Posted in Blessings Corner

Hopeful

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I have never had my own tulip bed before, but last fall, my youngest son and I planted I don’t know how many tulip and crocus bulbs into one of the front yard flowerbeds. We spent hours clearing the bed of weeds and then meticulously planted bulb after bulb, spacing each just right, and hopefully in the right direction!

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In a way it was a bittersweet task because we were planning to sell our house this spring. I couldn’t help reflecting that I was doing this more for potential buyers than for myself. Or so I thought…

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Long story short, something happened in January which changed the plans we had already put into motion (we’d been looking at potential land to build on, had a professional designing our dream home, etc.), and now we are not selling and not moving. A couple of days ago, my oldest son called me outside to show me these first yellow buds. I was thrilled to see the hopeful beginnings of my first tulip garden.

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All these photos were taken on the same day. My poor baby tulips!

But I digress- I felt guilty at first for being relieved. We’re not selling! We’re not moving! We get to stay in our lovely home here, in a beautiful valley I’ve come to love. It took me several years to feel at home here, but now I feel completely at home. Suddenly, staying seems meant-to-be. And I feel… hopeful.

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I think life poking through the ground, after sleeping for months under a blanket of snow, is hopeful. Springtime, with it’s renewed life, is hopeful. (Now, if it would just stop snowing here!) But, most of all, Easter is upon us, and that is as hopeful as life gets because it’s about the only being who could give us true hope. I’m looking forward to celebrating the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the start of Holy Week. It’s snowing here today on Palm Sunday, but little yellow buds are sprouting also.

♥ Have you been getting snow as well? Do you have a tulip garden? Do you feel hopeful when you see signs of spring? Are you preparing for an Easter celebration? I’d love to hear your thoughts. ♥

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Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park spans parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and is the first of fifty-eight national parks here in the United States. We visited Yellowstone for a few days last September.
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There are several waterfalls and cascades within Yellowstone.

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There are all kinds of wildlife in Yellowstone, including elk, buffalo, moose, bears and wolves. We did not see any moose, bears or wolves, although we did visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. But, we did spot an elk in the forest and it was fun to watch the herds of buffalo. Always stay a safe distance from all wildlife, and if you hike in Yellowstone, carry bear spray and know how to use it.

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Yellowstone is full of amazing sights! Geysers, mudpots, steam vents…

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Old Faithful

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We discovered that visiting Yellowstone in September was just as busy as summertime. If you go at a busy time, be patient because driving through Yellowstone gets slow-going and the most popular attractions stay packed with tourists. It wasn’t too crazy, though. We stayed at Stage Coach Inn, in West Yellowstone, and found it to be a nice hotel.

♥ Thanks for re-visiting Yellowstone with me! Have you visited Yellowstone? What is your favorite national park? ♥

Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Earthquake Lake

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View of Quake Lake from the visitor center. From this distance it looks like any other lake.

Earthquake Lake, nicknamed Quake Lake, is located in Montana on US hwy 287. This past September, David, Marcus and I stopped at the visitor center on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

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Visitors can hike a short distance from the visitor center to the memorial boulder.

This lake has a tragic backstory. In August of 1959, an earthquake caused a major landslide which also blocked the Madison River. Can you imagine witnessing this 3,000 ton boulder flowing along the slide? Apparently it was studied and found that it had not rolled, nor had it fallen in a tumble sort of way.

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While some people made it to safety on the night of the earthquake, 28 people who were camping or living in the area at the time, lost their lives. Some of their stories are told at the visitor center through displays and a movie.

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We were fascinated by this rock wall near the memorial boulder.

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All around the lake, “ghost trees” poke out.

This lake is excellent for fishing and we did see a couple fishermen among the tops of the trees (sounds funny doesn’t it?). I was wondering if they ever got snagged or how difficult it was to row out and cast.

♥ Have you ever visited or fished Earthquake Lake? Stay tuned for photos of our visit to Yellowstone National Park. ♥

Posted in Utah Corner

Autumn in Northern Utah

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It’s autumn time in the country side. I just want to stay outdoors and soak it all in.

