Happy New Year! Quick 2017 Recap


What a year!  2017 was our first year as a family of five.  It was such a joy and juggling act.  It was also the year my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The year was chuck full of personal triumphs and personal failures.  And a year our loving Heavenly Father poured out innumerable sweet blessings.

I'm honestly not quite sure what to expect for 2018, but I'm working on a small list of goals.  In short, I want to be more intentional over the next twelve months.  I want to keep my priorities in order.  I want to use my time wisely to take care of myself, to pray and read my scriptures, and to show my family that they are my first loves.

Let's take a look at what happened in 2017:

January:  We experienced sub zero temperatures and a snow storm that canceled school.  We beat the winter blues by taking the boys out on their very first snowshoeing adventure.  I caught Conrad's sweet smile on camera for the first time and he was blessed by his Dadddy in church. 

February:  Another blizzard blew in and the boys had two more snow days!  We also enjoyed a wonderful weekend tucked away at a cabin in the mountains of Utah for a Wade family reunion.  While visiting Utah, Conrad met his Great Grandma Smith for the first time.

March:  During Spring Break, I took the boys to see the Lego Batman Movie in the theater and we visited the Nelson Dairy where we met baby Flint for the first time and got to tour Nicole's family's sheep farm.  Bron and I also escaped to Sun Valley (with Conrad in tow) for an overnight getaway.

April:  We celebrated Easter, Conrad ate his first solid meal, and Jed turned seven years old!  Jed also performed as a rabbit in his very first school play.  Then Bron and I traveled to St. George with friends for a weekend to rock climb, mountain bike, and hike in the sunshine.

May:  I enjoyed a girls' weekend at BYU Women's Conference with my mom, aunt, cousins, and grandma.  The entire Nelson family spent a day rock climbing at Castle Rocks.  Conrad learned to sit up by himself.  And last but certainly not least, my sister Lauren was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. 

June:  Bron and I raced in the River Dash Kayathalon.  It was also the month the little boys and I began our weekly trips to Bass Lake--our personal piece of paradise beneath the Perrine Bridge.

July:  We went camping at City of Rocks with friends for two nights and sat directly under the fireworks show in Burley on the 4th of July.  We also went raspberry picking at Grandma Nelson's house.  But the highlight was our family vacation to Bear Lake where we went hiking, swimming, boating, and ate delicious raspberry milkshakes.

August: We experienced Totality during the Great American Eclipse.  Bron and I mountain biked in the Pierre's Hole race again.  Levi turned five years old.  And the kids started school: 2nd grade and kindergarten.

September:  Bron ran the Cedar City Half Marathon.  Conrad got his first ear infection.  Our family spent a memorable day hiking to Titus Lake and back.

October: We enjoyed all things Fall by visiting the pumpkin patch and celebrating Halloween.  Conrad took his first steps.  I flew to Arizona to visit my sister and participate in the "Love for Lauren" 5k race.

November:  Conrad turned one year old and we celebrated Thanksgiving.

December:  Levi had his appendix removed.  Bron and I enjoyed dates to the new climbing gym that just opened.  We visited Crystal Hot Springs as a family, went sledding, and celebrated Christmas.




Conrad's new obsession: his bellybutton.  He's also interested in my bellybutton, but I'm not about to document that!

This 13 month old crazy kid is at such a fun age!  He's entering the toddler stage but is still so much my baby.  His tiny body folded up against mine still feels so good.  This morning, Bron got him out of bed and Conrad came running straight to me for a hug.  Melt my heart!  He still needs me just as much as I need him.  Don't grow up too fast, Conrad!

I often wonder as he drifts off to sleep in my arms while nursing how many more times he'll do just that.  He's ready to be weaned but I'm holding off as long as possible because of how much I thoroughly enjoy the three times a day when we steal ten quiet minutes together to cuddle.  It's honestly the only time he holds still!

Conrad is perpetually on the go-go-go these days.  He is, by far, my most active, curious, and destructive child.  He also has a bit of a temper and has learned how to scream!  Conrad loves playing with doors of all kinds, tears books into pieces simply because he enjoys the ripping sound, and lifts off the vent covers just to stick items down the hole. One day I found my missing sock in one.

