Grace turned 19 a while back, which I ruminated on back HERE, but I never talked about what we did on the big day.

First things first though…Elle and Lar surprised Grace by coming home the night before her birthday. They were coming from Hawaii for the summer and were supposed to come a couple days earlier but totally fooled her. Here’s the reunion which my girls may make me take down in a minute, but I think it’s pretty sweet:

The next day we got up at the crack of dawn to get to the lake, Grace’s favorite past-time ever.

Came home for our traditional bday breakfast and gift-opening:

A few bday pictures…gotta capture how my kids look as they turn one year older each year:

Best friends to help celebrate:

A little cake and ice cream:

And what better way to wrap up a birthday than a covid-distanced and masked kind of eerie visit to Skateland?


It was a good day.

We love this girl more than I can say!

Holding onto her tight before the flies the nest again to become a missionary.

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  1. Looks like they had a wonderful time! I ask the following out of genuine curiosity and not judgment: were you not concerned about Grace and her friends being together without masks, as in the pictures you shared?

    1. Happy Birthday to Grace!!! What a fun surprise for her. I am excited for all the experiences she will have as a missionary.
      I love to see the love and joy your family radiates. Thanks for sharing your light.

  2. If you don’t mind me asking, where is your kitchen flooring from & what style is it? We are choosing flooring for a new house & I love yours!!

    1. If you look on the other blog (I think there is a link on the right 71 toes home blog) I remember a long time ago when Shawni was trying to pick out flooring for her house she did a post about it. She talks about the two she was trying to choose between. I looked it is there November 2013 check that out!

      1. Thank you Terri for that response…can I hire you to help get back to some of these other comments? Ha! I can’t seem to get to this blog enough these days although I would sure like to respond on a more regular basis. Thanks for your help! And yes, Ashley, it’s there in the 71toes home blog, but for quick reference it’s called Provenza Old World Fossil Stone.

          1. Ok, sorry but just one more question, I promise!! Do you remember what shade of it you chose? We are currently in the stress of picking our flooring & it is so hard to tell the shade from just one sample!

    1. She starts her missionary service on September 15th so she can’t do another semester, but she did so some great online classes this summer so we were thankful for that!

  3. I don’t think you understand social distancing the way people are practicing it in other states. Technically you are not supposed to be within 6 feet of anyone not in your household, or agreed upon extended household (married child, mother, single sibling) without a mask on. It is not gather a group of friends together, go to a public place and stay away from other people at the public place. I am just surprised you are posting pictures of that part publicly. You see if someone as part of this chain got it they would want dozens tested. You 9, the friends in that picture, their families, Josh since he is part of that extended family you have sheltered with, all your married kids in-laws since they are also with them without masks on, and on and on again for incidents like the above among their IL siblings who also got together for people for bdays and such. They are going to go back 2 weeks. Most people, perhaps every one of them will be fine, but the quarantine would be annoying for that many people and the number of cases would seem to spike. Imagine if anyone went to a family reunion within weeks of this? You could have had multiple states involved. People are not just getting tested if they have symptoms. Anyone pregnant or needing a procedure done in the near future would be tested leading to a chain of people if positive.

  4. Y’all we are beating a dead horse here. At first I thought Shawni was
    purposely disregarding the rules about gatherings and social
    distancing. But now I see she just doesn’t get it. She actually
    thinks they are doing it right. Amazing. Just goes to show
    that a college education and extensive travel does not always make
    a person smart!

  5. Wow guys, tell us how you really feel! I’m sorry, but tearing someone apart isn’t going to change anything and really just makes you look like a really mean person who doesn’t care about how you make people feel. I wonder if you’d say these same things to Shawni if you were having a face to face conversation… In the future just keep your mean thoughts to yourself and try to remember the manners that you were taught, before you even went to college.

    1. Hi Hilary, you sound like a really mean person who doesn’t care about how others feels about covid. Some of us are high risk. Some of us have friends or relatives that are at risk. Some of us are losing our jobs because of the epidemics. Some of us would like the epidemics to decrease so that we can live a normal life again.
      Do you not understand that what 1 person does (eg direspect social distanciation) may affect many, many other people?

