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Winter fun: Tubing

Winter fun: Tubing

If your family is like mine then you have some kids that love the snow and some kids that hate the snow. Our ratio is 5:1 but that one kid can make things miserable for the rest of us on family adventures.

One of the winter traditions that all 6 of us enjoy is to go tubing as a family. We have gone tubing at Soldier Hollow in Midway and Woodward Park in Park City. Both are fantastic places that include a conveyor belt to take you to the top of the hill. It makes life a lot easier. Dragging multiple tubes up the hill all while holding little kids hands etc is NOT EASY!

The convenience of these hills does come at a price. Tickets for a 2 hour time period can run up to $34 a person. However, Groupon does deals every year and makes the experience much more affordable. Make sure you check for deals before you go.

This is one of our favorite winter adventures as a family. Ben and I have as much fun as the kids!

So what do you think? Want to try speed tubing with a no effort climb?

“Share-My-Story” Series: Anne

“Share-My-Story” Series: Anne

I am the epitome of a “people person.” All through my single years, I felt enlivened after spending an evening at a party or dinner with friends. I ate up the laughter and applause from audiences any time I’d perform in community theater shows. I loved seeing new places and meeting new people. I was energetic, goofy, and thoroughly enjoyed making people laugh. 

Fast forward to my first son’s 1st birthday: my husband and I bought a birthday cake and a pregnancy test at the grocery store. It was positive. We were elated! 

But with the birth of my second son came a dark cloud. I wasn’t adjusting to two kids like I’d hoped. I wasn’t bonding with the baby like I wanted. Nothing was right. I was so, so, so stressed trying to juggle a newborn and a one-year-old. If I wasn’t stressing over them while they were awake, I was sobbing to myself in the middle of the night, hounded by the intrusive thoughts of their death or my husband’s death. But I didn’t feel depressed. I wasn’t sad or full of despair. So this couldn’t be post partum depression, right? All I knew was I used to be such a happy person. I was a happy person, so what was this???

 Because now I was always livid. My emotions constantly hovered just below boiling point. I was angry. I was screaming. I wanted so badly to punch a hole in every wall. This compounded with insomnia and a newborn who would not. stop. crying. I was losing it almost daily and freaking out and literally screaming at my 22 month-old toddler who could barely talk in sentences, let alone comprehend that Mommy was upset. Inevitably I’d crumble into a heap of guilty tears, hugging him and saying “I’m sorry,” over and over. When my baby was four months old, I finally texted my husband, saying I didn’t recognize myself and needed to go to therapy.  After doing some research, I chose a therapist who specialized in maternal mental health. She knew exactly what was happening.

 It was postpartum rage, and I was drowning in it. Considered to be under the umbrella of postpartum depression, but more rare, articles addressing the disorder only just started popping up online within the last few years (I know because they weren’t there four years ago when I was googling like crazy why I felt crazy). Over the next 10 months of therapy, I started to gain crucial insight, including how to recognize triggers, how to cope and deal with rage outbursts,  the value of self care, and how to maintain my identity outside of Mother as a “people-person.” As much as I loved my healthy bright boys, I felt so lonely. For some reason it was so much harder to make friends, close friends now that I was a mom. I needed people.

My husband was incredibly supportive and said we should set up our schedules and finances so I could take weekend trips here and there to re-energize myself. I also desperately ached for a creative outlet since performing wasn’t really doable at the time, and signed up for a Beginning Photography night class at a local college. 

I began taking short trips to visit old friends who lived in other states and on one occasion, I scored killer plane tickets and enjoyed a whirlwind “Mama Spring Break” trip to Greece with an old friend from college. (I highly don’t suggest a quick turn around trip to the other side of the world but also, it was wild and amazing and exhauuuusting and incredible and I cherish it dearly). Traveling had been a deep passion of mine and it felt so good to be doing it again! Most of all to be traveling with a friend. Both of us were mamas. But for those few days in Greece, we were wide-eyed, excited college kids again, ready to tackle the map and see it all!

 Nothing bonds two people like experiencing a foreign country together. You could end up having the worst time or an awful Airbnb, or get lost in a city and not know the language or run out of money ooooor you stumble on the most amazing, charming, cobblestoned seaside town in the history of ever and there’s just no explaining it to anyone else. Either way, doing it alongside a dear friend makes it pure adventure and you’re forever connected in that experience. In between site seeing and over meals, we poured our hearts out to each other about our frustrations and excitements, about our business dreams, about how surreal and amazing it was to be there, about how much fun we had way back when when we were roommates in London, about how amazing our babies are, about how amazing our husbands are, what it’s like to be older with so many more responsibilities and unknowns. We were connecting as mothers and friends. And it was so very healing. 

Inevitably, each time I’m away, I always have a very definitive moment where something happens, a feeling strikes my heart, and I always have the thought, “I’m ready to go back now. I miss my kids so much it hurts.” That short time away where I’m able to connect with another woman who totally gets it is therapeutic in every way and I’m so much better prepared to tackle motherhood once I return. I’m literally aching for it. But most importantly, when I’m in the throes of day to day life, I realize simple connections like a phone call or a Marco Polo message buoy me up and help me to keep going and stay sane. 

The rage still flairs from time to time to be honest. It But I know how to cope with it now, and know it’s ok to step away for a moment. Remember: Momming is hard! Do it with a friend, take breaks, and look at the scenery when you can!

