Is August Over Yet?!

Though days go fast and much has happened, I’m rather shocked that we are still in August!  It has been an eventful month at our home, but not necessarily in a good way!  This month marked yet another surgery for myself, this time not dental surgery but for the removal of some skin cancer on my nose.  After a biopsy on two places early this summer, they both came back positive for basal cell skin cancer.  It is not life-threatening, but the dermatologist liked it to a cavity that just needs to be taken care of.  Unfortunately for me, the one on my nose was in a difficult spot and required a special procedure to take it out, followed by a graft (from my ear cartilage!!) to repair my nose!  The whole thing was a 2-day ordeal, but honestly better in the end than I thought it would be in terms of the severity of the scar and such.  The ear portion was unexpected and the most painful part of the process, especially because it ended up getting an infection.  In my follow-up appointment, I learned that I need to keep my nose covered for the next month for healing!  While surprising, I’ve gotten used to it and have almost forgotten about it until I notice someone looking at me and wondering what happened.  As if that weren’t enough, I went back to my regular dermatologist for the removal of my second spot, which was on my chest, the week following the first procedure.  This was a much faster, traditional approach and is now just healing.  To top that off (again!), because we hadn’t seen quite enough doctors this month, Zachary decided it was his turn for some stitches when he fell on the cement and split his chin open.  At that point, we really had to laugh—not at the injury but at the amazing amount of medical needs we’ve had this month and really cumulatively this year!  So I don’t really have a lot of “fun” photos from this month, though we do have many memories.  Since our summer came to a rather quick end with the surgery and my need to be out of water and sun for a bit, we started back to school in the midst of it all, which is honestly most of our photos for now! 

DSC01707This was a beautiful rainbow that appeared to go right over our house one evening!  Unfortunately, what looks like a storm actually blew by us.

DSC01719 DSC01725This was a fun swimming day with friends at the beginning of the month.  This family from our church has 6 kids and several of them align nicely with our kids!

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Lauren was just as eager to start school, which to her meant letter flashcards!  We hadn’t even begun our school work for the day yet, but I came downstairs and found Bethany quizzing Lauren on her letters!  May they always remain so eager!

School Pictures:DSC01739Bethany, 2nd grade

DSC01743Zachary, Kindergarten

 DSC01747Lauren, preschool

 DSC01752Brianna, 4th grade

 DSC01768Sedy class for 2014-2015! 

 DSC01771This was one of the activities of the day, which was some blob mapping!  They are learning to draw a very rough sketch of the world accurately on the proper lines of latitude and longitude by tracing it.  The goal will eventually be to draw it without the prompts. 

DSC01772 DSC01773I must be honest that I was quite surprised (and impressed) by Lauren’s tracing skill.  I didn’t even have a map ready for her, but she insisted so I made a quick copy and let her give it a try.  

DSC01774All of those earlier photos were on day 1 of school.  This picture happened on day 5 of school!  Poor little guy needed 5 stitches in his chin!  

DSC01781We are the bandaged buddies!  He just wanted to make mommy feel better by needing a bandage too!

 DSC01784 We’ve had 3 sunflowers bloom this month.  The kids have had fun harvesting the seeds!

DSC01790This past Saturday night, we decided we needed a little spontaneous fun so we went to Magic Mountain after an early dinner for a few hours.  It was pretty busy, but because we hadn’t been in awhile, we still had a great time.  DSC01791 DSC01793 DSC01795DSC01803 DSC01807We ended up splitting up since I was limited in the rides I could do with my ear and chest still healing.  So I stuck with Lauren while the older kids went with Daddy, which is why all the photos are mostly of Lauren.DSC01815 DSC01817

Extraordinary Camping!

Paul and Zachary had a fantastic time camping for Zachary’s birthday at the beginning of last week.  Zachary was SO excited to go and was not disappointed.  He didn’t want to come home and has continued to ask about going camping again sometime soon.  They actually stayed at 2 different campsites, with the second one being far superior.  They also enjoyed some times at the beaches nearby, so altogether, it was some of his favorite things to do all wrapped up in one big outing!  I wasn’t there to be able to comment too much on these photos, but I’ll share them so you can see their fun too!  Since they had the camera, I wasn’t able to take photos from our girls time at home.  However, it wasn’t nearly as exciting!  It included a lot of errands, but we did do a craft project together, had a girls movie night and painted toenails. 

DSC01533All packed and ready to go!!