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Time for faded blue jeans, brown boots and my favorite Robin egg sweater.

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Colors abound; Amber waves amid rust, sage, and apricot.

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Wet or crunchy leaves mat the ground, lining up along the road in friendly clumps.

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Various textures mingle together; They charm my senses and quietly beg me to capture the moment.

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I roam my backyard, ever so gratified with my Creator’s orchestration.

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It couldn’t be more perfect, I muse; The natural harmony overwhelms me.

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I am deeply, utterly, passionately… content!

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I think when I return home from my autumn exploration, I’ll curl up on my deck with the cat and a classic book!

♥ Last week while my son was away at a youth conference, and after I had recovered from a rather traumatic root canal (I had to see a specialist because my tooth’s roots were curvy), there was this glorious autumn day beckoning me to “come out and play”.  With no hesitation, I abandoned all housework, tossed my camera bag (tripod and all), into my car, and drove aimlessly around the back streets of my home town. I stopped here and there and every-which-where. I took spontaneous photos of any and everything that delighted me. Which is your favorite? Thanks for reading and visiting my blog. Happy October! ♥

Posted in Places We Visit

Our September Visit to Island Park, Idaho

Located on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park’s west entrance, Island Park is a lovely destination for fishing and nature walks. We always stay at Mack’s Inn, in one of their cabins or rooms. If you go to Mack’s Inn in the summer months, you can float the river and catch a dinner show at Mack’s Inn Playhouse. We have enjoyed both in years past. This time we were here in September, just after dropping Marissa girl off for her fall semester at BYU-Idaho. (By we I mean Marcus, David and myself.)

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That’s my husband sitting there as Marcus and I walked to Johnny Sack Cabin.

One of the most scenic spots to visit within Island Park is Big Springs.

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The water at Big Springs is rather fascinating.

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An historic site at Big Springs is Johnny Sack Cabin. I’ll let you read the history for yourself and I did not take any photos inside, but it truly is a workmanship. Marcus and I enjoyed the walk up to it and our self-guided inside tour.

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This cute little water-mill nearby matches Johnny Sack Cabin.

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To see a few other photos I took while at Big Springs and around Island Park, check out this post.

♥ Have you ever visited Island Park and Big Springs? Stay tune for photos from our visit to Earthquake Lake and Yellowstone National Park. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Engaging the Heart, Soul and Mind to Make Connections (This is why we homeschool.)

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We walked onto a boat dock overlooking a lovely lake, but this caterpillar was what Marcus noticed first.

Sometimes a vacation is needed to put a jumble of thoughts into focus! At least, this mini vacation to Island Park and Yellowstone served such a purpose for me. Maybe it was the change of scenery or that I’d brought along all of my camera equipment and was in full photographer mode.

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The view of the lake from the boat dock.

Over this summer I reflected on the reasons why we homeschool. I am not one of those homeschool mamas who evaluates whether or not to continue homeschooling year by year. I have too many issues with public education and I value my time too much with my son, especially now that he’s a teenager and has started his high school years. My time with him is priceless.

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I asked him to pose for a picture and this is what he did.

I am a passionate homeschooler and I have at least one hundred and one reasons why I homeschool my son, but I’ve been trying to pin down my BIG reason which encompasses all the little reasons.

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This little guy was sunning himself on a bank at Big Springs.

If you remember my quote from my not-back-to-school post, I mentioned engaging my son’s heart, soul and mind, something my public school education rarely did for me. Most of the time I felt like I was just herded along for the ride. In fact, I often felt out of breath at school, figuratively speaking of course, just trying to keep up with all the busyness and demands on my time and energy. I do have one memory of a time when my heart, soul and mind engaged at school: Once, my middle school teacher walked into typing class, but instead of instructing us through another typing lesson, he sat on top of his desk, looked at each and every one of us, and spoke to us directly from his heart.

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Close-up view looking into the water from over a bridge at Big Springs.

