In Loving Memory — How You Can Help John Coons and Bryan Byrge

1785_1066433455154_8159_n[1]John Coons, one of the liveliest and loveliest people I have ever known died today while commuting to work on his bicycle.

He and his dear friend, Bryan Byrge were both struck and killed instantly by a large pick up truck on Redwood Road just before dawn this morning.

I didn’t know Bryan, but I understand he was an amazing husband, father, and Scout Leader.

John has become a dear family friend as he coached my daughter’s soccer team for the last three years.

I’ve never known anyone like John.  He seemed always to go out of his way to make sure our family felt welcome at the soccer games. 2013-06-01 09.37.01 We brought the only team member who lived outside the neighborhood the rest of the kids lived in.

He not only went out of his way to let my daughter know she was wanted and needed, but he did that for my husband and I too.

He absolutely radiated friendliness and positivity in a way I’ve never seen a man do.  You couldn’t help but be warmed whenever he was around.

It was like he had wings and everywhere he went he swept over people with his giant loving wingspan.

John Coons MemorialHe was the most amazing soccer coach, and I am not exaggerating by using the word AMAZING.  He was.

Somehow he transformed our know-nothing group of toddlers into the very decent 7 and 8-year-old soccer players they are today.

His teaching technique and drills were effective and especially fun for the team.  He always included a large amount of silliness at every practice and game.

The kids regularly dog-piled on top of him and soaked him with any left over water from their water bottles.

The man knew how to party too! At our post-season soccer parties, he was always the first to cannon ball in the pool and the first grown-up into the bounce house.  The kids ate up all the attention he freely gave. 1939991_10201980383845270_1520468426_n[2]

John was a terrific husband and father to three darling kids ranging from 10 to 4 years old.  We loved seeing them each week at our soccer games and envied the way they lived their life together.

We loved hearing about their vacation splurges to Disneyland where they made magical memories.

Having all the money in the world locked up in the bank could never replace these special memories for this sweet family who will now endure this tragic loss forever.

My hope for these kids is that they will be able to remember that they hit the jackpot when it comes to dads.

There just aren’t many dads in the world who are this loving and this playful and just genuinely great.

John was an avid cyclist who loved to be out on the road riding with friends.  Sometimes despite all of our best efforts tragedy strikes and in a moment, the party is suddenly over.

988774_10202618660288123_1824373386_n[1]These next weeks and months will be difficult for family, friends, neighbors and those like me in the community who were lucky enough to know John and Bryan.

Their families are in need immediate support while the process of insurance ramps up. Sadly, funerals cost money.  Lots of it.  And hardly anyone in their mid-thirties has a funeral fund to pull from.

If you have a spare $20 or $200 or any amount, please consider donating.Making a mortgage payment and bill collectors don’t often wait until a tragedy has been fully grieved.


Donate to John Coons Family HERE

Donate to Bryan Byrge Family HERE

Let’s make money the least of their worries at this time.

An account has been set up for John at Wells Fargo under John Coons Memorial.  There is also a facebook memorial page for these two friends.


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Winter Trips — Taking the Road Less Traveled (it’s okay, we have AAA)

Mossy Cave, Bryce CanyonI’ll just say it.  We like year-round school.  We like it a lot. The benefits of mini-breaks outweigh the pain of the year round calendar (three week summer break).

One of our favorite parts is vacationing in the off-season.  We’ve visited Zion’s National Park, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks in the winter and LOVED every second of it.

My only hesitation about traveling off the beaten path in the off season is worrying about getting stranded.

It’s safe to say I have a bit of an unreasonable fear (okay, it’s a phobia) about being stuck in a far off place.

But…thanks to a new brand ambassador partnership I’ve recently taken with AAA, worrying about roadside trouble is WAY less scary.AAA image

AAA has graciously provided me a basic membership and, can you believe it, they’re paying me to write this post!

A few fun facts about AAA.  Did you know it covers you no matter whose car you’re in?  Did you know it costs as little as $5 a month?  And did you know you DON’T have to have AAA Auto Insurance to have a membership?  You CAN just get roadside assistance and the famous AAA discounts, take a look, it’s not just hotel discounts anymore.

I think it would be the perfect gift to the person who has everything or for your teenage or college student.  Think about the peace of mind you’d have.  I’m all for false senses of security. Big fan.

Anyway…back to National Parks and the Road Less Traveled. Southern Utah Winter Trips

The thing I LOVE about traveling to the National Parks in the off season is getting a straight up DEAL on the hotel rooms.  We stayed at Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon and at the Pioneer Lodge just outside of Zion’s Canyon both for less than $50 a night.  And both were swanky rooms!  AAA members usually count on getting the best rates on rooms, but in the off season the discounts are even deeper!

