A 1980s Summer (Featured in Black Hills Parent Magazine)

I had the opportunity to write for the summer issue of Black Hills Parent magazine and it’s all about giving today’s kids a 1980s-style summer. You can read it at this link or pick up a free copy at area businesses. As an added bonus, it features summer photos of my little brother and me at Storybook Island circa 1989, and because I’m the bossy big sis, I didn’t ask his permission. Sorry, Kyle.



In My House

Black Hills Summer Photo Session

I’m finally getting around to sharing the photos from our session last month with Tayhart Photography. Tarin is so talented! My littlest one was not the best participant, but the pictures portray her as the angel she (usually) is.


I love how Tarin captured the real “us.” She incorporated our love of reading to the girls. She photographed my youngest’s seriousness and curiosity and my oldest’s fun-loving spirit.





Tarin is a mom of six and so she had no trouble at all making my little ones feel at ease. I love outdoor photos in the beautiful Black Hills. While these were taken a few miles from our house, the images truly look like the landscape of our own backyard.



Tarin’s attention to detail is impeccable. Her turn-around time is also super quick, which was great because I was chomping at the bit to see the images she captured. Thank you, Tarin for capturing our little family and the beautiful region where we live.



All photos by Tayhart Photography


Springtime in South Dakota

When spring finally arrives in western South Dakota, often long, long after the actual equinox, certain signs fill the senses. The sight of an endless blue sky, the smell of green grass and branding smoke, the feeling of a light breeze through bedroom window at night, all combine to tell us winter might be gone at last. It is Mother Nature’s great sigh of relief.

Branding 2018 (9)

We praise God for cowboys, kids, baby bison, cookouts, afternoon rains, lilacs, and longer days.

Custer State Park May 2018

After a long winter, the trees have buds, though few leaves have presented.

Branding 2018

It is my belief every child should spend time on a cattle ranch, even if it is just for a visit.

Branding 2018 (4)

Sparkling water and the smell of pine trees bring joy to us on a Sunday afternoon drive through the Black Hills.

Custer State Park May 2018 (2)

It is also my belief that even my “town girls” need to experience a day now and then of getting the kind of messy that leaves the bath water muddy and dark.


They need to smell like horses and have dirt under their finger nails.

Branding 2018 (10)

Then they need to clean up nice for church the next day and chase each other around after breakfast.

Custer State Park May 2018 (3)

We are grateful and blessed.


The kind of sleep we have after a full day of fresh air is the most restful. It is the peace we feel after a hard day of work with family and friends. Spring is finally here in South Dakota.

Branding 2018 (11)




This week has been all about trying to find calm moments in the midst of chaos. This Friday night, as the week comes to a close, I’m feeling peaceful. Today I even escaped the office for a bit to take a drive on my lunch break. I went to this lake on the outskirts of town.


The mist was rising from the trees, making today feel like fall was here, even though its official start is nearly a month away.


It was a quick drive around the lake, but it made me wonder why I don’t do this more often. In fact, I have never taken this drive on my lunch break in more than three years living and working nearby. I think all the change in my life right now is reminding me to take time for things that matter: my family, my health, my sanity.


So tonight I am feeling calm and collected. I hope that feeling lasts when Monday morning rolls around. And if it doesn’t? There’s always a drive around the lake.


Hiking: Lover’s Leap Trail


Lover’s Leap is my favorite hiking trail in Custer State Park and for good reason. On my first time hiking it way back in March 2013, my husband proposed to me! So it will always hold a special place in my heart.


This past weekend my girl was spending some quality time with her grandparents so the hubby and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to hike the trail.


The loop is about three miles long. The Game, Fish and Parks Department rates it one of the more difficult trails in Custer State Park, but what I love is you get the tough stuff done early and get to enjoy a fantastic view. More information about the trail can be found here.


Guess what you can hear way up here? Nothing. Pure peace.



The trail got its name because legend has it that two star-crossed lovers leaped to their deaths from this point centuries ago. So you could say it was the site of South Dakota’s very own Romeo and Juliet saga. Fortunately our own love story has been a little happier than that, but we still enjoy the beauty of the trail.



The hike is steep in parts, but is beautiful throughout. It usually takes us about an hour and half to complete, and that’s with stopping for at least 15 minutes at the top to enjoy the view. We are excited to share this trail with our daughter when she gets a bit older.

Also, don’t forget to enter my e-cloth giveaway by going here. I’m taking entries until May 30.


Take a Hike: Little Devil’s Tower Trail

We have been enjoying the last few days of summer, and what better way to do that than by hiking in the Black Hills?


This past Saturday we hiked the Little Devil’s Tower Trail in Custer State Park.



More information about the trail can be found here. There are many steep areas. Not to sound like a total whiner, but I don’t think I could have lugged our daughter all the way up the trail. My husband is awesome.


We stopped at the clearing toward the top for a little break and to enjoy the view.




The girl was exhausted at the end. And so was I.


A Farewell…Maybe

It has been kind of a difficult summer for us born-and-raised Black Hills kids, hasn’t it? First we had to watch our beloved Rushmore Waterslide demolished and flattened into housing lots.


Then word that, after 50 years in business, The Flintstones Bedrock City has been sold and most likely will close for good after Labor Day.

My daughter and I made one last visit to the park this past weekend as did a lot of other people. So many, in fact, that we had to stand in line for about 15 minutes to enter the park, when usually there is no wait.


I completely understand the owners’ need to move on with the new chapters of their lives, but I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic thinking of all the kids from all over the world who enjoyed the park in those 50 years.

Thank you for the memories!