I <3 Whitefish

My family lived in Whitefish, Montana back in the early 1980s. It was only for 4 years, but it’s had a strong hold on our hearts ever since. We would return almost every summer to visit my grandparents and renew our love of that little town. We returned for just one day, but it was enough time to visit all of our old houses and favorite places. I’m sure the guy out doing yard work in front “the red house” was curious about the three cars that drove slowly past his house several times.

4.5_Whitefish-Main-Street

8_Whitefish-Painted-Buildings

After lunch, we split up temporarily so the kids could go to the beach, and my mom, brothers, and I could walk down Central Avenue and visit a few favorite old stores. These are buildings from my childhood. We didn’t attend the Presbyterian church, but I always thought it was so beautiful.

5_Whitefish-Presbyterian-Church

And this is where I used to buy all my barbies (well, bug my parents until they bought them for me).

6_Crystal-Winters

I always loved this Bulldog Saloon sign when I was a kid. I mean, it’s a bulldog that boxes!

7_Whitefish-Bulldog-Saloon

But we didn’t want to spend too much time in town because our favorite place was waiting – City Beach.

9_Whitefish-City-Beach

When planning the trip, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to enjoy City Beach because we were going in early June. Usually the lake doesn’t warm up enough for swimming until July or August. But we lucked out with perfect weather. The water, I’m told, was still cold, but the sand was nice and hot.

10_Penny-Lucy-buckets

11_Penny-Whitefish-Beach

12_Peter

13_Claire-and-Izzy

14_Whitefish-Beach

It was hard to leave the beach, in fact we stayed a little too long, but we were excited to finally meet up with my grandpa and grandma for dinner. It was quite the feast, too!

15_At-Grandpas-House

16_Matt-Izzy-Claire

17_Grandma-and-Mom

Grandma even made special cupcakes to celebrate Matt’s birthday (and Penny helped blow out the candles).

19_Matts-birthday-cupcakes

We let the kids eat the cupcakes because we all wanted some of grandma’s homemade rhubarb pie.

20_Lucy-and-Liam

21_the-grandkids

22_Sisters

And we took advantage of the opportunity of us all being together (something that has never happened before) to take a photo.

18_The-whole-family

Montana means love, warmth (even in the freezing winter), and family to me. It’s one of my favorite places.

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West Glacier

It wasn’t much of a drive from our rented cabin to here:

1_Lake-Macdonald

Wow. I mean, it was just… wow.

2_Lake-Macdonald-reflection

The water was so clear…

5_Clear-Lake-Macdonald

Everyone wanted their picture in front of it.

8_Picture-Op

6_family

10_portraits-at-the-lake

And the rocks on the shore were perfect for skipping.

3_Skipping-Stones

4_Penny-and-the-Lake

9_kids-and-massive-tree

7_Mike-and-Lucy

But we couldn’t stay there forever. There was a whole park to discover! Unfortunately, it was too early in the season for us to complete the Going to the Sun Road, but we could go up as far as Avalanche Lake, with a stop off at a waterfall and a view of the peaks on the way.

11_River-in-Glacier

12_Amanda-and-Molly

13_Glacier-Peaks

We planned to walk along the Trail of the Cedars, and possibly hike up to Avalanche Lake, but first it was time for lunch. And more rock-skipping. It wasn’t a bad spot to eat your lunch at.

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15_bird

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18_waterfalls

During lunch, Claire made a little boat from some twigs and a leaf and then we let it sail.

17_Claires-boat

The Trail of the Cedars is a really easy walk through really incredible scenery that was perfect for the little kids.

19_Trail-of-Cedars

20_Mikey-and-boys

21_Mossy-rocks

We didn’t have time to hike up to Avalanche Lake, though, because we had reservations for a boat tour on Lake McDonald. We met the boat just outside of Lake McDonald. I loved the Lake McDonald Lodge. It was just so picturesque with lots of flowers and gingerbread trim. Inside, I found the National Park rustic design I was hoping for.

