Friday, August 17, 2012

On Modesty

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(Fair warning, dear friends, this blog post plagiarizes from various Facebook statuses and comments I’ve posted over the last year or so.)


A couple of weeks ago, my ten year old daughter came home from Primary with a printed copy of this June 2011 article from The Friend (a LDS magazine for children), in which four year old Hannah learns about the immodesty of sundresses and the importance of covering up her shoulders.  


(I still don't understand why her Grandma sent her that sundress.  Doesn't she know four year olds shouldn't dress like harlots?) 

I have been boiling ever since.

Because I do not want my girls learning at church that it is inappropriate for a four year old to show her shoulders.  A four year old’s shoulder is not a sexual object.  And that is precisely what we are teaching our children when we hyper-focus on modesty in this way. We are sexualizing our little girls, in the name of teaching them correct principles.

(I know some people think that Mormon children should abide by Mormon adult modesty standards because someday, as adults, if they choose to wear garments, they will need to cover their shoulders.  This, they believe, avoids any future confusion over changing standards.  I'm personally not on board with that.  I don’t believe changing the standards of what is appropriate to wear at various ages is confusing or difficult for children.  Different ages come with different responsibilities. We don't make five year old girls wear bras because someday they will have breasts and we don't want them to struggle with that. They wear bras when it is appropriate to wear them.  Our children are not simple minded, they can grasp that concept. But I know that's a common feeling, and hey, different strokes. But age appropriateness is not what bothers me the most about all of this.

I am really tired of the way in which we try to make women responsible, through their clothing choices, for the behavior, thoughts, and spirituality of men. 

Last month a friend in my old Highland ward told me that the YW in her ward decided that they should all wear shorts and t-shirts over their swimming suits at girls camp, EVEN WHILE SWIMMING, WHILE ENGAGING IN AN ATHLETIC ACTIVITY, so that they would not "tempt" the adult priesthood men in attendance.  

Read that again.  They are so worried about tempting the fathers of their peers, that they felt uncomfortable, AT GIRLS CAMP, wearing swimsuits while swimming. 

This is what we've taught them, that men are unable to control themselves, that the sight of girlish shoulders and thighs will present such a great temptation that even stalwart men will be tempted beyond all imagination. 

And that this is the responsibility of the young women.

Most of you probably heard about the BYU Idaho testing center skinny jeans debacle and about the incident where a random guy at BYU  walked up to a girl (dressed in a perfectly modest outfit) he didn’t know and handed her a note explaining that he felt she should rethink her outfit because it was basically a spiritual hardship for him to have to see her. We are teaching our young men that it is acceptable for them to police the clothing choices of our young women.

To quote one of my FB friends, "My issue is that there are guys who think it's fine (even a righteous duty) to go up to a woman they don't even know and harass them about their clothing choice." We are teaching them that it is acceptable to blame young women for their own sexual (and normal) thoughts.

Maybe these young men need to be taught not to leer at young women in public. Maybe they need to be taught to mind their own business. Maybe they need to be taught that they actually do have control over themselves and are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. 

Because how on earth are these guys going to function out in the real world? Because, guess what, they WILL encounter attractive, shapely young women out in the world and will have to find some way to deal with it. It reminds me of the recent incident where a group of Orthodox Jewish men in Israel spit on an 8 year old as she was walking to school because they felt her uniform wasn't modest enough. 

I think this is the natural result of spending so many years emphasizing hyper-modesty (instead of actual modesty in thought and action), dress, and appearance. We've now hypersexualized our young women to the point that a young girl wearing a perfectly acceptable and non-sexual outfit gets harassed at a church school. What's next, burkas for everyone? 

Guess what guys, if your son can't control himself when he sees my daughter's SHOULDER, that's on your son, not my daughter.

As my Uncle Alan said, “The irony of this fixation on modesty is that it only heightens sexual tension and desire.  The more of the body you cover in the name of modesty, the more area of the body you sexualize.  Why did Victorian men “swoon” when they happened to see a bit of ankle or wrist?  Only because it was hidden.  I think it was Mark Twain who wrote that nothing was ever made less tempting by forbidding it.”

