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Our Love of National Parks

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Every Summer, we go on vacation. Six years ago, we started a journey of visiting National Parks and National Monuments. We went to Oregon and Washington, and visited the Oregon Caves. This was something my husband found and thought would be really amazing. My youngest was pretty little, and I had a hurt foot, so the girls and I stayed in the lodge while the boys explored the caves. We also visited the Hoh Rainforest (after visiting Forks, Washington for my first book).

After that, it seemed to ignite a spark in my husband. His family didn’t go on vacations at all, but before his grandfather died in 2006, he told Wayne to take his family on vacations – have adventures, make memories. So, we have. And for some reason or another, the National Parks were the way to go.

In 2009, he also took his best friend up to Zion for a hike in the Narrows for his bachelor outing. He loved it so much, he decided we should go. So, in 2010, we went to the Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Bryce Canyon.

My view from the North Ridge of the Grand Canyon.

My view from the North Ridge of the Grand Canyon.

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The girls in the Narrows, Zion National Park.

Kids looking out over Bryce through a "window" in the rock.

Kids looking out over Bryce through a “window” in the rock.

That was a great trip, and we saw some beautiful sights. National Parks so far:

Olympic National Park

Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon

The next year, we decided to see Yosemite, which my husband had NEVER seen. He also had great plans to see some caves and volcanic lava beds.

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The girls walking through a snow-covered Lassen National Park. It smelled like sulphur where the hot mud was bubbling up.

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So much snow in Lassen!

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King’s Canyon National Park.

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I think this is Sequoia.

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Yosemite

Yosemite

National Parks count- 8

Olympic National Park

Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon

Lassen

Sequoia

King’s Canyon

Yosemite

In 2012, we went to Santa Barbara instead of a big trip. It was a short, local vacation that we really needed. In 2013, we headed back to the Southwest, and visited White Sands monument, Carlsbad Caverns, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon again.

Inside Carlsbad Caverns

Inside Carlsbad Caverns

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Wayne in the Petrified Forest

North Rim Beauty

North Rim Beauty

National Park Count – 10

Olympic National Park

Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon

Lassen

Sequoia

King’s Canyon

Yosemite

Carlsbad Caverns

Petrified Forest

Last year, we only did one National Park – Crater Lake. But boy was it amazing!

There was snow on the ground AND it started snowing when we were there!

There was snow on the ground AND it started snowing when we were there!

National Park Count – 11.

Last week, we went to Death Valley for the kids’ Spring Break. My husband had actually booked us a room there when we went to Zion and Bryce back in 2010. While we were still in Utah, however, we checked the temperature and it was 120, so we decided to skip it that time.

In March, it did get a little hot, but not like THAT. And it was pretty.

Resting in Golden Canyon

Resting in Golden Canyon

Scotty's Castle

Scotty’s Castle

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Exploring Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon

Mesquite Dunes

Mesquite Dunes

This summer, we hope to see a few more. Perhaps a few in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

It’s so amazing to see the beauty of our country – the vast array of mountains, rivers, forests, and the amazing colors of each one. It really puts things in perspective and makes all your problems feel small in comparison to all the things to be thankful for.

What’s your favorite National Park?

Is There Such Thing As The Perfect House?

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When I was a kid, I had a Barbie. (Truth be told, I had several Barbies, Ken, and Skipper.) Barbie had a DREAM HOUSE. Ever since I was a child, I’d been hearing the term “dream house,” but never before did I feel like I SAW my own Dream House until last week. Watching your dream house slip through your fingers is a big giant bummer – I’ll tell you that right now!

I never thought about a perfect house before. I mean, honestly? What would that look like? My parents built their own house – plans drawn up by my father – and that was as close to a dream house of theirs as they could get. It was a big Tudor home on a hill – and because it had stones and our powder room was almost a small turret, we liked to call our house “the castle.” In the past, I think children usually have more than their parents do – but in my case, I don’t know that I will ever live in a house as big as what I grew up in.

A horribly embarrassing photo of me, but you can see the house in the background.

A horribly embarrassing photo of me, but you can see the house in the background.

