A Monchau Feeling

Well before we left Monchau I knew it would be my favorite stop in Germany. The architecture and the colors completely grabbed me. We visited the medieval town center dominated by narrow streets, the Rur river, and the half-timbered buildings (structural timber frame is visible on the outside of the structure with plaster, brick, or stone infilling). I love this type of construction because the structural elements are exposed rather than hidden away and are often used to great artistic effect. I’m hoping to see a lot more of these types of buildings on our British Isles trip that is coming up right around the corner!

Monchau is nestled into lush and green hills. I can’t imagine a more appropriate and charming setting for a medieval town. I was smitten. We were caught in a little rainstorm while hiking up a hillside of the town. Under normal circumstances we might be a little annoyed to be wet. However, it seemed so appropriate to rain here that it simply added to the ambiance and our enjoyment of the moment.

I’ve prepared a couple photos that capture a little of this Monchau feeling.

This photo captures some of that medieval timber construction, the Rur river passing between buildings in the midst of the town, and the green hills outside the town. It was taken handheld on May 12th 2017 in Monchau, Germany using the Fuji X-T10 and the Fuji 18–55mm lens at 18mm, 1/250s, f/7.1, and ISO 800. Editing was performed in Lightroom to square the architecture and slightly adjust the white balance.

This photo captures some of German shingle work that I noticed in many of the cities and towns is a favorite detail of mine. Just look at the patterns; the are fantastic! Throw in a little grunginess and I’m as happy as a clam.  It was taken handheld on May 12th 2017 in Monchau, Germany using the Fuji X-T10 and the Fuji 18–55mm lens at 37.4mm, 1/250s, f/8, and ISO 320. Editing was performed in Lightroom to square grunge the photo up a little.

This photo was taken as we were walking back down the hillside into Monchau!

This photo is a great little example of the small and narrow streets in Monchau.

This one is of Julie and the kids taking in the scenery.

September Escapings

Provo River Falls

It’s somewhat of a tradition of ours to drive up to Provo River Falls on Labor Day each year. It’s beautiful and so much fun to play on all the different levels of water. I think this will be a tradition we’ll all always cherish.

Snow Canyon State Park

We got away for a weekend in September and drove to our namesake canyon for a little nature r&r. We love the quiet beauty of this area and are always happy to come partake of it.

During the morning and evening hours we:

  • Played in the dunes
  • Hiked a small slot canyon
  • Explored the lava fields and climbed down into a lava tube
  • Found an arch
  • Climbed to the top of the rocks

We escaped the heat of the day by:

One story…Rob and Nate brought their bikes but during a campsite move, Rob leaned his disconnected bike wheel up against the front bumper of the car. We drove to the trail to drop off the boys but when Rob went to get his bike down, he realized he left his wheel back at camp. When we got back there, his wheel was still there laying on the ground but, without realizing it, we had run over it and bent it too far out of shape for repair. 

Snow Canyon, we love you. Never change and please always be there waiting for our return, because we shall.

For My Children: Why I Do This

I’ve been feeling lately that I should write a post telling my children why I have written so much about our lives on this family blog. Maybe it’s a given. Maybe it should be said anyway.

Dear Nathan, Madeleine, and Caroline,

These 944+ pages are for you. I’ve written every word of it so you will always be able to know who I am and how much I love you. As you get older and read more of this family history, I want you to really know me and all my parts, both the strong and the weak. If I were to ever leave this earth before I’m old, I don’t want you to wonder or forget anything you could possibly wonder or forget.

I want you to have my memories of you, too. I want you to know where you come from and the breadth of your pure spirits. This is the sole purpose of my writings. It always has been and it always will be.

As long as you are my children, I will be your mother and I will love you with all of my eternal soul. I hope you already know and feel it but because of this blog, you will never have the chance to question or forget.

Yes, I love you. You’re not only the reason for this family blog, but the reason for my life.