Here’s a little tip though if you’re planning a winter getaway to you your favorite National Park. Bring plenty of food with you.  Park towns are notoriously famous for being seasonal, meaning most the shops, restaurants and stores close down in the off season.  The stores that ARE open can usually only offer food that is past its prime and is VERY expensive.  I’m talking $7 for a box of Wheat Thins. Bryce Canyon Trip Winter

Seeing the parks uncrowded and dusted with snow will truly be one of the more glorious experiences in your life.  Check out these photos from our last couple trips.  I mentioned my phobia before and I am proud to say that I was able to control my thoughts and enjoyed the trip despite it’s remote nature. What should I bring to Bryce Canyon in winter I largely credit my mental success to my new AAA membership.  It’s reassuring to know we wouldn’t be alone on the highway if something were to happen.  AAA Utah Roadside Assistance

We were thrilled to be there.  We had the place to ourselves and we LOVED exploring.  I firmly believe that Humans Were NOT meant to Hibernate in Winter.  

See my latest Studio 5 segment where we discuss unique family activities that can be enjoyed in the winter.

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Operation Undies 2013 — Thanks For Your Help

Operation UndiesThe year is coming to a close and so is Operation Undies.  For our 5th anniversary we went back to basics this year and provided the item that started it all Socks and Undies. Operation Undies

Through a combined effort with friends, family, community and corporate donations, we collected more than 170 new packages of socks and undies for the students of the Centro de la Familia schools. 

Merrick BankOur largest donation came from the Employees of Merrick Bank located in South Jordan Utah.  Operation Undies Centro de la FamiliaWho donated 90 percent of the collection and a check for $500 to purchase specific sizes needed that weren’t donated.

photo 1Just days after the collection the donations we delivered to students and their parents at the headstart Christmas party.  The local chapter of the Rotary Club donated a toy to each child and thanks to Operation Undies each child will get a new package of socks and underwear.

Thanks to Tiffany Dance Company, Reviv Medical Spa, generous friends, family and especially Merrick Bank for making our Operation possible this year!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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Gingerbread Festival in Daybreak — A New Christmas Tradition

Ivory Homes Gingerbread Festival South JordanI love the second half of December.  By the second half of the month, most of the shopping and holiday obligations are over and the fun, magical events happen.

We started a new magical tradition last year attending the Ivory Homes Gingerbread Festival in Daybreak. 

We attended last year because I was involved in the gingerbread blogger village.  But, we’ll be going back again this Saturday December 14th from 11-7 in Daybreak because we had such a ball last year and it was a fun Christmas thing to do INSIDE where it’s WARM!

Besides seeing the remarkable gingerbread houses you can:


Here’s part of the bloggers village.  Gingerbread House Utah

All your favorite local bloggers came to the event and made gingerbread houses.

And…against all odds, I won a prize for my little cottage.  I’m really not sure why? Most of the houses were clearly better than mine.  Really.  I just got lucky I guess.       Gingerbread house contest Utah

  No one was there to see my cottage, they were way more impressed by these kinds of Gingerbread Houses.

Amazing Gingerbread Houses I was totally amazed by the gingerbread house entries that I saw by folks who had entered the contest of their own free will.  They were the most AMAZING gingerbread houses I’d ever seen!

Some were modeled after some Ivory Homes, and some were more traditional.

 Gingerbread House ideasBut they were all spectacular.  They were worthy of the $$ prizes awarded to the top gingerbread houses.  They gave away thousands of dollars in prize money to the houses.

If you’re looking for a fun Christmas tradition or if you’re a champion gingerbread maker, check this out!

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I Want Your Undies — Operation Undies is BACK

Herriman Charity OpportunitiesI found the Centro de la Familia, a Headstart program for the children of migrant farm workers, almost four years ago.

One of my friends, a preschool teacher at the school, reached out asking for help with some very basic needs at her school.

Over the years Christmas service project ideas utahwith the help of my friends, family and community in Herriman, we’ve provided a lot of much needed assistance to families at the school. The project has evolved into what I call Operation Undies.

Sub for Santa UtahI named it this because one of the main thingsOperation Undies Graphic I collect for this school is new packages of socks and underwear since there is a critical need for it amongst the students there.

Collecting undies is ALL we are doing for the school this year.

042 (2) (960x1280)According to the teachers, students come to school without socks because they simply don’t have any.  Additionally, there are many kids who wear hand-me-down underwear that are far too big and/or are full of holes.

