Baby D's Baby Shower!
My brother and sister in law, Will and Amy, are expecting their first child next month!!!!! This is the first grand baby for my side of the family, and wowowow we're so excited. This little boy is already so loved. We've been ready, but this weekend's shower for Baby D made it so real. It felt like more than a shower for me. I think it did for all of us! It was just special. It was an experience of life. It was
family coming over after the Walk for Alzheimer's in honor of my Uncle Jeff
bear onesies hanging from twine over the fire place
Mimi drawing a heart shaped apple for Baby D's first alphabet book
Amy opening a stuffed chipmunk from my cousin Natalie and all of us laughing
my little cousin Shelby Kate drawing a Narwol on a notecard for Baby D
pretty flowers by my friend Chelsea and Mimi's pumpkin bread on a pretty white plate
bear cookies that were so good they barely made it to the shower
my cousin Becca drawing a super buff Zebra for Baby D's homemade alphabet book
prayers written for Baby D on bear notecards designed by my cousin Kate
a pile of light blue baby clothes gifted by friends and family
everyone seated around a french farm table coloring with crayons, snacking on egg and potato frittatas, being free
a spontaneous girl cousin group photo outside
empty mimosa glasses on tables
anticipation for this precious little boy we love so much already
Life doesn't slow down. But Saturday felt like it helped delay the turn of the page a little bit. Soaking up all the small details, breathing in moments sown with love, my family and I rejoiced over a new life and enjoyed precious time with the things that matters most: people.
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The Homestead | Estes Park Colorado
I have been coming to Estes Park with my family each summer for as long as I can remember. My Gdad's cabin nestled beneath Teddy's Teeth has been a sweet reprieve for my entire family for generations. Built in 1902, my Gdad and Mimom are the 4th owners of the cabin that, as you can imagine, has become quite a legacy in my family. We are beyond blessed. It is special for endless reasons, but to me it feels like home, and it always means deep, soul saturating rest. Each time I come the cabin, I leave new, refreshed, free and full. I was reading in bed the other morning and looked up at the light coming in my window and was moved to document this cabin that has meant so much to so many.
So, Welcome! Welcome to touches of Mima, Gdad's epic hat rack and vintage photos of Longs, Blue Calico, Blue Spruce, Gdad's Texas flag, fire in a stone fire place, old photos from growing up, front porch sitting, Gdad's Aspens, creaky stairs, the old piano, birds on the feeders, and sleeping June poppies. Welcome to The Homestead.
The living and dining room: laughter, gather, study, rest, front range views.
Upstairs: open windows, old piano, blue hallways.
The King Room: Texas flag outside and pretty vintage napkins.
The Trundle Room: twin trundles, mountain folk, hilarious/ridiculous old time photos of all the cousins.
The Princess Room: prettiest floral details and dusty blue accents.
The Creaky Stairs: I used to skip the second step so I could sneak quietly.
Downstairs Rooms: Touches of Mimo and Gdad everywhere.
Outside: firewood, chipmunks, birds, mountains, Aspens, front porch chillin, collected antlers, and the bear that's been around longer than I have.
Cabin, sweet cabin.
And a few bonus photos! Some moments in and out of the cabin from our last family dinner with all of us overlapping time in Estes.
My brother Will prepping the chicken, the table set for all 8 of us, and everyone chillin in the living room before dinner.
And extra bonus: If you're ever in Estes, the Estes Park Brewery makes incredible beer. My personal favorite is the Long's Peak Raspberry Wheat.
Okay, the end. :) To sum: filled with gratitude for the continued legacy of my Mimom and Gdad and forever grateful for the special place Estes Park and The Homestead hold in my heart and the heart of my entire family.
Things To Do in Zion National Park
A few weeks back, Kenton and I went to Zion National Park with his parents and IT WAS AWESOME. It felt happy like drinking a cool lemonade and listening to 'Footloose' by Kenny Loggins basically every second.
But it also felt like stepping into a place so holy I ought to take my shoes off.