And you know what?  If my sons are aroused by attractive young women, well – that just means they are NORMAL.  They are biologically SUPPOSED TO BE.  Isn’t almost EVERYTHING arousing to teenage boys at one point or another?  They have to learn to deal with it.  We can’t build up a whole institution of body shaming designed to help boys avoid lustful thoughts and adolescent erections.

All of this modesty fixation makes me want to grab my 9 and 10 year old daughters and run screaming into the wilderness. Because this is not what I want them to learn. 

If we go to church at all (and for this and a wide variety of other reasons I am starting to wonder if we should) I want her to learn about service, and honesty, and loving others, and goodness. I do not want them to learn a cute little head, shoulders, knees and toes activity they can do to ensure they are appropriately dressed.  

(I kid you not, I witnessed this in primary last year - it consisted of “touch your head – is anything showing?  Touch your toes, is anything showing?”  I wanted to blurt out “do a cartwheel IS ANYTHING SHOWING? FOR SHAME FOR SHAME”). 

I do not want them bringing home articles about sundresses.  I do not want them learning that they are walking pornography.

I want our religion to strengthen them, not shame them.

And I do not feel like that is too much to ask.

For now, I preview the primary lessons online. And when the lessons teach them to be ashamed of their shoulders, we go hiking in the mountains, in shorts, and flex our muscles and feel strong. When they come home feeling guilty about tank tops, we talk about how some people have silly ideas about shoulders, but God doesn’t actually care if your shoulders are showing.  He made your shoulders for holding up your arms and there is nothing shameful or sexual about them. 

And then I go in my room and stomp around and shake my head and ponder whether or not I want my kids learning this fundamentalist craziness.

And I wear tank tops around the neighborhood, out of spite.

(I KNOW.  THE DEVIL CLEARLY HAS ME IN HIS HOT FIERY GRIP.  You don’t need to leave a comment clarifying that.)

PS:  Please do not tell me to pray about this.  If you think I haven't done that already, you are crazy.  The fact that my answers don’t match up with the answers you expect me to get doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong, or that I’m full of sin.  I know that is hard for some of you to wrap your mind around.  You can go ahead and believe that, I don’t mind.  Or you can pray for me, that won’t hurt my feelings either.  You just can’t comment about it here.  Also, please don’t tell me that this isn’t a significant issue.  It is significant to ME.  

(Comments are now closed.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


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So in the spirit of teaching my kids stuff (#111 - 116)  (and also in the spirit of Our Cupboards They are Barren), yesterday we went to Smiths to learn about grocery shopping and using an ATM card.

(I love Smiths Marketplace.  The warm fuzzies some of you have for Target, I reserve for Smiths.)

(If there isn't a Smiths by our new house I am totally cancelling the lease.)

I let the kids (including the two year old) (DANGER DANGER) each take a cart and then we proceeded to v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y make our way through the store.


Leading four kids with four carts (including one kid who continually shouts "I SMASH YOU") through a crowded grocery store = total insanity.

(I am not even kidding when I say that my heels were bloody by the time we got out of there.)

(DO NOT GIVE A TWO YEAR OLD A CART.  It is TOO. MUCH. POWER. for them to handle.)

(Also, WHY IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN don't the mini-grocery carts have bumpers?  WHY? WHY?)

(Other things my children learned yesterday: two new swears.  I'm so proud.)

I gave the three oldest lists.  For Megan (10) and Emma (9), the lists were general (bread, eggs, 2% milk, toilet paper, bananas, generic light canned pears) (which meant that we had to talk about what "generics" were) and I asked them to look at the different prices to see what the best deals were.

We talked about how sometimes an item might look like it's cheaper, but if you look at the size/number of ounces you are actually paying more. I also gave them each a budget and had them try to figure out if they had enough money for the things in their cart.

For Jake (7), we kept things a little simpler.  His list was pretty specific (Powerade Zero, Comet, etc.) in most cases.  When it wasn't specific, say for "cereal", I had him pick out the three cereals he liked best and then we compared what the prices were and picked the least expensive option.

