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Fabulous 4th Part 3

Fabulous 4th Part 3

After the 4th of July festivities on the west side of Idaho, we said goodbye to Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry and headed back to Grandma’s house.  Here’s a look at a strange sculpture we passed, driving through the Craters of the Moon volcanic area.


Back in Idaho Falls, we snuck in a few more games and I even stole away with each of my parents in turn for some “alone time,” a welcome treat.  There may or may not have been some more silliness going on as well…


It is always sad to say goodbye, but this time was easier because we had one more destination left before home.  With a car packed unusually full, we headed off for one more night on the road.


A few hours later, we arrived in Salt Lake City.  While Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry finished their day of work, we ate a delicious lunch outside the fancy downtown mall and then toured Temple Square.  That prompted some interesting conversations about ways we agree and ways we disagree with what other people believe–always a good thing to go over.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at the excellent Natural History Museum of Utah.

Unfortunately, Than ended up with a very nasty migraine that put a damper on things for a few hours.  Fortunately, it was time to head to our hosts’ home and some rest, medicine, and quiet did the trick.  By the time dinner rolled around,  he had recovered and we enjoyed a pleasant walk to a nearby Italian/pizza place for a delicious meal together (marred only slightly by the fact that the TVs were playing the National Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Gross!!)  Then back to Nate and Kerry’s to put the kids to bed and share a pleasant evening of games and conversation.  It was so fun to see their home and enjoy their hospitality.


And after all that, it was finally time to head home.  A long day’s drive, cooperative travelers, Adventures in Odyssey, and then we were there.  Phew!


Thanks again to all our kind hosts for their warm welcome, their great ideas for things to do and places to eat, and the joy of time together.  Another year in the memory books, and we are already looking forward to the next one!



Fabulous 4th Part 2

Fabulous 4th Part 2


The center portion of our Idaho trip involved a new adventure.  We traveled across the state and ended up at my Aunt Lynda and Uncle Charlie’s house outside of Boise.  They have 15 acres on the Snake River, and we were graciously welcomed to celebrate the 4th with their family.


Katya was in heaven!!  There were 6 dogs running around the whole weekend, along with cows, chickens, and horses.  She wanted to move in!  She got to help with feeding, finding eggs, and even rode a horse for the first time.




Our time was full but somehow still relaxed–bountiful meals to eat on the back deck, a day spent playing in the river, fresh cherries picked from a nearby orchard, games, and plenty of conversation.


To celebrate the 4th itself, we started by enjoying a fireworks show the evening before.  It was impressive, especially for such a small area!  On the morning of the 4th, Katya and Than went into town early with my aunt to get ready for the parade.  The rest of the gang came along later and we watched fire trucks, antique cars, old tractors, and a few horses and floats make their way past our corner.


Later on in the day we got to watch a tractor pull–a contest where farmers test their machines and see which one can pull a heavy load the farthest.


After dinner we hopped into Jeeps and a truck and headed up a nearby hill/mountain.  Idaho still has amazing sections of untouched land available for recreational use and we were grateful for the chance to enjoy some of it.  My cousin is a fearless 4-wheeler, so Than and Nathan got to enjoy some particularly crazy driving while the rest of us watched, cheered, and climbed on the rocks.



As the sun began to set, we drove up to the top and settled down with snacks and blankets to wait for the fireworks.  Looking out over the valley, we were able to see the shows of 4 or 5 nearby towns and cities along with tons of little displays from houses and farms.  It was a whole different experience from the up-close fireworks of the night before.  It was neat to do it both ways.



The next day meant a return to the ordinary–my cousins and uncle headed back to work, Katya bid farewell to all her animal friends, and we headed back across Idaho.   Our time on the farm was a memorable way to celebrate many of the things that make our country great.


Fabulous 4th Part 1

Fabulous 4th Part 1

Our annual Independence Day visit to Idaho was divided into three parts this year, so I’ll split my posts accordingly.  The first leg of our journey involved getting there–a late night affair this time, arriving after midnight to slide gratefully into bed.  Highlights of the first few days included Reed’s Dairy ice cream, putting new fish in Grandpa’s pond, visiting the Revolutionary War exhibit at the museum, and a special trip to the Idaho Potato Museum.  How have we missed that gem?!!  “Free taters for out of staters,” a singing video-projected potato family in the spud cellar, lots of potato farm equipment, the world’s largest potato crisp (not to be confused with a potato chip) and a Mr. Potato Head play area.  And, of course, we had to have “Idaho Nachos” for lunch.  French fries with nacho toppings-yum!




