Our Disneyland Spring Break Vacation

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We had the time of our lives on a three-day vacation to Disneyland! Last Sunday, we told the kids that we were going to a very early church service and as they were about to jump into the car we told them we were going to Disneyland instead. You should have seen their faces!

Along with my parents we arrived at the airport at 7am for an early flight to Orange County. It was Nolan’s first plane ride and besides being way too large to be a lap child, he was perfect! I’m telling you, this kid makes life with three so much fun (and actually not too difficult). When we landed, we persuaded my parents to give Uber a try for the first-time. It took a bit of convincing since my mom is certain that everyone is “out to steal her credit card” and Uber is no exception but after one ride, they are now believers.

We arrived at the hotel, dropped off our bags and boarded a shuttle to Disneyland! We were inside the Disneyland Park gates just in time to eat lunch with Darth Vader. Perfect timing! Below are some photos and stories from our Disneyland vacation. I had a hard time narrowing down photos for this post, so apologies for the photo overload.

 

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As I was waiting for Ryan and the kids to finish up a ride, Nolan and I were walking up and down Main Street. I was people watching and he was chasing anyone who had a balloon. About five minutes later, he decided to sit in the MIDDLE of Main Street. I apologized to about 50 people who had to walk around him, but then noticed that everyone smiled the minute they saw him. There is something about a cute pudgy baby that no one can resist.

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Our favorite California residents Aunt Lauren and Uncle Brian drove down from Los Angeles to meet us for dinner. About seven minutes into this plate of spaghetti I realized that I forgot to pack two important things: Nolan’s bib and my makeup bag. Looking back on this photo, the bib was missed the most.

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It took this picture just as we arrived at California Adventure Park. Since Kelsey “remembers more” from the last time she was here, she took Colton’s finger and started pointing at all of the sights – explaining to him, “this is this and that is that” – it was so incredibly cute! And, believe it or not, these two got along the ENTIRE trip. Not one fight between them. If you have two kids close in age you know how miraculous this is!

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*Colton is pointing to Cross street. 🙂

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Nolan woke up from his nap, jumped out of his stroller and strutted around Cars Land. This was the cutest moment … he looks like such a man on a mission.

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Talk about the thrill of the ride, these kids were obsessed with all of the exhilarating rides like Thunder Mountain. Which was so interesting to me because the last time we went to Disneyworld (seen here) they were more into the characters than the rides. It’s funny how quickly their interests change.

Ryan and I were riding Thunder Mountain with Kelsey and Colton – if you have been on this ride, then you know it’s a jerky rollercoaster with a lot of turns and dips – and, I don’t love rollercoasters, in fact, I’m pretty terrified of heights so I’m not the best one to partner up with. Anyway, as we were on our second dip my eyes began to water. This is new, I thought. Must be something that happens when you get old (ha!) but then Kelsey turned to me and I noticed her eyes were watering too. She and I busted out laughing and the boys just looked at us like we were insane. Guess that’s a genetic thing we do … we cry on rides.

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I love this photo. Colton’s face is so sweet, innocent and filled with joy. Ryan’s got our 18 month old on his own horse. And, if you look closely, you’ll noticed Ryan is strapped in. Yep. He is THE ONLY adult in history that uses a seatbelt on a merry-go-round horse. That’s my husband, folks. Mr. Safety First.

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I tried so hard to stay away from desserts on this trip, but when your son hands you his incredibly messy and melting Mickey Mouse ice cream and says he “is done” you kind of just devour the rest of it without thinking. And the churros … don’t even get me started on the churros.

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*That moment you realize you’re on a baby ride.

Bug’s Land was a trip. The kids loved the bumper cars but after Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, the Bug’s Land “rollercoaster” just didn’t cut it. However, if you get the chance, do the Bug’s Life 3D movie. It was incredible and the kids enjoyed every second of it.

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*Spring was in full bloom at the park.

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* What happens when Grandpa is in charge of getting breakfast

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The kids wanted to go on Space Mountain (whose kids are these?) and Ryan snapped this photo just before we boarded the ride. Colton’s face symbolizes how he felt going in … and coming out. He wasn’t a fan but Kelsey took about 30 seconds to regroup and then asked if she could ride it again. Little thrill seekers, I tell you.

