Christmas in Playa del Carmen 2019

The Christmas holiday seems to get better and better as the kids get older.  I’m sure that will change at some point, but for now we love to sneak away and spend a week with our little crew where we all have plenty of activities we love.  Our favorite part is how we open a few small presents on Christmas morning and by 9:00 am they’re all forgotten and we’re on the beach.
This year was about building sand creatures, jumping off paddle boards, snorkeling, shell hunting, and pretty much anything else you can do in an ocean.
We visited Tulum to take in a little history and culture.  Charlotte was intrigued.  Johnny spotted every iguana.
My personal highlight of the trip was our catamaran trip.  We got lucky with the weather and upgrade on our boat due to mechanical issues.  It was a beautiful day on the crystal clear water as we sailed with our music jamming.  When we anchored, we snorkeled to see all of the bright happy fish and even found a few starfishes.  It was calm and so beautiful.  To top it off, the kids decided to jump off the boat into the perfect ocean like it was a swimming pool.  John and I followed suit.  Video below.  Dreamy times.
Thank you, Santa, for another amazing Christmas in paradise!  I’ll keep hiding our Park City address from you for now.  Xoxo

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Kauai 2019

Kauai 2019

We had the wonderful opportunity to go to Kauai in October for John’s niece’s wedding.  Hawaii + family = bliss.

Most days we woke up before the sun to hunt for shells and critters in the tide pools, sometimes in our pajamas.  As we made sand castles, we watched the clock, waiting for Starbucks to open.  We eventually forgot about time and soaked in every juicy moment.  There were crabs, sea cucumbers, geckos, fish, a giant toad, and breaks for shaved ice to top it all off.  Our back flips and diving skills were perfected and the whole family even went down the water slide.

One of our favorite days was an incredible hike up to Secret Falls with Uncle Roy, Aunt Patrice, and cousins Timothy and Jesse.  It started with a kayak trip down the river and then hiking for miles through mud … literally.  We finally arrived at the Secret Falls (which it turns out aren’t so secret) where we took a dip to clean off and enjoyed a picnic lunch.  It was a messy, magical day!

Of course the icing on the cake, was the wedding.  Emily and Jordan chose a special spot in the woods of Kauai where they had a lovely ceremony and were pronounced husband and wife.  Afterward, we all spent the evening at a beautiful dinner where Charlotte and Johnny got to act like grown ups (with their own coloring books) to celebrate the newlyweds.  We were amazed to see so much love.  It will forever be engrained in our memory.  We were grateful to witness such a special event.

Congratulations to the newlyweds and thank you, Hawaii, for all of your beauty!

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Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek has become that little place we can call a home away from home.  It’s only an hour away but far enough that we have to pack a bag and never see humans.  Maybe that’s it.  Words only fall short from here… it’s quaint, removed, majestic, the quiet place in your head, a little bit of work, the journey, our place.  We catch lizards, sleep in a yurt, fish in the daytime, ride four-wheelers, get really dirty, skinny dip in the pond, cook hot-dogs over the fire, constantly try to perfect our marshmallow roasting, look for new constellations, and wake-up happy.

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Summer 2019

Summer… we love you, long for you, and wish you never left.  I suppose that is part of your appeal.  So here you go, a collection of pictures to possibly keep you close to our hearts all winter long.  Come back soon:)

Things to remember:  John taking the whole summer off of work.  Daddy was elevated to sainthood in the eyes of Charlotte and Johnny (and myself).  I hope we never forget this blessed time in life.  We went to Italy and Paris and spent amazing moments in Wolf Creek, but our souls need to remember life with daddy all day at home on the ranch.  Johnny never came inside, critters and reptiles were caught, four-wheelers became normal, wranglers made sense all day, sunsets were discussions of color, fireflies were put in jars, the creek was the newest member of the family, a baby raccoon was fostered, baby bunnies were rescued from Ginger, and then somehow days turned into weeks.  Our family existed at a new level of wholesomeness and simplicity.  No turning back now.

Oh and the summer dinners every night outside should also be remembered (seen below).

