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Summer. It came and went, and it was wonderful! It’s been over, for what feels like a couple of weeks now, but I can’t mentally proceed with other blog posts until I write my last farewell to such a good summer. I had made the decision to blog very little over the summer, since we would be traveling lots. I also wanted to be very “present” with my kids while we were all at home together for a few precious months. I loved every second of being with them! It went by way too fast. No amount of projects or ramblings that I post on the internet could ever make up for time lost with my sweet kids, and I’m so glad that I took full advantage of being with them.

But now that school and routines are back in order, I’m excited to get back to blogging occasionally. Back in May, I decided not to renew my contract with BlogHer, which means that I’m no longer required to post on a schedule. I’ve also decided to cut back on sponsored posts and campaigns (not that I regret doing them… they earned money, and blessed my family when we needed it)! But thankfully, our family doesn’t have the same need to earn money from my blog as we did before… which means that I am taking a new focus with my blog… only posting projects that I love, and when I am ready! I’m excited for my new direction 🙂

So back to summer. Beside traveling, we had a great time hanging out at home. The kids did swimming lessons, and we played in our backyard tons! We grew a garden. I taught a couple of sewing classes at my LQS (local quilt shop) which was a blast, and I’m hoping to teach more. I sewed a couple of things and did a few other projects!

We don’t live anywhere near either of our families (sad), and this summer we were so lucky to have legit excuses to go visit both of our families. We also went on a Disney cruise, courtesy of my parents. And last, we took our own little family on a trip to Virginia and the Outer Banks. I meant to blog each of our trips separately, but I’ve actually only been on my blog a handful of times this whole summer! So, all our trips are here in one post. I know there are a lot of pictures… and maybe no one cares, but I know that I LOVE looking at other people’s vacation pictures. It allows me to see new parts of the world, and I usually glean good tips for traveling. For even more behind the scenes pictures, I’ve started posting on instagram @ familyeverafter. Also, I post hardly any pictures of our kids on this blog… so I have a private account just for them on instagram @ troyandrachel. (I limit the account to friends, family, and online friends/acquaintances… if I “know” you and you want to follow along, just remind me who you are and it shouldn’t be a problem).

Here are a few pictures from our Disney Cruise to the Western Carribean 
(Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Castaway Cay):
Sting Ray City in the Grand Caymans- it wasn’t scary at all!
 Costa Maya
 Mayan ruins at Costa Maya

Castaway Cay (private island owned by Disney)
 my parents parasailing
 the nursing shawl I made for my sis (using Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks in voile)

Our ship:

My awesome parents on pirate night
 aaaand…. that’s my husband with one of our servers 🙂

 The kid’s club… they LOVED hanging out there!

 Characters have scheduled appearances, and also sometimes randomly roam the ship!

 A tip for your stateroom… you are supposed to put your room key in this slot for the electricity to work, but its a pain to keep putting it in and taking it out every time you leave your room. So I used one of my grocery store club cards, and left in there the whole week. It sounds silly, but was really hlepful!

My sister Hannah was really in to nail art this summer, it was fun to let her experiment on us!

5 sister picture at Disney World

*We’ve been on a couple of Disney cruises now…. (see my other Disney posts here, here, here, here, and here). I always mention that it is my parents who make it all possible. They save up to take the whole family, and since NONE of us live near each other, it is the most amazing way for all 18 of us to be together. I know not every one has the option of sailing with Disney, but if you are thinking about it, it really is a wonderful vacation! Disney knows what they are doing, and treat you so well. And they are so good at catering to all he grandkids. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them! 
Some pictures from my trip to South Dakota:
you know you’re flying to the middle of no where when your jetway and airplane look like this:
Friends ask me all the time what the Black Hills look like. Here are a few random shots I took from the car while driving around the hills. It’s beautiful!!!
These are a few pictures from our house. My mom’s garden is so big!
The house that built me. (Do you know that song by Miranda Lambert)?
My dad taking the kids on lawn mower rides, haha!

