Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spring Break: Lava Hot Springs

*This post was originally published on Mom It Forward. I have been working for them as a Virtual Assistant since November. I am loving the job. I have been writing a few blog posts here and there and I wanted to put my blog posts here as well. This post was written and published in February 2014. I have changed it slightly so I can re-post it here on my blog. Feel free to go and look at the original post here: http://bit.ly/1bJQAiV

Growing up, Spring Break was always a vacation week for my family. My dad was in the Army and he would take leave from work while we had the week off. We would load up the car and drive somewhere to visit for the week. Some of the places we were able to travel: a small town in Iowa to visit family, Washington DC for museum time, and the coast of Spain for a beach trip. No matter how big or small the trip was we made great memories that I still cherish today.  Now that I am a parent I want to make the same type of memories with my children. Due to my husband’s job we can’t always take a week of vacation when the kids have off school, but he can usually take a day or two. So last year we decided to surprise the kids and make the two hour drive north and visit Lava Hot Springs in Idaho. Lava Hot Springs is filled from underground pools with pure all-natural mineral water. No chemicals are added; there is no sulfur so there is no odor like other hot springs. The natural temperature is 102-112 degrees. They have 5 outdoor pools (with natural rock floors) that vary in temperature; depending on how close you are to the fault where the water comes up from the ground. My kids called them giant hot tubs.

Tips for Visiting Lava Hot Springs

Make Reservations in Town 

There are a couple of hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, tent camping, and RV camping sites in town. When we went for Spring Break it was quiet in town, and there were plenty of rooms. All of the winter ski tourists (there is a ski resort locally) were gone and the summer tourists don’t show up until it is warmer. We reserved a couple of rooms in one of the hotels across the street from the hot springs. It ended up being a perfectly placed hotel. Once we arrived and parked, we didn't drive again until we left to go home. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go.

Be Prepared for the Beach, and the Mountains 

We found that even though it was early in spring, the kids still needed sunscreen since we were outside in the sun most of the day in the water. You will also need beach towels while you are swimming, and the hotels do not like you to take their towels (trust me!). If you forget towels, they can be rented from the store at the hot springs for a couple of dollars a day. On the flip side it is still chilly during the spring, so there might be snow on the ground. We had a little snow, but at 60 degrees during the day (and buds on the trees) my boys were comfortable throwing snowballs at each other while wearing shorts. The girls did want coats and hats in the evening when we went to dinner. It got cold once it was dark - so be prepared.

Bring Cash (but just a little)

We found everything in town to be surprisingly inexpensive. We did go during off-season so that made it nice. Entrance to the hot springs varies by visitor’s age. $1.50-$9.00 for day passes. Wednesday is family day, at $16.50 for a family of 4, it is a total deal. We just happen to be there on a Wednesday too. Dinner was at a family owned Pizza restaurant just two blocks down from our hotel. They also had dinner specials, and family deals. After dinner we walked down the street to the local grocery store and bought fruit, snacks, and treats for the night. We passed an arcade that looked fun, but the kids really just wanted to put their suits on and go back to the hot pools.

Night Activities

Once we were done swimming in the hot pools all day, and then again all evening, out girls were exhausted. We decided to stay in and play games. Our hotel had tables with chairs in each room so we set up a game table with snacks and played games late into the night. Swimming late into the evening was an option since they stay open until 10 or 11 (depending on the day) but since we are split having two “little” girls and two “big” boys staying in was a better option for us.

Sometimes making amazing family memories over Spring Break doesn't have to cost a lot, or take you far from home. Sometimes all it takes is a tank or gas, a hotel, swimsuits, treats and a board game.

Monday, March 3, 2014

If Life Is Just About Competition, Then I Would Rather Not Play.

My daughter. She is 11. She is sweet. She is kind... to everyone. No matter what. She plays the flute in her school band and sings in a choir program through a local university. She played volleyball for several years, and excelled in the game. She is on the math team for her school. She gets straight A's, and is a teacher's best friend & best helper. She is also shy and very nervous about trying new sports, or any physical activities.

She came to me last week and asked if she could go to the local softball tryouts. I was thrilled. We have been looking for a spring sport that she enjoyed enough to want to participate in. We recently moved to a much less populated part of the country this past summer so we asked around and found the only softball league in the county. There was a set of try-outs and then they split the girls up by ability. It thought that sounded perfect.

She practiced, she stressed, she was excited. She wanted to try something new.