22_Lake-Macdonald-Lodge

Lake-Macdonald-Lodge

23_Way-to-the-Marina

We boarded the boat for the cruise, which, to be honest, was not the most exciting. But it was interesting to learn more about the geography and history of the region. And luckily it wasn’t very crowded so the kids had lots of room to run around.

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25_Mikey-and-Liam

26_Izzy

27_Mamers-and-Molly

28_Mikey-and-Mom

29_Lucy

30_Monster-Lucy

31_smiley-pete

32_silly-pete

We finished the afternoon with some huckleberry ice cream cones at Apgar Village. It was pretty much perfect.

Meeting Up at Spoon Lake

A few months ago, I came up with this amazing idea that my whole family should rent a cabin near Whitefish, Montana. We used to live there when young (for me, from 2-6-ish) and we all wanted to see our grandpa who lives in Kalispell. Everyone was excited about the prospect, and we started looking for the right cabin. It had to sleep around 13, preferably on a lake, and well, the sleeping 13 was actually kind of hard to find. Amanda ended up finding the perfect place — a log cabin on Spoon Lake. In addition to lots of space, it also boasted a private dock that came equipped with a paddle boat, canoe, and kayak.

Amazingly, since we departed from Salt Lake, Rock Springs, and Golden, we all met up about the same time and immediately headed to the lake.

Spoon-Lake

Or just relaxed on the deck, and Izzy pulled out the ukulele (she and Claire are so talented at it).

Matt-and-Mikey

Izzy-and-the-Ukalele

When it finally got dark, I was excited to try some star photography. The night sky was incredible, but it took a while to figure out my camera settings and exposure times, so the results were a little mixed.

Starry-Night-over-the-Lake

Twinkle-Twinkle

It was a propitious beginning to our little adventure. More later.

Bear Lake Weekend

One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to book a condo in St. George or Bear Lake for free. The only downside is that it’s based on seniority and you have to do all your booking in December for the upcoming year. I’m still pretty new at the company (just over 2 years now), so I kept getting bumped from the time slots I really wanted. I just hoped that in booking the condo in Bear Lake (located in Northern Utah) in mid-April, I’d get some warm weather. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. This has been a really drawn-out winter and the winters last even longer an hour or two north. By the time we got up to the condo on Friday it was already late and we basically just went straight to bed. In the morning, we looked out the balcony and were greeted by this:

1_Balcony-View

Not very promising. We weren’t expecting to go swimming or anything, but we were hoping to maybe build some sand castles. We stayed indoors and watched some movies they had on hand (classics like The Shaggy Dog and Roman Holiday)). Liam and Claire loved the banana chairs.

1_banana-chairs

We braved the rain to go out and get some lunch (including some of Bear Lake’s famous raspberry shakes). The whole time, we hoped the sun would come out. It eventually stopped raining at least, so Mikey, Claire, and I decided to bundle up as much as we could (we weren’t quite prepared for the cold weather), and venture out.

2_Venturing-Outside

4_Snowy-Mountains-Bear-Lake

It’s hard to tell whether it was spring or fall, huh?

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5_Bench-Bear-Lake

I could hear the ice crashing up against the rocks. It sounded like glass.

6_Ice-at-Bear-Lake

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8_Mikey-and-Claire

The next morning was much sunnier and brighter.

9_Sunny-Sunday

We had to check out of the condo by 10 a.m., but we went back to the lake to bask in the sun. Little did we realize that it was still so cold, but hey, sunny! We couldn’t really build sand castles, but we at least hunted for seashells. Very tiny ones.

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12_Little-Roo

13_Roo-Profile

We took a different route home, so we could travel through Logan Canyon (scenic byway). I kept seeing the lake in the rearview mirror looking so blue and perfect as we climbed the canyon road. I was relieved to find a scenic overlook near the summit, so we could pull over for a photo.