Another day, I turned on the shower to warm it up.  By the time I'd walked to the sink, Conrad had hopped right into the spray, clothes and all!  It wasn't long before he was completely soaked but having a ball.  He's since become my little showering companion.  There's no keeping him from the water!

Just recently, Conrad found an entire leftover Christmas candy bar.  He wore the biggest grin on his face and upon seeing me, ran the other direction!  He ran, giggling, to hide behind the couch.  It was sooo funny!  He knew he was being a tease.   

Finally, in the amount of time it took me to clean up his space after breakfast one morning, Conrad had opened the top drawer of his dresser for the first time and grabbed his lotion. I found him sitting on the floor giggling, hands and face and clothes and carpet all covered in white gobs.  Yikes! 

I'm laughing for now but I'm half scared of what our future holds with this kid!  Conrad is already keeping me on my toes!  But I love him.  I love him.  I love him.

Christmas Day 2017


I'm so excited to share some Christmas pictures!  Every Christmas just seems so to feel more exciting and special as the boys are at such fun ages.  Jed and Levi are full blown believers while Conrad is just taking it all in with wide curious eyes.  The magic of Christmas was real at our house this year all because of these three.

Christmas Eve landed on a Sunday this year.  I loved going to church to sing hymn after hymn celebrating the birth of our Savior, but after that, we had an entire afternoon to kill with three enthusiastic and over-the-top excited children under our roof.  I tried entertaining Jed and Levi with some crafts and Bron made a delicious salmon dinner, but the evening still ending in fighting and tears between Jed and Levi.

Once we got the boys all settled into bed for the night, Bron and I looked at each other like, "Do they really deserve Christmas?"  Of course, we then cuddled up on the couch to watch It's a Wonderful Life and all felt right with the world again.

Jed awoke at 3:30AM, excited and eager to see what Santa had brought!  He honestly thought the city lights reflecting off the snow and clouds was the morning sun.  It took Bron a good minute to convince him otherwise.  Fortunately, he didn't wake up either Levi or Conrad, so Bron was able to help Jed settle back down and go to sleep.

Bron and I wound up waking the boys at 7:15AM!  It was Christmas!!!

Christmas Prep


The days after Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas seem to be packed to the brim with activity.  Partying, shopping, decorating, baking, crafting, wrapping, delivering, stamping, eating, visiting... and the list goes on!  There's so much to do and seemingly not quite enough time in which to do it!  It's a flurry that can put my head into a stressful spin if I'm not careful.  Some things fell by the way side this year, like the tradition I have had of wrapping up Christmas books with a countdown number to read every night before bed.  We just read the books instead.  And with two kids in school, we ran out of time to do all the little dollar crafts I'd purchased.  BUT the Christmas spirit was at an all time high in our home as we made some fun memories together as a family, so I'm pretty sure the month of December was a great success after all.

Take a peek at some of the things we did!

Magical Frost and Ice


Walking in a winter wonderland.  I love this phenomenon when the fog rolls in and wraps every single branch and blade of grass in frozen ice.  It's been sticking around for days now.  It's beautiful!  You know I had to document it with my lens and my favorite miniature model.  If we don't wind up with a white Christmas, this is sure a magical second best!  

Levi's Appendectomy


Well, an overnight hospital stay was not what I had planned for the weekend but I am feeling very grateful tonight. In another time or place I would not have my charismatic curly haired one-in-a-million five year old boy with us anymore.

Levi had surgery on Saturday afternoon to remove his appendix.

It started with what I assumed was a regular stomach bug on Friday afternoon.  Levi complained about his tummy hurting, so I let him stay home from school.  He didn't nap though.  Then he vomited ten minutes before we had to leave to pick Jed up from school!  Too late to change plans, I loaded the poor sick kid into the car with a metal bowl "just in case".  We went to Jed's ukulele lesson where Levi wandered around the music store with Conrad and me and then threw up in the bathroom.  Afterwards, we met Bron (whose truck was being serviced) and made a quick Target run for needed items.  Levi threw up in the bathroom there too.  For being only five years old, he was such a good sport!  We finally made it home where Levi rallied and ate a quesadilla for dinner.  Both Bron and I honestly thought the worst was over... until Levi threw up again around midnight.  We tucked him back into bed and didn't hear a peep from him again until around 7:30AM Saturday morning.

