Well, Isaac’s MR340 race was postponed this year. The paddling event, which starts in Kansas City, MO and ends in St. Louis, did not pan out due to high waters from recent flooding. Since the Army does not give much wiggle room for leave dates, our family vacation turned into an Oklahoma City visit, a trip to Austin, TX, a hike in the famous Carlsbad Caverns ending in an immensely spectacular bat show.

We were also able to tack on a night in El Paso at the trendy Indigo hotel before heading home.

In OKC, we spent a day at the Omniplex with my best pal Jax and her awesome squad who are conveniently stationed in nearby Ft. Sill, OK. That museum grows every time we visit, and it would take at least two days to see everything. We ate at Empire slice house, had ice cream at Roxy’s and found a splash pad at McKinley park in the Plaza district where the kids ran off some of their bottomless energy.

We also rode the city’s new trolleys around downtown, ate on the 49th floor of the Devon tower, and got hot and sticky in the Myriad gardens. Oklahoma city is maturing and growing into such an exciting metropolis.

Our visit to Austin included a stay at a downtown hotel where we toured the city by foot. VooDoo donuts has a shop in Austin; munching their creations brought back fond memories of traveling in and around Portland. We rode electric scooters and bikes, went to some great restaurants, including Cooper’s Old Time BBQ Pit, and had fun swimming at a swimming hole at a nearby greenbelt. Definitely check out my instagram stories for that clip – doggie heaven is real, and it is in ATX.

I didn’t want to lug around my 5DMarkiii, so I didn’t take any photos there. The lighting at Carlsbad didn’t allow for photography either, using a tripod down there would just feel silly. I did however document some highlights on instagram. Check those out here: Carlsbad Caverns highlights.

Interestingly enough, no digital devices are allowed at all during the bat flights. No cameras, phones off, and be very quiet. This is a directive taken to prevent the bats from migrating elsewhere, and ending the century long tradition of bat flight shows.

Carlsbad Caverns hosts a bat show nightly during the spring-summer at the amphitheater near the cave entrance. The bats swirl out of the cave counter clockwise, fluttering and chirping about as they flock to find water and food.

Someone broke the rules and documented the event previously, and against better judgment I’m sharing it here for anyone whose curiosity has been piqued.

Overall, a wonderful journey to both familiar and unfamiliar places!


The Pioneer Museum of Flagstaff, AZ


When we found out Margot’s first day of school was August 1st, we scrambled to scrape together a family vacation at the last minute. We like to keep our plans loose, avoiding reservations and expectations in order to flow with the weather, and our moods while traveling. It’s an art form, really.

Our plan was to take the pop-up camper out for almost a week; staying at Apache Lake near Phoenix, and camping and hiking in Sedona. Well, Apache Lake was sweltering. I went for a run at the Burnt Corral campground where we stayed at a shoreside site and the temperature held steady at 104 at 7pm. I got zero sleep that night, and felt like I was suffocating in 97 degree weather at midnight. The kids were fine, and Isaac seemed okay, but I definitely was going to have a bad time camping in weather like that; and if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I think that’s how the saying goes.


So north we traveled, hoping that the weather would cool the further we went toward Flagstaff. Sedona was still above 100, so we traveled onward to Flagstaff.


Camping at the county fairgrounds was wonderful. Quiet, cheap, centrally located. We had at least two activities a day that we achieved; visiting the Arboretum, a Mansion, trails in the mountains, kayaking at Lake Mary and — my favorite — checking out the Pioneer Museum!

095A4665095A4675The Pioneer Barn, separate from the main building, contains loads of artifacts of yesteryear – I especially enjoyed spotting a large floor loom. It was warped with a project on it. I wish I were able to identify all the features of various looms on the spot. I need to crack open a few more books and click around a few more websites before I can do that.095A4681095A4671095A4669095A4610

I’m still neck deep in Pioneer culture right now. As some of you may know, I tend to latch onto a topic and immerse myself in it for a year or so until my interests are swayed into another direction. We’re reading the Little House on the Prairie series and chipping away at lessons in the Playful Pioneers curriculum at the moment, so this museum was exactly the type of place we had to visit.


A lumber train staged in the front of the museum was open for us to trot through. From there we followed the foot path to a historic cabin.  I love imagining how life would have been in the late 1800s. We went to the museum after a trail run, and I wasn’t feeling as hygienically civilized as I would like to be, so I think I had a pretty good idea of how it felt to live intimately with the seasons and the elements. That is certainly part of the joy to camping; reconnecting with nature and learning to appreciate the modern conveniences we all have. And resetting the internal clock to coincide with the natural circadian rhythm — totally necessary!


I will tell you the best part of the Pioneer Museum, by far. Their Children’s Room, full of wooden toys, period costumes, school desks and books. 095A4619

We had to loop around to the Children’s room twice so the kids could continue to play with the Jacob’s ladders, hobby horses and oversized dollhouse. Engaging children in museum settings is difficult, so I commend the Historical Society of Arizona on curating such a magnetic place for kids to explore. 095A4591095A4586095A4582095A4575


Among the many activities we did in Flagstaff, the Pioneer Museum was top of the list for me; although it was tough choice between trail running, s’mores making, and kayaking. I will definitely revisit this place, and I doubt I’ll have trouble dragging my family along again.

The Playful Pioneers

This summer we’re embarking on new territory!



I gifted Margot the box set to the Little House on the Prairie for her 5th birthday back in March. We read our way through the Little House in the Big Woods, and have gone through half of the Little House on the Prairie. Then I caught wind of a school age curriculum based around the Little House Series called the Playful Pioneers from the Peaceful Press; it expands on the books by using worksheets, crafts, recipes, and bible studies. The concepts from the Little House lifestyle are emphasized with supplemental book recommendations, practical art skills (weaving, natural dyeing etc.) and rounded out with theology lessons.


The curriculum is for early elementary students, and since Margot only begins Kindergarten this fall, we have plenty of time to work through the concepts in the next couple of years. For now, I read the stories aloud and help reinforce the ideas throughout the week.

It’s a loose approach to keeping my kids busy during the day, and to prepare Margot for the upcoming school year. And what a great way to bring scripture into our daily lives!

And for those who love the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I highly recommend Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. It’s a wonderful take on the Little House migration from Caroline’s perspective. Historical fiction at its finest! I uniquely felt the highs and lows of the Pioneer experience while camping at the lake earlier this summer (hello hot days and cold nights). I checked it out from the library, but it’s worth the purchase!


I should also mention our family foray into fiber arts this year. As per my last post, needle felting has become a favorite way to pass the time. We’ve now caught the weave fever. Margot loves working on her mini lap loom, and I’ve gotten around to warping and weaving on my second hand rigid heddle loom.


Eventually I’ll join the Bisbee Fiber Arts Guild so I can work on their giant floor looms, I’ll need to get some more practice in before hand. I’ve also been kept busy with crochet projects. I’ve made a couple of hexa-cardis (see Margot modeling hers above), a Cal Poly Pomona themed afghan for my sister Kelli (she starts school there this fall), and a reading blanket for Margot (below).


Woody is waiting patiently to be the recipient of a fiber arts project by me; so I’ve begun a reading blanket for him using a gradient yarn in the Cupcake line from Lion Brand.

I’ll have to share my sewing projects as well! My Creative Bug subscription has kept me busy; I love the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns and tutorials. Most of that content has already been shared on my instagram page. Check that out for more details: Shirt No. 1 – @thatyeayealife

Happy Solstice, folks, I’ll be sharing more craft projects soon!