 DSC01535 DSC01543They went kayaking at Morro Bay, and it was a big hit with Zachary!

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This was the campsite the first night.  It was near San Luis Obispo and one of the last spots available.  It was pretty barren, but it did the job!DSC01564DSC01566 DSC01567Zachary was so excited to sleep in the tent!

 DSC01571Heading out to the next destination with a stop for lunch along the way!    DSC01577DSC01579 Check out this picnic spot right on the shore of a beach!

WhatDSC01587What an incredible campground for the second night!  It is in a place called Limekiln in the Big Sur area about 5 hours north of us!  Complete with a stream beside their site!DSC01582  DSC01589This beach is walking distance from their campground! DSC01597 DSC01600Zachary loved both fire…

 DSC01602…and crossing the tree bridge!

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DSC01642These are photos from the hiking trails at the campground…stunning! DSC01646

DSC01617 The Redwood trees of Big SurDSC01619 DSC01624 DSC01627 DSC01634 These are the limekilns in the forest!

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DSC01670 DSC01671 DSC01678One last meal as they headed back home!

 DSC01684A beautiful sunset in the background as they make their journey back home.

 DSC01694 This was the girls craft!  I am NOT a crafty person, but have some very crafty girls in our home.  When I saw this idea, I bookmarked it as a fun summer activity, but the fact that we actually DID it is quite remarkable!!  AND, they really didn’t turn out too bad.  We actually have them hanging out our wall already!DSC01698 DSC01700 DSC01701 

This past Saturday, the kids enjoyed making some pencil boxes at the Home Depot craft day too: DSC01703 DSC01705 DSC01706

July Recap

After going through over 1,000 photos from our road trip, I haven’t been motivated to deal with the more recent photos on my camera!  But here we are at the end of July and I need to get caught up finally!  So these photos are from July, with a few more to come as we have a birthday being celebrated with a special daddy/son camping trip

Our fourth of July tradition is to go to the local parade.  They each have their bag for collecting all the candy and goodies that get tossed their way!July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-001 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-004 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-009 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-012 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-033We had fun joining up with the Wilsons and the Robinsons too!

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-032 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-040The Wilsons came over for a grilled lunch after the parade…

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-043…and then we left again later to find some fireworks at the mall. 

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-050Secret Agent Lauren reporting for duty!  The kids all participated in our church’s VBS.  The theme was the International Spy Academy and their goal was to search for the One True God.  Lauren got mixed up in the youngest class on the morning of the first day and when I went to take her to the nursery (since I was helping out), the teacher said she was okay if I wanted to leave her.  I decided to give it a try and the report was great so she was part of it the whole week!  She was SO excited to be doing what the big kids were doing and I was thankful that her teacher was so gracious to allow a 3-year-old in with the Kindergarteners!

I helped with games, so those are the only photos I have of VBS…July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-053 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-054 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-056 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-062The week ends with a BBQ for the family, followed by a short program that allows the kids to sing the songs they’ve learned.

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-063

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-0657/11 meant Free Slurpee Day…a favorite day among this crowd!

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-069And to top off free Slurpees, we could dress like cows and get a free Chick-fil-A Meal!  So instead of cooking for dinner, we cut spots for our dinner!  We really had a lot of fun and truth be told, it was worth about $35 as we all at a full meal for free!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-070 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-072 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-073

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-075Just a cute candid!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-076Look who FINALLY lost a front tooth?! 

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-077This was mommy’s cute date as we headed to the mall to get his birthday pictures done! How can this guy be 6 already?!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-078 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-081 Finished off our date with some free birthday ice cream, of course!

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-083Just this past week, we had a beach day with the Wilsons.  The mom’s with our combined 6 kids all in our minivan made for a great day!  Our kids had been begging us to take them to the ocean so we not only accomplished that, but we escaped the 106 degree day back home!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-088 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-089 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-090 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-093 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-095I know that’s a lot of Lauren photos, but I just LOVE the pure joy on her face as she runs from the waves!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-098Abby and Bethany are just 2 months apart and great friends!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-099 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-100 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-101 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-104 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-107 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-109 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-113 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-114 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-115 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-120July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-126 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-122 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-123 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-124 These kids played in the waves for most of the 4 hours that we were there.  It was a perfect beach day!

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-127 Believe it or not, this cantaloupe is from our garden and was delicious!  What a joy to enjoy the fruits of our labors, especially because the plant doesn’t look all that healthy so we were doubtful that the fruit would actually be any good!

