Johnny Turns 4

On the morning of Johnny’s 4th Birthday, Alli (our nanny for the last 6 1/2 years) said “Johnny, your zest for life is contagious”.  There couldn’t be a more true statement about our sweet Johnny boy.  

In Johnny’s world, everyday is “the best day ever” and every meal is “the best ever”.  He doesn’t go more than an hour without telling one of us how much he loves us.  Johnny is always the first to say thank you and express his genuine feelings of gratitude.  He is truly aware of others’ feelings and wants to make sure we’re happy, especially Charlotte, who is still his running favorite.  To him, everything is better when Charlotte’s around.  

Johnny’s favorite activity is hunting for grasshoppers, salamanders, voles, snakes, or worms.  He’s pretty dang good at it and is constantly urging me to hold one of his critters.  He gets a kick out of my facial expression as I say no thank you and proceed to tell him how brave he is.  He then will usually put a hand on his hip and show me his game face which is the cutest thing ever – a slight pucker to his lips while keeping a stoic disposition.  I die over and over.

This summer Johnny was put to the challenge of riding his pedal bike (without training wheels).  Within a couple of days and with some guidance from Charlotte, he was pedaling like a champ.  Again, when he stops to hear the praise and adoration from us, he puts his hands on his hips and gives us his best game face.  He’s like a magnet for goodness and love.  Even Prissy feels it as she’s always the last one to leave his room at night.

Johnny started soccer at the end of summer and loves his first team sport.  After every goal he scores, he pauses to put his hands on his hips and give us his game face.  We’ve had to work through not getting upset when other kids make a goal, but he was quick to learn and happy to support his team.  

At school, Johnny is eager to learn and has started to write his name and work on math. He has a natural confidence with almost everything he does which makes it hard to correct him or suggest to put the letters in order.  He can count to 28 proudly but usually skips 13 and 14.  I can’t stand how adorable this is.  

In general, everyday with Johnny is like the best day ever for me too.  He makes life easier and brings so much joy to our family.  We’re grateful for this contagiously happy little boy.  When I grow up, I want to be Johnny.  Happy 4th birthday, sweet little man:)

Below are pictures from Johnny’s birthday party – Star Wars theme chosen by him.

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Summer 2018

Johnny has a shirt that says “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”.  Not sure there’s a better way to sum up our summer.  We opted out of any travel (besides camping) and soaked in every sunny day at Mellor Ranch.

It began with endless worm hunting instigated by Johnny.  I can’t tell you the amount of hours this kid has spent looking for worms, bugs, grasshoppers, fuzzies, etc.  By the time preschool started, he was lead zoologist for the first couple of weeks as he personally collected crickets to feed the class pet, Sprinkles, a spotted gecko.

Johnny’s worm skills also came in handy when we planted our garden.  Oh the garden… We gave that garden plenty of love and attention all summer.  We were successful with carrots, peas, and way too many greens.  Our tomatoes froze … two different batches. Right before harvesting the strawberries, we had a visit from the local wildlife and overnight they were gone.  We think it was the deer which makes us feel better about not biting into a fresh, homegrown strawberry.  There’s always room for garden improvement next year.

Onto the annual hay cutting holiday our family has created.  As usual, it was enjoyed thoroughly by all.  To sow, harvest, and reap is deeply rooted in our blood and I think our kids are starting to get it too.  The very dry winter, spring, and even summer made for 50% fewer bales than last year but they were happily given away to a neighbor friend with some hungry cows.

The next memorable moment of summer would have to be our camping trip to Ferron.  We drove four hours to a very special place in the mountains above Manti where my family has gone camping for almost 40 years and where John’s dad once roamed as a sheep herder.  It’s a family reunion with plenty of cousins, dirt, fishing, bonfires, squirrels, 4-wheelers, and time away from WiFi.  We — four humans and one dog — snuggled together in one tent for two nights and I’m still giggling about those special bonding moments.  Our kids enjoyed this as much as any trip to Mexico or Europe which makes the hard work worth it and satiates the craving of connecting with our roots.

Another memory seen below is a group of photos from all of our dinners spent outside.  Thanks, John, for capturing this one.  We ate outside almost every night and enjoyed hours of conversation until sundown.  We loved hosting friends and family AND opening that second bottle of wine many times.  Ahh… we will live for those summer nights all winter long.

Things to remember:  Johnny riding his bike at 3 years old, Charlotte’s awesome summer camps at Swaner, biking, and theater, the dinner bell, landscaping, summer concerts (Amos Lee), mud, our squad, bees, lemonade stand, Charlotte and Johnny’s hideout, taking a lap, hiking to the bench, Star Wars, crickets, mud pies in the creek, Tino weekends, magpie hunting.

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Ferron

Summer Dinners

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam was a pure delight… seven beautiful days together as a family and enjoyed every minute.  There was so much to do, eat, and see.  It’s hard to summarize or even pick our highlights, but I will do my best.

It started with our wonderful hotel, the Pulitzer.  They arranged an adorable family suite where the kids had a special room and personalized pillowcases.  One of our favorite experiences was a canal ride on Pulitzer’s salon boat from 1909.  The most charming captain gave us a tour of the city while we enjoyed lunch and drinks on this iconic boat.  It was a great way for all of us to get a little history lesson and soak in the city.

Another highlight of the trip was definitely the bikes.  We rented two bikes for several days and pedaled around the city like locals.  The kids got to ride in a cart on the front of John’s bike and I was the official navigator staring at Google maps as we tried to not run into a car or a canal.  It was so fun to hear the kids singing songs and laughing behind me, but poor John had double the work load.  We hopped around town to several different parks, the zoo, restaurants, and even ventured out of town on the last day.  John was definitely ready to turn in those bikes after we made it all the way back to the bike shop, up hill and without a paddle.