Of course, one of the favorite nights of the trip is the evening of the home fireworks display on the driveway.  Uncle Nate and Aunt Kerry arrived in plenty of time for one more stop by the fireworks store, and then the boys spend a good while planning and assembling the annual extravaganza.  Katya wasn’t so sure she liked the idea of all that noise and fire, but some ear protection from Grandpa helped…


Sparklers, fountains, smoke bombs, snakes, crackling balls, ground blooms, fireworks that lay “eggs”, a pop-up pagoda–the list goes on and on!  Each year the creativity blossoms and the show never fails to disappoint.  Thanks, boys!



Idaho-Katya’s View

Idaho-Katya’s View

This is the last Idaho post, I promise.  We gave Katya the camera for a bit while we were camping, and I always find it interesting to get a glimpse into how my kids see the world.  These are the pics she took…






And there you have it, folks.  Another Idaho vacation filed in the memory banks.  I’m already looking forward to next year…

Idaho-Random Pics

Idaho-Random Pics

A few more random pictures from our Idaho trip…


Nathan’s road trip pose.  Yes, he wore the head lamp the entire trip there.


Katya’s road trip pose.  Contrary to the expressions on their faces, we really do enjoy the drive.  It is good family time together and the older they get the easier it is to do.  We listen to lots of episodes from Adventures in Odyssey, eat fun snacks, and do whatever Pinterest-inspired road trip activities I brought along.  The kids also do more and more self-initiated reading and playing while Than and I talk.


The boys, shaking off road weariness with a game of Frisbee golf.


The girls, walking around the park creating quickie fairy houses as they go.


Nathan, hanging out at the campsite with his new nature book and his new grandma-made pillow dog.  There’s relaxation for you!


And one more pic of grown-up silliness.  Laughing is so good!!



Our annual Idaho vacation nearly always includes a camping trip, and this time we did it at the very end of our week away.  Nate and Kerry were able to join us and Nate even found out about a campground none of us had ever visited before.  It was a wonderful way to end our time together.


Our campground was very shady with a great hill for exploring, a stream across the road, and plenty of treasures to find for our campground scavenger hunt and our Genesis 1 group devotional time.


Campfire meals included hobo pies and Dutch oven green chili chicken.  Yum!!  One morning we traveled to the nearby town of Lava to go down the water slides, swim in the pool, and eat pizza for lunch.  Nathan loved the smaller water slides, and Katya got over her fear finally and went for it too.  Nate, Kerry, Dad, and Than were brave enough to go on the big long slide, but mom and I didn’t take that plunge.


And of course, what would camping be without S’mores?!!  Thanks especially are due to mom for planning all the food, packing most of the gear, and keeping the campsite organized, and dad for hauling the trailer up there, splitting wood, and giving everyone places to sleep.


We enjoyed talking around the campfire, playing with glow sticks, hiking around the area, discussing favorite Bible verses, looking at the stars, and playing several games.

This is my favorite picture from the whole week.  Love this tribe!!


Idaho-4th of July

Idaho-4th of July

What would 4th of July look like in any place besides Idaho?  I don’t even know how it is celebrated in Denver, it has been that long!

After not doing attending the usual festivities last year because of our trip to Yellowstone, it was nice to return to the classic events this year.  Especially nice was the joy of celebrating them with my brother’s fiancee.  She is a great sport, delightful to be with, and so kind to my kids.  We’ve all fallen in love, so we’re really glad Nate fell in love first!!

The 3rd of July featured our home fireworks show, and the 4th was full with the parade, watermelon and iced tea with family friends, grilled salmon for dinner, and the big city fireworks show viewed from a hill in the park.

Now, on to the pics–not much explanation needed here, but I’ll provide a few captions just in case.


Ahh, the joy of smoke bombs.  Nathan is old enough to light them on his own, and Katya has fun dancing through the colored smoke.


It is fun to watch my son as he joins more and more in the annual home fireworks extravaganza.


Sparklers are kind of like light sabers, right?!!


Katya is still very afraid of the loud booms, but sparklers are OK.


The boys, playing with fire to the delight of the driveway crowd.


The parade, over 100 units long, plenty of candy thrown but also plenty of sitting in the sun…


And the happy couple, showing off their stylish shades while watching the floats go by.


Katya, posing after the parade with one of her favorite floats which we just happened to see parked around the corner from mom and dad’s house.


As if fireworks weren’t enough, we also had to have fun with dry ice.