I believe every child should have socks to wear especially in winter and underwear that fits and functions properly.  Most of us can’t imagine a world where we couldn’t outfit our kids in socks and underwear.  Operation Undies

Here’s your chance to help some kids this Christmas season.  We’re collecting new packages of socks and underwear in sizes 2T to 6.  Please help if you can.

I’ll be taking donations until Dec 15th at my house or at a drop box located inside Reviv Medical Spa in Herriman (behind Arctic Circle). If you have any questions comment below or feel free to contact me here.

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My Embarassing Moment — Is It Really Worth The Rush?

Have a seat. Take your time. Smell the roses.













I had my day all planed out.  I put several things off until later in the afternoon so I could combine trips and “save time.” I could have done more earlier in the day, but didn’t because I wanted to get stuff done at home too.  I thought if would be no big deal to do it all later.

Well later came and as I was on my way out to accomplish all my objectives I got a reminder about a haircut I had scheduled that afternoon for one of the kids. I thought it was on another day.  Oops.

I realized then that my day just got busier.  Instead of admitting defeat and rescheduling some of the stuff for tomorrow, I decided I could do it all.

So we went to the haircut and then stopped at Hobby Lobby to get more Christmas lights.  They were out, so we also went to Wal-Mart looking for them.  Luckily, I got the last pack like that in the store. Lucky me.

While I was there I needed a gallon of milk and some fresh vegetables.  Somehow I ended up with at least $110 worth of groceries in my cart.

In that moment I realized what I had done to myself.

It was so late, I had both my kids plus one extra kid with me and the lines at Wal-Mart were ridiculous.

I knew that if I were to save my evening (it was probably already too late) that I absolutely, positively had to get out of Wal-Mart with my stuff as FAST as possible.

Instead of waiting in the long lines like I should have, I took me, my three kids and my cart loaded down with groceries through the self check out. Really. I did that.

I told my kids I needed their help and decided that together we could do this. My kids didn’t get a vote.

Well, we did do it, but it wasn’t worth the time we saved. In fact, I’m sure it took much longer.

I was stressed and frantic the whole time.  I threatened and snapped at my kids at least 15 times because they were acting like children (how dare they) while I was checking and bagging up my own items.  How could they do that when I was in such a hurry? Why were they not more considerate of my poor planning?

I was so angry at my kids when I finished.  In a huff we left the store, dropped off the extra kid at her house, went home made dinner and finally started eating at 8 p.m. It was a nice home cooked dinner, but way too late to eat on a school night.

Later after the kids were in bed my hubs and I were watching Jimmy Kimmel as we often do.  They had a segment where they were surveying random people on the street and asking them if they fought with their families over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

It was kind of funny, but mainly sad.  I felt so bad that everyone thinks it’s normal and somewhat glamorous to fight with family.  How embarrassing for them I thought.  Who just enjoys fighting their family members? Why can’t everyone just be kind?

It was that moment when I realized I was the embarrassing one.  I was the one snapping at and threatening my kids while I was at Wal-Mart.  I was the one who was fighting with family and being embarrassing.

My kids were just being kids.  They didn’t deserved to be rushed through the store or forced to help me quickly accomplish a task that cannot be done quickly.

The memory of this trip to the store is going to stay with me for a long time. I never want to do this again.  I’m tired of trying to rush something that is un-rushable. It isn’t worth the effort.

Next time I show up at Wal-Mart at 6 p.m. to do all my grocery shopping for the week, I’m just going to enjoy waiting in the long lines, and I’m going to goof off with my kids in the line because there is no reason to fight against it.  It’s happening, and goofing off sounds like more fun than being frantic.

Do I speak for all of us when I say we just have to stop rushing around, especially during the holiday? Am I the only one who does it?  It simply isn’t worth the stress it causes me or my kids.

I swear, my days of chronically rushing around are over.  I’m not going to rush any more.  I’d rather accept that I’m behind schedule than rush everyone around so we can save 10 minutes.  Ten minutes means nothing to me, but quality of life for me and the kids means a lot.

So that’s the message.  What is it worth the rush?  When the kids grow up, do we want them to remembering us cramming chicken nuggets down their throat and pushing them out the door, always in a hurry to get to the next place?

Life is busy, but taking the time you need to do stuff is important for everyone’s mental health, especially yours.

I’d love your thoughts on this subject.  If you can commiserate or have tips or solutions or any other thoughts to share, please consider leaving a comment below.


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The Perfect Day

Happy daysSo my baby, who I swear was just born about three months ago, just reached the age of accountability.  So, she got baptized.  AND, by coincident, I think we just had the happiest day in our lives.getting baptised

Most the joy I had was for my daughter who was SO excited to be baptized.  And she got baptized on the same day as her bestest little friend. 

