Long Time Gone! – Olympic National Park – August 2014

It’s been too long, and many things have happened. First, my old implementation of Gallery2 is no longer supported in WordPress, so I’m going to try use a new photo/media manager. If you can’t see the pics, please let me know. I’ll probably try a few until I find the right one.

We went to Kalaloch in August. We had a great time camping, visiting Ruby Beach, the Hoh rain forest, and a few other sites.The campground is very tight quarters, but a really pretty place. It was my first time there, and a revisit for the Penning crew. We hiked the Hoh River trail and explored some great places. We even saw a monster elk, munching away at grass near the trail.

Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, lots of fun!

Blankenship Meadows

July 18-20 brought our crew to a 21 mile trek from Soda Springs, up Summit Creek, across the meadows, and out Indian Creek. Brooklynn was visiting from Utah and joined the fun and the Hartman crew also joined us for the adventure.

A big thanks to Nana Penning for helping us set up the car and dropping us off at the trailhead. After realizing I left my much-loved Leki poles at the house, we began hiking up Summit Creek to Jug lake and had a great lunch by the lake. We continued on and spent the first night at Fryingpan Lake. The lake was beautiful, but the site a bit gross; because of the allowed use of stock and relative proximity, it is a garbage dump for some. Despite that, we had a great time. Just as Price was about to jump in the lake for a brisk swim, we found leeches in the lake. Between that and the fact that any exposed skin immediately led to scores of mosquito bites, no swimming was attempted.

Shortly after taking off the next morning, we came to our short section of the Pacific Crest Trail, breaking off again after a mile. Well… there was that extra half mile unplanned when we missed the turnoff. But, we thought an extra half mile in 3 days was OK; it also led to our only encounter with another hiker on the trip, a PCT section hiker travelling from Chinook to White Pass. We had lunch at the smaller of the Twin Sisters lakes. The breeze kept off some of the mosquito hordes, but the relief was short-lived. The second night was spent at a beautiful spot next to the largest of the Blankenship lakes. As it cooled down at night, the bugs were slightly bearable, and the kids spent some fun time down by the lake.

The third day brought a return of mosquitoes, with a vengeance! We could scarcely move without another bite. We hustled through some gorgeous meadows and next to Indian Creek, as it tumbles down the mountains toward Rimrock Lake. The kids crashed as soon as they got in the car. We’re ready to plan next year’s summer trip. Suggestions?

Lots of pics below, all of the photos are in the Blankenship Meadows album.


Geocaching – Mountain Springs Peak

After trying out a couple geocaches here in the city, we decided to try our luck on a little longer adventure. Mountain Springs Peak is a less-traveled peak in the southern part of Red Rock National Conservation Area. It does not have a maintained trail, but there are several use paths. Altogether it was about 5 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gained to reach the peak at ~6,600 feet.


We found two caches and lots of cool logs from previous hikers. The earliest note was from 1970. A fun outing for all!


All of the photos are in the Mountain Springs Peak photo album.

the dam tour 2012


We took our parents and family to Hoover Dam this past spring. Yes, I’m playing blog catch up!!! We actually really dislike going out to the dam because it’s always windy and hot. But we also really wanted to walk on the new bridge. Very very impressive! It was fun walking across the top. But the more impressive view is from the bottom looking up…a true engineering feat! Adam decided to take all of the kids on the tour this time. Luckily, I had two under two that allowed me to escape this torturous event. So we headed home for naps while the men and papa took all the cousins on the tour. They had a blast!



I forgot about the picture of me and Gaven. Man, I miss that little guy!

january service… “be thou an example”

The kids took bread to a few families in the ward that are good examples to us (for different reasons). It was so fun watching them unexpectedly deliver some joy on a Monday night. The best part of serving is watching the children “get it” and love doing it. We’ve set a goal to do one purposeful service activity per month this year within our family. I think that for the month of February we are going to host a dinner for a few families from church that we would like to get to know better. The kids will serve them dinner and treat them for the night. We’ll see how it turns out.


january rocked



2. Menus planned and executed.

3. January FHE service project accomplished.

4. Had first stake camp meeting…assigned to YCLs.


1. Personal scripture study must be better.

2. Only on book two of my 75 book challenge….need to bust it this month.

3. Restocking the freezer with meals.

4. Nikki’s 10th birthday to plan.

5. Adam will be gone for a week to Nashville.

6. Want to drop another seven to eight pounds….so took a NO SWEETS challenge for the month of February!!!

Rappelling at Red Rock

Being in this family means getting ready for canyoneering! Required skill #1 – rappelling. So, we took the kids out to Sandstone Quarry at Red Rock; first time for the littles. It was a bit cold and windy, but fun was had by all!

goals, goals, goals 2012

I love goals. I live to accomplish goals.