With all the love a universe can contain,

Your mom

April’s St. George Getaway

We took a few days off in April to go south and enjoy some of Utah’s beauty. The following are some of the things we had fun doing in the St. George area:

  • Hiked 3 1/2 miles roundtrip to a fantastic slot canyon in Kanarraville
  • Boys went mountain biking twice
  • Lots of swimming in the pool and hot tub during the day and at night under the stars 
  • Visited some cool shops on Main Street
  • Splashed in the splash pad
  • Went “mining” for gypsum
  • Toured the homes of Jacob Hamblin and Brigham Young
  • Played for hours at the free children’s museum
  • Scrambled over red rocks and through “The Crack” at Pioneer Park
  • Swung on swings
  • Explored the nature park
  • Took in the views at Bryce Canyon National Park
All in all, a great few days!
Rob made this video of our explorations. He always does a good job pulling out the fun and emotion of our experience. Thanks, Rob!!


Two Bays, a Lagoon, and a Cenote (Wait, I’ve Heard This Joke Before…)

I promise. Some day I will stop posting about Mexico. Unfortunately for you, today is not that day.

We went snorkeling and by “we” I mostly mean Rob. I’d snorkeled before but it was 10 years ago and I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. I thought my troubles were from me just being incompetent but when I finally tried Rob’s mask at the end of the day I realized it was actually my gear that was incompetent. Oh, well. I still had a great time swimming with my face out of the water. I forgot an extra set of contacts and my glasses at home so I was not going to risk going blind losing a lens in the sea.

Admittedly, the snorkeling conditions weren’t that great. It had been windy for a few days and the water was mirky. Also, we didn’t hire a guide and maybe we would’ve seen better stuff if we had. That’s okay, we had fun trying anyway.

We visited Pamuul which was a super cool bohemian-type community on the bay. I loved looking at all the different types of dried coral that had washed up on the beach.

Then we snorkeled in Yal-ku Lagoon. It was practically empty and serene. We couldn’t hear anything except raindrops on the water and the surrounding jungle’s leaves. We swam around from rock outcrop to rock outcrop and enjoyed the peaceful paradise while seeing fish swim around our feet.

We only took video here and it desperately needs to be edited down before it’s posted so you’ll get to see it later.

Then we headed to Akumal Bay so that Rob could snorkel out to see the sea turtles.

It was Locals Free Day so I enjoyed people watching.

This view ain’t bad, either.

That night I ate my favorite meal of the trip…cocinita pibil tacos dipped in what I think was salty black beans (at least that’s what I hope it was!). Mmmmm with a capital M!

One of our stops the next day was the cenote Multum-Ha (hills of stone in the water). We walked down a spiral wood staircase 18 meters under the ground until it opened up into a round cavernous room. The water is another 18 meters deep but it’s so clear it looks like it’s only 2 meters deep.

The water was really cold and took some courage to get in all the way but I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by. After just a minute it actually felt so refreshing and I loved how it felt after being hot and muggy for a few days.  There were slack lines secured under the water and it was exhilarating swimming from one to the next in such clear, deep, and cold water.

Only video was taken here, too. So you’ll have to just take our word for it.

We did end up bringing a friend to our hotel with us wrapped in our towels. We didn’t find him until the next morning while packing. I’m so glad we didn’t find him under worse circumstances! I like to call this little video I Didn’t Even Think About Scorpions.


Nate’s First Knowledge Bowl Nate and his school group…

Nate’s First Knowledge Bowl

Nate and his school group before the knowledge bowl competition this morning. They won two and lost two. Well done Nate and Go Tigers!

I can’t tell you how much work Nate put into preparation for this. During fall semester Nate and his team met once per week after school to learn and practice trivia. After the holidays they met two times per week after school. He willingly gave up an hour of his play time to do this. I’m very impressed that he’d be so consistent with something like this. I’m very proud of him.