When my husband and I got married, we rented an apartment for a few years, and didn’t buy our first house until we’d already had our first child and had been married for almost 4 years. It was a very small house – 2 bedrooms, 1 bath – but had a nice yard. For a first house, it was perfect. Until the toys started taking over the whole house. Until I got pregnant with our second child and we realized we were running out of room. So, just a few weeks after giving birth to our daughter, we put our house on the market. We learned quickly that to get a house bigger than we had, we had to pay a lot more money than we thought we would. The homes that our realtor showed us were some of the worst, scariest, weirdest houses I’ve ever seen. One smelled entirely like pee. It was depressing.

Me (and Sean) watering the plants at our first house.

Me (and Sean) watering the plants at our first house.

Then we found our house. It had fallen out of escrow. Twice. That’s how we managed to get this house. It needed some updates and some care, but it was almost twice as big.

Our current house, after we redid the siding and put new windows in the room on the corner.

Our current house, after we redid the siding and put new windows in the room on the corner.

We’ve lived here for 11 years. My husband has redone the family room, the living room, and my son’s room. We redid the backyard, ripped out the carpet, and had the hardwood floors refinished. We replaced windows and doors in several rooms. We redid the front yard. We redid the bathroom and laundry room.

What our front yard looks like now.

What our front yard looks like now.

Our "old" living room.

Our “old” living room.

Our "new" living room.

Our “new” living room.

Our house is great. We love our house. The backyard is nice. The living spaces are nice. Our second bathroom is beautiful. However, the girls share a room. Our kitchen is in DIRE need of an update. Our bedroom is small. Our first bathroom is awful.

We decided to try to add on to our house to get us a master suite, and give the girls their own room, update the kitchen, and gain an office. We had firmly decided this was the best way to go.

Until I saw this house.

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Well, sometimes it’s best to NOT know what you’re missing. It’s not perfect, but darn it’s close! And just out of reach. So, for now, we stay, and maybe move forward with those plans to expand.

Do you have a dream house? Do you live in your dream house? Is there really such thing as a perfect house?

 

 

Week In Pictures – 2/15 – 2/22

This week had a black tie, some sibling love, some sickness and tv marathons, some work, and a memorial for a pretty wonderful guy.

Every year, the husband attends some black tie events. I never get to go with him, but it's nice to see him all gussied up.

Every year, the husband attends some black tie events. I never get to go with him, but it’s nice to see him all gussied up.

They fight, but they also have a lot of really sweet moments. Ultimately, I know they love each other.

They fight, but they also have a lot of really sweet moments. Ultimately, I know they love each other.

A friend on facebook has been posting snippets from old cookbooks, which caused me to get out this book, which I got from my mother. It’s from 1963. The funniest part of it is the way they spell cookie. The first recipe in the book is called Chocolate Drop Cookies. I may have to try these this week.

I'm both curious and scared to make the cookies in this book.

I’m both curious and scared to make the cookies in this book.

My youngest (and I) were sick much of the week. That means we watched hours upon hours of The Brady Bunch.

There was a LOT of Brady Bunch this week.

Flyin’ down the highway in my makeshift model t a. Woo.

I worked on Thursday, even though M was still sick. So, the husband stayed home and took her to the doctor. They picked me up for lunch and, since I only had 45 minutes, we went to Subway.

The bottom suction of the cupholder stayed on my cup.

The bottom suction of the cupholder stayed on my cup. Whoops.

On Saturday, I went for a walk, before it got too cold and gloomy. My son asked if he could join me, and it was really lovely. We just talked and walked. It reminded me of when he was very little and used to run away from me when we tried to walk around the neighborhood. It’s hard for me to believe he’s headed to high school next year!

My walking buddy is much more agreeable than when he was a toddler. :)

My walking buddy is much more agreeable than when he was a toddler. :)

Saturday night, I went to a memorial concert/celebration of life for Joe Ramsey. Joe and Allison have been fantastic friends and Joe is terribly missed. Joe and Allison both are musicians. Joe was in several bands as a young man and was a mentor to a lot of local musicians. He was a genuinely great guy, and hundreds of people came together last night to celebrate his life with music.