So we went to try-outs. As soon as we walked in the door I knew we were in over our heads. Apparently the only way to participate in softball here is through a competitive sports team group. As Lewis filled out her paperwork, I took her over, got her a try-out number and we went to watch the girls warm up. As soon as that first ball was thrown I thought I was going to be sick. Right then they called all 11 & 12 year old girls up, paired them off and had them start throwing to one another. I encouraged her to go and I turned around and ran back to get Lewis. From the second that we walked back into the gym I knew we had made a huge mistake. Most of the girls were huge! You could tell that they played softball, it was their thing. Each throw was like a freight train. Each time the ball hit and bounced off of her chest, her arm, her thigh, I flinched. She kept going. She caught a few but quickly lost any and all energy that she had. One look into her eyes made my chest get tight and my eyes well up with tears. Even though I am a mother of four, I am not a crier. This, made we want to cry.

After 20 agonizingly long minutes the adults in charge (who had been standing in a circle pointing, grimacing, and making notes) called the girls into a huddle. Haley came straight to me and asked for the restroom. I hurried her to get her inside before the tears could start, as people (adults and kids) were pointing, smirking, and asking what her problem was. The second we stepped inside she was bawling... uncontrollably. She was hurt, both her body and her feelings. I felt completely responsible. How did I let her even try?

When we left the restroom a man called me over:
Random Small Town Man: Tell her to suck it up. Rub some dirt on it and stop the blubbering.
Me (smiling but uber annoyed) : Thanks, but she is fine.

We finally just walked out of the try-outs. Lewis took her to the car and I went to get our money back and explain. The lady gave me our money back but also wanted to give me her two cents worth of insight:

Random Small Town Woman: Some kids just can't handle the pressure. Maybe she is just soft. Maybe you should have started her playing when she was younger.
Me (sounding slightly annoyed) : She didn't want to play when she was younger. She wanted to try playing now.
Random Small Town Woman: How did you expect her to be competitive in a sport if you wait until she is grown to put her in it?
Me (sounding extremely annoyed) : Why can't she participate in it without it having to be competitive?
Random Small Town Woman: But that's what life is about. Competition.

That is when I walked away. I got in the car, hugged her and told her that we were proud of her no matter what.

If life is just about competition, then I would rather not play.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

5 Winter Gardening Tips

*This post was originally published on Mom It Forward. I have been working for them as a Virtual Assistant since November. I am loving the job. I have been writing a few blog posts here and there and I wanted to put my blog posts here as well. This post was written and published in January 2014. I have changed it slightly so I can re-post it here on my blog. Feel free to go and look at the original post here: http://bit.ly/LoZkkQ

You might not believe it but January is the perfect time to start thinking about gardening tips. Even though it is the coldest month of the year, there is still lots to do to get ready for the planting and growing season. Starting now will get you in a good place so that in a couple of months when the ground thaws you will be ready to plant your bounty.

5 Winter Gardening Tips


Clean and repair your garden tools. If you paint the handles of garden tools (rake, shovel, hoe, etc.) paint them red or orange. Painting them a bright color will make it easier to locate the tool this spring and summer when you lay them down on the lawn or in the garden. It also helps to preserve the wood and extends the life of the tools. Make an appointment to take in your lawn mower, weed whacker, and edger for a service during the off season (it is usually cheaper and less busy). Take inventory of your tools. Check out your tools all over for rust, dents, and breaks. Make a list of the tools that are fine, and what tools need to be replaced.


Watering is very important during the winter months. Watering right before a predicted freeze helps the plants. It will help potted plants and annuals make it through a hard freeze. It allows plants to take up moisture before the ground is frozen. You need to be sure to water the above-ground shoots as well as the roots.


After the soil freezes apply a 3-4" inch layer of mulch to your garden. This keeps the soil cold, rather than protecting the soil from becoming cold. This will help keep the roots from a constant freeze/thaw, freeze/thaw, which in turn helps against continual freezing and thawing.

Seed and bulb orders

After you decide upon what you want to put in your garden this year you need to be sure and order your seeds and bulbs by the end of January. You can order from a catalog, your local greenhouse, or online. By getting your order in early it will help insure that you get the seeds that you want and that you have them in time to plant them in early spring.

Snow and Ice on Trees and Shrubs

During the winter, the threat of snow and ice is always near. When ice accumulates on branches it is best to let it melt naturally. If they are covered with snow gently brush the snow off. Do not shake the tree limbs as this might cause cracking of the branches. If a limb does break, it is best to remove it as soon as weather allows. This will keep damage to the tree to a minimum.

Hopefully these tips will help get you excited about starting or continuing on your garden during the winter!