14_Bear-Lake-from-Mountain

I insisted that we stop off quickly at Utah State to pay some respects to my alma mater. I would have liked to see more of the campus, but no one else was that interested, so I settled for Old Main and tried to convince Claire to become an Aggie in the future. I don’t think she was completely on board, but I still have a few years to talk her into it.

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16_Future-Aggie

15_Utah-State-Old-Main

We stopped for lunch and then headed back to Salt Lake. It was a super short weekend getaway, but it was such a nice break from the norm. We got to spend lots of time together as a family (my mom, Matt & Izzy and the kids, and Mikey were all able to come), and wake up to a different view. And it was all for free (well, except for the food and stuff). Not too shabby.

Sunday Best

I always try to take advantage of the kids wearing their Sunday best for some cute photos when I go to visit. Of course, the clothes they’re wearing is the easy part. Getting them all to look at me at the same time is much more difficult.

1_Church-Bench

It’s much easier to get a good photo one-on-one.

2_Penny-Lane

Or… maybe just some funny ones.

3_Suave-Peter

Peter really wanted to wear the green shirt to church since it was the only green one that he had. I had to convince him that the plaid button-down I put on him had green in it (it didn’t really), but he changed back into his green one as soon as he got home.

4_Sweet-Peter

Lucy’s big, bright brown eyes just make me melt every time.

5_Lucy-Hero

Of course I love visiting and will jump at any opportunity, but I was really motivated to visit by seeing how big Molly had grown while we were skyping a month ago. I wanted to make sure I got some photos of her around 7 months (which is really one of the best ages, right?). She’s just so happy and sweet.

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The blue-eyed girls.

The blue-eyed girls.

p.s. It’s so fun to see Molly now wearing clothes that Penny once wore. I still remember this rainy day in New Orleans.

Family Time

Happy New Year! I know, I know… I’m almost a week late. I didn’t intend to keep away from the blog for so long, but I’ve been pretty busy with family and then I spent the last four days confined to my bed (except for an ill-fated day at work because I hate giving up PTO time to sickness). I finally have some strength for something other than being cuddled up in bed with a book, so I thought I’d just share some favorite photos from the past week or so with my family.

1_Tough-Penny

2_Funny-Faces

6_Lucy-Running

5_Mollipop

7_siblings

8_Sweet-Roo

9_Claire-Archery

10_Snowsuit-Molly

11_tea-party

Amanda really wanted me to take some family photos for her while they were in town, so we ventured out on a very cold New Year’s morning.

12_Winter-walk

Of course, we couldn’t take a family photo with coats on, but as soon as we took them off, the kids were not happy.

13_Behind-the-scenes

But they were troopers and we were able to get at least a few photos before we bundled them back up again.

14_Nicholas-Family

We spent the rest of the day at Matt and Izzy’s.

15_Miss-Molly

16_Playing-Kitchen

17_ukelele

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21_Mikey-and-Liam

22_Frowny-Liam

23_Matt-and-Liam

20_Peter-Michael

18_Penny-Lane

19_Lucy-Hero

I love to be surrounded by my loved ones at the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. It gets things started off right. Now let’s just hope that the rest of the year is much healthier.

Come on and grab your friends

My family is obsessed with Adventure Time. It’s a cartoon if you haven’t ever heard of it. Truth be told, I’ve only seen it a handful of times, but it’s pretty great, beginning with the catchy song. So they all decided to dress up as Adventure Time characters for Halloween. Mikey started the week off as Finn for his annual Halloween party.

Then Claire dressed up as one of her favorite characters – Marceline the Vampire Queen.

And she talked her best friend, Lucy, into dressing up as Princess Bubblegum.

Izzy prepared a spooky feast.

When Matt got home, they put on their costumes – Liam as a baby Finn (the human), Matt as Jake (the dog) and Izzy as… I dunno… one of the other princesses. There’s a ton of them.

I had my own party to attend — a candy casino. I cleaned up on roulette, so I think it might be time for a trip to Vegas. Or at least Wendover. Another Halloween gone. And now it’s birthday month!