    2. Hillary – Aw, am I being a meanie weenie? That’s too bad. People are dying of COVID and your main concern is that I’m not being polite to Shawni? That is really sad, and a little ignorant of you. A lot of people read this blog. And as silly as it is, quite a few of them emulate Shawni and use her behavior as an example for themselves. Do you not see the ramifications of this? I would most definitely say exactly these things to Shawni in person,although I don’t think it would make a bit of difference in this family’s total lack of common sense as it pertains to the COVID pandemic.

      1. I am going to preface this comment by saying that I am not looking to engage in any sort of argument here. I’m just stating the facts of my comment.

        Nowhere in my comment did I mention covid. I was only noting the tactless comments given and do not appreciate you attacking my character when you do not know me or my life experiences regarding this disease.

        I do not take Covid lightly. I have friends and family who have directly been affected by it, including losing their jobs and losing family members. I have high risk individuals in my home. I believe in social distancing and masks as a way to flatten the curve and limit the spread of the disease.

        I also believe in kindness. Being mean doesn’t help anything.

    3. I am not tearing her apart, I just don’t understand her posting a photo of her kids with three people clearly not in her household touching and say they were social distancing in that gathering. They were not wearing masks or 6 feet apart. I wouldn’t have posted anything if not for her saying they were SD. I don’t have the AZ mandates and the dates of their effects memorized. I don’t think any state required Hawaii people to self quarantine it was the other way around with people coming into Hawaii required to quarantine. Hawaii has a lot of multigenerational living and distribution of doctors uneven, and when you live in a series of islands no where near anything you can control your border. Breathing without a mask today is like sex with many people without a condom. You are breathing with everyone they ever breathed around. It will make a mess with a lot of people should one person have to get testing for some reason that might not even involve symptoms and then having to contact dozens of people. Then we will hear cases up in AZ among young people and the media has a fit. People in this chain will have to delay procedures, take off work, worry about the one person in their household who needs regular access to healthcare not getting it cause they won’t be allowed out of the house for that for two weeks.

  6. But guys, the rules don’t apply to rich , Mormon people. It’s terrifying but true. I see so many thinking the rules but apply. Grace is in California , showing pictures, not social distancing. The marrieds are now heading off to Florida but have don’t nothing to keep a low key. You just do not get it not done you want to because it would kill you all to stay home for 5 minutes.

    1. Rachel, your first two sentences you posted are so disrespectful – if you don’t like how they are handling the “rules”, that’s one thing but I think you should have some respect and leave the negative comments about her religion out of these posts…

  7. The newlyweds will get a rather rude awakening when they have settled in FL. It has the most stringent rules around as far as distancing, mask wearing, etc. It’s not a voluntary thing there. They actually enforce it and have consequences for not doing it.

    1. I’m genuinely asking, not being combative. Isn’t that a county-by-county thing in FL? I actually went there twice over the summer. The first trip we only had ONE waitress wearing a mask. NO ONE ANYWHERE was social distancing or wearing masks. It was so odd and almost made one forget there was even a pandemic. My second visit more restaurant workers wore masks, but the beach was so crowded with people we drove down shore from our beach house and parked to avoid being with the crowd. Not a lick of social distancing in site. So I was wondering if it’s been tightened up there now or maybe just certain areas?

  8. Y’all better hurry up and read these comments because Shawni will delete them as soon as she sees that they are not all unicorns and butterflies…

  9. The rest of us will all sit at home and wait for this family — and others like them — to do the right thing so we can flatten all our curves and get on with our lives. Sadly, Shawni, there’s no point to reading/thinking about Melissa Gates’ book when you can’t apply simple lessons (social distancing, sacrificing, mask wearing) to your own lives. Sigh. Depressing, given that you have all the resources to shelter in place quite nicely.

  10. Hi Shawni,

    I put a lot of time into this comment, so as that it doesn’t read as mean or hateful. Its genuinely coming from a place of good, and my hope is that you will be willing to engage in dialogue without deleting.

    I also want to say- I am a LONG time blog reader. Maybe 10 years? You and I have very different lives. I was raised agnostic. I’m now a single working adult with no children. Even so, I’m drawn to your blog because I appreciate the way you live your life. Your family seems real and kind. After so many years I feel invested in your children, and enjoy seeing them become their own people, taking the good values you’ve taught and extending that out into the world.

