Fourth of July Camping

A few weeks ago for the holiday weekend, we went up North to spend time with friends. We went to our usual favorite spot in Flagstaff (you can read about more of our camping adventures here and here). When we got there, we headed over to the Priest Draw climbing area so Jordan could get on a couple of boulders. It had been a while since he’s been able to climb (he’s been more into to mountain biking lately), but he did great, like usual! 😉  And Buddy was SO excited to watch Dad!


Jonah kept wanting to get on the rocks and try routes. And use the crash pads as a trampoline. It was the cutest. Jordan also helped him climb some of the smaller rocks a little bit.


Little man was such a trooper. He got into some stinging nettle or some plant that he had a bad reaction to… his legs were SO red and bumpy. It broke my heart. He still just kept trucking along playing with our friends’ dog, Molly, and making friends with new people that came to climb there. One of my favorite things about him and something I admire a lot is how social he is… the kid can make friends with anyone! He has no shame or shyness and just loves people, in general. It is the sweetest.


After Priest Draw, we went back to our campsite and made some MREs for dinner. Not long after, it started raining on us. Of course! Thankfully, my hunky man had made me a super soft and comfy bed to sleep on in the Element, so all three of us just opened the back and snuggled in there, listening to the rain and thunder. It was heaven! It poured pretty heavy most of the night…. we backed the tailgates of our two cars together with our friends, folded up the seats, and all had a pow wow in them. It was a nice way to make lemonade out of lemons and at least get some fun hang out time. There were these huge and prehistoric-looking flying bugs that kept dive bombing us and our lantern that we had hung up. SO nasty. I’m not normally that afraid of insects, but once one flew directly into my hair and made that weird buzzing noise in my ear, I was kind of done for the evening.

Buddy and I slept in the car, and Jordan used the tent. When we asked Jonah earlier if he wanted to sleep with me that night, he said, “No, you too BIG! Daddy is smaller!” Out of the mouths of babes 🙂 We were all so exhausted, we had a nice rest.

The next morning, we had breakfast and headed over to meet up with our good friends, Ammon and Jes, and their family at the parade in downtown Flagstaff. It was sunny and maybe a little too warm, but I think it made us a little nostalgic for small town living. Down in the Valley, it’s way too hot and big to do anything too exciting on the Fourth… you mostly just try and watch fireworks from inside of the car in the air conditioning somewhere. Jonah waved his little mini flag the ENTIRE time and was really excited to see the remote control cars going over jumps and the fire truck that sprayed us with a hose. He also was SO excited to see his friends Emma and Adele (or Miguel, as he called her… hahahah). This picture of them warms my heart.

IMG_0261Later on, we went with the Barkers to a BBQ in their friends’ beautiful backyard and got to enjoy the nice weather. And eat apple pie, which is obviously the best part! Buddy kept disappearing into their house and looking through all of their rooms, which was cracking me up. Seriously, no shame! We had a really great weekend, and I’m so glad we all got to spend such a fun time together celebrating our country. Maybe it was just the pregnancy hormones, but I kept getting choked up during the parade and feeling really teary and proud. I’m just so grateful for our lives and my sweet family, and I know we are lucky to live here. ‘Merica!



This past weekend, Jordan and I went on a little “babymoon” to Chicago. Neither of us had ever been and had always wanted to go see what it was all about. My sweet family stayed with Jonah for four and a half days… It was the longest we have ever been away from him, and it was a little difficult (but much needed). Things have been so crazy lately that we haven’t even been able to find time to go out on dates, much less be foot loose and fancy free for multiple days. We missed him SO much and were happy to get home, but it has been a challenge to adjust back into normal life and not going out whenever we want and having all of our meals made for us 🙂

Basically, all we did the entire trip was EAT! It was my favorite. Trust me, the best place for a pregnant woman who is just finally coming out of her morning sickness to go is Chicago. So much yummy food everywhere you go. I felt like one of the kids in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory… except probably not Veruca. She is THE WORST. I’ve concluded that this baby is going to be part sumo wrestler when she comes out, but it was all worth it.

Other than stuffing our faces, we walked around a lot, went on a Wendella boat tour (Highly recommend… except if you’re going on a weekend, maybe show up 30-40 minutes early. Or else you will end up standing the entire time and not able to hear as much), saw Jurassic World, and went to the Blues Festival. Before we left Arizona, the forecast was rain and thunderstorms for the entire weekend. Thankfully, Saturday and Sunday were beautiful (albeit warm and muggy) days, and it poured off and on our last day, which was fine. I’m sure it’s a different and miserable story in the winter time, but we were ready to move there after the perfect weekend we had. Such nice weather, so many things to do.