Josh, meanwhile, was randomly throwing every kind of crap on the face of the earth into his cart (Goldfish! Oreos! Fudge Sticks! French Vanilla Cappuccino!) and as soon as he put something in, I went behind him and put it back on the shelf (although he was pretty insistent about the fudge sticks).

For my own sanity I didn't just let them take off, I made them stay on the same general aisle and pick out their stuff as we went along.  The other shoppers were not all that thrilled that we were continually blocking the aisles (other than the grandmas who by and large thought we were all ADORABLE JUST ADORABLE), but we tried to smooth things over with lots of "excuse mes" and by quickly moving out of the way as much as possible.  (Teaching politeness and grocery store etiquette, CHECK.)

When we were (finally) (FINALLY) done (seriously, this took FOREVER, but it was fun - other than, er, the part where MY HEELS WERE BLEEDING) (HAVE I MENTIONED MY HEELS WERE BLEEDING?  NO?), we took over two of the self-check stations so that two kids could check out while I helped them, while the remaining kid could attempt to keep Josh from absconding to Mexico.

They entered our fresh value card id number, checked and bagged their own groceries (including the produce), swiped their coupons, and then I let them use the debit card to pay (their favorite part, bar none).  (SECRET CODE.)  (DRUNK WITH POWER.)  The girls were very impressed by the How Much You Saved Today part of the receipt and kept reminding me How Much We Saved You Today Which Probably Means You Should Buy Us Slurpees.

I am nothing if not totally addicted to slurpees right now (SUGAR FREE mango - 20 calories for 8 ounces ARE YOU KIDDING ME), so that was our next stop.  At the Sev (as we like to call it in the hood) I gave them each some change and had them each take their own drinks to the counter and figure out how much change they needed to give the clerk.

I can't say that the clerk was all that thrilled to be part of our object lesson, but there was nobody else in the store so - SHUT IT grumpy store clerk.

They really loved this.  Megan took her receipt home and put it in her scrapbook, that's how much of an impression the whole thing made on her.  (The children's museum trip they took earlier in the day with their awesome babysitter - apparently not worthy of recording, but GROCERY SHOPPING WITH MOM = A DAY TO REMEMBER.)

We will definitely do this again, and next time I want to talk more about what KINDS of foods to buy - looking at ingredient labels, how to pick out fruit, etc.

And next time I will LEAVE JOSH AT HOME.

(I love you Josh, you little turd.)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Nice Wadies

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On our way down to Vegas we stopped at Cove Fort, a historic pioneer fort about half-way between Fillmore and Beaver (for parents, it's located somewhere between "SHE'S TOUCHING ME MAKE HER STOP" and "MOM - HE'S MAKING THAT NOISE WITH HIS NOSE AGAIN").  We've probably driven past the fort hundreds of times, but we never stopped, partly because from the highway that particular spot looks pretty desolate.  You can't actually see the fort itself until you take the exit.

We kept telling Josh that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but he didn't really understand, and when we got out at Cove Fort he assumed WELL HEY THIS MUST BE GRANDMA'S HOUSE.  (It's been a while since we visited, obviously.)

Cove Fort is staffed by older couples serving LDS missions, and when we parked he saw an older woman approaching the car.

He said, "Dat gwamma?"

I told him, "No, it's just a nice lady."

I guess he was thinking that maybe he had ANOTHER grandma, one named "nice lady", because as soon as he got out of the car he raced over to her, shouted "Hi WADY!", wrapped his arms around her legs, and gave her a huge hug.

You should've seen the look on that missionary's face.  She was just tickled.  In a cracking voice she kept telling us how nice it was and how much she missed her own grandchildren.  I think he made her month.

She took us on a leisurely tour of the fort, telling the kids about the family who lived there, showing them how they did laundry and cooking, showing them the buffalo hides, the mattresses filled with straw, and the wooden bed with a detachable roller (so you could flatten your own mattress when the straw clumped up).  They investigated the garden and the gun portholes, and went up to the top of the fort to check out the view.

At the end of the tour she gave them an old fashioned pioneer toy to keep (after explaining how it represented that families are forever) (I would share that story with you except that I can't remember it), and then we headed back down the freeway.

It was a fun, free stop.  You can find out more about Cove Fort here.