One of the main reasons I went home for the summer is because my baby sister was leaving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She’s now in Paraguay. We had a lot of fun putting together a going away party, and I took some pictures of her before leaving.

This is Tera, one of my bestest buddies ever 🙂

 This is Bear Country, where you drive around in your car and see all sorts of bears and other wildlife. It’s really cool! (And this is our last 5 sister picture for at least a year and a half while Emily is on her mission)!

While I was in South Dakota, I received a box from Stampin’ Up with some fun crafts like washi tape, stamps, and cards. I’ve been having a lot of fun creating a few things with it! 
photo from my sweet quilty friend Mary’s instagram @marysdugan

 Here’s some pictures from our trip to Utah:

Riding Papa’s horses. My husband grew up in South Dakota like me, but his family has since moved to Utah. This is great, because we love any excuse we can get to visit! It can be so hard living away from our families, but makes our visits really meaningful when we’re together.
 (I made these skirts for my girls two years ago, and I can’t believe they still fit)! I used Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial.

Troy’s little brother had just got done serving a mission in Tijuana, Mexico. It was so great to be able to see him again after two years and a job well done.
 (This is when we got to Skype with him last Christmas).
 Speaking of Troy’s little brothers, I’ve been meaning to post these pictures of his other brother Tanner, since Christmas! I took his senior pictures over Christmas break in 2012. I meant to blog about them, and just never got around to it! He’s too cute to not blog about them at all, here’s a few of my favorites:
  And here’s a random pic of Troy’s sis Tasha and I! She’s such a fun sister in law and auntie!
Pictures from our Virginia/North Carolina trip:
One more trip… we went to BYU’s first football game of the 2013 season, which was in Charlottesville, Virginia. We have friends that we went with, and a few friends to see along the way. It was the best way to end our summer! 

Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, Virginia
 The Jefferson hotel, Richmond, Virginia


If you are a BYU fan, check out some of my printables:

Pictures from the Outer Banks in North Carolina:
We really did nothing for two days straight but play at the beach, eat, and play card games at night. I want to go back!
(my husband’s tan line!!!)
We ate at the neatest seafood restaurant one night, called Basnights. If you’re ever in the Kitty Hawk area, I would totally recommend it! They grow all their own produce right at the restaurant, and also have a place to clean and gut all their fish, which is always less than 48 hours old. They even let you bring your own fish, if you caught anything fishing, and they will prepare it for you! I had tilefish… a delicious white fish I had never even heard of!

School! What!?!

Well… back to reality! School came too fast. To ring in the new school year, we always have a Back to School Celebration (see our first one here). This year, we had our celebration, but sadly, these are the only pictures I took!
Pizza Cookie:
chocolate cookie recipe
caramel (sauce)
coconut (cheese)
M&Ms (pepperoni)
marshmallows (sausage)
toffee bits (parmesan cheese)

I can’t believe I have two kids in school! It’s been a great year so far, with lots of funny stories to tell already. I’ve been doing lots of running around, I guess that’s inevitable as a mom. I truly am grateful to be able, healthy, and available to be here for my kids. They’ve been busy with dance, gymnastics, and music lessons. I’ve also got them in speech therapy this year because they all speak with a lisp! haha! My main focus this school year is getting my housework/exercising/errands all done during the day so that the time the girls are home from school, I’m not distracted, and can focus on them 100%, with homework, music practice, making good dinners, and their routines at night. It’s a lot of work, but I’m doing it!! Yay! I’ve been allowing myself a lot less time to blog, but this is giving me more time to sew at night. I’ve become obsessed with quilting lately, and I’m so excited to finally finish some of my projects! Anyway, that was a really rambling paragraph. Haha. I guess I just needed to “check in” with the blogging world and update myself from the last few months before I dive in to blogging some new and upcoming projects. Oh yeah, and I got to go to the Sewing Summit, so that will be my next blog post… then back to some regular sewing project posts!
Bye for now!
Once upon a time…

I started a blog. This is a tale of my projects, goals, and dreams. Thank you for taking a moment to stop by. I hope you have a beautiful day.

xoxo, Rach H.