Monday, March 13, 2023

Julia's Report for her 4th Grade Book Convention

 Alien Next Door #1 

Hello my name is Julia and I am going to tell you about the book the Alien Next Door #1.  Have you ever heard of it?  The main characters in the story are Zeke, Harris, and Roxy.  Zeke is an alien from the planet Tragas.  Harris and Roxy are Zeke's best friends.  The problem is that Zeke feels left out.  The soulshine is that Roxy thinks that they should have a playdate at Harris's.  You need to read this book because it is an interesting book with crazy things.  And a quick read for the 30 book challenge.  The alien does strange things because he doesn't know a lot of earth things and how to do it.  This book is different from other books because the alien is nice and in most books the aliens are not.  I hope you had a good time listening.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Candy Gram for Brian's 18th Birthday

 To Brian, also known as the EXTRA most bestest GUMMI BEAR in the MILKY WAY,

HaPpY BiRtHdAy SMARTIE pants!!! You are the REESE(N) we are celebrating today.  You desperately need a Candy Survival KIT (sKITtles).  Some advice for college, your ACT II: 

#1 Don't live in the SOUR PATCH.

#2 Don't be a CHICKEN or a NERD.

#3 Stay JOLLY and be a SWEETART.

Love, Mom, Katie, and Miss Potato (Julia)

Monday, January 09, 2023

Happy Holidays 2022

Dear Family and Friends,

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  We rejoice in the birth of our Savior and know that He loves every single one of us.  We hope that this letter finds you happy and well. Our 2022 was filled to the brim with many blessings and new adventures.  We are excited to see what 2023 will bring.  Here is an update on each member of our family and some of our highlights of the year:

SAM continues his career as a Engineering Technician at Juniper Systems.  He has the best work ethic and we truly appreciate the fine example he sets for our family.  Sam serves as the Ward Librarian at church.  During Memorial Day weekend, we all squeezed into our minivan for our family vacation.  We ate dinner at our favorite Rexburg sandwich shop, Millhollow.  Our first night was spent in a giant suite at the Hampton Inn.  Sam drove us all to Yellowstone National Park.  We braved two days in the torrential rain and explored as much of the park as we could.  Sam, Brian and Tyler enjoyed hiking the Red Pine Lake Trail with Sam's dad, brothers, and some older cousins.  Thanks to endless patience, YouTube, and several trips to the auto parts store, Sam has successfully repaired a couple car issues.

LISA turned the big 4-0 in April.  She found the perfect house (a couple blocks away) for her newly retired parents to move to.  After living across the country for almost 20 years, our family is thrilled to play games, go on adventures, attend church with Lisa's parents.  At church, Lisa actually really enjoys serving as a Nursery leader.  There has been 15+ toddlers in Nursery several times and luckily there are two other women that serve with her.  Lisa and her friend, Polly Arey, took on the huge task of planning, purchasing, and preparing a week's worth of meals for 30 people at Girls Camp.  It was quite the undertaking but they did it (and were highly praised for the tasty food).  However, her biggest feat was creating the Lisa Kay Studios Shop.  She set up her vendor booth 8 times this year! She also took over a huge kitchen classroom and taught women handlettering and chalk art.  Her dream came true of sharing her artwork with her community and becoming a paid artist!  

BRIAN (17) high school senior, accepted and has a scholarship to attend Utah Tech University in St. George, Utah in Fall of 2023, worked and lived at LaBeau's in Bear Lake (his first summer job just 1 hour from home), bought himself a custom Framework laptop that he's proud to bring to school.

TYLER (15) high school freshman, made the Varsity Cross Country Team, helped lead his team to win the Cache-Box Championship (1st place since 2003), participated in the Bob Firman meet in western Idaho and NXR (Nike Cross Regionals) in Mesa, Arizona.  Tyler had a big growth spurt and is now taller than Brian.   

KATIE (12) 7th grader at a new to her public charter school, collects mood octopus toys, attended a baking class, went to her first Girls Camp (where she discovered her love of hiking).  Katie is thrilled to be taller than Lisa now.  Katie has been growing out her beautiful brown hair hair out and it's now practically down to her waist!