What a 45-year-old wears to a rock show, apparently. I need to go shopping.

What a 45-year-old wears to a rock show, apparently. I need to go shopping.

Signs specially made to let us know where to go.

Signs specially made to let us know where to go.

The memorial was held at Santa Anita Racetrack.

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I love the look of this place.

I went with my friend Bernadette, and we hung out with friends Debbie and Dawn – who happen to be our kids’ preschool teachers. We had fun taking goofy pictures at the photo booth.

We rocked those hats.

We rocked those hats.

We also hung out with Tracey, who we haven’t seen in far too long!

l-r Tracey, David, me, Dawn, Bernie

l-r Tracey, David, me, Dawn, Bernie

We listened to the bands play while we talked and caught up. Reflected on life. Talked about Joe. Then we knew Allison was going to sing, so we headed up right next to the stage. (I’m glad we didn’t stay there the whole time – my ears were ringing something fierce.)

Allison, singing "You and I" with the Four Eyed Four.

Allison, singing “You and I” with the Four Eyed Four.

Then she sang one of Joe’s songs, called “Ash Capital.” It was lovely.

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Rest in Peace, Joe.

Rest in Peace, Joe.

There were some tears last night, but mostly it was a wonderful celebration of life, love, and music. Seeing that many people come together for Joe and Allison was something amazing. I am lucky for knowing the both of them. <3

 

 

 

Week In Pictures: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Week was busy, and yet I have few pictures to show for it. I worked 2 days last week, and got to see my daughter’s class project – a Mission. A collaborative effort between two 4th grade classes. I love it!

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I’m obsessive and anal about very few things in life. (Ask my husband and my mom.) But crayons are my downfall. Every kid should have ALL the crayons. And not broken. So I did this…

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and thisIMG_0670

I know. I know.IMG_0675

Wednesday it was the Father/Daughter dance for my littlest girl. He’s putting on her corsage.

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On Friday we had no school, so the kids and I watched old tv shows like “The Wonder Years” and I noticed they had the same stone in their living room as we do…IMG_0689

See the brick?!

See the brick?!

Friday consisted of Mommy resting, because she was sick, and the kids playing a lot outside.

 

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On Saturday, I chopped my hair off. I’ve been trying to grow it for so long, and I was finally done. Before.

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After. Notice the red nose from blowing.

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That afternoon was silks. I love watching this girl up in the air.IMG_0741

Valentine’s Day was a family date night.IMG_0754

Complete with Flamenco for entertainment.IMG_0759 IMG_0764

And flowers from my guy.IMG_0779

Today I spent almost 3 hours at an urgent care waiting to be seen, because I feel worse than I did before. Thankfully, I live someplace warm and sunny, and I could wait outside instead of with all the sick people.IMG_0790

And while I was gone, my dad played b-ball with the kiddos and my mom cleaned my kitchen and did laundry. I’m a lucky woman!IMG_0798 IMG_0800

 

How was your week?

 

Two Steps Forward

Yesterday two things happened that will hopefully help me on my way to better health and maybe even, eventually, a better outlook and a better life.

1. I joined Weight Watchers (again).

2. I got my essential oils in the mail.

I’ve joined and re-joined Weight Watchers in the past. I’ve done Sparkpeople. I’ve gone to the gym, walked the neighborhood, tried jogging, did workout videos, and even tried a supplement program for a month. Sometimes I’ve been successful. Sometimes, I haven’t been. This time, I have to change the way I look at food, the way I look at exercise, the way I deal with stress, and how I stay healthy in the midst of all of life’s stresses and curve balls. As I’ve posted before, I need to get my own health in order before I can be super-effective in everything else I do.

So, yesterday I went down to the local WW meeting and bit the bullet. I FEEL different this time. I feel like I’m more serious this time. Let’s hope it sticks!!

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The essential oils… A few weeks ago, I saw a friend of mine posted a photo of oils and said they were helping with her thyroid issues. We chatted for a bit and she gave me some great information. I wasn’t ready to spend a big chunk of money on oils, so I went to our local Whole Foods and bought what they had. I don’t know that I noticed a big difference, but after awhile, my neck got a rash. Probably because they weren’t pure.