But I am far from perfect…so I am challenging myself a little more than usual this year. Here are the big ones:

1. 50 pounds of weight loss
2. Log ten miles per week
3. Track food daily (My Fitness Pal, free app, awesome)

–I am down 40 lbs from two years ago when I started “trying.” In fact, to my surprise, currently, I am down five pounds from Thanksgiving. How did that happen? Regardless, I am motivated to continue. I would like to drop another 50 lbs by the end of the year. Very slow and steady and long-term. Adam and I are walking at night together, which is one of our favorite things. We got away from it this past year. So we are getting back on track. And it is the perfect time of year in Las Vegas to walk at night. We must enjoy it while we can. :)

1. Read 75 books

–This is a big challenge for me considering I homeschool. It seems that my time is always cut in half by the kids’ schooling demands. It is so worth it, but I really want to read more for myself. I think I read 20 books last year. So I am trying to be home more…finding more quiet moments. That is helping.

1. Finish Old Testament
2. Attend temple twice/month

–Yeah, I am still in Genesis two years later. So embarrassing. I am reading other scriptures with the family, but this is something I really want to accomplish. The last time I read the whole Old Testament was in high school during Seminary. I figure it’s time to take the challenge again. Part of this goal will include writing every day on the subjects and stories I study. And yes, I will be including the books in the Old Testament in my 75 count. There’s no way I could accomplish both, otherwise. Hey, I am a realist, people.

1. Serve each child once a week on purpose

–I am trying to strengthen the bonds between myself and each child. I am so excited to try this experiment and blog it. I am assigning each child a day during the week. I am going to intentionally serve the assigned child in some way on that day. I want to do something above and beyond the normal mom duties so they feel extra special that day. I think this will help each kid feel extra special more often. I love the new phases they are each growing into right now. I can’t wait to get to know my kids even better.

1. Make a written dinner menu every two weeks
2. Be home everyday when my boys get home from public school, except in extreme circumstances
3. Finish moving into our home…little odds and ends projects that need doing
4. Document and post our weekly dates this year

I don’t plan on failing. So I am hoping to look back in December and see that this is all accomplished.

double dipping


In February, we took a fun little excursion to Ventura, CA for a baby blessing. It was nice enough to swim that weekend. Well, at least for the kids. :) It was the Littles’ first time visiting the ocean. And Marisa and I were so excited for our kids to spend some time together. There are 11 children between the two of us now. It was awesome to watch the kids get along so well. We got to eat at Tito’s…even though a car had just backed into the restaurant…we were the last order to be taken before the Health District shut them down for the night. We also visited the Los Angeles Temple Visitor’s Center. It is recently reopened, and completely worth the trip. Very Cool!


What’s even better is that a couple of weeks later, the Brown family came to stay a couple of days with us. Again, it was nice enough to swim! The kids had a blast. Annie still asks where Lyndie is. :) I felt so spoiled in February…twice in one month? Whoever would have thought it possible between our busy schedules.


Marisa and I have been friends for a decade now, and I am so grateful to her for the influence and friend that she is in my life.

someday, hawaii. someday

Adam and I should be on a 10 day Hawaiian Cruise right now. We were slated to leave on Friday December 3rd, and we had planned to snorkel, snuggle, and sip deliciousness together…by ourselves…uninterrupted. But alas, three more children happened a couple of months back for which we are grateful. And yes, of course, we chose the children over the cruise. But not without a little hesitation on my part…just a little! :)

All is not lost, however. We were able to salvage half of our deposit, which is transferable to a cruise at a future date. I suppose we could have gotten respite care for the three littles, but we didn’t feel that was fair to them. Plus, it makes much more work for me in the end. I just hope my babysitters (aka, best sisters ever) will still be willing to take the kids when we do go since there are three more now. Maybe I’ll need to hire a service or something.