Love Where You Live Series: Zion National Park

A Love Where You Live series was inspired by two thoughts —

kicking the mindset of wishing for a better day/week/life somewhere tropical to the curb
+ all of the places that I regretted not visiting when we moved away from utah for california in 2012

I hoping to inspire you in some little way to love where you live, wherever that may be, through this series. If you happen to live or plan to visit Utah I hope these posts will be helpful as you look for adventures to do on your own! So get your national park pass and let’s do this.


The first stop for our series this summer led us to Zion National Park, in Southern Utah. I spent my freshman year of college a few minutes west of the park but managed to only go once that entire year. Landon and I had been once, the first year we were married, but when the weather showed it as the only stop on our bucket list not getting rain or snow this past weekend we didn’t mind.


Once Landon got home from work Friday evening — we packed a few bags, through a tent and sleeping bags in the car (changed a headlight or two) and headed south to Cedar City for the night. Normally I’d be all for staying the night a little closer to the park, and camping it up, but we grabbed a hotel room off of Priceline and cuddled up for the night: three of us in the bed and Paityn on the floor in her sleeping bag, because she saw Landon pack it in the car and wasn’t so keen on having to wait till the next night to sleep in it.

In the morning we got ready for the day, grabbed breakfast together still at the hotel then headed off to find sunscreen and groceries. I was optimistic and looking forward to getting some sun on my arms and having sandal tan lines by the end of the weekend. Turns out we spent the morning with our jackets + hoods on… but it was nice to not have to worry about protecting little Hudson from the sun for our first real adventure together. I’m a silver lining kinda girl. 
Though 90% of the time when you hear about Zion National Park, you’re hearing about a stretch on the south end of the park — there’s a lot more to explore than that. Landon talked me into switching it up and scoping out the Kolab Canyon/north-west side of Zion’s that morning. And oh that husband of mine has the best ideas sometimes. Even when I don’t recognize it at first haha.

We checked in at the visitor’s center to show them our pass then had our jaws hit the floor as we began to drive through the Canyons. You guys, Southern Utah is gorgeous. That red rock just makes my heart giddy.

I’m not going to lie — everything took longer this trip than I expected. We found an area/trail that we wanted to explore, parked and then Hudson had to nurse. And then Paityn needed a diaper change. And then Hudson needed her diaper changed. And then a storm blew in so we changed her into warmer clothes. But I tried to not stress, figuring at 5 weeks postpartum I could pat myself on the back for whatever happened that day. We ended up taking the Lee Pass Trailhead which was easy peezy for the bit that we did. Beautiful views of the canyons without much work (:


Around noon or so, give or take an hour, we were on the shuttle (having driven the rest of the way down to Springvale) headed to the Visitor’s Center. Not wanting to do a play by play for the rest of the day, here are things that worked (or didn’t work for us) —

  • Get there early if you can! (haha) The parking lots inside of the park fill up quickly. Have no fear — they’ve planned for this and have street parking starting in Springvale with frequent stops to get you into the park. But this does add time which can be a bugger if you’re wanting to be on a trail
  • Have a plan. Map out a few hikes you’d like to do — Landon and I loved Angel’s Landing and Riverside Walk continued with the Narrows day hike last time we’d been but didn’t feel up for either with two littles. The first has sketchier footings at the top and the second includes a decent amount of wading through water through the Narrows.
  • There are plenty of simple trails to do with kids so we chose the shorter Emerald Pool Trail and grabbed lunch at the Zion’s Lodge stop and ate that $13 burger combo out on the large field of grass while letting Paityn run around.
  • Skip having to grab overpriced burgers or slices of pizza in the canyon if you can. See above mistake haha. But that’s just me! I’m always thinking in terms of — this could’ve been sushi.
  • Stop and take in the views, don’t let the rush of people doing their own thing throw you off. Take those extra moments, tell your significant other to wait just one more second for you. Take a billion pictures, or just enjoy it camera free. You can’t go wrong.

