Category Archive:Hiking

Camping at Tony Grove

Your #1 Fan post on February 20th, 2017
Posted in Camping, Cousins, Family, Hiking, Sunshine, Swimming

My older sister and I decided to take our kids on an overnight camping trip. I was feeling great and ready to get out and LIVE. Having cancer and being out of commission for 6 weeks sure makes you motivated to get out and feel alive. I love camping. I love just sitting and soaking up God’s beautiful earth. It was healing. Anytime Novalie can hang out with her cousins, she is a happy girl. We went to Tony Grove, which I camped at with my Grandma and Grandpa when I was a kid and Kevin and I camped there once in our early years. It felt familiar and I was happy to make new memories there. We went to the lake, played games, walked the campsite, ate yummy food and treats.

Novalie loves camping and the outdoors just as much as I do. We feel at home.

Started out being careful on rocks…

To being drenched. 

So happy to be in the sunshine in the mountains.


The morning after. I did not sleep. Maybe 30 mins total in 5 minute increments here and there. I was convinced that bears were going to attack us….”did we put all the food away good enough” went through my head every 5 seconds. Sleeping on a hard ground 7 weeks after having a double mastectomy was not a brilliant idea. I later learned that my tissue expander that was in for temporary reconstruction work turned 90 degrees that night. Whoops. I don’t regret it though. One night in the mountain air did wonders for my soul.

A goodbye selfie with Novalie and Sophie.

~Happy Tony Grove Camping Trip!~

Memorial Day in Montana

Your #1 Fan post on December 7th, 2016
Posted in Cousins, Dad, Family, Fun Activities, Hiking, Memorial Day, Montana, Novalie

I found out on May 10th that I had breast cancer. I had to take a leave of absence from work, so I was free to go to Montana for Memorial Day. I was so excited and looking forward to this last minute trip. I needed to draw strength from being home, visiting my dad’s grave and just laughing with my sisters. It was everything I needed and more.  Danielle has dogs so we couldn’t stay with her, so her boss graciously let us stay in her office apartment. She had the best backyard for the kids to play in. Just waking up and going out in the backyard woods, breathing in the clean mountain air, I felt instant peace.

Mountain Montana air and me mesh well.

They had a zipline in the backyard that was fun for the kids to play on.

All the kids ready to hike the M.

Danielle and I half way up. It is a short hike, but it is straight up hill with no breaks. It was a hard, hard hike. We didn’t know if we could do it, but we slowly made our way up and it was such a feeling of accomplishment when we finally made it to the top.

At the M in Missoula.

Sister selfie at the top. We sure laughed A LOT!

After the hike, I made us all go to Noodle’s Express for lunch. It is sooooo good! Everyone loved it. Next to Benihana’s, this is my favorite place to eat and they only have it in Missoula.

Then we went to the carousel which is a tradition every time we visit Montana.

After that, we headed back to Stevensville to visit my 101 year old grandma.

Grandma Ruth with some of her great grandchildren.

It was a special visit. I wanted Novalie to meet her great grandma even though she only speaks in jibberish. Novalie held her hand and told her about herself. Grandma Ruth loved the children around her. Her feet, hands and jibberish were going like crazy. It warmed my heart.

Me and my sisters with Grandma Ruth. I am so glad we went to see her!

The next day we went to sacrament meeting at my old ward. It was good to see a few familiar faces and hug people who are dear to my heart for the years I spent in that ward. We sat in the row we always would sit in every Sunday. It was fun sharing memories with Novalie about that building.

Danielle and I in front of our old church building. A lot of memories in that building.

We then went to visit my Dad’s grave. We spent a good amount of time there. We all had a good cry and I soaked up all the strength I could from being there. We also laughed and told crazy Grandpa stories. My dad was one of a kind.

One of my all time favorite pictures of Novalie and I.

We had a picnic, then drove up to our old ranch. No where feels like home to me more than the ranch. I grew up in Texas, New York and Montana, but Montana will always be home.

The loooong drive way alone holds many many memories.

In front of our old ranch house.

Outside my old bedroom window.

My heart aches for Montana more so now then ever before. I love the country. I love the memories there. It was the perfect place to go to visit before I had to face breast cancer full on. It gave me that extra bit of strength I was looking for to endure such a trial.

We ended our trip with a late night trip to Pizza Hut. I was starving and we were trying to find anywhere open to go eat. We called Pizza Hut and they were open still, so after screams of cheer from me, we loaded up and drove through a wicked rain storm to Hamilton. We laughed so hard at Pizza Hut. So hard. The people in the booth by us told us how nice it was to see a family have so much fun together. We laughed a lot.

Pizza Hut selfie with my selfie stick!

Got a little wild at the Pizza Hut.

Two cute girlie cousins who were sad to be heading home in the morning.

This trip was all about me, but Novalie loves Montana too and made a lot of good memories during our weekend there too.

We love Montana. I loved this trip. Can’t wait to go back again!

~Happy Memorial Day Weekend~

October Musings

The second week of September, Novalie wanted to decorated for Halloween.  I said, “go for it,” and got the bin down for her.  The first of October, I finally got around to putting up the rest of the decorations.  We love Halloween and we love homemade holiday decorations.  They are my favorite.