JULIA (9) 4th grader, loves to make crafts, discovered the show Master Chef Junior (which inspired her to attend a baking class), and volunteers to help cook dinner and bake at home, enjoys attending our church's activity days.  Julia loves her friends and has enjoyed supporting her friends by attending their events.

Thank you to those of you who sent us Christmas cards.  We really enjoy hearing updates from our family and friends.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and abundant new year.                          - Love, The Wards 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Let's Go On An Adventure - Part 2

 After taking a full day to recooperate from our 5 Hour Adventure, I convinced the 4 of us to try again to find those darn Kokanee Salmon.  We double and triple checked our directions to the real Porcupine Resevoir.  Our drive there and back was several hours less than two days before.  Hallelujah!

We once we passed the town of Hyrum, we were way out in the country.  It was lovely to see such wide open farms and fields with breathtaking mountain backdrops.  No wonder one of the towns we passed was called Paradise.  It was a gorgeous, peaceful place where I bet I'd enjoy living.  

When we were nearing Porcupine Resevoir, the road changed.  It turned from a smooth, paved road to a singular, tiny, bumpy dirt road.  Three of us were not phased by that tretcherous road. Unfortunately, Mom was not at all thrilled being in the front passenger's seat.  Her seat shared the same side as the road's big drop-offs.  And to add to it, there were no guardrails to offer even a sliver of safety.  Mom soldiered on by bracing herself; turning her head away from the view creating her thoughts of supposed life ending doom.  What a trooper!

A small sign pointing to the Kokanee Salmon finally came into view.  We had made it to our destination.  After parking in an unlevel "parking lot," we made our way through the fresh thick mud to the Kokanee Salmon!  None of us had never seen fish migrating before.  It was neat to see these small groups of fish fighting with all their might to swim upstream.  Most of them made quite a bit of progress, but there were a few fish who'd give up, turn around, and rest a bit.  The water was so shallow, only providing a small stream for the fish.  I don't think we were there at the peak time to witness larger schools of Kokanee Salmon migrating.  

All of the quality time that the four of us spent together was enjoyable.  Dad kept a postive outlook the whole time.  Ryan slept through most of the miles traveled.  Mom made sure we all had food to eat.  And at some points, Mom and I even laughed so hard that we cried.  In the end, we all saw parts of Utah that we'd never seen before, all thanks to that original GPS pin we were sent.  So happy to have made these memories for us to reminise for years to come.  

Friday, September 23, 2022

Let's Go On An Adventure!

I ran across a social media post about the Kokanee Salmon Migration happening at Porcupine Reservoir.  I thought to myself, "Oh, I bet my brother, Ryan, and my parents would enjoy seeing the fish.  And that neighbor of mine, my boys' church youth leader, would know right where to go.  (He's taken the boys before for an activity).  So I send a text asking him for directions and tips of exactly where to go.  He gave me a short description and drops an exact location pin.  

I got everyone on board to go.  Dad volunteers to drive.  We were all excited and ready to go a little after 9am.  With the exact location in the GPS, off we go on our little adventure.  I agreed with Dad when he  commented on how I must really know the area since I've lived in Logan for 14 years.  Over an hour later, we arrive at our destination.  We were super disappointed when we saw that the access road was closed.  

Remembering we had just passed a ranger station, we turned around and asked the ranger on duty about the Kokanee Salmon Run.  He looked at us with a confused look on his face.  He had no idea what we were talking about.  "I've never heard of Kokanee Salmon.  Sorry."  

My "mom brain" finally woke up and put the puzzle pieces together.  We were at Pineview Reservoir, not Porcupine Reservoir!  The location pin my neighbor sent me was to the wrong reservoir!  Oh man!  Now we have to figure out what we want to do... still drive to Porcupine Reservoir, explore the Pineview Reservoir, or just go home.  We chose to reroute ourselves to Porcupine Reservoir.  

So, off we go to the right location, or so we thought.  The GPS took us on a nice paved road up in the mountains.  We were enjoying the scenery, when all of a sudden, the GPS tells us to turn left.  Dad was about to turn left until Mom says, "NO WAY.  That's one sketchy looking dirt road.  The paved road has to get us there.  Even if it takes longer, let's just stay on the paved road."  The name of the paved road was Ogden River Scenic Highway 39.