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All in all it was a beautiful weekend. Southern Utah completely has my heart, and I’m looking forward to spending all summer exploring the red rock parts of this state. Hike wise I’m realizing now we really only got two in this weekend — but I must not have noticed at the time because that wasn’t why we were really there. I wasn’t there for a workout or to work off lunch; we were there to take in the beautiful scenes of the area and to spend time with the girls. Mission freaking accomplished.

Bonus: Paityn picked up the words “hike” and “tent” and has asked to do it again all day today. Oh we love that girl.


The Sling Diaries | Celebration

Celebration. I’m not the life of the party by any means. If you know me in real life you know that I am fun loving and bubbly, but reserved and cautious. If I’m going to tell you a story about celebration I’d most likely be most comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor somewhere casual, telling you about my heart and just how full it is.

I value peaceful happiness more than almost anything and find a full and blissful heart a reason to celebrate. Sakura-Bloom-Celebration-31

As I laid Hudson down next to me after a short 2am nursing session the other night, I took a second to look over my little family before turning off the lamp. Paityn, passed out with her arms spread out across a good portion of our full-sized bed, caught my eyes first. Despite the lack of room that I now had to sleep on, I felt a surge of love for her that I hadn’t felt before. There’s something about those post nursing sessions in the middle of the night that cast a lovely glow on everything in the room. I survey all her features — the curve of her neck, her sweet relaxed shoulders, the way the shadows fall on her eyelids, and how even in the near dark her lips are clearly pigmented. I make a mental note to help support her so much that I can help her act as sweet during the day as she looked in that moment. I look over finally to Landon, thinking about all of his help that night alone. I send a cheesy text then quietly lay down, hoping the notification sound doesn’t wake him up and that he’ll see it when he wakes to run in a few short hours.

As the week went on, thinking back to those few minutes at 2am, I realized it wasn’t just that magical hour that had a lovely glow to it. When I think about other portions of our life they look just as lovely through my eyes.


I’m fortunate to not have the mindset or fear that can set in when one realizes just how good life  — that surely a setback must be around the corner. Rather I know how bleak things can be, and have been for us at times. I seek to celebrate when things are good. We just passed the two year anniversary of when our relationship turned a beautiful leaf for us as a couple and for our little family of three. — I think back to that phase of life and the unwavering hope and trust that I had in our future. Through lots of tears at the time I knew and trusted the promise that there were good things up ahead for us. That life would return to normal, a new and improved normal! But I had no idea what to picture.

And then here were are. Back in the state of Utah that quite literally make my heart flutter. With two sweet daughters. Landon working for an outdoor company that he loves. Family nearby and friends to play with at the park during the day. Adventures almost every night. Laughter and the sound of us cheering on our toddler when she poops on the toilet or picks up a new word. Taking too many photos and getting attached to them all. Shared dinner at a dining room table that Landon cooks nightly. I’m not sure how my 2013 self would feel about that one though. I’m sure I would’ve hoped I’d have gotten it together by now. ;)

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More than anything if I could go back and show that worried wife and new mom one thing, I wish I could somehow show her just how full my heart is now. I picture holding out my hands with a literal heart in my them; healthy, beating and so alive.  I know that I would cry as I earnestly shared about how good life would be in just two short years. That I know her pain, oh how I know it. But I know of an even better joy now, and that I’m absolutely soaking it up and enjoying every moment of it.

Just as much as my heart relaxed when Landon and I started dating every time that he’d refer to a future event he wanted to do together, signifying that our feelings were mutual, my heart has been able to relax knowing that this happiness has a future.


Now, If you’re going though a rough patch I hope you’ll trust me as I hold out my hands to you too, sharing that I promise there is goodness up ahead. That there will be more to celebrate than you can even imagine. I hope that you feel buoyed up from time to time when you hear it from me. And if you’re in a similar joyful phase of life I hope that you’re taking the time to celebrate the good, without reservation.

