After a few days of camping we headed to Salt Lake for the rest of the week. Nothing makes you appreciate a hotel quite like camping for a few days first. We got into town & then headed over to see family & celebrate the 4th. Tyler's family is so close with all of their extended family & it's always a highlight for the kids to get to play with their second cousins. They came running out of the house as soon as we pulled up & somehow always start back up where they left off the last visit. Utah summers are the best!

Noah is the token "baby" of the group & I don't think he walked most of the night - all the kids wanted to hold him & carry him around. Good thing that kids loves to be babied. 

After a lot of coaxing we finally got Ruby to hold a sparkler. This was a big deal for her & in true Ruby fashion she started out pretty timid & after a few minutes was twirling & dancing around with it saying, "I love sparklers!"

Far Far & Mor Mor

Ruby loves getting to water Mor Mor's flowers

Temple Square with some of our favorites!

Zion National Park

We've been planning to go back to Zion National Park since our quick trip there last year. Ruby hasn't stopped talking about hiking The Narrows since the last time & so we planned a stop there before heading into Salt Lake. I love this place so much & it kind of feels like our family's "place" now. We all just love it so much & can never get over how incredibly beautiful it is there. There's red rock, water to play in, & an ice cream stop every day - so we're pretty much covered. Except for showers...I would've really loved a shower. 
Ruby was so excited to be back

Noah was in heaven with all the dirt & sticks he could find. 

Right before we hiked the Emerald Pools

Playing in the river. Noah was so scared of the water last year so it was fun to see him hop right in & play in it this year. At one point he just jumped right in & started swimming with his hat on. 

At the lower pool

Just past the middle pool. I can never get enough of that red rock!

We made it to the upper pool! I'm always so proud of these kids for being such good hikers. This was such a great family hike & the 3 different pools were great pay-offs along the way. The kids had so much fun playing in the upper pool before we headed back down. We later found out no one is supposed to get in the water...which would explain why our kids were the only ones splashing in it...oops. But they sure had a great time.

Hiking The Narrows! Ruby was amazing on this hike. She kept saying, "I'm not giving up!" I think she hiked about a total of 4 miles all by herself & most of it through water that sometimes was above her waist. We got so much farther than we did last year which was fun. 

I couldn't have been prouder of this little boy! He was so scared last year of this hike & we had to hold him the whole time, but this year he was determined to do it by himself. He hiked through all the rocks & water like a champ & was loving every minute of it. He kept saying things like, "I'm so strong" & "I'm tough". I love the confidence this kind of stuff gives kids. I feel like it's so good for them!

Noah was so exhausted by the end of our hike in that he slept in the carrier on my back the whole hike back. There's something so satisfying about being exhausted by the end of a day spent hiking & playing in nature. Camping at Zion was definitely a highlight from our trip. It's always good for the soul to spend time outdoors recharging & focusing on simplicity.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread. Places to play in & pray in. Where nature may heal & give strength to body & soul alike." 
-John Muir


After some technical difficulties I'm back to blogging...so now I have some catching up to do. Easter has come & gone but I wanted to put these pictures up so that we can remember it. It's official, Easter is my favorite holiday. I never thought I'd say that about anything other than Christmas but it's true, I love Easter. It's peaceful & low key & so focused on hope & Christ, I just love it. I've started a tradition where the kids have to wear their bunny ears they've had for several years for the egg hunt - they think this is so fun, but I'm mostly looking forward to watching teenagers hunting for Easter eggs in bunny ears some day. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. 

These two were so excited about their sunglasses this year. 

Gotcha Day

We celebrated Gotcha Day last week & this has become one of my favorite traditions that we've started. I love having a day where we celebrate being sealed to our family & we talk to the kids about those special days & all of the things that happened. This year at bedtime I read Ruby & Noah the journal entries I wrote about that day & I'm so glad I have that because I want to be able to remember all the little details & share it with them. As I did, a flood of so many good memories came back to me & I'm reminded all over again what a blessing it is to have these two in our lives. The kids anticipate this day & I can tell they feel special as we celebrate them & their adoptions.

This year for their gift I got them a little craft kit that had various science experiments in them. They're super interested in volcanoes lately so that was definitely their favorite one.

This year we went to the Mesa Temple where we were sealed to Ruby. The kids call the temples they were sealed in "my temple" & I love that. The Mesa Temple grounds in March just can't be beat. It smells incredible with all the flowers everywhere & the kids loved running around & exploring. We spent the evening in downtown Mesa at our favorite Mexican food restaurant & then got dessert on the way home. This day fills me up with gratitude & always has a way of reminding me that it really is a wonderful life.


We've been planning a trip to Disneyland for a while now & the kids have been so excited to go. We stopped off first at Newport Beach & the kids were in heaven - Noah running & jumping in the sand, & Ruby collecting as many seashells as she could hold & looking for mermaids. This was the first time both of them really loved the beach & seemed to embrace the sand so it was so much fun. We spent a few hours playing & exploring before driving to our hotel. I love to take our kids on vacation anywhere because they think staying in a hotel is the funnest thing. I remember feeling the same way as a kid, &  I love getting to experience it again through their eyes. The hotel didn't have a bathtub, so they took their first shower & they were laughing & screaming & loving every minute of it. I seriously think we could've just booked a hotel with a shower & they would've thought it was the best trip ever.

Noah got a hold of my camera for this one.  
 The much anticipated castle! They didn't really get what Disneyland was, but they knew there was a castle & knew they wanted to go in it.
Ruby loved the teacups. And because I'm a team player, I went on them with her.  
I can't even look at this picture without laughing! Tyler got fast passes for Splash Mountain & had the idea to not tell Ruby what it was but just take her on it & hopefully she would love it. As soon as we got in line she asked what the name of the ride was. When I told her Splash Mountain she said, "Why is this called Splash Mountain? I don't want to get wet!" I tried to change the subject & as soon as it was our turn, we just put her in the log before she could protest too much. After the first dip Ruby was screaming at the top of her lungs saying that she wanted to get off. I don't know why, but I could not stop laughing the entire time. She was terrified & hated every minute & that final dip just about did her in. But the first thing she told her preschool class when we got back home was, "I went on Splash Mountain!" Pretty sure it'll be a long time before we ever get her on it again but she's pretty proud of herself.
California Adventure! Poor Noah was sick on this trip but was such a good sport. Tyler ended up taking him back to the hotel early on our first day at Disney, but thankfully day two he was feeling a little better. He was most excited to see all the Star Wars stuff & got a light saber & is obsessed with it.

The kids were so excited to have lunch with the princesses at Ariel's Grotto. The kids got to meet & talk with the princesses & it was pretty awesome. Noah was really into hugging them & then we would sometimes have to remind him to let go...heaven help me!!

Tyler's parents came with us which was so much fun!  
 I'd never been to Disneyland before & I kind of thought it would be totally overrated, but I actually loved it so much. The kids were so in awe of everything & it was so fun watching them enjoy it all. Ruby kept saying things like, "This is amazing!" &, "I can't believe my eyes!" It was pretty magical. On the drive home Noah said, "Thanks for taking us on that fun vacation. This was the best trip ever!" And that alone made it all so worth it.