His next door neighbor had just committed suicide. If I remember the story correctly, she was a young mother suffering from severe depression. She phoned her husband at work one day and told him she couldn’t take her life anymore. Before he made it home, she had shot herself. My teacher wanted me and my peers to know that if we ever suffered from depression we should seek out help because life is always worth living. Someone needs us and each life has immense worth. I have never forgotten that one class, nor that teacher for taking the time to place my heart, soul and mind above my typing speed and accuracy.

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View of the ducks from the bridge.

Looking back on my school years, I don’t remember much of what I learned. I guess some of that is to be expected, but what if there is a more meaningful way? What if the heart, soul and mind could engage in the process? What if all this learning could actually mean something more than just dates and facts for a test or making it to the next grade level?

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See that dead tree in the middle of the river? A nature guide called it “the tree of life after death”.

Today I was thinking about all the little details I had intentionally photographed in Island Park and Yellowstone National Park, such as the little caterpillar who didn’t even make it into the lake photo. As lovely as the view of the lake was to look at, the caterpillar was so lively and fun to watch and I would’ve missed him if Marcus had not pointed him out to me. I only saw the lake at first.

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He explained that it’s actually giving nutrients to the water, and it provides a safe haven for fish.

Looking at my photos, I realized I often started photographing each of the fascinating aspects of something, such as a the ground around a geyser, before taking a picture of the entire scene which gives the context, even though both were equally cool. Sometimes we call the entire scene “the big picture”. Could it be our school system focuses too much on the big picture? Even then it’s a big picture someone else decided for us, someone who doesn’t care much about the heart and soul elements, which is why they are seldom –if ever– involved in the learning process. (At least this has been our family’s experiences with public education.)

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The long view from the bridge at Big Springs.

I want my son to make connections when he learns. I want him to connect his learning in meaningful ways to his life. I believe this happens when there is unrushed time for the little details of the big picture to touch his heart as his mind processes them. This in turn refreshes his soul because the learning goes deeper, it actually means something. That’s when those light bulb moments occur that homeschooling moms love to witness first hand. This kind of learning takes root and best of all, the learner grows as he makes connections.

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Close-up view at Fountain Paint Pot in Yellowstone

Two years ago Marcus studied Joan of Arc.  He learned of her childhood and other details of her life. He was able to see her as more than just a historical figure. He saw her as a courageous young woman who truly believed she had a cause worth defending. She actually performed some amazing feats. It was as if a greater power was with her and this was her mission in life. Maybe one day when Marcus’ beliefs are tested, he will remember Joan of Arc.

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The long view

♥ And so this is the all-encompassing reason I homeschool my son- to engage his heart, soul and mind so that he connects his learning to his life. In this way, I’m sure his big picture will turn out to be a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. ♥

Posted in Utah Corner

Hiking Utah- Payson Lakes

Utah is a great state for hiking or nature paths as well as other outdoor activities. This summer my family and I took a drive up Nebo Loop Scenic Byway. It gets its name from Mount Nebo, which is the southern-most highest summit.

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We stopped off at Big East Lake, one of Payson Lakes. There are three altogether. They are called Payson Lakes because Nebo Loop is also Payson Canyon. Yes, it has two names. Payson Canyon of course is named after the city of Payson.

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There is a lovely paved walking path all around this lake. It’s perfect for families with young children and anyone wishing for a relaxing walk with scenic views.

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Is this a good time to mention that there have been Bigfoot sightings in Payson Canyon?

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We didn’t see Bigfoot that day, but we did enjoy the views of the trees and the lake.

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After leaving the lake, we were only able to enjoy a couple more stop offs on the loop to take in the views before it started pouring rain.

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Next time we return to Nebo Loop (or Payson Canyon), we will have to check out Devil’s Kitchen.

♥ I can’t believe summer is nearly over! But for Marcus and I at least, our hiking days will still go on because we’ve formed a homeschool nature club which starts up next month. Also next month, my husband, Marcus, and I will enjoy a weekend together in Yellowstone National Park. Thanks for reading! ♥