I found him on the couch crying and holding his lower right side.  He felt a little warm too.  Levi was in so much pain he couldn't walk!  That kid has a pretty high pain tolerance; the situation seemed pretty serious.  I suddenly knew the problem was his appendix.  Bron and I both separately--and without telling one another--looked up the signs for appendicitis.  Levi nailed all the classic symptoms.  

Bron called our friend Aaron over to give Levi a priesthood blessing.  Bron then carried Levi to the car and I rushed him to the hospital.  It hurt Levi to even move!

I carried Levi like a baby through the Quick Care doors.  I checked him in and when asked what he was there for, I boldly said, "I think he has appendicitis."  I surprised myself with how confident I sounded.  After all, I'm not a doctor or even a nurse!  Call it mother's intuition, but I just knew.

Fall Roundup


On Saturday September 23rd, we ventured up into the hills to find signs of Fall. We found Winter instead!  Then on Sunday, Jed and Levi had their Primary program at church. Levi knew every word to every song and sang with a big enthusiastic smile. Jed got bored and his eyes wandered all around the room, but he proudly waved to me from the stage. The spirit was so sweet as they sang about following Jesus. It's reassuring to me that we're at least doing one thing right in raising them; taking our boys to church each week is worth the effort.

Christmas Lights at Rock Creek


As the days get shorter and darker, I am grateful for the twinkling lights that light up the night.  After dinner yesterday, I bundled up the boys and took them over to see the Rock Creek Christmas lights. It was Christmas magic!  They were all so excited, but none more than Conrad who was taking it all in for the very first time.  He toddled around, scooted underneath barrier lines, and put his mouth on everything!  We stayed, wandering through the maze of lights, for a full hour.  I couldn't help laughing and enjoying myself right alongside my boys.  There's nothing like enthusiastic kids to set the mood.  It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! 

ONE Photo: December


frosted fall leaves

It's a new month and that means another blog circle of beautiful images!  I'm so excited for the eye candy.

Above is my one photo that stood out to me this month.  I snuck out of the house one cold morning with my camera before Bron mowed the lawn for the last time, successfully eliminating our yard of all its fallen brown leaves.  The icy edges of the leaves coupled with the soft November light practically begged to be photographed with my cheap little close-up lens that I use to capture details like this.  November isn't my favorite month because the colors of October are all gone, but it's still a really beautiful month.

Please click on over to Tara's blog post to see her ONE photo!

Thanksgiving 2017


^^Jed and Levi coloring in their jammies.  Long live slow, cold mornings!^^

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I didn't take nearly enough pictures of the people we enjoy it with.  I surprise myself with how much I look forward to our silly traditions!  We do them every year: we gather at the Nelson Dairy, we eat a fantastic dinner, pies line the kitchen countertops for dessert, we play board games in the evening, the ladies shop til we drop on Friday morning, and we all meet for bowling that afternoon.  It's a riot!  This year, however, Mama Nelson changed it up for us girls.  Instead of playing games, we made a Christmas craft after the kids went to bed.  I enjoyed it so much!   

I accidentally made Bron really worried on Thanksgiving day.  I left the house with Conrad and my camera in hand (but not my phone) intending to spend just a few minutes outside.  We wandered down the trail towards the river and suddenly 15 minutes turned into 90!  Ooops!  But with views like this, can you blame me?  Thanksgiving day was sunny and sixty degrees and BEAUTIFUL.  Lesson learned: I'll remember to take my phone with me next time I decide to go for a walk.

All Jed Wants for Christmas are His Three Front Teeth!


All Jed wants for Christmas are his 3 front teeth!

I'm so proud of this kid.  Just two weeks ago, he was honored as the 2nd grade student of the month at school. Last year was such a struggle, from reading, to social skills, to emotional outbursts that made us all worry.  But this year something just clicked and Jed is on fire.  His emotions have matured and his reading level has soared from an alarming sub first grade level to a 2.4 in just two months!  It is nothing short of amazing.  And such a sweet, sweet blessing.  Jed's successes make me so happy for him!  He has worked so hard to get this far.  It's the best feeling as a mother.

We love you so very much, Jed!!! 