Big props to Jordan who was super patient with his rotund and whiny wife. My body is just not what it used to be and was struggling with all of the walking. He is the sweetest!

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We stayed at the Marriott Downtown right on the Magnificent Mile. It was AMAZING. There were so many places that were walkable or easy to get to by bike. Our room was on the 35th floor, which was hard for me to get used to at first (because, you know, heights=death). After a day or so, it didn’t bother me as much, and it was so nice to come back in the evenings to the pretty views and city lights.

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The Bean in Millennium Park. Super neat!

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We walked around Maggie C. Daly Park Saturday morning, and it was probably the coolest park we’d ever been to. I think it was newly renovated or something? Everything was brand new, and it seemed like there was a celebration going on for the re-opening. There were tons of playgrounds, splash pads, walking/skating paths, and even a free climbing wall. Jordan, of course, had to hop on it immediately! And check out those calves! Rawr

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Alyssa boat tour Boat tour 2

On our boat tour!

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Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park was gorgeous! Such lush gardens, and the zoo was free and fun. We felt a little guilty, because Jonah would have LOVED it! The whole area around the park was reeeeally nice… beautiful tree lined neighborhoods and very ritzy. After this, we rented city bikes and rode them back to our hotel along the waterfront on Lake Michigan.

deep dish Jordan

Of course we had to get a deep dish pizza at Giordano’s! It was pretty good, but not my favorite. There was just sooo much cheese. Jordan was a fan (and had the rest for breakfast the next morning. ‘Cause vacation!).

blues festival Chicago Panoramic

The Blues Festival (and my hubby’s awesome panoramic photography skills). I think this is the largest free outdoor blues concert in the world? Don’t quote me on it. The music was great, but the people watching was better. Everyone was dancing and feeling loose. And I was just praying the entire time that my unborn child wasn’t being exposed to second hand Mary J. smoke.

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Stained glass celing in the Chicago Cultural Center building.

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There was an exhibit going on of vintage graphic art from Valmor beauty products. It was super neat, and right up my alley!

We did and saw so many more things and had such a good time! I’m so grateful we were able to take a trip and have some time together before we become a family of four (!!). Big thanks to my sweetheart family for taking care of our little Buddy for so long. He had a blast on his “trip,” too!

For any of our friends that are planning to go, here is where and what we ate. Because that is, obviously, the most important part:

-Breakfast: We LOVED Wildberry Pancakes. We had plans to go to other breakfast places, and just ended up going there two days. They get super busy and waits can be over an hour, so order it to go and go eat it in Millennium Park across the street! We recommend: Red Velvet French Toast, Pancakes, Eggs Benedict, and our ultimate favorite SOUTHERN EGGS BENEDICT. SO. GOOD. (biscuits and gravy with sausage and poached egg… droool)

-Shake Shack: I know this isn’t native to Chicago, but we had one right across from our hotel and it was super convenient and super delicious. Good place to go when the waits everywhere else were too long. We got burgers, crinkly fries, and a chocolate shake.

-Gyu Kaku: Japanese BBQ. They bring you marinated meats and veggies and you cook them on a grill right in the middle of your table. It’s a little bit pricier, and this was kind of our splurge meal for the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. I am salivating just thinking about it right now. And making that weird Homer Simpson drooling noise.

-Giordano’s Pizza: There are lots of deep dish places, but this one lets you order your pizza before you’re seated, so you have less wait time

-Portillo’s: We were super excited to have a Chicago dog and eat somewhere really authentic and native to the city… then we found out there is one in both Tempe and Scottsdale. Ha! Regardless, the hot dog was delicious and so was our chocolate cake shake (a piece of chocolate cake mixed up into a chocolalte milk shake… just let your tastebuds stew on that for a second!)

-Big Bowl: We ate here on our last night when our bellies were kind of done with heavy food. Jordan had yellow Thai curry and I had a big salad. It was good and light Asian inspired food. They also do a stir fry bar where you can make your own, buffet style.

