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.

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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.

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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. 
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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 (:

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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.

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Growing Love Volume III

Yesterday as Landon and I crawled into bed for a Sunday nap, having finally gotten a sick and falling apart Paityn asleep in her crib, I found myself facing insecurities that I hadn’t realized I was dealing with. As I made myself cuddle up next to Landon, putting my arm around him, I realized how unnatural it suddenly felt compared to just months ago. Logistically cuddling one’s husband is a just a bit harder 9 months pregnant, but it was more than that. I started to realize other ways that I had been showing just how insecure I was lately without realizing it, all the way down to making less eye contact when we’d talk.

The marital relationship is an interesting one. What other relationship goes through quite as many phases of life that a husband and wife go through? And somehow, the best relationships learn how to evolve and grow together.

The secret, I’m realizing is to recognize and acknowledge that growth needs to happen. That we’re not the same couple we were even back in July when we first saw the plus sign for this second little babe. So we talk and talk and talk some more. We share our feelings, make each other a priority, and when in doubt, Landon orders a pizza to be delivered at the house for me when life is just too overwhelming.

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But then there are the days when life is just good. And pregnancy doesn’t feel so hard. It’s those days that just make my world go round. When we can put down our phones, and don’t have anything important to talk about and we can just be. And life is easy. Those are the parts of this pregnancy that I want to remember. The hard days have their role, and the growth is happening! But I love documenting the sunny days. The days that we held hands, I did my hair, and we were a complete family. Just the three of us.

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On a whim I found Shay Burr and her photography skills on Instagram and immdedialy proceeded to stalk her feed and photography blog. I’d been wanting to bring our Growing Love series back since moving to Utah but had struggled to find the perfect fit. I think we’ve found it!

Paityn wasn’t the most cooperative toddler in the world, so she was bribed with holding my phone and being able to watch the Let It Go song over and over again to her heart’s content. Which, by the way, I’ve created a button on my phone that goes directly to the video for her. This isn’t a battle I’m about to fight with her.

And my phone is constantly at 2%  so don’t mind the charging cable. This is just what life looks for us more times than not.

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Marriage is so important to me, so I appreciate all of the kind words and support with this little series. Documenting life is something that makes my heart happy, so I attempt to make it a priority. I hope that you’re finding what works for making your relationship stronger. We’re all in this together.

xx

all photos by Shaylee Burr Photography
past Growing Love posts, here

Photos with Ali Brown

Back in the day, when Landon and I were Salt Lake living and freshly engaged we got to take photos with his talented cousin Ali from Ali Brown Studios. We planned a vibe we were going for, picked out outfits, then met with her on a Saturday to shoot. Getting those photos back from her made my day/month/life. I don’t think I had ever had photos taken of me that I truly liked. We sent our favorite out with our wedding invites and now have small printed out versions hung with twine and clothespins in our room.

yellowwording bus1IMG_3695Now, almost exactly four years later we got to shoot with her again. This time for a maternity shoot with this second growing babe of ours. We don’t mess around.

We had the option to do a lifestyle family shoot of the 4 of us once this little girl makes her arrival but I am so glad that we took maternity photos. For starters it forced me to buy maternity pants, which needed to happen. [Thank you H&M maternity!] However, learn from me. I went for a flowy top, not wanting to do the typical basic ruched side t-shirt. Looking through photos later I realized how Ali quietly made the angles work so that I didn’t look like a blob of a mama. Form fitting to show off the bump is the way to go.

A few things that I look for in photographers is confidence in their work and feedback — please don’t be hesitant mid shoot and make me second guess every thing! Ali was great and reassured us right away that she’d let us know if what we were doing wasn’t working. This allowed me to relax and cozy up next to Landon without the fear that she hated how things were looking but was just too nervous to say anything. Of course natural lighting and attractive photos are also up there for me, but maybe that’s a given.

If you have the chance to take photos while pregnant, do it! I think there is such power in cultivating the mindset that pregnancy is a journey and a beautiful thing to be experiencing. There’s enough articles out there about the woes and cons of carrying a life for 9+ months and I have enough negative voices in my head about body image while pregnant. Getting these photos back totally helped me take a step back from the discomforts and insecurities I’ve been feeling with each passing week and see this phase of life from a different set of eyes.