Have you ever had a day when your hair and make-up just went really well and has that ever happened on a day when you felt skinny (even if you weren’t)? And what would happen if you combined that with a major milestone in your child’s life that brought all your favorite people together.2013-11-02 13.50.21

That’s what happened to us.

Both sides of our family were in attendance at the baptism and at the after-party where we ate a delicious warm soup together.

It was such a joyful time.  It really just was.  AND…it wasn’t stressful to plan.  Everyone brought food and we ate it together.  I was just really, very nice.

And then after that was over, we went to one of our FAVORITE places in the entire world with some of our favorite people.

Where did we go?  To Snowbird.  They are having an incredible deal this week to ride their tram. You can ride it for almost FREE! More details about that here.

We made some incredible memories and took some captivating photos.2013-11-02 16.29.10This is what it looks like on a white November day at 11,000 ft!

This is my new favorite photo of myself.  I only had to jump up and down 45 times to get one photo of me in the air.  At the top of Hidden PeakLet me tell you. That’s some hard work. Jumping up and down at an elevation of 11,000 feet is NOT the same thing as doing it in your living room. The air was so thin, I was gasping for breath. Totally worth it though.  2013-11-02 16.35.47And let me tell you how fun it is to be on the top of a mountain with two of your brother’s families and a combined 10 kids when it’s 27 degrees and 40 mile per hour winds.  Literally, it’s a blast.

As you might imagine, we didn’t last too long up there as a group.  We weren’t quite ready to head down the mountain when we got off the tram.

Luckily I was thoughtful enough to bring a couple sleds.  I’ve always wanted to see if I could get away with sledding in bounds at ALTA either before or after ski season started.  Can I sled at ALTA?We did it.  And it was awesome.  However,  I wouldn’t recommend anyone else try this unless there was a WHOLE LOT more snow then there was that day.  2013-11-02 17.28.39We’ve skied at ALTA lots of times and I must have come off this very hill 400 times and never, ever noticed that there is an icy little river that runs alongside the hill.  I think when there is 5-10 feet of snow on the ground, the stream and embankment fills up with snow.  But when it’s pre-season, there isn’t enough snow and it’s an icy stream.

And…we nearly lost two 5-year-olds into it. Luckily, my brother who was standing at the bottom of the hill was able to throw himself in front of their sled just as it started to careen off the hillside.  Very close call.  That’s why I won’t be doing this again or recommending it, but…All’s well that ends well and we had a BLAST!2013-11-02 16.37.09

AS if all that wasn’t enough fun, we went afteward as a group of 16 to our favorite little Mexican Place for dinner.  Las Glorias.  And everyone liked their food.  Not one of the 10 kids spilled anything or even dropped a fork on the floor.  We all just sat and talked and laughed and had a nice time together.

And that…was my perfect day.  I’d love 100 more just like it.

The end.






Steal Time For Fun

Best Place for Italian Sodas in Utah Cafe Bella Rue

Take a time out for a delicious Italian Soda, or smoothie, or dirty diet coke, whatever, just go get something you like. Take a break for something fun.

At this very moment I should be making a grocery list, washing my hair in the shower, cleaning my kitchen or vacuuming my carpet.  But I’m not.

Instead, I’m doing this.

The thing is, I know that those things will get done one way or another whereas this…may never get done unless I steal the time away from my schedule to do it.

The other day I was having a conversation with someone and I realized again that stress, sadness, self-disappointment and boredom fill the lives of many women (including me).

I’m not saying that stealing time from your schedule to have a little fun on a regular basis will solve your problems, it won’t.


It might just help you cope with the stress in your life a little better.

One of the reasons I count myself as a generally happy person is because I think I am better than average at doing things I WANT to do on a regular basis. I realize that this probably makes me a selfish person.  What can I say? I am what I am.

I hereby give you permission to shirk off some of your other responsibilities (temporarily) to steal time away for fun things. 

Take charge of your emotions

This was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done that TOTALLY made me feel better. When is the last time you’ve jumped off something at a playground? It’s scary and exhilarating. Try it if you’re feeling down like I was on the day I did this.

Experiencing fleeting moments of exhilaration, glee, or just having a good belly-laugh might go a long way to helping you smile more during your day.  And…if you’re smiling more, chances are you’re feeling better than you would have otherwise.

Having something to look forward to, even if it’s stupid can change your whole day’s perspective for the better.