    I would genuinely like to hear you discuss your decisions around the pandemic. Your choices seem to be in stark contrast to the suggestions of officials and experts. We’ve seen you travel multiple times since Covid hit. Bear Lake alone had well over 50 attendees from all over the country. Had your reunion happened in, say, Los Angeles, the mayor would have cut your water and power. That’s a real consequence being imparted on people who defy quarentine guidelines. Your kids have gone to parties. The Pothier family was viral on Tik Tok from their reunion, where it appears more than 100 people gathered without social distancing.

    To give some perspective- I am immunocompromised. I live alone. I have been working from home since March 9th. I have seen my family ONCE since then. And it was a drive by where we were well over 15 ft apart- no hugging or touching. I live in a large city which has amazing public transportation, so I do not own a car. This means that traveling in within my city limits is out of the question for me. I can’t risk getting on a bus or train with people who haven’t been as rigourous as I have with self-isolation. I get my groceries delivered to avoid contact with others at the actual store. I live in a highrise building, so even going to get my mail is a process, since I have to mask up and wear gloves. I do all of this because I can only assume there are others like you who aren’t taking quarantine as seriously as I am. And the virus would kill me. Am I taking stronger precautions than others? Yes. Have I gone through some very serious depression and loneliness stemming from isolation? YES. And so do I get frustrated when I see people going about their normal lives, traveling, seeing family, going to events and parties, seemingly unaffected by Covid? Very much so.

    All this to ask- why are you not taking Covid more seriously? Why are you allowing your children (Max and Elle aside) to travel and attend parties and events?

    1. I, too, am a long time reader who has gained a lot from following along over the past decade. I am also so saddened and frustrated by the actions of this family during this Covid pandemic. Extremely disheartening and discouraging 🙁

    2. At some point I’d like to discuss my views about this pandemic, but right now is not the time. At the moment this issue is extremely political, emotional and divisive. There are so many different opinions, from leaders and doctors right down to my closest friends. We are all grappling in different ways. As you can see by these comments, it wouldn’t do any good to engage in my thoughts at this time. I will say I am so grateful that numbers in our area are going down dramatically and that masks are required, and I sure think we are all gaining some great personal hygiene habits! I also think it’s just human nature to judge others with the things we determine are “facts” from our own unique lenses when we can’t possibly know the whole story.

      1. This comment is spot-on!! Good for you, Shawni!!!
        The real pandemic on this earth is judging others without knowing their whole story! Thank you for returning love, instead of hate! God bless you!

        1. This is a joke coming from religious people. If the “real pandemic” on earth is judging people without knowing their whole story, Christians and Mormons have participated in a lot of pandemics. Remind me again how Christians/Mormons treat a woman seeking an abortion or gay people? Oh right, personal choice and “doing what’s right for you” is only a thing if you want to risk bystanders’ lives to see your family during a pandemic! God Bless!!

      2. But in your religion in your 13 articles of faith you ‘ obey the laws of the land’ so do you follow your prophet or not? You can’t get to pick and choose which laws you want to follow, but you do.

        1. This is where is find the LDS community the most hypocritical. They will always come back with ‘ it’s between me & the Lord” or “ they are guidelines’ for example the length of the shirts on shoulders. It clearly states the shoulders must be covered, no short shorts but they only follow that rule when they want to though it is clearly marked out. I see more and more young people getting married not wearing their garments because it’s ‘ between them and God’ but when they go for their interview the question is “ do you wear your temple garments day and night as instructed in the temple” the answer yes but clearly IG shows that is a lie. I’m just pointing out that you can’t have it both ways.

      3. Hope you can write about it soon. This pandemic has been going on for months now. Can you say where you and your family have traveled since March? I see on Grace’s public Instagram that she is in California. Does this mean when she gets back to Arizona she has to quarantine for 2 weeks?

      4. I do not think the issue is political. If the danger is real, it’s real… unless you believe it is not and that you know better.

      5. Shawni, I love your blog and I think you have a big heart. You don’t have to engage with one single person here. But please, PLEASE, if you do nothing else, stop traveling as though things are normal until there’s a vaccine. Your family travels more in a year than I have in a decade (and I’m lucky enough to get to go to Europe every other summer, which I imagine is quite a bit more than the average American). You have so much opportunity and a beautiful, spacious home. Take time to live slowly. This would be an act of service and love for others.

        In regard to your comment about so many politicians and doctors saying different things, the messaging is quite consistent across the world from many different reputable medical organizations: avoid non-essential travel, social distance from those not in your household, and wear a mask in public places where transmission is up (which it is in the US). I’m so incredibly tired of not being able to hug my immunocompromised SIL, that I can’t see my stepmother who’s getting cancer treatment, and that I haven’t yet held my four month old niece because people are unwilling to do what is best for our communities. This isn’t about what’s best for our individual families because it transcends the family unit.