I am so honored to be a part of the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries for the 6th Volume. This is my first entry and I will have the chance to share on a few different topics over the next 5 months. I hope that you’ll enjoy following along as I share the stories that are uniquely ours. You can follow along with other sweet mamas here. This sling is C/O Sakura Bloom + is their classic linen in Cedar. Top: Cotton On Pants: Gap Sandals: BC Footwear

The Hospital Bag

Right around 39 weeks I started thinking about the hospital bag. I was unbelievably uncomfortable, unknowingly carrying a 10+ pound baby in my womb, and hoped that doing so would help kick my body into birthing gear. We have the luxury of living just minutes away from the hospital which kept the pressure of having everything packed early on. Similar to Paityn’s birth,  Landon was free to head home during our stay for anything we’ve forgotten and to go on a TacoBell run or two. ;)

Now that Hudson is a month old and we’re getting settled in as a family of four, I wanted to reflect back on what we were so glad to have with us when we needed it. Each birth is different, so if you’re preparing to go into labor and want to know what you’ll need make sure to read a few posts and see what resonates with you and your style. But here’s what worked for me!

Landon and I packed three backpacks: one for Paityn with things she’d need while with family, one for myself and Hudson and then a third with things Landon would need along with electronics. I for sure did not want to be that mom in labor that comes in wheeling a suitcase.

Hospital Bag Blog Post

For Birth
Birth Playlist/Speakers
^but ideally a birth photographer if you’d like photos, because you know we ended up with 0
A doula by your side. Biased! You can read my birth story here.
Liquids to drink — apple juice (supplied by the hospital)was heavenly both times for me
Light snacks if you’re up for something, I snacked (nibbled) on rice cakes walking in and for the first bit in the hospital till the contractions required every ounce of my concentration

Clothes that I wanted to labor and birth in were laid next to my bag and the put on once I got out of the shower at home Wednesday night and knew it was the real deal. For reference I wore a soft tee, one of my normal underwire bras, VS basic undies and sweats. I had made a conscious decision ahead of time to not wear the hospital gown and chose to go for clothes that I loved over finding a gown alternative online.

For The New Mama, Recovery
Comfy Sweater — This one from Mulberry Press Co only seemed fitting
Cheapo Leggings
Cozy socks
Granny Undies No I take that back, take the nurses up on their offer of mesh panties, Tucks, Dermoplast spray or whatever else they suggest if it helps. Sorry mama.
Belly Bandit — I wore the Bamboo in a size S till I needed an XS at 4 weeks again like last time but didn’t want to shell out the $$. So grab two ahead of time if you can!

For Baby

Newborn Onesies — Carter’s are my favorite
Footie Pajamas
Aden + Anais Swaddles — so soft, perfect for pictures and making your babe feel like your own.
Goumi Kids Newborn Mitts and Booties

For The New Dad 
A few changes of clothes depending on your length of stay

Hair Dryer + Straightener
Makeup Remover Wipes
Hair ties

A RedBox or two to watch during downtime during your stay
A phone charger or two, don’t forget!
Laptop — for playing movies if your room doesn’t have a DVD player, uploading/emailing photos, etc
and socks and shoes for your toddler doe when she comes to visit and you realize you dropped her off in footie pajamas and forgot to add those to her backpack :)

I know this may sound like a lot looking over it, but I promise i was grateful to have everything with me and it really only took up two smaller sized backpacks. My mentality going into labor is to make it feel as much like home as possible without making the labor staff’s life difficult. If you’re pregnant and getting ready to meet your new babe, congrats mama! I’m getting excited just thinking about the point of life that you’re in. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

IIFYM Postpartum Game Plan

I have always loved the idea of being completely in charge of my diet and fitness goals as well as putting in the time for trial and error till I find what works best for me, but have never really committed. So I figured what better time to do it than now — with this blog as accountability.

IIFYM as you may remember from a post I did last summer, is a method of monitoring the calories that you consume during the day a little more closely. In addition to hitting a specific calorie goal each day, you hit a specific breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and protein specific to your stats and goals.