Dad obeyed.  As we rode on, the GPS kept directing us to turn on any other sketchy dirt roads we passed.  For the first few roads we passed, we found it funny.  Soon after that, our GPS instructed us to turn right.  If we would have turned right, we would've driven off a cliff!  After awhile, we realized that we were in for a very long ride.  

We saw so many random things on this long ride.  We saw black cows eating gravel on the side of the road next to an "icy road" sign.  (In case you were wondering, there was no ice).  Everything looked extra dry, especially the grass.  Those poor, deprived cows, they'd rather eat gravel than dried up grass.  One cow didn't make it though.  He was laying on his back, so bloated, and had his legs straight up in the air.  We didn't have any signs warning us of cows, but we did see spray painted "road signs"  warning us of "slow sheep on road."  Those supposed sheep must have been partying it up on the backside of those random sand dunes because we didn't spot one sheep.        

The paved road led us through the middle of nowhere.  After what seemed like an eternity, we noticed telephone poles... a sure sign that we were approaching civilization.  We made a pit stop at the oldest, most rundown gas station I've ever seen.  That pit stop was so dingy and had the most empty convenient store ever.  Atleast there were two restrooms (each with a door that locked from the outside and were conviently guarded by a humungous elk head on the wall).   The sign across the street told us we were in Woodruff, Utah, just 79 miles from Logan (home).  Another tiny town we sped by was Randolph, Utah... population 496.  You'd think that the residents of Randolph could think of a better name for their one and only restaurant, but no, Crawford's Trough sounds classy enough for them.  And in case their name doesn't give you a hint of what their establishment offers, Crawford's Trough's slogan is on their big 'ole sign: "It's a place to eat and drink."  We journeyed on.  The road lead to us driving part way around Bear Lake, which is close to the Wyoming and Idaho borders!  

In the end, I had to have a friend pick up Julia from school.  We arrived home just 5 hours after our departure.  And after all of that, we didn't even get to see the Kokanee Salmon!  But what an adventure we had!  

Saturday, April 09, 2022

A Recap of My 30s

    I am turning the BIG 4-0 reeeally soon!  I can't believe it!  I have lived a blessed life and I'm grateful for all of it.  My life, my family, my friends, a great place to live, for staying curious, for learning new things, for being patient with myself and others... the list could go on and on.  

    I thought it would be fun for me to recap my 30s.   My 30s were awesome!  At 30, I won a photography contest and got to fly to Southern California to attend MeRa Koh's Confidence Workshop.  It was an amazing experience and I loved meeting such fun women and learned how to sharpen my photography skills.  When I was 31, my fourth and final baby was born at the tail end of that summer.  Good thing Julia was an easy-going baby because taking care of 4 little kids is no joke!  When I was still recovering from my C-section, Katie broke her leg on the trampoline!  A couple days later, I learned that I was suffering from a kidney stone!  I had to let others help me lots durning the next 8 days as I was not to push anything or lift anything heavier than my baby.  I had to have someone help me carry Katie to the potty and help get her ready and on the bus for preschool.  While Katie wore a cast, we had to send her off to the bus in an umbrella stroller...haha.  Anyway, as you can tell, this was an exhausting year for me.  Hmmm....what else do I remember?  At 37, I finally earned it... time to myself the kids were in school.  It's been glorious!  I for sure don't like to waste my me time, my free time, my freedom.  I've tried out lots of new things to fill my time while the kids are at school.  Some of my favorite things to do are workout, call my family and friends, go out to lunch, take myself to a midday movie at the theater, practice my photography and handlettering, study about entrepreurship, create and deliver surprise small gifts to friends, bake, etc.  

    I can't remember specific ages of when everything happened, but other things I'll remember about my 30s is that I had a handful of short-lived, part time jobs, subbing at Wee Friends Preschool, being an Preschool Aide for Heidi Tuddenham at Woodruff Elementary.  I've really come to love chalk art and handlettering.  I've had the opportunity to start up my own business, Lisa Kay Studios and teach over 300 students so far.  I'm super proud of myself for being brave last summer and approaching Wil Wood at his Love to Cook store about possibly teaching art classes in their kitchen.  At to my surprise, he said YES!  I taught the first class of their Girls Night Series in February.  I loved every second of teaching that evening.  One thing, that I've been doing for years, is going on dates with my kids, just one at a time.  It's so fun and we've created so many memories over the years.  Quality time is my love language.  I bought each of my kids a journal that they share with me.  We write notes back and forth to each other.  When we're done writing our note, we leave it on the other person's bed to discover.  It's been a fun tradition.  Tyler enjoys writing to me the most.