And, chances are if you’re feeling better, you’re treating your friends, family and spouses better and noticing other people’s needs since you’re not consumed by your own problems.

If you’re not sure how to have these moments, or don’t know what to do or don’t feel like doing anything fun, don’t worry.  I’ve taken care of that for you.  See here.  It’s a comprehensive list of fun things.

You could at least LOOK at this list.

Listen, it’s fixing to get very dark, very early in the day.  It’s dark in the morning too.  If you don’t take a proactive approach to making sure you’re doing things you like doing on a regular basis, it’s going to be a very LONG, DARK Winter.

Winter doesn’t have to mean blah and sad. It really doesn’t.  Do something fun.  Really.

Think about it for a day if you must.  But then…do something fun and feel better.

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It’s Okay To Be Shallow — Five ways to improve self image

power of positive self talkHaving a positive self image is very important to your mental wellness.

There are certain things you’re doing that contribute to your positive or negative self image.

The easy thing to do is let negative thoughts take control.  If you’re like me, your brain can be constantly plagued with negative self-thoughts if you allow it.

I constantly come up with reasons why I’m not a good enough wife or mother.  I think of reasons why my face or body doesn’t look just right. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

There are simple things you can do TODAY to combat negative thoughts.

Warning: Some of the ideas listed are shallow.  After personal experience, I’ve learned that looking right, or at least feeling like I look right actually DOES make me feel better. Sometimes addressing a few shallow indulgences leads to a more overall positive outlook of self.

1. Do your nails.  For me, it’s a no brainer.  My nails look pretty = I feel better about myself. 

I started having my nails done a year a go.  Before that, I almost never paid any attention to them. I look at my hands about a billion times a day.  When my nails look great, I can always count on feeling great when I look at my hands. Tips for feeling better about yourself

My husband notices too.  The other day he told me how much he LOVED the manicure, specifically saying it made me look classy. I like looking classy!

If you haven’t had a manicure in a while, do one yourself or walk into any nail salon and try me on this one.  You’ll love having pretty hands.

2. Get your hair cut. Getting your hair cut can be expensive and time consuming.

Do you wait until you absolutely can’t stand your hair before you make a hair appointment? Are you waiting on this to save time or money? Postponing hair care is a self image mistake.

After my last hair appointment, my sleek modern cut made me feel great again. I felt so different about myself from the day before and decided not to postpone salon visits anymore.  Maintaining a great style is worth the cost and the time it takes to feel great.

Are you ready for a new do?  Make an appointment with your stylist today.  Don’t wait.

3. Do some rigorous exercise. I don’t have a perfect body, but it works pretty well and takes me to cool places.  I should be happier about that, but it’s very easy to give into negative thoughts surrounding body size and image.   How to Correct Body Image Problems

Exercise helps us stay more regulated with positive thoughts.   Fun Family Home Evening Activities Razor Scooters

4. Have some fun.  It’s very clear that I am a big proponent of doing fun things.  If you’d like to know more about that and why it’s important, see here.

5. Provide Service. Nothing puts first-world problems in their place faster than helping someone in need. Being useful to other people will make you feel great.

Operation UndiesWe usually know who needs our help, but if you don’t, you can always show up at a nearby school to be a reading tutor.

There are LOTS of opportunities to volunteer at hospitals, homeless shelters or various other organizations.

Consider stepping outside your comfort zone to make an impact on someone who you may otherwise never meet.

If you don’t know how to find a volunteer opportunity, see this.

If we do a little bit of maintenance everyday keeping up a positive self image is much easier.  Women who love themselves have a whole lot more love to give the world around them.


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10 Things to Cheer You Up

My husband Steve e-mailed me a link to an article on KSL he thought I’d like to read.

It’s Called 10 Things That Naturally Cheer You Up. 

As you might know, I love writing about things that are fun and cheerful.  I was delighted to see this article on KSL.  This whole blog is pretty much dedicated to this topic.

Life is meant to be lived. You owe it to yourself and the ones you love to stay on top of having a cheerful attitude.  Don’t just run your routines day in and day out, especially if they are not satisfying to you. Do some fun, silly things too.

I’ve been doing a lot of sponsored stuff lately, but hopefully you see the connection between the things I feature as sponsored posts and how it relates to keeping up a cheerful mentality.

The nuts and bolts of this blog are related to helping women stay happy mostly by doing fun things.  If you haven’t done anything fun for yourself in a while, you might want to check out this list.

We’re heading into shorter days and less light.  Now is the time to hone in on what you like to do and doing those things.  If you’re a challenge kind of person, here’s a challenge for you that might make your fall/winter lots funner for you and everyone around you.

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