(Soon-to-be) Aunt Kerry blows dry ice bubbles.


Yep, loud noises and explosions are part of this holiday.  (And as a more serious side note, I am always reminded of how grateful I am to live in a country where my children don’t live in fear of actual bombs and gunfire.  Such an undeserved grace extended by God to us.)


And the crew, waiting for the fireworks to start.

Idaho-Playing Around

Idaho-Playing Around

Hooray for our annual summer trip to Idaho.  There are always fun things going on when grandma and grandpa are around!

Katya was the official fish feeder, taking her duties very seriously twice a day.  She also got to add some new goldfish to the pond, hopefully to rebuild the school after a neighborhood cat interfered!!

One of our fun days was spent at a local amusement park of sorts.  Unlike the big city parks with tons of lines, big crowds, and lots of scary rides, this one was nearly empty.  There were only a few things to do, but we got to do everything as much as we liked.  Katya was the only driver on the little kid go-cart course!


We all had fun driving the bigger go-carts and did that a few times.  We also spent some time in the batting cages–even grandma and mommy did a pretty good job!


This huge spinning see-saw provided fun for everyone.  I think Nathan was the best at catching and ringing the bell way up in the air!


We also had a picnic there, squirted each other with the bumper boats, and even managed to squeeze in 9 holes of mini golf.

The next day was full of nautical adventure.  First we headed to the Snake River for a delightful canoe ride.  Nathan is actually getting to be a pretty good paddler!


Katya still doesn’t help much with the rowing, but she is in charge of spotting birds and dangling things in the water.


We paddled to an island in the middle of the river and it was fun to see how far out everyone could wade on the shallow side.


After a quick lunch at our favorite local Mexican fast food, we continued the maritime theme with a visit to the pirate exhibit at the local museum.  It was very well presented, full of interesting facts and artifacts both real and recreated.  There was also some information about how this pirate ship was unearthed and the items in it recovered from their long sojourn under the sea.


No trip to Idaho would feel right without several visits to Reed’s Dairy, of course–still the best ice cream ever.


And still lots of fun to see the cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and donkey.  This trip we also got to see miniature horses owned by one of the doctors mom works with.  They were really pretty!


We also enjoyed playing games, spending time talking, and doing craft projects–check out Katya’s cool Sharpie-tie-dye hat.  (Nathan made one too, as did grandma and mom.)


There is nothing quite like going “home” again.



Just one day after arriving in Idaho Falls, we packed up and left again for two nights of camping outside Yellowstone National Park.


Having visited the park several times as a child, but never as an adult, it was fun to introduce my kids to things I remembered from long ago.  (They also got introduced to long hot boardwalks and crowded parking lots, other things I also remember but not quite so fondly…!!)


Junior Ranger guide in hand again, we hit all the famous attractions.  I had forgotten how strange and amazing it is to see all these different colors and features just popping up in the middle of the lodgepole forests.


The kids especially enjoyed the funny bubbling mud pots and the adventure of standing right next to an erupting geyser and getting sprayed with the steam and condensation.


I enjoyed watching all the interesting people everywhere and seeing the beautiful colors, so rich and varied.


It was particularly special to experience the park with mom, dad, and my brother along.  I love being with family!!


Old Faithful didn’t disappoint, and now our kids have Yellowstone memories all their own.



At Home in Idaho

At Home in Idaho

One of the things I like about visiting the same place year after year is the chance to do favorite old things as well as try out new things. Here’s a combination of new and old from this year’s Idaho vacation…



animals and ice cream at Reed’s Dairy (Rocky Road is still the best!)


home fireworks headed up by Than and Uncle Nate


getting fish for Grandpa’s aquarium (I think this was one of Katya’s most favorite parts)


playing Grandma’s plentiful toy stash, featuring favorites from Mommy’s childhood and new things she has picked up here and there



Nathan, now old enough to light his own fireworks (with supervision, of course). If a smoke bomb is good, it must be better when it comes out of a box!


voyaging to the South Pole through a well designed exhibit at the museum


“Discovering” two islands in the Snake River by canoe (Nathan pretended we were on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)


Nathan making us a special desert from his new birthday cookbook, featuring Grandma’s home-grown raspberries fresh from the bush


trying out some new restaurants

I am realizing that with two kids in school and a boy who is rapidly growing past my shoulders that these trips will continue to fly by rapidly–who knows how many more times we will do them before high school or college or summer jobs or other life changes interfere.  I am grateful for so many memorable moments!!