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My favorite spooky spider.

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The houses that Novalie built and decorated.  (kits from Michael’s)

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Those toilet paper ghosts are going on 3 years now.  I can’t believe they have survived, but I love them.  Olive almost got a hold of them, but me screeching at her made her stop just in time.

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These are new this year.  This is actually what Novalie did while she listened to General Conference.  If her hands are busy, she really listens.

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Olive and I went on our favorite hike.  She loved it when we reached the river.  The fall colors were beautiful and I can’t wait to go again this week because they are even richer colors now, a week later.

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Someone please make me stop wearing these silly buy eye glasses.  I dislike.  I find so much peace and comfort in the beauty of God’s world.  It heals my soul.

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Novalie’s science class was having a Battle of the Bands competition and her assignment was to bring a homemade instrument.  We used to make these paper plate maracas all the time when she was little.  We used to march around the house and dance with them.  The night before they were due (we tend to leave projects to the night before), she said that a lot of kids had already brought their instruments to school and there were flutes and violins carved out of wood.  Ok, so, I know there are a lot of talented kids out there, but we are talking drills and saws and sanding and hollowing out wood….I don’t think so.  Those are some over ambitious parents….just sayin’.  Novalie was worried that her instrument was not fancy enough and was kinda cranky about making one of these.  I told her she could decorate it really fun and it would be awesome.  She did just that and loved it when it was all done.  And you know what?  Her instrument was the favorite one of the day.  Simple is golden.

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Trying out her paper plate/rice and beans maraca.  She didn’t think it was cool for me to dance around with it.  Whatev’s.

I got a job.  Call it inspiration or revelation, but I felt like I needed to get a job.  My conditions were only between 9-3 while Novalie was at school and no Sunday’s.  I applied for a job, interviewed, got hired on the spot and just started my 3rd week at this job.  Last week was Novalie’s fall break.  She had Thursday and Friday off of school and I had to work both those days.  It was hard.  In the future I will ask for those days off, but it was just my second week and I didn’t feel like I should.  I hated not being there, but Kevin took Thursday off to stay home with her because I had a 6 hour shift and that was a little longer than I felt comfortable with leaving Novalie home.  Friday I just worked 4 hours and she was a rock star.  She cleaned, did her laundry, vacuumed and played with a friend.  She is proving to be a responsible girl.

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Getting a pedicure/foot massage after my 6 hour shift.  I haven’t worked on my feet for 10 years.  I used to work 10 hour shifts at Smith’s, no problem.  I am 10 years older now and many pounds heavier, so I was tired and my feet hurt.  Badly.  I know my body will adjust, but those first 2 weeks were tough.  These sweet girls came to the rescue and massaged my pain right away.

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I gave them each a dollar tip for the pedicure and they wanted to go to the dollar store.  They chose these white foam boards to make paintings on.

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Working on their master pieces.

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Novalie drew Elsa and a polar bear.  She is quite the drawer.  She is quite talented.

 Novalie had so much fun doing her drawing, she wanted to do another the next day and then another one the next day.  She is hooked.

 And at only $1 per drawing, she can cover our whole house with them if she wants.  I love them.

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Her fox and baby fox.

(These photos of these drawings are very low quality.  I need to get out my camera and get better lighting, but her drawings are amazing.)

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And Olaf.  My favorite one.

Life is good.  And when it is not, these drawings make me smile.

These days are busy.  I am trying to get the hang of this working mom thing.  I only work part-time, 4 days a week, but it is still an adjustment.  It is a good thing I have such a cool daughter and a supportive husband.

September 2014

Your #1 Fan post on October 14th, 2014
Posted in BFF, Books, Hiking, Novalie, Olive

September usually flies by.  School starts, new activities start, the last month of warm weather.

This September dragged on.  Forever.

It was a hard, hard, hard month personally. (that’s not what this blog is about though! :))

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 Novalie got strep throat and missed 3 days of school.  It is the first time since she got her tonsils out that she has gotten strep throat.  It was 100% worse than any of the times she got it with tonsils.  She had a fever for days and ear infections and she said her throat felt like tonsillectomy all over again.  Ick.  It was miserable and she didn’t speak for 2 days.  She wrote me notes because that is how bad her throat hurt.  I guess the good side of it was that it happened at the beginning of the year, so missing school wasn’t terrible with a ton of make-up work.  I hope this doesn’t start a cycle of strep throat again.  That is why we went through that horrible, awful tonsillectomy.  Novalie is a tough cookie.  (ok….she doesn’t handle pain well at all, but she is tough to endure it)

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We sure had a hard time getting back into the school schedule.  In the summer, Novalie reads in the mornings.  30 minutes any book, 10 minutes scriptures.  When school started, I had just experienced 2 heartbreaking, big things and I just couldn’t get into homework after school.  I just wanted to snuggle that girl of mine and watch movies.  So, she got behind in her reading and had to play catch up.  When Olive wasn’t trying to eat her book, it was adorable to see her reading while Olive napped beside her.