(Practically speaking, they have a nice grassy area with picnic tables, large trees, a drinking fountain and nice restrooms, so if you need a clean, shady place to stop along the way to or from SLC, I'd definitely recommend it.  It's a great way to stretch your legs for a bit.)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waterfall Hiking For Lazy Folks

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I really love Bridal Veil Falls.  This is another really simple, easy (quarter of a mile) waterfall hike (more like a stroll).  You can play in the shallow water at the base of the falls, or, if you're more adventurous, climb right up the waterfall itself.

From I-15, take Exit 273 for 800 North in Orem, which becomes US Highway 189.  About 4 miles up the canyon past the interchange, just past Canyon Glen Park, take the Nunn's Park exit, and park in the Bridal Veil Falls / Nunns Park parking lot (on the right side of the road).

Have a picnic in the park, then follow the paved path straight up to the falls.

Free.  Info here

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What We Have Here, My Son, Is A Failure To Communicate

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Oh man.  YOU GUYS.

The airshow was a total parental FAIL.

The sun was shining in Bountiful on Saturday morning when we left, so despite knowing that the forecast called for freezing rain and gusty winds, we set off for the air force base in short sleeves, leaving our sweaters behind in a rumpled pile on the couch.  Because - hey - the sun!  Stupid weather people.  Shows what THEY know, smirk smirk.

(Oh Sue.  Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue.  You moron.)

We got to the base right on time, set off on the mile-and-a-half hike to the tarmac feeling slightly chilly but optimistic that it could only warm up as the day progressed (HA!) (HAHAHAHAHA!), and by the time we got through the security we were walking ice cubes.   We kept seeing cool things we wanted to stop and look at, but we were too cold, and figured it would be better to just keep moving.

When we got to the runway area we sat in the dirt and huddled up together in the grass under the sheet (WE BROUGHT A SHEET) (MORONS) we had planned to use as a picnic blanket.  All of the other parents were totally judging us (almost was I warmed by the heat of a thousand parents giving me laser stink eye) as they held their own parka clad toddlers, but one kind lady (BLESS YOU KIND LADY) took pity on us, or rather, on my children, and insisted that we take one of her thick blankets. Unfortunately one thick blanket for four children and two adults is – still not enough blanket.

Despite parachuters descending from the sky holding American flags, and fighter jets zooming down over our heads, all we could really think about was our rapid onset hypothermia.  It was miserable and we ended up leaving after about an hour. AN HOUR.

I felt pretty bad about it, because they would’ve loved it if we’d been appropriately dressed.


The mile-and-a-half hike back to our car in the freezing wind and rain was – well – it was horrible, despite Megan's sweet attempts to make the best of it with her "it’s o.k., because we're on an adventure and sometimes you’re cold when you’re on an adventure” type talk.    Emma, on the other hand, (who is not at ALL like me when she gets upset, not at ALL) rolled her eyes and muttered a bunch of stuff I couldn't quite catch and a number of things I could, including “ridiculous” and “freezing” and “stupid airplanes” but she kept grimly marching forward and I couldn’t really blame her at that point.

When we got home the kids were all irritable and snappish with each other, and after making chocolate chip cookies failed to improve their mood I banned them to the basement Until Further Notice. This, as usual, had the fortunate side effect of transforming them into The Alliance of Unfortunately Oppressed Children Who Must Band Together Against The Enemy and they spent the rest of the day making indoor forts and playing - I don't know - some very involved game that had to do with forts. (I’m a very attentive mother, obviously.) (I was DONE at that point, what can I say.)

Sunday was rainy and cold again.

(May is such a jerk.)

I coped with my weather related disappointment by moping around and letting the kids watch positively unhealthy amounts of Phineas and Ferb.   I kept pacing back and forth and sighing heavily and muttering inconsiderate comments about nature and my husband finally was like WE GET IT, YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED ABOUT THE WEATHER. ENOUGH. 


On Monday we went - - well, actually, before we went anywhere we spent the morning cleaning stuff.