I thought a lot about Zion in scripture while I was there. I mean, it's so majestic you can't not look to the Creator. Everywhere you turn your gaze, there's a new sight to behold, bursting with splendor and beauty too rugged and awesome to fully describe. Daily I considered the intense beauty of earth, and how remarkable it is that this place is just a tent, a temporary living place until God makes a new heaven and a new earth that will be even more ridiculously gorgeous and amazing than this one. When I'm in places like Zion, it's hard to imagine how God could improve upon his creation. Wonder like this fills me with awe and shuts my mouth. Yet, scripture promises that Zion, the new Jerusalem, will be even more fantastic:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
MMM, THAT'S GOOD. Our earth, as beautiful as it is, does not fully host God's divine presence. Can you imagine what it will look like when it does?
Until then, we just keep chasing Jesus, bringing others into the family, and enjoying this gift of creation. No better place to enjoy it than Zion National Park. If you're interested in going, I've got some ideas and recommendations for ya!
things to do in zion national park:
We were only there for 4 full days, but each of us agreed we could spend about two weeks there and not get bored. There's lots to do and see.
1. OBSERVATION POINT TRAIL - Looking for a short, easy hike with lots of payoff? This little trek is maybe 2 miles round trip and definitely worth every footstep. The trail head is right next to the epic one mile tunnel under the mountain, so parking is super limited.
The trail has all kinds of fun features, like this super cool cave you hike through.
* Cave does not include cute husband.
Also, Maiden Hair Ferns are everywhere and it is a dream.
The overlook at the top boasts views of the entire canyon that will leave you feeling pretty dang small.
2. EMERALD POOLS - This is the perfect hike. It's easy (barely any elevation gain) and it's high return on a small amount of investment. Round trip it could be almost 2 miles, though you make it as short as you want. There are three pools to see, the first being maybe a 15 minute walk from the trailhead, which just happens to be across from Zion Lodge. You'll see gorgeous canyon walls up close, you'll feel water drizzling down from above, and you'll enjoy a cool oasis reprieve from the arid desert climate.
3. ANGEL'S LANDING - Kenton and I adventured to this one on our own one morning, and it is a cool hike, but it's not for everyone. The park rates it "strenuous" and they're not joking. I'm not too proud to admit that though both of us have conquered all 16 ridiculous miles of Long's Peak, we had to stop multiple times on this barely 5 mile round trip trek. The switchbacks are not forgiving and almost the entire trail is PAVED. I'm sure this is to prevent erosion and was a choice to wisely steward a high trafficked hike, but my gosh, that destroyed my knees on the way down.
On the Angel's Landing trail, you'll enjoy views of the hard working river that is continuing to carve the canyon, as well as epic scenes of the rock walls that propel straight from the ground into a blue desert sky.
Honesty time: we didn't enjoy the hike that much. Not because it wasn't beautiful or rewarding, because it was! The views are cool, for sure. However, the trail was PACKED and this is not a hike to be taken lightly, even though I bet half of the 4.3 million people who visit Zion each year probably decide to tackle this famous trail. We hiked on a Saturday, which is the worst day of the week to do a popular hike. Even with starting as early as we did, it was bogged down with other hikers. Normally, we'd be fine with that, knowing the hike's popularity and choosing to do it on the weekend. But this hike, as I said, is no joke, At some points, you face exposure on either side of the trail, meaning there's no wall next to you. You essentially walk a narrow tight rope with a drop off on either side. The park has installed chains to prevent disaster, but even with chains, sometimes it's pretty intense. We chose to enjoy the views from Scout's Lookout as opposed to reaching the summit, because honestly, the amount of people trying to cram through the narrow trail made me too nervous and would have added at least an hour and a half to our trek. So my Angel's Landing suggestion would be to go on a week day and go super early, that way you can really enjoy the beauty of the hike without the stress of so many humans on the trail!