Welcoming Myself Back

  My youngest brother, Ryan and my dad occassionally tell me that they use to check my blog every single day.  I haven't been consistent at all on posting on this blog for the last several years.  Instagram has been my go-to for taking pictures on my cell phone.  With these phone pictures, I create a short, memorable caption, and post in on Instagram, which also automatically posts in my Chatbooks account.  I have been super dilligent at creating Chatbooks for over 10 years now.  I have quite the collection going... I think I now have 80-something books.  It brings me so much joy to have these Chatbooks that record our family stories over the years.  They are so much fun to look back on and reminise.    

    But I must say that there is something special about the process of typing out your thoughts on a blog.  It's actually kinda theraputic to me.  I don't treat blogging as a school assignment.  I don't stress about perfect grammar.  I find it enjoyable.  So here's to more blogging in my future.   

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Tyler's Sacrament Meeting Talk given in Dec. 2021

 Good Morning Brothers and Sisters,

     My name is Tyler and I have been asked to talk about why Christmas is so important.  Christmastime is a time where you gather with family and even friends to celebrate Jesus Christ's birth.  Christmas is a very busy season covered with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, decorations, and lots more.  

A wise man once said, "The most amazing thing about Christmas is its relevance."  It is a holiday where you celebrate at home with people of all ages and lifts amazing moods in life.  Christmas is teaching about the Savior and "it is more of a blessing to us to give than to receive gifts." During Christmas morning in the holiday season try focusing your heart on Jesus Christ, Our Savior.  Christmas is just around the corner and it is easy to lose sight of the stable, the star and that sacred, silent night."  

The account of the first Christmas in the Book of Mormon helps us to learn and more fully understand that Jesus Christ is the "light with shineth in darkness" (D&C 10: 57-61).  In every season of our lives: in all of the circumstances we may encounter, and each challenge we may face, Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and endangers enduring peace and joy.  "Many of our most memorable and enduring Christmas traditions may include different kinds of lights, Christmas trees in our homes, candles on our tables, or our favorite treats.  The lights of every holiday season may remind us of Him who is our source of light," says Elder David A. Bednar.  There is no better time than now in this Christmas season to teach or to be taught of Jesus Christ.  It's time to give thanks to our Heavenly Father, our neighbors, ourselves, family, and friends.  

I know the church is true and that Joseph Smith  was a true prophet for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am glad that we have a living prophet and apostles that leads and guides us today.  I am grateful for our bishopric and look forward to serving a mission.  Merry Christmas everyone!  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Youth Fireside Talk by Tyler given on 1/24/21

I have been asked to talk about a physical goal of mine.  Running has always been enjoyable for me ever since I was really little.  

Over the last couple of years, I have found that running races makes my daily training worth it.  Sometimes I train so hard that I get injured.  My running coach helps me know what to do specifically to get better.  

Even though I am not able to train in a group like I'd prefer, I am still training alone.  Fortunately, Covid has not prevented me from running races.  As a gift for my 12th birthday, my mom surprised me with a large runners medal display board.  I really like that it is a visual representation of my progress over the years.  Another tool that motivates me is my Garmin watch.  My watch tracks my mileage and many other things.  

I have had the opportunity to attend several local high school cross country meets this fall.  It is fun for me to cheer on my older friends in their races.  I can't wait to join them once I am in high school.  I am planning on training with a high school team this summer, since I'll finally be old enough.  

Having a physical goal makes me grateful for the health and strength that I have been blessed with.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

Monday, December 07, 2020


First of all I have to thank CodyPaige Photography for the great family picture! I just love the fall colors. Anyway, this year has certainly brought forth many challenges. We have increased our faith, our diligence, and our trust in our Savior. His plan is the best plan.

Tender mercies have brought us closer as a family this year. We're grateful for the opportunity we had to take a family trip to Southern Utah at the end of the summer. We had a blast and went on lots of adventures at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Good times!
Brian (15) is a sophomore and can't wait until his 16th birthday
to get his official driver's license. Just a 2.5 month wait!