Arizona for My Sister


During the last weekend of October, Conrad and I flew down to Arizona to visit my sister Lauren!  I'd been looking forward to the trip all month long.  We talk on the phone often, but my heart has been aching to give her a hug, to be there physically.

(For those that don't know Lauren's story, check out THIS POST and the TAIL END OF THIS POST). 

Lauren is doing well.  I am continually impressed with her grit and attitude.  Lauren puts on a brave face and smile; she's good at finding the silver linings and things for which to be grateful.  If you need someone to laugh with, Lauren is your girl!  But it's hard.  Cancer sucks.  She is tired.  Lauren just survived 8 rounds of chemotherapy and all of its noxious side-effects, including but not limited to: the loss of her hair (including her eyelashes and eyebrows), sores in her throat and mouth, painful knife-like stabbing neuropathy in her hands and feet, and feeling so tired and heavy that even watching tv was too much.  It makes my eyes tear up just writing about it.  But she did it!  Now Lauren is anxious about the next phase in her treatment which is surgery to remove both breasts next week.  We're all praying that surgery goes smoothly and complication free.

Cancer will forever change my sister, in every way imaginable.  From her physical looks, to her energy levels, to her outlook on life, she (and her family) will be changed because of this experience.  But for all the negative, I'd like to think that the little tender mercies of becoming a better and more intentional person will ultimately win out for Lauren.  I also think her family will be tighter because of it too.     

This is Halloween 2017


Another exciting and candy-filled Halloween is over and down in the books.  The boys had so much fun this year.  I love that Jed and Levi can pick a costume theme, actually agree on it, get super excited, and stick to it!

This season, Jed and Levi wanted to be characters from Guardians of the Galaxy.  They happened to choose their theme just as the second movie made it to Red Box.  Naturally, we had a movie night with popcorn to watch it--crude jokes and all.  Ooops.  Mom fail; I should have previewed it.  Fortunately, most of those crude references seemed to whisk right over their innocent little heads.  Haha.  Whew!      

It was Conrad's very first Halloween!  He just began walking this month.  I actually thought he'd make a better Frankenstein with that funny little hands-in-the-air toddle than anything else, but he didn't have a choice.  Conrad is a member of the Nelson trio and therefore a part of their shenanigans.  It's so strange to think I was hugely pregnant just last year.  And now my baby is walking!  After handing Conrad a lollipop, he surprisingly caught on to the festivities as well.  Conrad insisted on a combination of walking and crawling up to the front door for candy with everyone else!  Smart kid.

ONE Photo: November


pink rose with rain water droplets

Some professional photographers and I have collaborated on a monthly project to shoot just one picture each month that speaks to our hearts.  I hopped on board because it sounded like something I could stay excited about and not become overwhelmed! 

It rained one night a couple of weeks ago.  As I sent Jed off on the bus that morning, I knew I needed to get out there with my camera.  I took a gaggle of photos of Levi splashing and playing in the puddles in his new rain boots, but it was the roses in the front yard that stole my creative heart.  There is something so clean and beautiful about water droplets clinging to the colors in nature.

Please click on over to Tara's blog post to see her ONE photo!  I'm looking forward to clicking through the blog circle myself.  There is so much talent in this group.  I just know there is going to be some show-stopping imagery.

Ghost at Stricker Station


little girl ghost standing next to a window in an old home

As October came in and Halloween loomed on the horizon, I became a bit obsessed with creating some ghost photos.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to let my inner morbid side mesh with my need for a creative outlet through photography.  My friend Dani was on board with the idea of using her daughter, Piper, as a ghost model.  So one Sunday afternoon, we headed on over to the Old Stricker Station Homestead for a little photo shoot.  The home was built around the turn of the 20th century and is rumored to be haunted.  I've never experienced any paranormal activity there, but it sure was fun to play up those eery feelings with some Photoshop!  Piper made an awesome ghost.  I had so much fun creating these images.    

The Pumpkin Patch


A post full of obligatory pictures from our pumpkin patch adventure last night!

With three little kids, so many things remain undone around the house.  There always seems to be so many things to do and not enough time or energy to do them.  But leaving all that behind to make memories like these with my boys takes top priority on my to-do list.  I know I'll never regret it.  We all came home itchy and tired but our bellies and souls were full.



Ooops! It was a accident, Mom!"