4. THE NARROWS - I could talk about The Narrows ALL DAYYYYY. This hike is in my top 3 favorite hikes ever of my life. This made the trip. In this hike, you do a completely flat one mile walk into the canyon where the trail meets the river, and the rest of the 10 mile trek is in the river! And it was SO FUN!!!! Everywhere I looked was like eye candy. I mean the aqua color of the water and the pink/grey walls.... I couldn't stop staring. I won't try to spell it out, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
The Narrows just blew my mind and made my heart feel light and bright like cotton candy. I was a little kid in The Narrows, just totally geeking out at every turn. The hike can be as long or short as you like, but those dorky neon shoes and neoprene socks are a must. The water is around 40 degrees and if you go early enough, so is the air. We opted for shorts and it worked out great, because by the time we hit the water it was warming up. But the shoes we rented (which can be found at a few different gear rental shops in town) are a make or break. I couldn't even feel the water, honest to goodness. I could have gone all 10 miles I was so comfortable and happy. My suggestions would be to wear sweat wicking layers, bring snacks and water, wrap your electronics in a plastic bag, and definitely get the walking stick with your shoes. It might seem extra, but it proved to be essential for maintaining stability in the current while walking over rocks. We even saw people grabbing huge logs and dragging them along to try to aid in their hike. Do the stick, do the shoes. And definitely do The Narrows. You'll be like:
Things to know about Zion National Park
We weren't there for long and we didn't do too many activities other than hike, but here are a few things to know before you go.
1. DESERT CLIMATE - This means pack layers. It's cool at night and hottttt during the day. We went late April and it got hot so I can't fathom mid summer temperatures. The arid climate makes it feel hotter than it really is. Maybe that's the Texan in me who's used to humidity, but I don't think it is. It's super dry up there. So you'll also need to bring this and this. Your chapped lips and dry skin will thank me. Wear this too, everyday, even with this on, which OBVIOUSLY you need too.
@NASA all I want is to be your brand rep. Is that shooting for the stars too much?
2. ZION NATIONAL PARK HIGHWAY - Or Highway 9, is epic. Grab the wheel, open the sun roof, FOR SURE listen to oldies, throw on some shades and get ready for this Utah red carpet to roll you through insane sights.
The road is long, curvy, and requires passage through two tunnels. Just driving through the park is an adventure, and there are trailheads and overlooks all along the road.
And don't ask me how we managed to get behind a vintage Chevy that just happened to perfectly match Zion. That's just God being sweet to his giddy-about-Zion-photo-happy-photographer daughter.
3. PLACES TO EAT IN ZION - We didn't eat at too many local joints because our lodge had a restaurant, but we did love Meme's. Get the salad with the cilantro dressing, omg. We also enjoyed Bit and Spur, which is saying a lot because no Texan really wants to eat Mexican food outside of the Lone Star State. We tried to get into Oscar's twice, but it was packed both times, which probably bodes well to the quality of grub. I snapped these shots outside of Meme's cute outdoor patio.
4. ZION MOUNTAIN RANCH - AKA my heaven. We loved Zion Mountain Ranch. We spent 4 lovely nights here enjoying the super comfortable beds, gigantic bathtubs, and farm animals (mini horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks) in abundance, and watching the bison graze. The restaurant is soooo goooood and the people are so nice. I didn't snap any photos other than a few iPhone shots at the ranch because I was too busy relaxing.
We decided that if you want to stay in a more secluded place, Zion Mountain Ranch or another lodge outside of the park (or even camping) is a great choice. The only caveat is that you have to drive (35 minutes) through the park (which is prone to delays on high trafficked weekends #tunnels) to get to the restaurants and shopping in Springdale. So if you don't mind getting real familiar with that long, curvy road through Zion, then you might enjoy a more rustic lodging option like Zion Mountain Ranch. But if you're looking to stay closer to the park, restaurants, and in-town activities, finding a place in Springdale is probably your best bet. That way you only drive through the park when you're going on a hike. It's also important to note that the only grocery stores are in Springdale, so if you're staying on the other side of the park, there's like one convenience store and that's it. Just FYI!
So to close, this trip was awesome. Spending time with Kenton's parents was so special, going to a new area of the US was totally cool, and the whole ordeal left my head spinning in a happy-struck-by-awe-never-want-to-leave-how-is-this-so-pretty-AHHHHYAY kind of way.
Since it's officially 2 full months into 2018, I thought I'd write a new year post... makes sense, right? But don't you just love the new year? I love a blank slate. Like me, I'm sure you have a list of things you're trying to do differently this year to improve your life and general sense of wellness.