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My dad bought the kids these Mickey bubble wands. They light up at night and put out a gazillion bubbles. It added to the magic. Thank you, dad. And thank you for buying three of these things (Colton lost his first one on our last evening so Grandpa replaced it).

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I have so many great memories from this trip, but the Electric Light Parade was particularly special. I remember seeing this same parade with parents when I was little, and here I am watching it with them and my husband and three children.

I twisted my ankle during a workout the day before we left for Disneyland (good timing, I know) and about 45 minutes before the parade started my ankle gave out on me. I told Ryan I would just sit alongside the street with Nolan to save our seats while he rode some rides with the kids. For awhile it was just Nolan and I in the center of Main Street watching the sun set over the Park. It was a special moment because Nolan just lit up my heart with his giggles as he danced in the middle of the street to the music. Moments later Ryan arrived with a churro in hand (he loves me so!) and we bundled up to watch the parade.

Disneyland has given me so many magical memories over my lifetime and this is another one I won’t forget.

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*No more pictures, mom!

There is something about Disneyland that gives parents freedom from judgement. Am I right? It’s like, if your child is throwing a tantrum or screaming in the middle of the restaurant … it doesn’t matter because everyone around you is in the same boat. At Disneyland, it’s like you’re in a safe zone because everyone around you “gets it”. I wish the world was more like that, don’t you? No judgement for parents. Just everyone living for the moment.

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I snapped this photo on our last night from the top of Tarzan’s tree house. We were climbing up the treehouse when I happened to glance back and see this gorgeous sight and it’s one I will never forget.

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And that’s a wrap! The kids (and my mom) have already started to plan for Disneyworld 2019. We have plans to go back to Florida with my brothers and sister-in-law. Maybe for Ryan’s 40th birthday? He wants to go to Europe, but maybe we’ll end up at Epcot instead. Or, maybe I can convince him to invest in both. Wish me luck on that!

Our first day in Napa Valley!

If you get the opportunity to date your husband, I highly recommend it. I had THE best time with Ryan celebrating our anniversary. The grandparents (thank the Lord for them!) watched all three of our kids while we lived it up … together. Everything we did was amazing – it was the wine, the food, but mostly the great company. I laughed more than I have in a long time. I actually forgot how funny my husband is. I really can’t stress this enough: Date your spouse! Here are a few stories from our first day in Napa.

We started the day at Bouchon Bakery. It’s Thomas Keller’s bakery and it did not disappoint. We were only stopping in for coffee, but when we saw all of the pastries lined up we couldn’t resist. You know when you wake up on day two and say, “Let’s go back!” that it’s a great bakery. Worth the visit if you’re in the area.

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

If you’re wondering, the coffee (aka the reason we came) was great too! Next stop: Duckhorn Vineyards. It was our first winery and it was the best start to the day. We showed up at 10am on a Monday and had the place to ourselves for the first hour. We were greeted with a private table on their porch (it felt like we were being invited into someone’s house) and indulged in great wine, good music and amazing views.

The vineyard cat, Kitter, was a highlight for us. She followed us around as we explored the vineyard and then perched herself onto the chair next to us. Our host for the day (James) was so welcoming. We spent about 2 hours here, just sipping wine, enjoying the breeze, chatting, laughing, and walking around the vineyard.

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Did you read the sign? We parked right next to this tree. As we were walking back to the car we read that this is the tree they make wine cork from. It was super “spongey” and cool to see up close.

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After Duckhorn, we visited Dean and DeLuca to grab sandwiches and snacks for lunch. This place was awesome! You can pick up meats, cheeses and crackers for a day of tasting – along with cute gifts for friends back home.

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Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa
Dean and Deluca Napa

You’re not supposed to do this (so .. shhhh!) but we took our lunch across the street to V. Sattui and had a picnic lunch on their lawn. Someone told me this place wasn’t worth the trip, but I disagree. The grounds were beautiful and they had so many picnic tables, making it the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. You just aren’t supposed to bring outside food in because they have their own grocery shop inside (we didn’t know that until we got there). I fell in love with the rose bushes here – take a look at how beautiful they were.

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Now, for the best views of the day! After lunch, we went to Joseph Phelps for another wine tasting. As we drove up the long windy, road we knew we were in for something great. We stepped into their winery and the huge oak barrels, cozy interior design and sophisticated ambiance made for a totally different experience than Duckhorn.

