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