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-128This was the reaction we got from Zachary when we revealed his special birthday plan!  The girls each had a birthday party when they turned 5, which never happened for Zachary.  So in lieu of a party, we decided to go a different route and planned a father/son camping trip.  He is beyond excited to have exclusive time with his daddy and going on an adventure!  We told him on Friday evening so we could make preparations to leave Sunday.

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-131At Zachary’s request, this was his rocket birthday cake.

July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-133 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-134 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-135 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-138We had the Largents over for a birthday dinner on Saturday evening, though I’m sad that I never got a photo with them.  It was a treat to share dinner and the cake with friends!

 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-139 July 26 LRS 3yrs_ZPS 6yrs_BGS 7.5yrs_BRS 9yrs-141 Zachary has been asking for a rocket for a LONG time and was thrilled to open it.  Another fun project he can do with his Daddy! 

This wraps up our July, minus the camping trip.  Hard to believe that we are on the brink of August already! 

Westward Bound!

We left Iowa on Monday after the wedding, but not alone!  It was such a fun treat to leave with my brother Eric and his family!  Carrie’s folks live in Colorado Springs, so they were willing to time a trip out to see them with out westward travels.  Since we all live so far apart, it is rare that we hang out with just one family or only part of our cousins as we usually all gather at the same time so we can all be there, which made this a neat opportunity.  We swapped kids and adults throughout the trip, which really helped make the long drive through Nebraska go fairly quick.  We stopped at a hotel about halfway so the kids could swim and enjoy that time together as well.  We arrived in Colorado Springs on Tuesday afternoon to an amazing thunderstorm!  I’m sure the Anderson’s were very entertained to be in the car with Californians who rarely see rain, much less a huge thunderstorm!  We then spent all of Wednesday together doing some tourist stuff in the Springs before we had to finally part ways.  They stayed there, while we continued our journey.  Here are some photos from those days and beyond.

These photos are from Garden of the God (or as Carrie’s family calls it, God’s Garden!):  DSC00756DSC00754 Kissing Camel rocks

DSC00762  DSC00764 DSC00772 DSC00777 DSC00780 DSC00782 DSC00783A view of Pikes Peak in the distance

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We all met up with Carrie’s parents at a fun pizza place called Fargo’s.  The kids loved the player piano after lunch!DSC00810 DSC00814

Then it was off to the Focus on the Family headquarters.  They have a pretty big Adventures in Odyssey play area to explore, which is how we spent our time there. DSC00822 DSC00825 DSC00834

Then we made a last minute decision to check out the Olympic Training Center nearby.  We arrived just in time for the last tour of the day, so we joined in!  DSC00836 DSC00840 DSC00843 DSC00844 DSC00846  Cousin bobsled team!

DSC00850 DSC00851 DSC00855 DSC00861 DSC00862 DSC00866 DSC00868And the adult bobsled team!

 DSC00876 DSC00880 DSC00885 DSC00892 DSC00893 DSC00894 DSC00897 These were some last minute hugs and cousin photos before we said our goodbyes.  So many fun memories made with cousins again this summer…makes us miss being close all the more!

DSC00910We drove to Alamosa on Wednesday evening and then Thursday morning headed to the Great Sand Dune National Park.  We had no idea something even existed until we were booking that night’s hotel and we were seeing comments and ads for visiting this.  It really is amazing…an enormous sand dune sandwiched between mountains and a seasonal stream.DSC00911 DSC00913 DSC00914 DSC00915We had to cross this trickling stream to get to the dunes, but it was refreshing.

 DSC00923 DSC00926 DSC00928 DSC00931 DSC00938 DSC00942The sand gets VERY hot in the heat of the day (140 degrees!) so we weren’t able to climb too far in our sandals, plus it was very hard climbing!  We enjoyed our little hike and then the stream felt extra refreshing!

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Check out this beautiful scenic overlook along our drive in CO: DSC00949 DSC00953 DSC00955

 DSC00961DSC00964 We also come across patches of snow as we climbed the mountain pass and the kids were begging us to let them touch it.  Well, to touch it meant crossing a pretty big ravine which they quickly discovered to be swampy and muddy!  It turned into a rather HUGE muddy mess…memories, right?!

DSC00965This was one of the nicer hotels/pools that we stayed at on the trip.  Whenever possible, we loved to let the kids burn some of their energy in the pool before bed.

DSC00996 DSC00998 Lauren found the phone, microwave and fridge in each hotel room and that was her entertainment!