A Camping We Will Go


Back in the Fall, we took a little Friday night family camping trip up to Flagstaff. It was still really warm down in Phoenix, but it was starting to get pretty brisk up in the mountains. It was gorgeous being up in the pines and seeing some autumn leaves, but we probably waited a little too late in the season to go. It was cold! When we first got up there, we picked a camping site and set up our tent. A little while later, we took a walk down the road and found another site that we liked better. Because we are crazy/sometimes indecisive, we picked up our whole tent (full of pads and sleeping bags inside) and carried it down the road to the other site. I’m sure it looked pretty comical.

We have taken little man before when he was smaller, but this was one of the first times we have gone when he actually kind of understood what we were doing. He loved roasting marshmallows, drinking hot chocolate, playing with pine needles and sticks, and getting warm by the fire. When he was a baby, we would put all of our seats up in the Element and throw his pack n’ play in there to sleep it. It was an awesome/warm/comfortable place for him to spend the night. Now that he is bigger, he hates it and will only sleep (or move around all night long kicking us in the face) in the tent. We had fun, but we all got a little chilly and didn’t sleep much that night, so we were ready to head home by late Saturday morning. One of our favorite things is to just be in nature and enjoy the outdoors… we will definitely be going again once it warms up!


16402145521_66ba235253_o<Sometimes, you forget your warmest clothes for camping and end up having to wear leggings and bunched up socks like it’s 1983. Own it, girlfriend!>




16402261001_f9f3c7155a_o<Besides being totally hunky, my Eagle Scout husband is pretty fantastic at building roaring campfires.)



15783869403_b70e75c673_o<My little Linus impersonator>

Thanksgiving Week


We went up to Utah for Thanksgiving! We always love visiting Jordan’s side of the family up there, but usually we only have about 4 days to get through A LOT of friends and family (like, 9 siblings and a million nieces and nephews worth). Those trips are awesome and we will get in some family time anywhere we can, but we usually end up leaving more exhausted than when we came. This time around, we stayed in Bountiful for almost a week and a half, and it was so nice to just relax and enjoy our break. Jonah got to play in snow for the first time (because it was FREEZING!), and we just had oodles of fun. Highlights were visiting Temple Square and seeing the lights, eating at Crown Burgers, playing with Sammie, and me making three times more stuffing than I needed to because I have no idea how to cook for more than about five people. Oooops.


Our favorite part of any trip to Salt Lake… ‘Cause, really, what is better than a pastrami burger and french fries with fry sauce?


We stayed with Jordan’s sister, Angela, and her family. Which meant we got to cuddle with their Shih Tzu, Sammie, for a week. It was THE BEST. Buddy was in Heaven.


Jonah AND doggy snuggles!? This is Jordan’s, “I’m the luckiest man alive and my heart is melting” face.




Saturday night after Thanksgiving, we went with some of our family to the SLC Temple lights. We went on one of the first nights that they were lit, and it was really warm, so there were a zillion people there. We didn’t last long. It was so nice to be able to show little man where we were married, though, and start off the Christmas season right.
15603688673_4aea59ed6f_oLove my sweet boy! He had about had it at this point. Obviously.


All in all, we all really enjoyed spending time together. With Jordan in school, that time is few and far between these days. We felt really blessed to take a break together and reconnect. So thankful for the holidays!




Sun and Sand

Last weekend, we took a little jaunt to visit my sweet aunt in California. She is the best hostess, cook, and trip organizer around, and we had a barrel of laughs! The only problem was that Jonah learned how to climb out of his Pack ‘n Play (which he thought was hilarious, of course), so no naps were had for three days. AKA Mom was quite frazzled the entire time. Other than that little hiccup, we were so glad to be able to visit family and just get away together before Jordan becomes a slave to MBA school (and we don’t see him again for two years) next week.

Our first day was spent at the beach, obviously! When we first got there, little man was NOT thrilled about the sand. Did not want to touch it, wanted to be held the whole time… our hopes of a fun and memorable first time for him were starting to diminish a bit. Thank goodness, once Jordan took him in the water and splashed around in the waves with him, he was HOOKED! We even ended up stopping by La Jolla on our way home so that we could play in the water some more.

We made things out of the sand, relaxed under umbrellas, swam, and ate a picnic of chicken satay, fruit, sodas, chips, and tons of other yummy snacks (seriously… Aunt Robin is THE best, you guys!). All in all, it was just a fantastic day.

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<Jonah and Auntie>

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<These two are the cutest around>