Grand Staircase National Monument

Grand Staircase National Monument

If you like slot canyons you need to plan a trip to Grand Staircase National Monument. Peek-a-boo and Spooky canyons are spectacular. The route for those two canyons is 6.3 miles round-trip. While you are there I also recommend visiting Devil’s Garden, the Betty Caves and Lower Calf Creek Falls. There is so much to do in Escalante. You will love it!

The trail for Peek-a-boo and Spooky canyons has been recently renovated. The road to the trailhead is very accessible, brand new bathrooms have been installed, and the trail is groomed and marked with small hoodoos showing the way.

Before you go I have a few recommendations:

  • Check the weather before you plan. Slot canyons can be deadly in flash flood circumstances.
  • Pack enough water.
  • Plan your route before you go. Download maps on your phone because you won’t get internet in the canyons. I suggest using the AllTrails app. You can follow me on Alltrails and see the hikes I’ve done along with my reviews.
The entry for Peek-a-boo Canyon

There are only two places that require significant scrambling. Both are doable without ropes or technical gear. One is the entrance to Peek-a-boo (pictured above), the other spot is in Spooky canyon.

Peek-a-boo is breathtakingly beautiful. The rock formations and unique nature of the canyon make it memorable. Spooky canyon is narrow the majority of the canyon. I had to take off my pack for a large part of it. It’s thrilling to squeeze though and see the curves of the walls.

Spooky Canyon is a tight fit the majority of the way

Overall, I can’t say enough about how beautiful and fascinating these canyons are. The trail to enter the canyons has been well groomed and marked making the canyons very accessible. These canyons can bring so much joy and wonder to you but please be responsible when hiking. Know the weather, pack enough water and be smart.

Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.

Kid Hiking Day Pack

Kid Hiking Day Pack

All packs are the same size and fit each of my kids ages 11, 9, 6, 3

I hike with my kids more than I hike alone. My younger three all look forward to hiking and enjoy it immensely. We bring snacks and often ask friends to come along to make our time outside even more enjoyable. (Notice how I said younger 3?! My oldest daughter complains every time I say we are going on a hike. As soon as we are on the hike she enjoys it but when we get home she says she was miserable. Tweens!)

A few years ago we invested in Camelbak day packs for each of our kids. They have been a wonderful addition to our hiking gear. This is the pack we purchased for each of them: CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids Hydration Backpack, 50 oz.They cost around $50 a piece and have been worth the investment for our family. We use them every single hike and have had them for years. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to not carry the water and snacks for all of them. Plus, we don’t have to stop every time someone needs a drink. Which is a huge bonus when hiking with kids. Everyone is able to drink while they hike. If someone wants a snack while they hike no problem, they just pull one out of their pack and eat while they hike. I’m not stopping, taking off my pack and searching through all my snacks to find something they like. It really is glorious! It’s the little things that add up to a smooth and enjoyable experience when hiking with kids.

These packs are one of the best ways to alleviate the stress and strain of hiking with your kids. They are lightweight, compact, and will hold 50 fl oz (1.5 L) of water for them to get drinks as they need. It does not have a hip belt but has contoured, padded shoulder straps with a chest strap that easily adjusts to your child’s changing size. All four of my kids (ages 11, 9, 6, 3) wear the exact same pack. It’s lightweight with a built-in safety whistle, extra storage pockets, and reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments.

I love our packs and highly recommend them.

Our Family’s Top 10 Board Games

Our Family’s Top 10 Board Games

The past three weeks have been all about family time. We love playing games and wanted to share our top ten games with you. (I’ve included amazon links for all games.) For reference, the ages of my kids who play games are: 11, 9, and 6.

#1: Monopoly Deal. This is fast paced card game that is a lot more fun than regular monopoly. 2–5 players, game says 8+ but my 6 year old can play it without help and loves it.

#2: 8*28. Card game where you stop at 8 or 28. The player who ends up closest without going over wins. 2–6 players, game says 8+ but my 6 year old plays it with help.

#3: Qwixx. A fast family dice game. 2–5 players, game says 8+ but my 6 year old plays it with a little help.

#4: Catan, Junior. I bought the “junior” so my 6 year old could play with us. Everyone loves it and I will be purchasing the adult version of Catan next time I go to the store. 2–4 players, ages 6+.

#5: Otrio. This is glorified Tic Tac Toe. 2–4 players, game says 8+ but my 6 year old plays it without help.

#6: Ticket to Ride: Cross-country train adventure. 2–5 players, game says ages 8+ but my 6 year old plays it without help.

#7: ColorKu. It’s sudoku in color! Comes with hundreds of puzzles that need to be solved. Can be played solo or with a group. Ages 8+. My 6 year old doesn’t play this one.

#8: Dog Pile. The pup-packing puzzle. 48 puzzles from beginner to expert. 1 player at a time. Game says 10+ but my 9 year old is amazing at it. It’s fun, silly and complex.

#9: Blokus. Takes less than a minute to learn but promises to challenge your whole family. 2–4 players, game says 7+ but my 6 year old plays it without help.

#10: Rummikub. 2–4 players, games says 8+, but my 6 year old can play it with help.

I hope these games help create happy memories in your home during this pandemic.