 

These next photos are from Four Corners National Monument.  While it was fun to get the photos of being in 4 states at a time, that was really all there was to it!DSC01004 DSC01027 DSC01030 DSC01032 DSC01034 DSC01037 DSC01038

Then it was off to the Grand Canyon.  We arrived there on Friday afternoon and spent the reminder of the day walking trails and enjoys the beauty of God’s creation!  AMAZING!DSC01044 DSC01048 DSC01050While most everything is about evolution, there was this one gem on a wall!

 DSC01052 DSC01054 DSC01057 DSC01061 DSC01067 DSC01076The girls became Junior Rangers for the Grand Canyon as well, which earns them a little badge/keepsake.

 DSC01077 DSC01110 DSC01114Not a bad view for a picnic dinner!

 DSC01119 DSC01123 DSC01126 DSC01129DSC01138 We took a tram back to the visitors center after our hike and saw this elk near the roadside along the way! 

DSC01140We stayed long enough to catch the sunset, which was beautiful! DSC01142

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We made another last-minute decision/detour to visit an old mining town called Calico.  It was a bit out of our way, but it allowed us to take a portion of the old Route 66.  It was a fun stop, though about 100 degrees!  There were many wild burros wandering the streets and you could buy a bag of feed for $1.  The kids had fun with that.  Then we also were able to see a shootout in the center of the town.  DSC01177 DSC01192 DSC01196 DSC01201 DSC01207

Our final stop was at the Hoover Dam.  It was bout 104 while we were there and being toward the end of the last day of the trip, we were running out of steam.  However, it was a pretty amazing structure and fun to see in person!DSC01215 DSC01217This photo (above) was taken from the bridge pictured below. DSC01227 DSC01232 DSC01237 DSC01242 DSC01248 Couldn’t resist snapping this photo as we re-entered our home state!  We had such a wonderful time on our trip and are so thankful for the opportunity to do all that we did.  However, there really is no place like home after traveling for 2 weeks!! 

Whew…I think I can finally move on to more recent photos. Thanks for sharing in our journey with us through photos!

Wedding Photos…Take 2

As suspected, I have a bunch more photos to post from the wedding, as well as our time in Iowa in general, compliments of my sister’s camera.  It was such a fun and beautiful day!  Here are some more photos:

IMG_3069 IMG_3083 IMG_3087These photos were from the “meet the other side of the family” dinner on our first night in Iowa.  Carrie did a great job hosting and Kendra added adorable decorations!

 IMG_3146 IMG_3163 IMG_3181 IMG_3185These were just some cute pictures from when we walked to a local park. 

 IMG_3195 IMG_3201These are from Alyssum’s western-themed bachelorette party!

  IMG_3367This plant is called Alyssum and was the centerpiece for the rehearsal dinner!  My mom did the plants and Kendra did the artwork…they turned out so good!

 IMG_3383 IMG_3384IMG_3396These were all from the rehearsal dinner.

 IMG_3440 IMG_3484 IMG_3508 IMG_3514 IMG_3599 IMG_3608 IMG_3633 IMG_3670 IMG_3685 IMG_3688 IMG_3690Due to the VERY hot ceremony, Eric had already shed some of the more formal wedding attire…pre-pictures!   Oops!

IMG_3699 IMG_3717This is the extended family that was able to make it to Iowa for the wedding—my mom’s sister Kerry, my dad’s sister Prudy (and Leigh) and brother Phil.  

IMG_3720 IMG_3781 IMG_3837 The newlyweds…Mr. & Mrs. Anderson!

Road Trip Recap, Part 2

Though I don’t have all the photos from all the cameras from our time in Iowa, I will begin this section of our trip with what I have.  If there are some additional ones to add later, you’ll get double!  We had such a WONDERFUL time in Iowa with family.  Wedding’s are always fun and this one was extra full of adventure since it was an outdoor wedding and their location got flooded out just days prior to the wedding.  After some tough decisions on where to go, plan B worked out beautifully, as if it should have always been there!  The Lord graciously held off rain all day, despite a chance of it in the forecast—an answer to many prayers for sure! My older brother and his family also live in Orange City and they were wonderful hosts for 15 of us!!  In all truthfulness, we enjoy being cozy since we don’t all get to be together very often and it allows for some good bonding time and fun memories.  A huge thank you to Eric and Carrie for your hospitality, generosity, and planning on so many fronts.  We loved our time in Iowa!  