Halloween is totally bringing out my morbid side. And it is so much fun! That said, I can't quit laughing at this picture cuz if it could happen in real life with these two, it probably would.

September Snapshots


Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night... every night the boys ask their dad to play catch with them in the backyard.  It makes Bron beam with pride.  Levi keeps telling me matter of factly, "We're into sports now, Mom!"  I don't mind.  I'm liking this new view.   In fact, Jed scored his very first soccer goal yesterday. He was still stoked and talking about it this morning! So here's to many years of sitting on the sidelines watching and cheering on sports of all kinds!

Driveway Bike Gang and Conrad's Trip to the Doctor


^^Driveway bike gang--and Conrad trying to keep up in his walker.  At least it's on wheels too!^^

We spent our Thursday evening at the doctor's office with Conrad for a ruptured ear drum.  Poor baby!  I had no idea he was so sick.  I suppose that is easy to do though when your baby is smiley and active all the time.  Conrad had a very stuffy nose for nearly two weeks.  We had some rough nights and he has preferred nursing over eating solid food, but he never ran a fever or indicated that anything else was wrong.  Over the last few days, his cold finally let up.  He was even sleeping through the night again.  And then this.  Ouch!  Poor, poor, baby.  The kid has a high pain tolerance. 

When I went to change Conrad's diaper, I noticed a thick snotty goo draining from his right ear.  "Oh, no!  That can't be good!" I thought to myself.  I immediately phoned a friend and then the doctor's office who suggested he come in that night to be seen.  Bummer.  I guess Jed and Levi would have to miss their soccer games because Bron was out of town.  Our trip to town was a three ringed circus that included a trip to the pharmacy and ended with ice cream, but we managed to get through the evening fairly smoothly.  Thankfully, Conrad has some medicine and is feeling much better now.  I can tell.  I didn't think it was possible for him to be any more happy or busy!  His genuine smiles and laughs melt me.  I sure love that baby boy with all my heart.  Get better soon, Conrad!

^^Mess maker.  I just can't be mad about it.  I mean, look at how short he is standing on those sweet little toes!^^

Late Summer Blooms and a Bike in the Mud


The other night I went for a walk to practice freelensing on some of my favorite late summer flowers but wound up practicing on a little boy playing in the mud instead.  It was a worthy and hilarious distraction from my original intent. 

Levi is such a ham in front of the camera.  He's always been a good sport putting up with my hobby.  On the flip side though, he certainly didn't mind my encouragement to keep playing in the mud!  See?  There are perks to having a mom who likes to take photos! 

The Cedar City Half Marathon


Bron conquered another half marathon!  He half-heartedly trained and then participated in one of the nation's fastest half marathons as a good majority of it is downhill.  Bron came away from the Cedar City Half Marathon with huge blisters on his feet from ill fitting shoes and some very sore muscles.  I couldn't help laughing at him every time he walked for three days afterwards.  But he did it and he did it well, finishing in 2:14.  I'm always impressed with his strength and stamina.

I was supposed to run the 5K with Conrad in the stroller, but when we walked out of our hotel room at 5:30AM Saturday morning, it was barely 50* degrees and pouring rain!  I couldn't make Conrad sit in a cold wet stroller.  So we went straight back to bed!  Haha.  Missing a three mile run wasn't a big deal for me though.  It was actually much better that I got some sleep because Bron's body was spent!

We met up with our friends, Aaron and Amy.  We ate a delicious pizza dinner and creamy gelato Friday evening together.  (We're still pretending that carb loading is real!)  Then I pretty much ate my way through the state of Utah as we drove back North Saturday afternoon.  I didn't burn the calories to deserve such gluttony, but whatever, I'm still nursing and food tasted sooo good!

One of the highlights of our quick weekend trip was meeting up with my Grandma for dinner in Orem.  Oh, how I love her!  We also drove up through Cedar Canyon and, oh my, is it gorgeous.

The weekend marked the bookend of our summer.  A big thanks to my mom for babysitting Jed and Levi!  They had a blast.     

The Master Bathroom


 ^^Getting ready for kindergarten.^^

The master bathroom is a place where, surprisingly, a lot of life happens!  We've explained the concept of privacy, but the boys still haven't quite wrapped their heads around the fact that I like to shower, dress, and pee in peace without them quite yet.  Jed seems to always be knocking on the door, Levi just flings the door wide open, and Conrad, well, he's been known to crawl right into the shower with me--clothes and all!  Haha.