Last week, I was invited by another friend to find out more information about oils. I ended up diving in and buying a starter kit with several oils and a diffuser. As someone who not only has thyroid issues but also allergies, headaches, and works in an environment full of germy  kids, I figured this might be a good option for me (us).

 

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I currently have the diffuser going with something called “Thieves” in it, because my nose is feeling yucky.

IMG_0555So, here’s to health! I really can’t wait to start feeling better, and taking charge of my own health. I’ve seen so many doctors and still have headaches. I really hope this can help in some way. I can’t keep taking pain meds every day.

Salut!

~Genevieve

 

**How do you take care of yourself? I’d love to hear!

 

Sick Kids and TV Marathons

Today I’m home with a sick kid. Yesterday I was home with a different sick kid. Last week I was home two days with yet a different sick kid. Having a sick kid is no fun. I feel terrible for the kid and just want them to feel better. At the same time, I worry about missed assignments and how long they’ll be out.

However, there are a few nice things about staying in with a sick child at home.

First, you have permission to sit on the couch and just hang out. Sometimes, when they’re younger, they’ll let you snuggle them. When they’re older, there’s usually a tv marathon of some kind. My oldest (and only son) was home last week and we had an “Arrow” marathon. It’s a darker show than “The Flash” – another superhero show that all my kids watch – so it’s become “our show” that we watch just the two of us.

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Yesterday, my middle child played video games and watched several episodes of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” (yes, you read that right).

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Today, my youngest will most likely choose a movie or some old tv series.

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Last year, when my middle child broke both of her wrists, I introduced her to “Once Upon A Time” – and soon the other kids wanted to watch it, too. Now they’re all fans. :)

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I have to say, when I was a kid and stayed home sick, I didn’t have an arsenal of old and new shows, movies, and video games. We had no Hulu or Netflix. TV series weren’t on VHS (or Betamax). We watched what was on tv, or we read, or were bored. Kids today don’t have the opportunity to be bored. There’s too much to keep them busy.

It might stink to feel bad and miss seeing your friends at school, but having a sick day is not a bad gig in 2015.

 

 

 

Week In Pictures – 1/11 – 1/18/2015

Week In Pictures – 1/11 – 1/18/2015

I used to do a “Week in Pictures” on a regular basis, but I’ve let it lapse. Partly because I just don’t have the time to sit down and write it. Sometimes because I don’t think anyone finds them that interesting. This past week was a good week. I did a little teaching. We celebrated my husband’s birthday. And we went and saw a pirate show. :)

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We had 2 kids with 2 science fair projects due on the same day.IMG_0132

We got homemade gifts from Cousin Stacie.IMG_0133

I found a treasure trove of old photos of me, including the one above. :)IMG_0181

I got my annual eye exam and my vision warrants new glasses. Picking out new frames is torture for me. I hate it so much. These are two that I did NOT pick.IMG_0171

My husband had a birthday, and here are a few of his gifts.IMG_0192 IMG_0200

My daughter made him a pie for his birthday. I tried to put candles in it, but it was too warm and melted them. :(IMG_0210 IMG_0211

So, we gave him a big ole candle to blow out instead.IMG_0217

Saturday we visited our local farmer’s market, which we hadn’t been to in far too long.IMG_0231

And my middle one had her weekly silks class, in which I imagine taking the class myself, but never do.IMG_0237 IMG_0266

And we went to a Pirate show in Buena Park. I was actually not looking forward to it, but made reservations because my husband has been wanting to go. I really liked it and had a lot of fun! It’s smaller than Medieval Times, and there’s no questionable mistreatment of animals to make me uncomfortable. Just singing, stunts, swashbuckling, and even… silks!IMG_0274

The “gypsy” did several silks routines, including some tandem with one of the pirates.IMG_0292 IMG_0306

If you’re near Orange county, I recommend it, but either get your tickets NOW or at Costco. Now they’re selling specially priced tickets, and Costco has almost a 2-for-one deal. And you need reservations. Pirate Dinner Adventure.

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