DSC00494We arrived in Orange City, IA just in time to see my nephew play a baseball game, which was a special treat since we live so far apart!  He had the best cheering section of all that night!

DSC00497 Lauren was overjoyed to finally be reunited with her “buddy” (i.e. Grandpa!).  She rarely calls him Grandpa when she is talking about him…instead it is her buddy and she loves him so very much!

DSC00499The man of the week…Uncle Ryan!  Lauren must have forgotten that she avoided Uncle Ryan last summer because she willingly gave a hug.  However, she quickly remembered and this was one of the last hugs he got from her that week!  Sad!  Some day she’ll learn what an awesome uncle she has!

 DSC00500 DSC00503 DSC00504 DSC00506 DSC00507Strong (and fun!!) Uncle Ryan!

DSC00508After the ball game, everyone was back to Eric and Carrie’s house for a “meet the opposite side of the family” dinner.  

DSC00512Dinner was followed by an impromptu “cousins vs. Uncle Ryan” water fight!

 DSC00535DSC00544One morning, we took a walk to the local donut shop and then to the playground.  We loved being in small-town “Dutch” Iowa where there is much within walking distance and sidewalks abound.  Such a cute picture of all 9 cousins at the park!

DSC00525Bethany LOVED the chance to walk Eric’s dog, Reggie, multiple times during our stay! 

     DSC00550 DSC00551 DSC00553All ready for the western-themed bachelorette party!  

DSC00560 DSC00566DSC00565One of the main events of the evening was a horse-drawn wagon ride through the town.  We even went past Eric & Carrie’s home so all the kids got to see us.  The driver graciously let all the kids pile on with us for a quick trip around the block.  DSC00573The bride and groom-to-be served us on Friday morning with an outdoor pancake breakfast for everyone in town for the wedding. 

 DSC00577 Love this picture of these girl cousins!

 DSC00586 DSC00591Kids table at the rehearsal dinner at a local park.  My parents were in charge of this and did a great job decorating and hosting the evening. It was supposed to be outside, but was moved inside the pavilion at the last minute due to rain.  But it worked out beautifully either way!

 DSC00596More “buddy” time!

 DSC00597The bride getting ready on wedding morning!  Stunning!

 DSC00598This was the adorable little room above a local coffee shop where the bridal party got ready the morning of the wedding.  It was fun to be together at a place with such character.

 DSC00604   Sister again…wedding day this time!

DSC00608The three oldest cousins enjoyed the hour drive to the wedding together!

 DSC00611En route to the wedding and putting up sign posts along the way due to the chance in location and some tricky turns!

 DSC00615 Sisters!

 DSC00620Brother-in-laws! 

 DSC00623Grandpa and Lauren having bubble fun!

 DSC00630Lauren and Brylee had so much fun together!  Only one week apart in age, but living way too far apart!  By the way, my sister (Kendra) did an amazing job making all the girls’ dresses (SEVEN!!) for the wedding.  They looked adorable!

 DSC00633Sisters again!

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DSC00653 Family photo_wedding DSC00660

There was a DJ at the wedding and we all had so much fun being goofy together!  It was especially fun to see all the cousins out there for a good part of the night and loving it!  Here’s the proof:DSC00676 DSC00677 DSC00686 DSC00700 DSC00701 DSC00703 DSC00716The lit and released about 20 Chinese lanterns.  Having never seen them before, we thought they were pretty fun! DSC00717

That wraps up the pictures on MY camera from our time in Iowa, though I don’t have the good camera and therefore don’t have the majority of the photos.  I’ll probably post some more highlights later, but this now brings us to the last leg of our journey…the trip back to CA! 

Road Trip Recap

Wow, I am blown away that it has been over a month since my last post!  We are back home and settling back in after a great 2-week road trip as a family.  With over 1000 photos, I will REALLY try hard to pick only some favorite or I’ll never get to the end of this, nor will you!  I will also probably do a few posts to keep it from getting too long.  Our ultimate destination was Orange City, Iowa for my younger brother’s wedding.  But we took about 5 days to get there in order to do some sightseeing along the way.  We were then in Iowa about 5 days and then about 5 more days on our return.  We covered a lot of ground and really enjoyed seeing some fun American landmarks.  And what a treat it was to be together as a family as we celebrated the addition of a new sister-in-law/aunt to our family.  I think I’ll let the photos do the talking at this point…enjoy!

DSC00104All set to hit the road!  All smiles so far!  (Let’s just say, if we had taken a photo of us pulling back in the driveway 2 weeks later, the facial expression MAY have been a bit different!!)