Showers, baths and regular hygiene practices are a typical part of our routine.  Levi insists on having his finger nails trimmed every Sunday.  Um, okay!  I noticed that I've busted out my camera more often than usual to record these everyday events.  So therefore, here's a peek into what happens in our bathroom on a nearly daily basis.

^^Rub a dub dub, three boys in a tub!  It was all their idea one morning.^^

Our Family Hike to Titus Lake and Other Labor Day Weekend Highlights


Labor Day weekend is always one of my favorites each year.  We have four days amid the new school routine to celebrate summer before it fades into Fall.  And we definitely took advantage this year!  We made family memories that I will cherish forever.

First, Friday evening, after the boys helped me clear the clutter from the living room floor and their bedroom (a never-ending feat!), we went to the Twin Falls County Fair!  We spent quite a while in the train booth, of course.  It's Jed and Levi's favorite part!  We wandered through the cow barns.  And one of my pictures won a blue first prize ribbon in the photography contest.  Yay!  Then we grabbed some fair food and Bron snuck away for a few minutes to buy us candied nuts and two big bags of popcorn before we headed into the rodeo.

Jed and Levi have been asking to go to a rodeo for months, so we surprised them Friday morning with the news.  They were ecstatic and so, so excited!  They danced in their seats to the music and pounded the popcorn as we waited for the rodeo to begin.  The rodeo didn't disappoint!  For a small town rodeo, there were some big names and some great entertainment!  It looks like it hurts, but it sure is fun to watch those cowboys be thrown around like rag dolls atop those bucking horses and bulls.

Saturday morning, we hopped into the car and drove up past Sun Valley and Galena Lodge to the Titus Lake trail head.  I'm really impressed with Jed and Levi.  They hiked 3+ miles with over 1000 feet elevation gain and had no major meltdowns!  They would get distracted and walk a little slow, but it was so fun to hike and explore as a family.

The Toy that Keeps on Giving


My Conrad.  Classic babyhood in all its beautiful chubby glory.

Summer Snapshot Roundup


As summer draws to a close and the school year begins, I've compiled more than a handful of pictures from our everyday adventures over the last few months that have slipped through the cracks that I don't want forgotten because they conjure up memories for me.

This post is only going to be a little bit long...

Conrad and I spent many evenings in the backyard just chilling and killing time before bedtime.  Here he is scooting and crawling his way through the grass in his jammies, inevitably finding something to chew on.

What His Shirt Says


Back to School


Yesterday was that very bittersweet day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of a brand new school year! Jed started 2nd grade and Levi is now a kindergartner. Jed has taken an interest in doing his hair and Levi couldn't wait to board the golden chariot that came to pick him up. Haha. Such handsome boys full of personality. They both had a great day, but I think the change is just as hard for them as it is for me!  I harbor very mixed feelings about the house being so quiet.  (The house is quiet: I can hear myself think and get something done!  But the house is quiet: I don't get to spend time playing with my boys anymore.)  Good thing I still have a third little man to keep me company at home for a few more years.

Family Pictures at Castle Rocks


Way back in the month of June, my friend Carli from Carli and Beau Photo and Cinema agreed to meet our family out at Castle Rocks for pictures.  I was sooo excited!  Not only did I feel an urgency to get family pictures done with a new baby, but getting our pictures done at one of our favorite Idaho landmarks was a dream come true.  Carli took over a thousand pictures that evening.  And they're all pretty much amazing.  I just wish I had the time to edit all the in-between moments and silly outtakes!

Nelson.  Party of five.

Words really don't adequately describe how much love and joy I feel for these people I get to play and work and grow alongside.  God does amazing work of our lives and I feel so blessed to be a wife and a mother.  My life's reality that I get to wake up to every single day is better than anything I had ever dreamed for myself.  I mean, all these personalities simultaneously fill me up while keeping me on my toes!  I am grateful for my Heavenly Father's plan for me--for us--and that this Nelson party can go on into the eternities. 

P.S.  If you're wondering, yes, Jed did have a black eye (edited out in some of these pictures) courtesy of one little brother.