We learned a lot about their wine and even got to taste Backus – a super rare wine typically reserved for wine club members only due to its very limited supply. Insignia was one of my favorite wines and one that I may have to find back in Arizona. Except it’s about $200 per bottle. That’s okay, right honey? I could hear him gulp after I told him, “Wow! I really love this one.”

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How handsome is he? I’m super lucky.

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Can you believe these views? We stayed here for about two hours and the only reason we left was to get some downtime back at the hotel before dinner. I highly recommend this winery (although it’s $75 for a tasting, per person) it was worth it. Speaking of dinner, GO TO BOTTEGA. Seriously. Go. It was the best Italian food we have had in a long time. Not to mention, half way through dinner Ryan slipped me a new Tiffany necklace for our anniversary. I’m telling you … this vacation was magic!

After dinner, we walked to the local market because I forgot to pack my toothbrush (I ALWAYS forget to pack my toothbrush) and on our way back we stopped at Bistro Jeanty – super small, French bistro in the town of Yountville. We sat on this little table outside, as we waited for our Uber, listening to the most amazing music. It felt like we were in Paris.

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bottega in napa valley - mom blogger

This one elderly couple walked out of the restaurant as we were sitting outside. The wife took one look us – I imagine we looked weird holding a brown paper sack (my toothbrush) – and raised her hands in the air and shouted, “This is why I love this town!!!” I’m not really sure what that meant, or how many cocktails she had, but I would like to think it was because this city evokes love and joy in everyone.

Napa Valley: The Westin and Oxbow Market

My husband and I just got back from three days in Napa Valley for our anniversary! If you are looking for a new vacation spot and want some place full of beautiful scenery, amazing food, great wine (and lots of it!) then Napa Valley is for you. We saw so much and are still relishing in excitement from the trip.

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Westin Napa Resorts

 

We stayed at the Westin Verasa Napa resort. They were so good to us; they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite upon arrival (that never happens!) and had complimentary tapas and wine every night. The resort is located within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley and the Oxbow Market, and sits along the Napa River.

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After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the Market for dinner. We ate at Kitchen Door (the pizza is fabulous) and indulged in an old-school double scoop of ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream. We explored the many different vendors in the Market and then enjoyed a super relaxing walk back to the hotel. It was the perfect start to a vacation we’ll never forget.

Here are some photos of us exploring the Oxbow Market, and of our view walking back to the resort.

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I was putting the lens cap back on my camera when I accidentally snapped this picture and yet, it’s my favorite photo from the night. See my camera strap in the way? Me either. I’m just focusing on the moment too. 🙂

What I learned this weekend

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Every mother I talk to seems to struggle with accepting help from other people. I am guilty of this too. In fact, there is this strange voice inside your motherly head that tries to tell you that you’re not Super Mom if you accept help from others. I found myself arguing with that voice this past weekend.

I was in the bathroom of my in-laws cabin when I just lost it. I leaned my head over the bathroom sink, put my head in my hands, and started to cry. A pretty good cry too; the kind of cry where your freshly applied black mascara runs down your face, but at the same time the kind of cry where you try to stay really quiet so no one hears you.

I was crying for all sorts of reasons – morning sickness won’t go away, my clothes don’t fit, I didn’t hang out with my kids enough this morning, Colton won’t sleep through the night, I must suck, yadda yadda – but the real reason was, I was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. When I came out of the bathroom and my pity party, I could tell that everyone noticed something was wrong.

That night, my in-laws offered to take my kids to dinner so Ryan and I could have a night out (we were spending the weekend with them at the family cabin). Again, that voice came up and tried to tell me that I should be going to dinner with my kids. If it wasn’t my anniversary, I probably would have insisted that we all go together instead. It’s that stupid voice that doesn’t let you accept help.

When we got home, my in-laws had the kids bathed and ready for bed. Just as I was about to go to bed myself, my mother-in-law offered to have a “sleep over with the kids” in her bed. This meant that I could sleep for a full 6 hours, or 8 hours, or whenever my little heart desired because there wouldn’t be little footsteps approaching my bed before the sun rises to wake me up in the morning.