A day I want to remember is when we biked to the “I amsterdam” sign.  It was a hot and sunny day.  We got a wild family selfie seen below.  We also tried to see the Van Gogh Museum but the wait time exceeded our kids’ attention span.  I took a picture of Charlotte and Johnny out front so they could tell their teachers they made it to the Van Gogh Museum 🙂  I also recorded them on the “I amsterdam” sign saying our traditional Europe line of “Charlotte and Johnny in [said city]”.  This one was extra funny as Johnny continued to call it “Hamsterdam”.  I still laugh every time; a moment I want frozen forever.

Now onto the tulips… we were lucky enough to catch the tulips a few days before the season ended.  We went to Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world, and it was spectacular with tulips as far as the eye could see.  When our kids maxed out on tulips, there was plenty to do with playgrounds, ponds, ice cream cones, etc.  We can now take ‘tulips in Holland’ off our bucket list.

One evening on our way to dinner we decided to walk by the Anne Frank House.  Charlotte had just turned 6 when we took this trip so we tried to keep this part of history age-appropriate.  We took her picture in front of the Anne Frank statue where flowers are laid everyday.  It was a heavy reminder for all of us to realize what bad people can do and to always stand up for what is right.  I think Charlotte got it and can hopefully reflect on Anne Frank’s example throughout her life.

On a much lighter note was our day spent at Efteling.  This place was like a Dutch version of DisneyLand (actually DisneyLand is an American version of Etfeling) minus the obvious brands and crowds.  It was enchanting with a creepy twist that felt like the setting of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.  There were thrilling rides and great food.  Charlotte and Johnny loved it!  I have a feeling we will be back someday when they are tall enough for the big rollercoasters.

To sum up, I already want to go back.  Amsterdam provided everything from a cultural standpoint to perfect weather and an abundance of family bonding throughout.  We will always have fond memories of this trip.   

Things to remember:  Charlotte sleeping until 11 am the first day, playing Star Wars in the garden, Captain Ohno, breakfast with over-easy eggs, Moana neckless, endless cappuccinos, dinner at L’Invite on the canal, the bike shop, church bells ringing, a new child monitor app, iPads at dinner, dinner at Aggassi, girl hit on a bike, van ride to Efteling while playing hang man, dinner at Venus & Adonis, Johnny falling asleep on my lap at every dinner, girl dressed in bread for the birds in Dam Square, finding a souvenir, our family together on an island in Amsterdam… be still my heart.

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Punta Mita – Spring Break 2018

We followed our heart and took a last minute trip to our favorite spot for spring break.  It was a quick trip but we sufficiently warmed up our bodies and souls!  From the long walks on the beach to a family surf session with lots of delicious food and pool time in between, our family was in Mexico heaven.  This place fills us up with a special kind of magic that makes us love deeper, believe in mermaids, and feel pretty damn lucky to be alive.  Cheers to Punta Mita and all of the memories our family has created in this special place.

Things to remember:  Johnny surfing for the first time, massages at the W, Charlotte running into a friend from school, the surfers below, Johnny saying “oh yeah”, the chef’s margaritas, the hammock, Yolanda and Evelyn, Johnny’s rollover.

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Charlotte Turns 6

Charlotte Turns 6

Charlotte turns 6… she’s cool, confident, assertive but still my baby girl.  How did we get here?

I’m proud to call Charlotte my own.  She knows what she wants and she’s going to get it. A few months ago I noticed it was International Women’s Day on Instagram.  I thought about Charlotte all day and tried to decide what I would say to my girl.  When it came down to it, I said, she has the eye; she has the eye of the tiger, the eye of a girl in charge, the eye of someone who knows what she wants, the eye of new thinking, the eye of the beholder…

To my Charlotte, I would like to say thank you; thank you for owning you and letting me be your mama.  I stand amazed at your fortitude and determination.  You are a leader and I hope to follow.  Your intensity for life is contagious and I’m lucky to be around it.  Every year of being your mama has made me stronger and grow in ways I never knew existed.  Keep it up, girl!  I’m ready for more.

A little bit more about Charlotte’s current year:  She loved her first year of kindergarten at Parley’s Park Elementary, enjoys theater class, started piano, shreds on the mountain, does legos like it’s 1999, started ice skating, is the best big sister, talks like a 16-year-old, and is always winning.  Happy 6th birthday, baby girl.

Below are pictures from Charlotte’s Fiesta – again, she chose the theme (inspired by chihuahuas and the movie Coco).  It happened to snow the morning of her party, but it didn’t stop some awesome climbing and fiesta-ing.

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San Diego

San Diego was a quick break from the deep winter in Park City.  The school district gives us a week off in February to ski; we opted to get out of town for some sunshine.  San Diego provided plenty to do with much warmer temperatures.  Legoland was at the top of our list and as it turns out, theme parks are not our thing.  Long lines and crowds make us all a little tense.  We ended up at the beach by evening where we were “free and in the wild” as Wild Kratts would say.  Our next stop was the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where we had an up-close encounter with tigers – a dream come true for Johnny.  We were all amazed by their exotic presence.  Finally, the seals were calling for us in La Jolla Cove – just seals and sea lions being stinky and barking at the sun.  Our kids loved every minute.  San Diego is checked off the list… for now.   I’m sure we will be back to discover more.

Things to remember:  Charlotte and Johnny sleeping in the same bed and Johnny’s cough, the best truffle fries ever, long Uber rides, watching the Olympics at dinner, Four Seasons Aviara, watching Coco together, and ice cream scooper sand toys.

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