The subject this year was Utah and US history. Julie and I didn’t know a lot of the answers. They were tough! Next year is science and Nate already has a really good background in that. Should be a good year!!

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Fantastically Important Questions from Kids

As parents and teachers, we are constantly lecturing and asking questions and wanting kids to give a specific answer in a way that pleases us. I have been feeling lately that I need to set aside more time during my lessons for the kids to ask ME the questions.

I did sharing time in primary yesterday. The topic was on The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  I decided that I wanted to spend the whole time answering the children’s questions about families. I invited a member of the bishopric to come and give weight to the topic, help me answer the questions, and to show support for the primary kids. I passed out pieces of paper and let the kids write their own anonymous questions and put them in a bag. After blindly picking out a question, I first let the kids come up with some of the answers and then the bishopric member and I followed up. We only had time to get through a handful of questions so I brought the rest home and read through them. I wanted to get an idea of what the kids were wondering about. I loved reading them!

I thought I’d share some of their questions with you so that you’ll know what your kids don’t quite understand about families and God’s plan for them.

We had about 100 kids in church yesterday. Some of the kids said they didn’t have any questions, which was fine. Here is a summary of what I got:

18 cute little drawings and “I love my family” comments from the youngest children.

2 (only!) silly submissions. Could’ve been much higher 🙂

  • Eat! Your! Lunch!
  • Moooo!!!!  real loud

3 questions regarding the millenium and 2nd coming.
4 questions about how and why the earth was made.
3 questions about my specific family (how many people, etc).
1 question about fatherhood:
  • What is it like being a father? What’s the hardest part? What’s the most enjoyable part?
3 questions about how to be good members of our family and show love.

7 great questions:

  • Why do families have to go to church?
  • How do you know if you are doing something bad or good?
  • How did the church get made?
  • What does our spirit look like?
  • Are we Adam and Eve’s sons and daughters?
  • Why do we get baptized?
  • What is an ordinance?
6 trickier questions:
  • Does the prophet see the savior?
  • Why do kids get born with some difrint skin?
  • Why do some familys go to a different church?
  • Did Jesus ever marry to have kids?
  • Why are some familys apart?
  • Why is life the way it is?
4 questions about why we get married in the temple and how we can have an eternal family. 1 of those questions was simply “How do you get married? with a picture of a stick man and a stick woman kissing 🙂
7 questions asking about having children. 
  • Why was Gods first commandment to multiply children?
  • Why are children good?
  • 2 “How was I made?” questions.
  • 3 questions about why some families have lots of brothers and some families have lots of sisters. That was actually one of the questions I had to answer. First, I had a 5 yr old child try and answer it and he said, “Because sometimes moms lay lots of girls and sometimes she lays lots of boys!” This family had raised chickens for a time 🙂 I skipped the science lesson and went with the fact that the families we have here are earth are the same families we had in heaven before we were born. Heavenly Father placed us each in the family that was most able to teach us the things we need to learn while here on earth.    
By far the #1 question asked, at 12, was “Why are families important?”
How poignant this question became to our family personally last night as we learned of Grandpa Williams passing away. How blessed his family is for knowing where he is, that he is happy, and that we will see him again someday. 
Growing up, and still, every once in a while my dad will ask me point blank, “Do you have any questions?” It’s usually at some random moment like riding the train downtown. I am caught off guard so usually answer, “Uhhhh. Nooo?” But I appreciate what he is doing. He doesn’t want to assume that I understand everything perfectly. No one does. He wants to give me the opportunity to ask about something I don’t know the answer to. He wants to let me know that I have his undivided attention and can ask him anything. I appreciate the effort and will try to have a question ready next time 🙂
Since we were only able to answer a few of these questions during our allotted time we encouraged the kids to go home and ask their parents these same questions. I encourage you hold your own q&a sessions with your children. You’ll never know what your kids don’t understand until you ask! And when they ask, rather than being asked, they are more personally invested in the answer and will take it to heart. 
I love our primary kids!