Again, that voice started to chime in and tell me that I was a horrible mom for not sleeping with my own kids. But before I could even open my mouth and argue, my husband shot me “a look” and my mother-in-law shooed me away. Thank the Lord for them because I slept until 7:30am … uninterrupted. I woke up feeling like a different person. I came downstairs to find breakfast being served, the kids in great spirits (and really happy to see me) and no one looking at me like I was a loser, lazy mom for sleeping in.

You see, nothing bad happened when I accepted the help. No one thought I was a horrible mom and I got the rest that I so desperately needed. And my mother in law? She got sleep too! Isn’t that always the way it goes? Kids are way more behaved and cooperative for their grandparents (or do grandparents have some secret parenting power that we haven’t learned yet?). Either way, I learned a lot this weekend. I learned to step aside more often and ignore that little voice inside my head that tells me I have to do it all. If not for my sanity, for the sanity of everyone around me.

Meanwhile, my husband is currently with both kids at Costco right now so I can blog, rest and just be in silence for a little bit. So yet again … I’m getting spoiled by others and I’m soaking in every single moment. Don’t judge. Here are some photos from our weekend.

Thanks for listening.

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My baby bump at 20 weeks. We decided on a name this weekend: Nolan Ryan Cross will arrive in this world September 2015!! To say we are excited is an understatement; we are over the moon! The kids have been calling him “baby Nolan” all weekend. It’s official.

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You can’t tell from this photo, but her hat has kitten ears and a tail on it. Colton kept ‘petting her all day’ and saying, come here my little kitty kat. It was the cutest thing. She didn’t like that much, but Colton and I got a kick out of it.

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Pinetop

Colton wanted Ryan to eat this leaf so badly. He kept throwing it into his face saying, “eat it!” Ryan actually took a bite out of it and then I thought he was going to panic because he started spitting it out so frantically. It’s just a leaf, babe. You will survive.

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Until next time.

Cabin Conversations with Kelsey

Earlier this summer, we went to the cabin. I am just now looking through all of the videos I took. I stopped and smiled listening to Kelsey tell me all about mosquito bites she got “a long time ago.” I think her bed head just makes the video that much more perfect.


Finding your happy place

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I have no idea where your happy place is, but I’m sure it’s somewhere fabulous. Maybe it’s your parents house during the holidays, or a beachside hammock in Hawaii, or simply at the bottom of a great glass of Merlot and a good book … wherever your happy place is, I hope you go there often. For me, it’s our family cabin in the mountains. It takes us about 4 hours and two screaming kids to get there, but once we are there … every moment turns into a happy one. We just returned from the cabin, here are some photos of our trip.

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This bubble maker is a cabin staple item. It’s supposed to be Colton’s favorite thing (and my last resort when I can’t get him to stop throwing a tantrum). Whenever Colton sees this bubble maker he starts freaking out in excitement, “Bubbles. Bubbles. My bubbles. Bubbles!” Then, of course, when I brought him up to the bubble maker, he just stood there frozen with his eyes wide open.

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G-ma bought Kelsey this cool game of Hello Kitty. It’s basically these suction cup kittens that stick to each page, creating a new scene. She would empty her water bottle ever so carefully onto each Hello Kitty piece to create the perfect suction, and then place it ever so gently on the page. Such a meticulous one, this child is. She gets that patience and keen attention to detail from her father.

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Who knew the doorbell would be such a hit. Colton would run outside and say, “Button!” and then run around the cabin to the front door. He can finally reach the doorbell now (all 37 1/2 inches of him!) and then he would knock on the door and continuously ring the doorbell until his sister answered. This was a fun game that drove everyone inside mad.

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We were on the swings a lot. Colton isn’t super excited in this moment because he wanted his dad to push him and not me (I’ve been demoted to someone who can only watch). And then little Kelsey Jean would only go slow (she haaaaates a fast swing ride, always has) so I was forced into taking their photos. Ha. Jokes on them.

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Ryan bought me a new camera lens, so he was being a good sport while I practiced taking close ups of him. This is also one of the last pictures you’ll see with his beard. He shaved it last night. I think he looks handsome both ways, but I was kind of excited he shaved it. I like seeing his entire face. And that thing poked my nose every time I went in for a smooch.