Lest you think it is non-stop fun around here, please know that interspersed with all of our (FAILED) activities, there is always plenty of slave labor going on.  I like to work my children's fingers to the bone using my highly complicated chore system, which consists of me looking around to see what needs to be done and then making them do it, and saying a lot of things like "ZIP IT" and "yes, well life is not fair", and "If you're complaining that just tells me that you need more stuff to do" and a lot of other things I swore I would never say to my own children.  

But LATER, later on Monday we went out to Fairfield for the Camp Floyd Memorial Day celebration, (which you can read about, er, via that link right back there) (before the comma) (what, you need directions?). The older kids had lots of fun.  


Josh is two now. 

Josh is currently very committed to his core values of:

1) "I DO IT MYSELF" and 
2) "I CANNOT BE CONTAINED" along with a smattering of 

What this means, practically speaking, is that he is very, very annoying to take anywhere.

He spent a lot of time accosting various puppies, attempting to run out of the park and into the road, trying to sneak onto the stagecoach or under the stagecoach, or basically anywhere he could potentially be kicked to death by the stagecoach horses, and watching a field mouse darting in and out of his hole. 

(OK, so that part was cute.)

He also spent a lot of time demanding non-existent crackers, telling us he WOULDN'T NOT DO IT when we asked him to do ANYTHING, sitting in time-out, and flailing around when we tried to carry him. It was charming. OH SO VERY CHARMING.

(This is what you get for saying, “Oh, he’ll probably just take a nap in the car.”) 


We wound up the weekend with a barbecue at my mom's - roasting hot dogs (Josh: "I DIVE IN THE FIRE") and marshmallows ("I SPREAD HOT MELTED SUGAR ON ME TENDER PARTS") over the firepit. 

I have never been so glad to buckle him into his car seat in my life.  (BLESS YOU CAR SEAT LAWS, that allow me to buckle in my child, hand him a book, and then righteously ignore him for at least 50 miles.)  

(And now you know the real reason we go on lots of long day trips - long stretches of time when he is legally strapped in place.)

Come For The Stagecoach, Stay For The Toilet Chair

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On Monday we went out to the Camp Floyd state park in Fairfield, a little town about 10 minutes west of Eagle Mountain. Camp Floyd is pretty sedate now, but back in the 1850s it was a roaring army outpost, established when President Buchanan sent out troops to break up what he thought was an impending Mormon Rebellion (which never materialized).  It was also a stop on the Pony Express trail, and is home to the Stagecoach Inn museum.  

On Memorial Day they held a free Civil War era reenactment that was pretty fun for the kids (they'll hold it again on Labor Day weekend).  The kids got to dress up in uniform, learn how to march in formation, and learn to load muskets.  (No, they didn't actually LOAD them, they just - learned about it.) 

Camp Floyd Memorial Day Civil War Reenactment Celebration

They also learned how to use a spinning wheel, and various other old timey things.  There was an old guy pretending to be a civil war era surgeon who quite graphically demonstrated (with knives and saws and the arm of a semi-willing volunteer) how amputations were performed during the war.  "Now this double-sided knife was much more efficient because you could just slam it in on one side of the bone and yank it down, and then slam it into the other side of the bone and yank it up..."  He also explained how you would use catgut in that scenario, and how to make sure you had a really nice skin flap for covering up your amputated bits.  

Jake's eyes were LIKE THIS. 

I keep waiting for Megan to hit the “this is so stupid” phase of tweendom, but so far so good.  She not only dressed up and learned to march in formation, she told me that was her favorite part.  Oh, that kid.  THAT KID.

You can read more about the day's events in the Daily Herald, here

As for visiting - the demonstrations and things were specific to this weekend, and if you go out to the state park on a normal day, you'll just see a few monuments and plaques, a little park, and the Stagecoach Inn museum, which is small but interesting.   My kids ran through it three times in fifteen minutes, if that gives you a little  perspective. (Jake couldn't get enough of the toilet chair.  "A TOILET CHAIR MOM. That's - that's SO GROSS.") (And yet, apparently, awesome.)  

I don't know if I would make a special trip out there to see it on a normal, non-event day, but if you're ever in Eagle Mountain or Saratoga Springs, it's only about a ten minute drive, and worth the trip.