At 4 weeks postpartum exactly I sit at 5’7″ and 142lbs. And I am so happy with how things are going! While the postpartum journey after having Paityn all feels like a blur to me now, photos remind me that it wasn’t till late April that I was down to 125; almost three months after giving birth. Though I was able to experience that postpartum journey completely through rose-colored glasses, excited that the weight miraculously dropped off week by week, I feel buoyed up this go round feeling confident knowing what my body is capable of.

I hope that by documenting my journey I will be able to encourage you as a reader, and to have accountability to stick to goals that I set at the beginning of the year. I plan to keep the first 4 weeks extremely simple — a boring as sin meal plan that helps me stick to my macros. The intent of this is threefold:

— to help simplify grocery shopping for us
— to simplify the idea of cooking dinner for our family in the evenings till I can do it in my sleep by the end of the month. Which would be huge for me! Cooking one dinner this next month would be huge for me ;)
— and, to help me get in the routine of knowing what a day’s worth of eating my macros looks like without a lot of guess-work.

This way the real variable will be what macros work best for me, which while breastfeeding can especially be an extra bit of trial and error.

So here’s how I figure out how to start. By using the IIFYM calculator I plug-in my info: age, weight, height and amount of exercise I typically do each week. When using this calculator you always use athlete’s formula + skip the body fat % box.

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Next I choose my goal. Because I’m breastfeeding I’m going to choose maintenance. My hope is that the amount of calories burned while breastfeeding will keep me on track with losing weight, while having enough to keep my milk supply up. I’m hypothesizing that choosing Fat Loss right from the get go won’t allow me enough calories as a breastfeeding mom. Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.16.30 PM

Next I make sure the breakdown of macros looks good to me: fats at .4 grams per lb (usually suggested) and protein set to .9 grams per lb. I knocked that one down to .9 from 1.00 while getting started into IIFYM again — protein is always the hardest macro for me to hit, protein shakes and all.

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Once I hit calculate I’m given my macro goals to shoot for daily: 252g of Carbs, 121g of Protein and 54g of Fat with an additional goal to hit the micronutrient of fiber within the range of 27-34g daily.

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And that’s it! For a gameplay at least. Now I’ll sit down and calculate the macros of some of my favorite meals till I have a basic meal plan to eat daily. I’ll save that for my next post once I have it all worked out. I know this one is probably a bit boring but I hope that it’s helpful for some, and that it helps document the beginning. If you have any questions feel free to comment below!

and a picture of us lately just so this isn’t all text + numbers ;)

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Life Lately

one of my favorite moms Karra shared this tag on her blog just us & the babes, and I wanted to join in to keep it going. here’s a few thoughts from our life this week:

EXCITED ABOUT | our little 10’x4′ raised bed garden and Landon’s cheerful face as of late
LOVING | photos of tiny houses and walks in the evening with the girls
WORKING ON  | creating a backdrop for photos of our baby girl later this week // tutorials here + here
READING  | Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. the short review: two thumbs up
BROWSING | summer hat options, determined to find one I love this year. send help
HULU – ING | brooklyn nine -nine, fresh off the boat ++ shark tank
WISHING FOR | well, a little home gym to workout in while the girls nap this afternoon wouldn’t suck
SIPPING | diet coke
WONDERING | where we’ll be this fall and all about herb gardens. and if I’m deficient in magnesium.
LOOKING FORWARD TO | bryce canyon this weekend!
NERVOUS ABOUT | money + if I’m on track with postpartum progress. thankfully both are fixable  ♡


Summer Evening Park Dates

My poor daughter asks to go outside or on a walk more times during the day than I can count. She never begs or whines, it’s always the simple question, “owside?” And then she listens to my list of things we have to do first, “real quick.”

More times than not my well intentioned answer is, “yeah! just let me just take a shower first.”  An hour later, my hair finally done and a little makeup on my face, little sister’s now hungry, Paityn begins to lose patience quickly which makes me look at the clock and realize that if she doesn’t get a nap right then she won’t get one all day. Our adventures outside get put on hold again and again.