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My sister-in-law and her boyfriend also joined us for the weekend (which was amazing to get to know him better and see her, since she lives in California). We went on a great hike while G-Ma hung out with the kiddos. I’m telling you, when you can build babysitting into your vacation, then you’ve got it made. More photos on that hike coming soon.

The best (summer) day I ever had

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Pinetop
During our week long vacation in Pinetop, Kelsey and I were out shopping at Eddie’s Country store (here). Directly across the street from Eddie’s is a popular steakhouse called, Charlie Clark’s. Someone once told me that Charlie Clark’s offers live music in their orchard and that we should try to go. So, I called them up. I was certain live music was only on offered on the weekends but to my surprise they do live music in the orchard on Wednesdays too. Perfect!

After the kids took their naps we loaded them up and drove down to Charlie Clark’s orchard (it’s right behind their restaurant). We found a small little table and sat down. I already knew this was going to be a fabulous night from the look of the place – old signage, rustic tables and chairs, a dance floor (I mean, come on!), country music, twinkle lights, perfect weather and huge trees all around.

There was this large grass area for the kids to run around in (and any parent knows waiting for your food to arrive is always a gamble so to be able to let your kids run around and play while you talk to your husband … well, that’s a dining out dream). Kelsey brought her baby doll and, together with Colton, they played “keep away” from one another. I got that on video, so I’ll have to share it with you. Seeing them play so well together was music to my ears. The table we were sitting at was off to the side and had a little itty bitty sign on it that said “no bar or food service”. But our waitress clearly saw that we were there to stay and served us anyway – score!

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As the drinks started coming, the sun started to set and the musician started to play. It really was the perfect evening. Kelsey wanted to dance so she grabbed Ryan’s hand and led him to the dance floor. Then we all joined in; which wasn’t as embarrassing as it sounds, it was actually pretty special. When the musician asked the audience what they would like to hear next, Kelsey leaned over to me and said, “Mom, do you think he knows Let it Go.” I couldn’t help but laugh. We decided to ask … so, we put money in his tip jar, walked up to him and asked if he knew anything from the Frozen soundtrack (for the record, he doesn’t).

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Then, Kelsey did something that really took me back. She found all of these green fruits (we’ll call them that because I have no clue what they were) and started collecting them. In a matter of seconds, Colton wanted in on the fun – only he started to eat the green fruits, which started to make her upset … so I needed to come up with a way to keep the peace. I had an idea. Kelsey and I would find a secret, secret hiding spot for our fruit so Colton couldn’t get them.

She thought I was the smartest person ever, so off we went to collect these green things. Then, it hit me. I had this blast from the past moment where I had done this before. Did I do this when I was little? Had I played this exact game before? I can’t remember much but I do remember being at a family reunion with my family, under large green trees, playing keep away with my cousins. The sun was setting, just like this evening was, and we were all running around giggling. That’s about as much as I recall but in this moment that rush and euphoric feeling of being with my family and being a kid came over me.

I looked up and realized that parenting is much more than being in the present. It’s about letting your inner kid come out and allowing yourself to relive the past. In that moment, I remembered my childhood so vividly .. and there I was playing this game of hide and seek and really influencing Kelsey’s childhood in such a positive way. Oh, I hope she remembers this moment forever. Or at the very least, when she is in her thirties and her children are running around laughing, playing, and having fun that it transports her back to a moment like this. A moment where mom was the smartest person in the world, dad was the strongest and her brother was the coolest.

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If that wasn’t enough, the check presenters were mousetraps. I mean … that’s just darn cute. The next time you find yourself in Pinetop, Arizona, check out Charlie Clark’s for live music, dinner, and a really good time.

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“Mom, I got this.”

Kelsey has the art of posing in front of the camera down like a science. It’s like girls are just born with natural swagger. Colton on the other hand could care less if the camera is pointed his way.

I kept saying, “Colon, look over here. Colton, look at mommy. Colton, smile.” Finally, Kelsey took matters into her own hands and said, “Mom, I can get him to look at you.” Thanks, Kelsey.

little bear lake - manyhatsofamom.com

little bear lake - manyhatsofamom.comlittle bear lake We took these two to “Little Bear Lake” and watched as they strutted around. Kelsey was so proud to show me her “camp site”. It was actually this location where Ryan and Kelsey recently went camping (more from their past kids camping trip here.) We hope the first few days of summer are treating you well. We sure are having fun.