We started with a stop in Las Vegas (with caution of course!) and had a lot of fun, including the seeing the Luxor (pyramid hotel), the dancing fountains, Caesar’s palace, and M&M World.  Here are some photos:DSC00121 DSC00123 DSC00133These are tubes of M&Ms…who can go wrong in a store like this!

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On Day 2, we headed to Zion National Park!  How beautiful it was!  We took a hike on a trail called The Narrows.  It was about a 1-mile hike that brought us to a river.  We then could continue our hike IN the river, which the kids thought was pretty great!  It was quite deep and we all got nicely wet and cooled off!  The further we hiked, the narrower the canyon walls got, which made it fun.  DSC00156 DSC00157 DSC00158 DSC00165DSC00168 DSC00172 DSC00173 DSC00175 DSC00176 DSC00179 DSC00182Found a warm rock to dry on after getting out of the river!

DSC00183 DSC00192 DSC00198 DSC00199 DSC00200This is the tunnel that took us out of Zion National Park, which I believe is one of the longest ones in the country.  The drive through Zion was beautiful!

DSC00201That night, we headed to Provo, Utah to stay with some friends, the Stolarski’s, for the night.  We then got to go to their church and hear Mr. Stolarski preach the next day before heading out again.

DSC00203 This is a Mormon temple in Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  We stopped to walk around and see what it was all about while passing through.

After a LONG stretch of driving (through Wyoming), we finally arrived in South Dakota!  Our first stop was at Crazy Horse Memorial.  It is a huge carving in the rocks to honor Native Americans.  However, this was begun in 1948!  The finished project is in white, while the actual progress is the brown rock. 

DSC00211DSC00226 DSC00227 

Only about 30 minutes away was Mt. Rushmore…definitely a trip favorite!  We stayed at Mt. Rushmore from about mid-afternoon through the evening program and had a great day.  DSC00234 DSC00235 DSC00237 DSC00240 DSC00248 DSC00267We walked a trail called the Presidential Trail, which gives a unique perspective of the faces by putting you more under them.   DSC00282 DSC00287 DSC00289This is an actual model of what was proposed for the carving. 

 DSC00292 DSC00301 DSC00304 DSC00309Lauren was a trooper.  She went strong until she could go no longer!  The evening program was a bit too long of a wait for this tired girl!

 DSC00330 DSC00332And the drive to our hotel was a bit too long for anyone to make it!!

The following day was spent taking a drive through Custer State Park and Needles Highway.  It was a beautiful scenic drive before we headed out of the Black Hills area.  DSC00333There were many of these single-lane tunnels to go through on the drive.

 DSC00343From the distance, we could still see Mt. Rushmore at times along the way!

 DSC00347 DSC00352 DSC00357 DSC00362 DSC00367At only 9 feet wide, this was definitely one the narrowest passes!   DSC00373 DSC00381 The Needle’s Eye at the top of the drive!

Who can pass through Wall, SD without stopping at Wall Drug?!  That is where these photos were taken from…all piled into a phone booth at Wall Drug!DSC00391

DSC00399 DSC00406This dinosaur was a favorite for all…

 DSC00410…except for this one!  She was terrified when it did its thing (every 12 minutes), which was to move, roar, open its mouth and smoke.   DSC00414

En route to our hotel, we made a necessary detour through the Badlands.  There was actually a Tornado Watch out at this point, but things never got bad and it never even rained!  We didn’t spend much time here, but drove through it, stopped at a few overlooks, went climbing on the rocks at one point and saw a lot of big-horned sheep!  It is an amazing place! DSC00415 DSC00431 DSC00436 DSC00438 DSC00441 DSC00448 DSC00455 DSC00459  DSC00465Lauren got to stay down on the ground with me for this hike…just stopping to smell the flowers!

 DSC00470 DSC00473 DSC00475 DSC00477Some big-horned sheep that we spotted while driving.

 DSC00480This is just a representative photo of how Lauren entertained herself at EVERY hotel!  She immediately found the fridge and microwave and played “housel” 

Our final day of travel before landing in Orange City, IA brought us to the Corn Palace in Mitchell.  It is actually going through some construction to update the place, but we still saw the murals made of of colored corn cobs and watched a video on how it all began: DSC00482 DSC00485

Next stop…Orange City, IA!!  I will definitely be doing more posts on this!  And good job traveling this far with us!!

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