PS:  Apparently they are holding Camp Floyd History Camps for kids in June, July, and August.  You can read about it on the Utah State Park website, here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Every. Single. Day.

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I don't think it's legal to live in Utah with children without coming to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum at least once, but folks in Utah are lucky enough to have a SECOND children's museum - the Treehouse Children's Museum, in Ogden.

I'd heard of it, but was never really motivated to make the drive (GAS IS EXPENSIVE) until Meg came home from a school field trip raving about it.

And with two free passes.

It was pretty great - full of displays and exhibits that my kids (who range in age from 2 to 10) really enjoyed.   When we were there, they announced optional staff-led activities every half an hour or so, like crafts, storytime, and a "Partici-Play" - where a staffer selected volunteers from the audience to come up on stage. (See the video clip below. Jake's one of the hunters.)

As you'll see in that vid, the volunteers and staff here are really enthusiastic. REALLY enthusiastic. I think sometimes when you work with kids in a place like this, it's easy to become sort of immune to all of the loud-manic-kid-joy going on around you, but these folks seemed to LOVE their jobs and seemed to love kids. I liked that a lot.  I also liked that all of the exhibits worked.

What I don't like is that now, every day, Josh asks to go to the "zeum tweehowse", and then cries a little when I tell him not today.

Every day.


Costs about $6 for kids, but they have a $1 off coupon on their website.  Info here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Cheap Mom's (That Would Be Me) Guide to Swimming in Utah

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We love the pool. Looooooooooove the pool.  I know people think of Utah as a snowy place but it gets freaking HOT in the summertime.  All of my family in Phoenix and Las Vegas are mocking me right now, I realize. It  does though. Something about the altitude simply melts your face off.

My kids think it's super exciting to explore new pools so we've been to a LOT of them.  (I can't imagine what they would do if we ever went to Seven Peaks or Lagoon-a-beach.  Probably die of joy-induced stroke.  Poor kids.  It's tough to have a really cheap mom.)   Luckily, Utah has some amazing (cheap) pools and pool complexes.  Sometimes I think the various city councils are all staffed by teenagers determined to top each other with the BIGGEST BEST MOST FUNNEST MOST AMAZINGEST pool ever.  And then they try.  Which works out great for me, personally.

Disclaimer:  This is not a list of EVERY swimming pool on the Wasatch Front, it's just a list of some of the pools I think are the most fun.  If I missed any good ones, let me know in the comments because WE WANT TO GO THERE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Also: Brief, Not Long, And Really Quite Shrimpy

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On Mother's Day afternoon we decided to try hiking to Lisa Falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

(We picked this one because it was fairly close, but there are lots of fun waterfall hikes in Utah, including Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon - check out this lady's blog where she describes a bunch of fun waterfall hikes in Utah.)

This is a short (SUPER SHORT) (like four minutes) hike to a waterfall where you can play in the waterfall runoff.  The short hike includes a lot of scrambling over big boulders that my kids thought was pretty fun, but again, the hike is SHORT.

(Did I mention it was short?  Because it's pretty short.)  (After we hiked in and back we ended up crossing the road and hiking down the Little Cottonwood Trail and along the river for a while because the waterfall hike wasn't quite enough to satisfy our exploring urge.)

The water was slow enough that the kids could stand right beneath it and get wet.  The water was freezing - er, as snow melt tends to be.  We probably should've saved this hike for later in the summer.

To get there, go straight up Little Cottonwood Canyon, between mile marker 6 and 7.  There's a little parking area off on the north side of the road, and a trail right next to that.

Lisa Falls Waterfall Hike - Little Cottonwood Canyon Utah

Sunday, May 13, 2012


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Well. I mean, it's not TECHNICALLY five million.  But still.  It's a bunch. 300+.   Probably plenty for you, because let's be honest, are you really going to do five million things with your kids this summer?


I'm guessing you'll probably do around 20 and then spend the rest of the summer praying for the sweet release of death school. Me? I might last a little longer because I'm borne aloft on the wings of my Working Mom Guilt, but still.  NOT 300.