Something I really want for myself in 2018 is
s i m p l i c i t y .
Less clutter, less stress, more peace, more enrichment.
I've started 5 new practices this year to help simplify my life and I wanted to share them with you, because I know you value a peace-filled life, just like I do. So here we go:
1.) MORE ENRICHMENT - Podcasts. I've listened to more podcasts this month alone than I did all year last year. I listen when I drive, when I do housework, when I'm editing photos... I've found there are lots of times in my day that I can supplement music with the useful and encouraging information found in podcasts. And if I'm listening to the right podcast, then I do feel more peace-filled and less stressed. Here are my top three favorites. Oh, also, podcasts are FREEEEE and that is amazing. [The Brian Buffini Show for boooooming business motivation and general life improvement hacks, Dear Daughters to fill the love tank, Bethel to grow in my faith]
2.) LESS STRESS - Leaving the phone in my office at night. No more waking up to sad current events. No more hearing emails buzz into my inbox just as I close my eyes. No more radiation (yikes). I'm slow slow slowwwwing my roll and my first step is to ditch my cell phone each evening. And solution to the alarm issue? I'm buying an alarm clock! Though honestly I haven't found one I like yet (apparently I have very specific alarm clock needs, aka soft wake up, snooze button, and needs to be attractive). So until I find one I like, my husband is working as a fine alarm clock. :)
3.) LESS CLUTTER - New item comes in, old item goes out. Anytime I purchase a new article of clothing, I cull through my closet and purge pieces that no longer bring me joy or use. One comes in, one goes out. Less clutter, less stress. Quality over quantity.
4.) MORE ENRICHMENT - Photos! I looked back through my camera roll last year and was sad to discover that though I take photos of people for a living, I had very few of my own life! So this year I'm going to use my iPhone more for day to day memories and also I'll be booking photos sessions for me and my husband!
5.) MORE PEACE / LESS STRESS - Goals. I've actually never been a goal setter in the past, but this year I've set both personal and professional goals. How is this helping me have more peace and less stress? I've set realistic goals for myself and I've organized them into bite-sized quarterly chunks instead of just looking at the big huge goals I want for all of 2018. Waking up every day and looking at a colossal year end goal can be stressful! But waking up and daily looking at my small, building block goals that will lead me to a grander goal for 2018 is less stressful and a far more sustainable way to create and institute self improvements.
And that's it! I hope this list has helped or inspired you in some way as our first month of 2018 comes to a close.
Finally, if there's any way I can bless or encourage you please feel free to reach out! And if #4 struck a cord in you too, then you know how to reach me! Spring is coming and it would be so fun to play in the wildflowers!
I love the stars. When I was in 5th grade I wanted to work at NASA because I went there on a field trip and it blew my mind. I don't work at NASA now (#nomath), but I still wonder at space and how infinite and beautiful it is. Kenton and I live at Camp Allen for summer camp May through August. While it's a challenge to straddle two homes for 4 months, the plus side is that my backyard becomes quite the adventurer's playground. I've always loved outside and I've always loved to take pictures of what strikes wonder in me outside. Turns out a huge pro of living in our little cabin this summer is the proximity to dark skies - perfect for shooting stars. I've really gotten to unfold my wonder this summer doing sunset walks and stargazing with Bowie. Every time I look at the sky around dusk and finally as the sun sets and the stars come out, I'm so filled with wonder and awe at the Creator. Have you ever stopped to gape at the night sky? Seriously, every time I look at my camera after a shot and see that I've found the Milky Way, I kind of lose it a little bit. SPACE IS SO AMAZING! It's good at reminding me how small I am and how sovereign He is. It's certainly enough to rekindle my wonder in the wild (shout out to Hillsong United for dropping the perfect record for summer).
So here's a glimpse into an evening of sunset and star chasing. Just a little taste of my summer backyard (truly #blessed) and the beauty of the piney woods and east Texas summer night skies. And special thanks to my sidekick explorer, Bowie. He's a good adventure buddy.
Ps. I realize this is more of a photo post, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right? No amount of my best words could explain the summer scenes below or describe how absolutely amazing our Creator is!