Summer 2019:

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The first part of summer was spent at a family reunion for John’s family at Rockin’ R Ranch in Southern Utah.  Pictures below:IMG_1228IMG_0317IMG_1231IMG_0273IMG_0294IMG_1229 3

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Summer Dinners:

Rome, Sorrento, Paris

John took a few months off this summer and we got to plan a dreamy trip to Europe.  It started with Rome; three days and possibly a lifetime of history for Charlotte and Johnny.  The Colosseum and the Vatican blew our minds and helped us cure our jet lag.  The Trevi Fountain accepted our wishes with a coin toss, especially Johnny’s as he snuck a coin to take home.  The Spanish Steps made us feel like we were in the hub of all things Europe – alive and vibrant with street performers and vendors.  Charlotte and I loved window shopping and chatting about the fancy displays.  By the the end of every day, we were ready to wind down at a quiet restaurant and enjoy a long Italian meal.  We celebrated our ninth anniversary here where we walked to a lovely restaurant and spent the evening with Charlotte and Johnny enjoying life, love, and culture.  Our cup runneth over with gratitude, especially to have these moments together as a family.

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We then headed south to Sorrento – a place we had only ever seen in pictures.  It’s hard to put it into words, but it’s like the perfect “Mexico meets Europe”.  The ocean, the culture, the food, the doing nothing.  Our hotel, Grand Hotel Ambasciatori, was magical.  The day started with an amazing breakfast overlooking the ocean and Mount Vesuvius, then a quick change into our swimsuits and down the elevator to the ocean.  Instantly the kids disappeared into their own world exploring the rocks and swimming in the calm water.  John and I could actually relax on a lounge chair observing them from afar.  When it got hot, we took dips in the ocean and swam around in what felt like a giant swimming pool.  The evenings were filled with amazing meals and sunsets that took our breath away.  It was bliss.

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We did a day at Capri and the sites were amazing.  There was also a day at Pompeii.  The kids soaked in the history in kid-doses and Charlotte impressed us with the depth of her questions.  Johnny (still only 4) was mostly into his Italian Fanta and finding rocks. 

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And then there was Paris…

It was a short stop but the best way to end.  We spent half a day at the Louvre for Charlotte.  Johnny maxed out after two hours.  Mama and Johnny played in the fountains while daddy and Charlotte took in more.  What an experience to see our sweet 7-year-old Charlotte wanting more art and history.  Afterward, we stumbled upon a fair at the Tuileries with rides and lollipops and all the things.  Paris never disappoints.  Our last dinner in Europe was spent at a perfect Parisian bistro where we commemorated this incredible journey as a family, and the kids ate snails 😉

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Spring Break in Punta Mita 2019

We snuck away from the endless winter in Park City to get warm in Punta Mita.  The days were filled with beach, pool, snacks then repeat.  Johnny couldn’t get enough exploring for sea shells, rocks, and crabs.  Charlotte was in her mermaid element and also enjoyed collecting anything shiny on the beach.  She even set up shop at one point selling or trading her collections.  John and the kids created a new pool game called “Stinky Gorilla” where the kids would attack John and he would throw them across the pool.  I think John looked at it as a way to get some exercise, and the kids just thought it was fun!  I watched from afar and had several moments of a new found freedom with these adventurous, independent kids.

One highlight to remember was our family surf session.  All of us went out to catch a few small waves with surf guides.  John, Charlotte, and I stood up several times.  Johnny still might be a little young to stand up, but at least he got out on a board.  He ended up exploring the beach and was ecstatic to find a live sea urchin.

We were also thrilled to have some friends in Punta Mita at the same time.  One of Johnny’s best friends, Jane, and her family came to visit along with another fun Park City family.  The adults were able to steal away one evening to have a lovely dinner at our favorite spot, Sufi, while the kids stayed home to play.

Punta Mita continues to steal our hearts.  It is truly our happy place where we can completely relax.  There must be something in the air or the margaritas that keeps us coming back.

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Charlotte Turns 7

Charlotte… she’s like the sun, moon, and stars all at the same time.