Some of this stuff is stuff you would need to do with them, but a lot of it is stuff they can do on their own, because I think kids, given a little nudge, should mostly be able to entertain themselves.  (I GAVE YOU SIBLINGS FOR A REASON, MY CHILDREN.)

(None of the stuff in this list is Utah specific.)

(Many thanks to my husband for letting me spend a bunch of time lying around / not spending much time with my children today so that I could write this post about spending time with my children.)

(I LOVE Mother's Day.)


300+ Things to do with your kids this summer

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


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In mid-summer we love going to Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville.  There are camping spots, but we usually just go for the day.  Lots of people boat, but we don't have a freaking boat, NOT THAT I'M BITTER ABOUT THAT OR ANYTHING, NO BOAT FOR US, we just content ourselves with shooting laser beams of jealous rage out toward the More Fortunately Boated amongst us.

Luckily, they have a sandy beach area where no boats are allowed (TAKE THAT) and the water is usually pretty warm and calm.

It's so nice y'all.  It makes me feel all Southern and relaxed.  Everytime we go it makes me want to move to Huntsville.  

Info here:


Pineview Reservoir Huntsville Utah swimming beach

You Can Never Have Enough Castle Parks

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This Kaysville/Fruit Heights park is a lot like the Veteran's Memorial playground in South Jordan (seriously, there's a freaking castle park in every county), but I think it's more fun because it has the added bonus of having a woodland area with a creek.

We like to take a picnic then go for a little hike in the wooded area, skip a few rocks, tell the kids repeatedly not to go in the water, relent and tell them they can put their feet in the water BUT ONLY THEIR FEET, relent again and tell them they can go ahead and get wet, and then let them dry off back on the playground.  (We're really very strict.)

It also has restrooms, pavillions, and soccer fields.

Directions here.

Kaysville / Fruit Heights Castle Park Nicholls Park Summer Fun Utah


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It's a park!  It's a hike!  It's a park and a hike!

Seriously you guys, rich people have all the luck.  Tucked away inside a ritzy residential neighborhood in North Salt Lake is a cute little park, the Wild Rose Trailhead Park, with a pavillion and a playground.

(When we're at the playground with all of the rich people and their tiny dogs I like to speak with an accent and pretend that Yes, I Also Am A Faux British Millionaire.  Little trails lead to various parts of the neighborhood.  I don't know if this was actually a park feature, or if the rich folk had their servants dig the trails afterward.  Potato / Potahto.)

The BIG trails lead you up into the Bountiful foothills.  There are a lot of really easy hikes you can access from the trailhead, and lots of great picnic spots.  

(Are you sensing a theme here, what with all of the easy hikes?  (And the jealousy?) (Just pretend you don't see that part.)  Ahem.  As to the EASY part - we have little kids.  We have to carry the littlest.  So easy is sort of a prerequisite.)

(I didn't take many pictures of the park or the hike itself, apparently I was obsessing over my cute kids.  This  is Megan and Emma, teaching Josh the hiking victory dance.)

Wild Rose Trailhead Park Bountiful Utah foothills North Salt Lake

Discovery Trail. I Tried To Think Of Something Sarcastic To Say Here But This Is Actually Pretty Dang Cool

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We stumbled on this fun trail completely by accident after we attempted to go to the Canyon View Park in Spanish Fork Canyon and found it closed.  (We went to Canyon View on another day and all I really have to say about it is - meh.)

It's a wilderness area with a marked trail, that begins with a sort of a treasure map. Along the trail there are discovery/information stations and exhibits. My kids really loved it.  Still seems to be a pretty well kept secret.  Absolutely free.

Information and directions:

Discovery Trail Diamond Fork Youth Forest in Spanish Fork Great Trails for Kids Utah

Every Single Free Splash Pad In Utah

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Sometimes we like to get wet, but sometimes I'm not up to the whole and-now-I-must-keep-four-kids-from-drowning deal, so instead of heading to the pool we like to hit up splash pads.  And we mostly like to do it for free.  Because I'm cheap.

BEHOLD.  A list of all of the free splash pads along the Wasatch Front that I'm aware of, starting with...

Highland City Library Splash pad and "creek" (info here) (awesome)


(More splash pad info after the jump)

Willard Bay State Park.

