My inspiration for this record of my days:

“The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” -Anna Quindlen

Friday, July 24, 2015

Amish country

Next stop was Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.  Home to several Amish communities.

We found a tourist stop that had an old Amish house and grounds.  Our guide had grown up Amish, so we really learned a lot about them. I really felt a lot of respect for their commitment to their way of life.  

At the little one room school house we got to talk to an actual teacher from an Amish school.  The kids were jealous when they learned that Amish kids only have to attend school through 8th grade!

We stopped for dinner at an Amish restaurant that didn't feel very authentic at all.  Just over priced.  But they had Mac-n-cheese, so we were happy!  In this picture you can see a couple of Jonah's souvenirs.  He had lots of money to start off with, and accumulated some real treasures from the gift shops!

 We spent some time driving around just enjoying the well kept farms and beautiful countryside.  And we really did see several horse drawn buggies driving down the road.  Fascinating!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Speaking of needing more time in a place!  I could have spent a couple days here, and we only had a few hours.  We started off at the museum, where we watched a really great movie about the Civil War.  It held the kids' attention, and really gave them a feel for why the war was such a big deal.

The museum had some fascinating stories and artifacts. 

Simon found a picture of a Davis who served in the war.

I would like to think that Eli developed a deep respect for Abraham Lincoln, but I think he just loved the big head!

We walked through the National Cemetery, but the most interesting part of that for me was the massive, beautiful trees.  I need to figure out how to get some of those to grow in AZ!

 We were all wishing we could stay for a nighttime "ghost tour" of the battlefields, but we were on a deadline. On to the next sight!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


The original plan got thrown off by our delayed flights, so we ended up with Kirtland being our first church history sight.  As we drove into that valley, I instantly fell in love with it.  The luscious green everywhere, the rolling hills.  There was just such a peaceful feeling there.  What a beautiful gathering place for the saints!

Our first stop was the Newel K. Whitney store.  Much of the building is still original, and gave us a great idea what life was like in the early days of the church.  We even found the name of one of our Webb ancestors in the log of sales!

We went upstairs and heard stories of some of the important things that happened in that building.   It was so neat to be in the very place where the Prophet Joseph Smith had received some of his revelations!  The missionaries also gave us a guided tour of several other buildings in the restored "town."  We loved it, but by the end the kids were getting antsy.  We found out that we have a limit when it comes to guided tours!

We took a picture in front of the house where our good friend Nettie had lived as a missionary.

Then it was on to the Kirkland temple, hurrying to make it in time for the last tour. (A guided tour was our only option, much to our dismay.)  The temple is no longer owned by the LDS church, and I actually loved having a tour guide that wasn't a Mormon.  She told stories that were familiar to me, but in a slightly different way.  She didn't use the standard "Mormon terminology" that I am so used to, and it helped me see things in a slightly different light.

The highlight of our temple tour was at the end.  She asked for volunteers to play the piano and lead the group in singing The Spirit of God.  Naturally, I volunteered to lead.  I wished my "choir" could use the great, split choir lofts, but it was still amazing.  At the original dedication, that song was led by someone with the last name of Davis, so it was even more special!  

On our way out of town we stopped and saw the quarry where the stone was cut for the building of the temple.  We waded in the creek and made all the noise we wanted.

I felt like I could have used several more hours in Kirtland, but the kids were done.  That was kind of a recurring theme.  But if we took as much time as I needed in each place... we would still be traveling!

Skipping rocks

I don't know how we didn't get more pictures of Lake Erie State Park!  It was one of the most magical places we found!

On our way from Niagra Falls to Kirtland, we spent a night here.  There were hardly any other campers, and the park was so beautiful!  We parked right by the lake, which was perfectly calm.  The shore was covered with thin, flat rocks that were PERFECT for skipping!  Eli could skip these rocks.  Heck, even I could skip these rocks!  The older kids could send rocks skipping so far that they would disappear on the horizon before they sank.  Seriously magical!

There were more fireflies and a nice nighttime rain.  We wished we could stay longer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Niagra Falls

Ever since Superman II, Niagra Falls has been on my list of places to visit.  And it was everything I imagined!

We parked on the NY side of the border, and got bracelets that let us ride the trolley all around the park.  I had stepped on a nail a few days before our trip, so that trolley was worth every penny of the $3 per person!

We had brought our passports, so we walked across the bridge to Canada.  We ate lunch while enjoying the beautiful view, and bought some souvenirs.  One of which was a Canada frisbee, which ended up being a huge part of our entertainment on the trip!

Back on the NY side, we went to the Cave of the Winds.  We rode an elevator down to the bottom of one of the falls, and got to feel the power of the wind and the mist down there. It was exhilarating!  We all got soaked, and loved every minute of it!

The stylish shoes they gave us ended up coming in handy for all the lakes and rivers we encountered.

After a great day at the falls, we made a stop at Dairy Queen, and then it was on the road headed west!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Travel log- summer 2015 (part 1)

I have been wanting to take the family on a church history trip for years. And since Becca just graduated, this felt like our "last chance" or a last big fling before our family starts changing.

So last month we loaded up the whole gang and flew to Buffalo, NY.  Most of the kids hadn't been on an airplane (that they could remember), so they were really excited!  Our flight was delayed in Phoenix, and then again in Chicago, but the kids were excited enough that it was OK.  We had planned our seating arrangements carefully, and everyone did great!

We ended up getting in really late, so we got a late start the next day.  We picked up our RV, did some shopping and got ourselves settled in.

The RV was really nice, and served as a great home for us on the road!  And there is something so magical about being able to walk around and even go to the bathroom (!) while you're driving!

The first place we camped was an RV park right on the shore of Lake Ontario.  We did some wading and rock collecting at the lake, and then gathered on the grass for fun and games.

After everyone was pretty worn out from running and jumping, we sat in a circle and played telephone- one of my favorite memories from the trip.  Everyone was in such a good mood, and genuinely enjoying each others' company.  Eli kept messing up the message as it went around the circle, and we were cracking up at his antics!

I have to give a shout out to this girl, too.

She was the ring leader of the games for the evening.  Really, she was a ring leader for fun the whole time!  She was often the one to help smooth out the fights and hurt feelings, and come up with an activity that would bring everyone together.  She is such a unifier in our family.  What are we going to do without her?!?!?!

And a shout out to this girl for some great pictures!

I'm finding that Savannah and Jeff don't show up as often in pictures, because they're usually the ones behind the camera.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A first for Eli

Eli loves to draw on the whiteboard. His favorite is to draw the cross "where Jesus died."

Today he called me in excitedly to show me something new.

"Mom! Come and see! I drawed my name!!"

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