She enters a room and fills it with light.  At times, I need to find shade but I’m always inspired by her confidence which allows her to see every new experience as an exciting conquest.  To her, this is Charlotte’s world and we’re all lucky to be in it.  She’s inquisitive, smart, creative, outgoing and seems to have endless energy.

When the night comes, Charlotte calms me with her wisdom.  Her favorite book right now is 100 Most Influential People and she asks daddy to read it to her every night.  Her questions are always from a place much older than 7.  Afterward, she asks for snuggles from mama so we can have some girl talk.  She likes to chat about her friends and how to handle recess situations.  For instance, she started a “Girls’ Club” this spring and was insistent on the rules and being chief.  She listens and tries, but ultimately her inner drive takes over which sometimes just doesn’t fit inside a 7-year-old body.

Charlotte fills her days with school and many after-school activities.  She just completed her first year of dual immersion.  She loves Spanish and is always up for more with daddy at dinner or teaching Johnny and I in the car!  She also enjoys ice-skating, skiing, gymnastics, theater, swimming, and (sometimes) piano.  At home, she loves legos, barbies, crafts, making potions, our undivided attention, and playing with Johnny.

Dear Charlotte, I love you beyond measure.  Happy 7th birthday.  Thank you for teaching me and letting me witness you take on the world.   I’m honored to be your mother.

Below are pictures from her actual birthday on April 3rd when we still had two feet of snow outside and then her birthday party in May when we invited all of her friends over for a Harry Potter themed party with a climbing wall.

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Disney Cruise

For winter break we decided to try a Disney cruise through the Caribbean.  Our main motivation was to let Johnny experience some Disney magic since he was too young to remember our first and only trip to Disneyland.  The cruise was Marvel Day At Sea which meant superheroes were everywhere.  Of course, Charlotte was able to get in on the magic when she met and twirled with the princesses.

Our first stop was the island of Cozumel where we were able to kiss, hold, and swim with stingrays.  Afterward we found a beach with a giant floating Wibit out in the ocean.  All four of us played on this thing for hours laughing each time one of us slipped off – probably my favorite moment of the cruise.

The days at sea were filled with lots of people and then even more people.  The kids didn’t mind as movies were blasting from the giant screen.  They also they visited kids club a few times where they made slime, had superhero training, and even became official Marvel Agents.

The evenings on the cruise were quite a delight.  We enjoyed dinner in a different themed dining room each night and also went to the live theater where we saw Cinderella and Tangled.  The kids were in awe and a little Disney magic was felt by all of us.

The last stop was at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.  We loved having a day with a little less people as we played in the sand and swam in the calm ocean.  Charlotte played alone for hours making us pretend-stew with sand and leaves.  Johnny spent a lot of time underwater looking for seashells.  John and I were happy to have some reprieve from the ship.

Would we do it again, no.  Did Charlotte and Johnny think it was an amazing experience, yes.  And that, I guess, is what parents do.

Things to remember:  a night in Miami, Johnny meeting all of his favorite superheroes, popcorn at the movies and live theater, the stair climbs, dinner with the Tangled cast, passing Cuba, standing in line to meet princesses, ice cream machine, loud movies at the pool, lots of people, fireworks, pirate night, Johnny and Charlotte dressed up as Captain America and American Dream, bubble baths, our waiter and waitress, mama’s anxiety, missing our connecting flight in Atlanta (maybe we shouldn’t remember that one), Disney magic felt by all of us.

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Below are pictures from the stingray experience:

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Christmas Card 2018

We love the annual tradition of exchanging Christmas cards with family and friends.  We like to choose a different theme in hopes of capturing the overall sentiment of that year.  2018 had a magical, Adobe Photoshop twist to it.  Little did we know it would be John’s last year at Adobe so the theme turned out to be even more momentous than expected.

We really do think Charlotte and Johnny hung the moon and stars… and are even there to catch them when they fall.  Thanks to Phillip at Manicproject and Adobe Photoshop, we were able to bring our vision to life (or at least to a 5 x 7 Christmas card).

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