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Have you been here yet?  It's a freshwater lake with a beach about 50 miles north of SLC.   There are free cabanas, picnic areas, and camping areas.   I think it cost about $10 to get in.

It gets CROWDED on the weekends, but everyone generally seems to be in a fantastic mood (possibly because a lot of people are drunk?) (I'm guessing?), so at least they are happy crowds.

Although maybe it's just that the heathens come out on Sunday, which is when we went. (TOTALLY KIDDING HEATHENS OF UTAH.) (DON'T EMAIL ME.)

I love it and can't wait to go back.

Info here:

Willard Bay State Park

Wildflower Hike to Secret Lake

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Oh you guys.  The wildflowers!  This is such an easy, gorgeous hike.  Technically the hike goes to a (rather underwhelming) (greenish) lake, but you really take this hike for the wildflowers.  We went in August and everything was in full bloom and SO GORGEOUS.   It's one of our family favorites.

The hike is only about a mile long.  It gets a little steep near the end where you hike up to the actual lake view, but honestly, you don't even need to go that far.  This would be a fantastic place for family pictures.  I need to bribe someone to take our pictures here, it has been years and years and years.  (Seriously, we don't even have a family pic with Josh in it. PARENT FAIL.)

You can find directions here:

Albion Basin Little Cottonwood Secret Lake (Cecret Lake) Wildflower Hike

Sippin Cideee Idee-Ider Through A Straw, Tweedlee Dee Ha Ha (Girls Camp Up In The House Y'ALL)

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What else would be located right smack in the middle of Ogden but a 152 acre non-profit nature preserve with trails, picnic areas, treehouses, and lakes?


We had no idea it was there either.

We had a great time exploring.  It was freezing when we went, and the trails to the treehouses were closed/washed out at the time, but we still manged to find a ton of entertaining stuff to do.

They have educational exhibits and programs designed to get kids involved with nature, and exhibits with wounded birds they are taking care of.  I've heard they have summer daycamp and overnight camp programs, but I have no idea how spendy they are and I was too lazy to look it up on their website.  I KNOW they have a family campout night with a picnic dinner, group singalong, and marshmallow roast, and I am just nerdy enough to think that sounds really fun. 

Costs $2-4 to get in, depending on age.

You can visit their website here:

Ogden Nature Center


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Another gorgeous lake - the Silver Flat Lake Reservoir.  This is a few miles up American Fork Canyon.  The drive is a little rough/scary (although I admit I'm a huge chicken when I'm not driving) (control issues much?), but it's worth it.

We had a picnic on the sandy beach, then went wading/swimming despite the fact that it was FREEZING.  (I think we went in May or June, can't remember.)  After a bit of swimming we were ready for a short hike.  We only hiked a little way up (we were already worn out) (plus I'm lazy), but you can hike from Silver Lake Flat Reservoir up to the actual Silver Lake (google it, there's tons of information online about the hike).   We stopped to climb on a few rocks and play in the river.

You can fish there, or camp (but, somewhat oddly, you can't camp within 1/2 mile of the lake).  More info here:

Silver Flat Lake American Fork Canyon

Stay Away From Hobo Huts, THIS MEANS YOU

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We loved Kelly's Grove, a park just a tad into Hobble Creek Canyon (near Springville).  A shallow river to wade in, wilder places to explore, pavillions to eat at, old school swingsets, baseball/kickball fields - we loved it.  We went in the fall and it was SO PRETTY.  SO GORGEOUS.  In fact, I just wandered around for a while repeating myself about how beautiful everything was.  KIND OF LIKE I'M DOING RIGHT NOW.

We went on a hike off in the reeds and found some kind of structure that it looked like hobos had been using.  The kids thought that was pretty awesome but my probation officer husband thought it was Dangerous Because He Knows All About What These Kids Today Use Hobo Huts For.

You can find directions and info here:

Kelly's Grove Park Hobble Creek Canyon Springville Utah

Random Spot On The Side Of The Road: American Fork Canyon

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Yeah.  Good luck getting there, but man, it was fun.

(I'm a brat, I know.)

American Fork Canyon