Tyler will turn 13 at the end of December. He has had quite the growth spurt
this year and is now taller than me! This 7th grader's passion is
training and running local 5k races.

Katie (10) is in her last year of elementary school.
This 5th grader is still obsessed with elephants
and is working on growing her elephant collection.

Julia loved ringing in her 7th birthday with a parade just
for her outside of our front door. She loves to create art and
play an online math game called Prodigy.

Sam turned the big 4-0 in May. To celebrate, two of Sam's sisters came to visit.
We all went to Bear Lake and enjoyed the water and the yummy raspberry milkshakes.
Sam has been very fortunate to be able to go into work as usual
and continues to take good care of us. And as for me,
I worked as a preschool teacher's aide for a few months.
I no longer work outside my home, which is fine with me.
I have freedom to do whatever I'd like while the kids are at school. Life is good.

We wish all of you the best holiday season. We are so glad to have people like you that bless our lives. We'd love to hear back from as many of you as possible. Take care!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Holidays 2017

December 2017

Dear Family & Friends -

We hope this holiday greeting finds you well.  The joy and magic of this season is very much alive
in our household.  It’s so fun to decorate the house, make treats for neighbors,
watch Christmas shows, and just enjoy each other’s company.  
We are well aware that the Lord has blessed us immensely this year.  
We are grateful for this wonderful life.

SAM - Husband, Father, 9th year with Juniper Systems as a Repair Technician, #1 Mr. Fix It Guy,
Loves to Netflix & Chill, has a Sweet Tooth, enjoys being Uncle Sam

LISA - Wife, Mother, 1st Counselor in Primary, Professional Photographer, Indecisive Home Decorator,
Early Afternoon Napper, Kettlebell Queen, Modern Calligrapher in Training   

BRIAN (12): Straight A 7th grader, Percussion Master, Mom’s Wednesday Morning Baker,
Resourceful Researcher, Engineer in Training, Ordained a Deacon at church

TYLER (9): Super Social 4th grader, Multiplication Facts Master, Creative Drawer,
Competitive Soccer Star, 1st Place 1 Mile Wildcat Runner for his grade (every year since kindergarten)  

KATIE (7): Best Writer in 2nd grade class, Thoughtful GIft Giver, Super Swimmer,
Biggest Fan of TMNT, Batman, & Wonder Woman, Quality Time and Snuggling are her favorite

JULIA (4): Youngest Student in Preschool Class, Starting to Read, Collects PEZ dispensers,
Colorful Artist, Cosmic Kid Yoga Girl, Aaron Richards is her best buddy

Thank you for all the love and support you show our family.  Take care!        Love, The Wards

Friday, December 01, 2017


 These four girls are great friends.
 These two pretty girls are sisters who live on our street.
Friends are fun!  
Check out all of the colorful details of their outfits 
they picked for themselves, right down to Julia's mismatched socks!  

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Katie use to love MIKEY the TMNT most.  
Mikey got loved to death (seriously, his leg fell off).  
 Katie spotted DONNIE, the pillow pet, in ShopKo this spring, and just had to have him.  
 Katie and DONNIE became fast friends.
 Katie takes Donnie with her whenever she can.
 This particular day, it was an extra special treat.
 One Saturday, I told Katie she could take Donnie to school for a BFF photo shoot.
 These two are inseparable.  
 Katie has told me on several occasions, "I want to MARRY DONNIE in the Logan Temple!"
 A stuffed animal as loved as Donnie would be so lucky.
 Too bad this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle can't provide everything for his biggest fan.
 I guess these two will just have to stick with being best buds!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our Girls Love to Dance

 Last summer, Katie was super lucky to get to take ballet lessons for the first time.  
She sure loved getting all dressed up in her ballet clothes and attending class with a few other girls.  
Although Julia didn't take an official dance class, she was paying close attention to her big sister. 
 I'm sure Julia can't wait for her turn!

Olson Cousins

Last summer in July, our little family drove across Wyoming and down to Colorado to visit Jenny & Seth and their family as well as Aaron & Sarah and their family.  
I took several pictures with my phone, but the only time I whipped out my nice camera was right before we drove back home early one morning.  
 Sarah (6), Katie (6), Emma (4)
 Brian (11), Ben (8), Tyler (8)