The Great American Eclipse 2017


 ^^An Idaho boy in the path of totality (a composite).^^

I was surprised.  The eclipse Monday lived up to all the hype.  It was an incredible experience!  It exceeded all my expectations and made a lasting impression on my memory and even my soul.  Really!  I can't adequately explain it in words.  The whole experience was awe-inspiring.  The world became eerily dark, the temperature dropped, and some stars came out!  I am so glad we joined the other crazies in traveling across Idaho to be in the moon's complete shadow.  It was worth it.

We hopped in the truck Sunday afternoon headed to the Nelson Dairy where we joined three of Bron's brothers and families as well as his Uncle, Aunt, and cousins.  It was a party house!  And as usual, Momma Nelson hosted with plenty of food and love to go around.  I'm honestly not sure how she does it all!

Sunday evening, the cousins had a blast zooming down the zip line while more tours were given of the new robotic dairy barn for the adults.

Three Weekends, Two Bike Races, and a Date Night


I don't claim to be awesome at mountain biking, but I sure enjoy it.  Due to a baby who is literally attached, it's been really hard to get some time in the saddle this summer, but Bron and I made it happen a handful of times.

And then I raced.

Because I was signed up for Pierre's Hole last year before I got pregnant, I showed up at the race with a big belly and the race director rolled my fee over to this year.  Ready or not, I was going to participate this summer!

I went into Pierre's Hole with the intention of making the big loop back to the lodge--about 18 miles-- and then calling it quits.

The day of the race, I got a completely flat tire just a few miles in.  Fortunately, this kind guy offered to help me fix it and I was on my way again.  The hills were grueling, but the downhills were a kick in the pants.  I felt like some technique was starting to click and I was flying!  It was so, so much fun.

By the time I reached the second aid station at mile 18, I determined that the race was equal parts sufferfest and absolute blast!  The folks at the station cheered me on.  Only 12 more miles to go.  A day ride.  No monster hills.  It was race day!  The adrenaline was pumping.  I could do it!  And so I pressed on.

The first few miles were good, but I could feel myself gassing out.  I just didn't have the miles behind me in training.  My muscles were screaming.  I honestly would have skipped an entire part of the trail if I'd known how to get out of that valley.  Instead, I slowly plotted along.  I walked up hills I normally wouldn't have and silently cursed the wild flowers.  Yes, I cursed the pretty wildflowers!  I hated them that day.  I tried to stay mentally positive and give myself some pep talks.  I ran out of water.  Oh, it was arduous!

And then, I crossed the finish line--in approximately 5 hours and 24 minutes, almost exactly an hour longer than I'd raced it two years prior.  I couldn't help the tears!  It was an emotional feat.

I was so glad to be done!  And pretty darn proud of myself.  I was in disbelief that I'd actually done it!  I did it!  Wow.  That was just pure race day stupidity and grit.  Next time, and there will be a next time, I'm going to train.

By the way, Bron raced Pierre's Hole as well.  It's been a rough year for both of us on our bikes.  Between a nasty chest cold and not being able to train as much as he would've liked, Bron didn't make good time.  It's just the way it goes, you know?  But he did it!  For the love of the sport.  Sometimes I think that's all that matters.  At least that's what we tell ourselves.  We do it because we enjoy it!


Precisely seven days later, I hopped on my bike again.  This time it was a local charity race up in our very own South Hills: three loops around Magic Mountain, approximately ten miles total.  Compared to Pierre's Hole, it was a walk in the park.  It was fun.  And I came in first (out of one) for the women!  Hehe.

Good times.


Mountain biking is still Bron and my date night activity of choice.  Just this weekend, we played around on our bikes at Auger Falls and followed it up with some delicious burritos before returning home to relieve the babysitter.  Those date nights are so good for us.  Not only are we exercising to relieve stress, but I get some one-on-one time to reconnect with my best friend.  I know it means the world to both of us because if our marriage is strong, we're happier.  We can more easily take on whatever the kids and jobs and church and life in general throws at us--together.

I find it curious that except for hiking, Bron and I no longer do anything of those things we used to do when we were dating.  Instead, over the last decade, we've found new activities and hobbies.  Fortunately, many of those hobbies are things we both enjoy, and so we share in the challenge of learning them--together.  I'd like to think it means we are very well matched.         

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