Today was that kind of day exactly. Except instead of falling asleep for a nap Paityn sang and talked out loud from her crib while I did my hair. And then after an hour or so she called for me, and I came running to find her hands and shirt covered in poop. *deep sigh.*



So tonight was our second chance.

Landon came home armed with chocolate for his stressed out wife. We picked up the house, got both girls dressed in clean clothes — Paityn having since been scrubbed down for her second bath for the day.

We grabbed the soccer ball, a few books to read, and Ellie the elephant. I threw on my new dress from Sonnet James and some saltwater sandals making a mental note to check to see if they’re still ok to wear this year.

The second we rounded the corner in the stroller she were begging for me to take her sandals off and let her down. She ran freely for a few minutes. Then taking my hand we attempted to sneak up and get close to a few Robins. Realizing dandelions were easier to play with than birds she switched her attention, her eyes lighting up every time she found a new wishflower.

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Life has gotten busy with two babies, but I feel bad about all of the time outside that we’re missing because I let life get in the way. I’m resolving to stick to my goal of a habit this next week to shower first thing in the morning; so that the first time Paityn asks to go “owside” I can finally respond, “yes! go grab you shoes!” And on days that I haven’t made it in yet, I’m resolving to be ok with going to the park with a giant pineapple of hair on top of my head. Showers can wait.


Stokke Crusi + sibling seat || Sonnet James Florence Dress || Solly Baby Wrap in Orchid

Thriving in 2015 | April Update

I’m a big believer in making goals work for you and to make them fit naturally into your life (while using the idea of grace liberally.) Being in a major transition stage of life I completely skipped an update for March. Whether that was a good thing or not I’m not sure, because I definitely wasn’t focused on making progress with my list for the year. But!  I wanted to make sure to check in on the good things that happened in April and to refocus on what I’d like to make progress with this next month.

The good, the oh so very good! :

Experience a natural + intervention free birth in April You guys, I did it. One of my biggest goals for the year was to have the opportunity to experience birth in it’s most natural form. And I did it. And that brings me unspeakable joy. You can read about my birth experience here and why having a doula was key to making this goal achievable.


Breastfeed our second little one for 18 months Though there will be a few different stages to go through to make this goal possible, we have one of the biggest ones out of the way: establish a latch that works for mom + the babe and have the baby show that she’s gaining the proper amount of weight. At her two week visit she was up an ounce from her birth weight which shows that we’re right on track. Patyn’s jealousy about Hudson nursing seems to be diminishing with each week as she begins to understand that little sister needs to eat, and that I’m the one to help her. Now I just need to accept again that my chest is large during this phase of motherhood and that it’s going to be large until I have a reduction someday. And that that’s ok. *deep breath*

Read 6 Books That Focus on Spiritual Matters I picked up two that seem amazing, I just need to make curling up with them and reading a priority. 1. House of Learning, getting more out of your temple experience ++ 2. The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox because he’s one of my favorites. Have I linked his famous talk lately? If not let me, because it’s that good. Here.

Read at least 1 fun book a month I may need to rewrite this goal before it falls under the category in my mind of — “well I missed a few months so now it’s too late.” The point of this goal is to be continually reading a fun book. Which I am, just a little slower than last year. I’m still working my way through Better Than Before and have the best intentions of picking up Running with the Mind of Meditation again after and finishing it. Instagram << Reading. I need to be reminded this on the daily.

What I’d like to refocus on/work on in the month of May:

— Serving in the Community (at least!) Two Hours a Month
— Explore Utah and Appreciate Our Time Here (series beginning soon)
— Become Creative With Feeding Paityn Breakfast + Lunch
— Post Meal Idea Updates For Her Monthly
— Become More Politically and Socially Aware
— Highlight One Philanthropic Group Once a Month

What I need to focus on but don’t really want to: Create a Financial Plan for 2015 ;)

What goals are you focusing on this next month? xx