AliBrownStudiosA huge shout out to Ali for being that different set of eyes and helping us have a cute afternoon shooting these photos. I’m ready to print out our three favorites and hang them in our 2014 goals frames. Its time for some updated photos in this home.

 

Our Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! I’ve never been one to love this holiday, but this year I’m really digging it. My family just got in last night to visit for a week as they finish their summer vacation of seeing family before heading back to Alaska. You can catch us eating Flag Fruit Pizza, catching some rays, fireworks tonight, and wherever else today takes us! IMG_2518 IMG_2516 IMG_2500IMG_2496IMG_2494IMG_2492IMG_2441IMG_0349IMG_0348 IMG_0347 IMG_0343 IMG_2467aaIMG_0318 aIMG_0310

Scarf + Jeans: American Eagle // Watch: La Mer Collections // Flats: Steve Madden
Headband: Once Upon A Time Creations // Moccasins : Freshly Picked in Golden Rod

a Birthday Adventure | Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

My favorite man turned twenty seven yesterday! Being the mountain man that he is, we were out of the house by 9am with our bags packed for an adventure. We headed off to the State Park in Kenwood, California — which turned out to be a little over a 2 hour drive for us. I’m so glad that Paityn is happy with just about anything we plan, and that we’re relaxed enough to do these sort of things with her!

My packing list for an all day adventure with a 1 year old:
diapers
wipes
a REI backpack
enough water for the 3 of us.

+ that’s it! At least with our little one. We stopped for lunch at, you guessed it… Our love for Subway is beginning to be embarrassing, but you just can’t beat a shared $7 sandwich. Right?

Another 20 or so minutes northwest of Sonoma we were pulling into Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Landon had done all the research earlier, and saw that the Bald Mountain trail would work perfect for us. He struck gold. The sun was shining, the trail was open, lush, green, and boasted a beautiful view just two miles + 1500ft later.

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Happy Birthday again Landon! I love that I married such an adventurous spirited man. I can’t wait for all of the adventures we have planned this summer, and for all the millions to come after! Also, I officially have my first mini [mini mini] sunburn of 2014

2014 | Faulkner Family Photos

Call me a biased aunt, but I have the cutest nieces +  nephews. This first pictures captures them perfectly — Riley loving up on “baby paityn!” Knixson excited about his new buddy Roamer. And Mother Reagan, patiently taking care of them all.

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How cute is Landon with Pait? I love those two. Hoping to hang some of ours from the past few years on our walls soon soon soon!

xx

Savage Alpine Trail | Denali National Park

We paid our $20 fee inside the Visitor’s Center, stopped and asked for a hike recommendation from the ranger on duty, and set off for the path. Considering how little effort went into selecting it, we got pretty lucky. That plus everything in Denali seems to be gorgeous. Here are photos from our afternoon in Denali National Park on the Savage Alpine Rock Trail:
IMG_4041 IMG_4042 IMG_1962 IMG_4045   IMG_1967 IMG_1970 IMG_4140From the trailhead of the Salvage Alpine Trail the route climbs up to first some rocky outcroppings where we stopped to play for a bit + take some photos, before continuing up another mile up on the ridge. About half of the people we saw stopped at the top of the rocks then turned back around to their car. I’m so glad we kept going —  the ridge had such a beautiful view of Denali National Park! I could’ve stayed up there for hours taking it all in, but I’m weird like that in nature. Landon and I took turns having Paityn buckled in on us in the Ergo, which though a lifesaver, added some weight.

I was slowing down pretty terribly towards the top, silently considering calling it a day and turning around. Luckily Landon suggested to take her, and once we’d switched I was ready to hike Mt. Mckinley. We ran into a guy on top who was hiking around solo, so we took pictures for each other and headed back down while he continued on. The trail is a thru trail, instead of a loop, and though I’d like to say we turned around because it was getting dark, well, we both know that wasn’t the case. With the midnight sun, I can see us someday just going all through the night if they’d let us.

Back down at the car we packed back up, I nursed Paityn, toured around a bit more, then checked out Lynx Pizza for a dinner. [So good] With a two and half hour drive back home our Denali day ended up being a 12 hour day — left at 9am and returned just after 9pm.

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