trips to the movies, and even had a family movie night where each family made a movie that we watched all together. We went swimming at the local water park. We celebrated Canada Day with fireworks, and spent the 4th of July at my Gran’s house with more fireworks. Thanks for having us, Gran! That was quite the brood.

All in all it was a really great trip. I loved seeing everyone, and hope we can do it again sometime soon!

All the cousins together

Cailyn and Lorenzo really hit it off

Emily and Lauren loved Jon and Lorelei’s dog Bijou

Here are Aleea, Lauren and Kate wearing their matching sunglasses

 Lots of time was spent outside playing in the playhouse

Cailyn is in heaven making things out of clay

Lauren’s really into snakes right now (who knows why) so of course she made a clay snake

Here’s what I missed in June

 We’ve been out of town and unable to post to our blog for a while, so I’ll do my best to get caught up. The end of June finishes up birthday season in our family (all of our birthdays are between April 1 and June 27th). Sara celebrated her 6th birthday on June 27th. It is a little bit of a sore spot with her that her birthday is always last, so to make up for it we decided we needed to have a really fun birthday party. We had a bunch of her friends over on her birthday for a Jungle Expedition party. Cailyn and Emily helped me decorate the house with vines, leaves, crocodiles, bats, bugs and a base camp. We went all out. We made hats for all the girls. We made a pinata. It was a very fun birthday party. I took tons of pictures, unfortunately most of them got corrupted and won’t open. So all I have to share is one picture from Sara’s fabulous 6th birthday party. She really did have a great time despite the solemn expression in the picture.

The next morning it was off to Utah with a slight detour to the Grand Canyon. We drove through Sedona on the way to the Grand Canyon.

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon we went straight to the IMAX theatre to watch the movie about the Grand Canyon. We just missed one showing of the movie and would have to wait an hour for the next. So instead of waiting around for an hour we decided to buy the DVD and watch it in our tent on one of our laptops. (John also liked the idea because the DVD was cheaper than 6 tickets to the IMAX :) That’s my man!) So next we headed to the campsite to set up our tent. We were really impressed with the campsite. It was really well maintained (meaning there were clean flushable toilets… that’s what I really care about when I’m camping). We watched the movie, which turned out not to be the greatest and we were really glad we didn’t fork out the extra money to see it in the IMAX. Then it was foil dinners, smores and off to bed.

The next morning we headed to the park headquarters where the girls could pick up adventure packs (backpacks with binoculars, field guides, etc…) to help them explore at the Grand Canyon. Getting the packs and the Ranger program that followed took most of the morning. Here it was almost lunch time on the second day and we hadn’t even seen the Grand Canyon yet, but it was worth the wait!

Lauren with her adventure pack.

Our first view of the Grand Canyon.

Our little adventurer that insisted on looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.

We realized while at the Grand Canyon that it is now possible to have our picture taken together without having to ask strangers. Thanks Cailyn for taking our picture.

One last look before we head off to Utah.