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Olive discovered the joy of sticking her head out the window.  She is a wild, crazy puppy, but such an excellent car dog, but I still didn’t roll the window down until I felt confident she wouldn’t jump out.  That is a tragedy I didn’t need to have happen.  Now, she loves it and it makes her sneeze over and over.

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Novalie wants me to take lots of pictures of her and Olive.

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Novalie made 3 foam Halloween themed houses from the kits at Michaels.  I love how she put the structure together following the instructions, but then she decorates it using her own imagination.  I love that about her.  She says, “I don’t need a box to tell me where to put things.  I know exactly what I want to do and where I want what.”  I tell her that she definitely got her creativity from her daddy.

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We were in Target one night and Kevin saw this cereal and said, “I always wanted Count Chocula cereal and my mom would never buy it for me.”  And then he said, “and you have never bought it for me.”  We bought it and came home and he had a bowl of it to make all his dreams come true.  He can never say that he hasn’t had Count Chocula cereal again.

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Novalie is taking an acting class in a neighboring town, so I have to pick Kevin up from the train station and take her to it.  It is too far (just 20 minutes with traffic) to go home and come back, so we have dinner dates and then get something for Novalie on the way home.  We went to Iceburg and was telling Novalie about their milkshakes.  She asked if we got one and we sheepishly….lied…..and said no.  Then, later she asked to look at my Instagram and I forgot I posted our milkshakes!  Busted!  It never pays off to lie.  We had to repent.  The following Monday when she had acting, you better believe she got her very own milkshake.

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Which she took a selfie of herself with her bubblegum milkshake because I was driving.  Silly girl.

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One Saturday in September, Novalie and her BFF, Kayla, were being so loud, so I took them to the Fun Center to use up all that energy.  They skated, bounced, climbed and scootered themselves silly for 3 hours.  It is my favorite place to people watch.

Another happening in September for the record books:  Kayla invited Novalie to go on the hike we like with her family.  They left pretty late, so I didn’t think they were going to do the whole hike.  It was a school night too.  At 9:30, I started texting her mom, “just making sure you aren’t lost in the dark on the mountain.”  No response.  By 10, I was getting pretty nervous.  They showed up not long after 10.  They did come down the mountain in the dark, her cell phone was dead, her son took her car keys when he went home early with his friends mom (who had gone looking for them because of the late hour), so they had to walk to her brother’s house to borrow a car.  It was an adventure and I was glad to have Novalie back home with me.

By the end of September, I got my act together and Novalie had read 3 books and we were back on the school year schedule.  Which includes that darn math homework.  Which I have to say that Olive really did eat her math homework.  What do you tell your teacher when your puppy really does that?  It is such a cliché, but it happened.  For reals.

Oh, September, in all your heartbreaking glory, we survived and had some fun times along the way.

Fun in July

We did a lot of fun things in July, but we also had fun in day to day daily life.  I want to record those moments too.

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This was around midnight late one night.  It was hilarious.  These 2 were dancing around, laughing and having a blast wrapping blankets around themselves different ways.  It doesn’t make much sense now, but at the time it was so entertaining and funny. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Novalie working on her model face and pose.  So funny.

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These 3 spent a lot of nights in the tent in the backyard.  They would set up movie theaters, spas and bakeries.  Super love this.

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Imaginary game they came up with.  They played for hours.  H.o.u.r.s.

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Novalie’s polar bear slippers were a huge hit among the boys!  They fought over them….again, so funny.

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All the kids wanted to go on a hike again.  It was hot which made the hike seem so much harder and Olive had had enough after about 10 minutes in the heat so I carried her.  That just made the ending destination that much sweeter.

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At first they just put their feet in the water .  Then Zach laid down in the river because they all were so hot and drenched in sweat.  Everyone else followed him and before I knew it, they were all wet from head to toe.  A sweet, fun reward after a long, HOT hike.

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Bff’s.

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Olive enjoyed the river too and did much better going down the mountain.

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A trip to the park.  We took many, many of these.

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Three crazy fun cousins.

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Novalie and I snuck away for some mommy/daughter pampering.  July was hard.  Very hard.  These moments away together were precious and I soaked them up.

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Our new pretty toes.

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Making breakfast interesting.  While the boys were at my brother’s, they colored their eggs for breakfast.  Kameron asked every single morning if we could do it and I finally agreed.  Novalie did aqua and Kameron did black.  Those eggs sure look neat, but it took them a long (long) time to finish them.

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Zach went to Novalie and Kayla’s spa and got a manicure and pedicure.  🙂

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Since we had so much fun on the previous hikes, we were all pumped up to go again.  This was a big hike fail.  We did a smaller hike to a lower waterfall and there were hundreds of wasps.  Hundreds.  Kameron got stung, but all the rest of us made it out untouched.  They all said they NEVER wanted to go on another hike.  We got snowcones because it was hot and we survived the worst hike.

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Olive got a plain snowcone and sure enjoyed it!  She survived the failed hike too.

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Surf n’ Swim.  These 2 didn’t stop all day.

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Super love diving board shots.  Novalie is my favorite.