        At the very least, if you aren’t willing to change anything meaningful about how you live during the pandemic, then perhaps not mentioning masks and social distancing would be more productive, as I think your mention of those things in this post is what has people confused or frustrated.

    3. RLH, best wishes for you – stay safe, and I hope you can resume a more normal life very soon. Are you able to go out for walks? I’d been a lifesaver for me ; I would go late, so as to not meet other people (masks were not available in my country at that time).

      1. Thanks BH! It’s been a long few months, but thankfully I have a great zoom therapist! LOL! I do get out for walks. I usually go around 6am when most are still sleeping. My building also has a roof top, and I get up there for some sunshine.

  11. She’s allowing it because she doesn’t believe it’s real and or because she thinks it infringes on her rights. I’m sure of this since I live in her area and know lots of her friends who are very open open it. They will not ever listen to rules that they don’t like because they think they are better. It’s as simple as that.

  12. I am SO sorry people leave these kinds of comments on your blog. I’ve only just discovered you and love reading your old posts about things that I am dealing with in my own parenting journey.
    Hang in there, Shawni. Your doing a lot of good in this crazy world. You are appreciated!

    1. This attitude is precisely why the coronavirus has spread like it has in the US worse than any other country, and why your country is in a crisis. Individualism is valued above all else, instead of community. Of course this is a sweeping generalisation, but the rest of the world is shaking their heads when seeing these attitudes. I really feel for the people in your country doing the right thing and actually caring about other people in their community, instead of just doing what is “right for me”.

    2. Hi Debbie, just wondering – if an old lady starts crossing the street when you’re in a hurry to go to work, do you run over her because it’s best for yourself?

      1. Yes, Miranda! You are spot on. It seems as most Americans are more worried about their individual freedoms vs. a societal duty to help protect others. The hard, but thoughtful, thing to do would be to stay home and limit exposure to others, but it’s seems to be a sacrifice most Americans can’t be inconvenienced with.

    3. Public health isn’t about what’s best for us or our individual families because it transcends the family unit. We should be in this together.

      It saddens me that our hyper individualism has blinded people.

  13. Having read this post and seen some worrying things on other posts of Shawni’s, I feel I should add my own penny worth to the conversation, not to cause upset or to be rude but to try and slow down this Covid pandemic. It scares me that your children travel and fly to and from lots of places and then come into your home and you all hug and kiss. I’m in the Uk and I have five children, only one still at home. The others are all married and when they visit we are scrupulous about hand hygiene and social distancing. The three of us in our home do not hug our family members because they don’t live with us, they all go to work and no one knows who may be carrying the virus. Believe me it’s extremely hard to not have physical contact with your close family but it is so important if we want to stop the spread. I am also vulnerable so I stay in my room when they visit and we talk with them at the door. We have extremely low numbers of cases here and I can only think it’s because most people are trying to be careful. Our numbers for last week were 4 new cases in every 200,000 yet we know Arizona is one of the hotspots. I truly don’t understand why there’s a picture of the girls and friends in the entrance of a shop some with a mask ready for when they go in. It’s like playing lip service to the rules that are there to protect everyone. My family put their masks on as soon as they leave the car. Your family may be younger and fitter and they won’t get really sick but they can still take it to someone else, family, friend or a complete stranger. We have really struggled since March, no one has gone one holiday, caught a plane, visited family who don’t live nearby. Both our mothers are eighty and we either sit apart in the garden or talk through a window. We’ve cancelled a wedding reception and honeymoon, family parties etc. Are we ‘holier than thou?’, absolutely not, we are just trying to do what we are asked and advised too by our leaders. This is not about just us, but all of us. We are not safe until we are all safe.

  14. Don’t ever say “we can do hard things” again if you can’t do the hard thing of staying in your personal 5* resort with game room, huge yard, pool and spa and “need” your many vacations to the beach, mountains, lake, etc. Oh and that goes for your parents and their lessons on entitled children when they’ve raised the most entitled extended family on the planet. And you’re crying about your kids not going to school and Lucy not getting the educational support she very much needs? And you don’t see any connection between the two? And the worst part is everyone is suffering from your actions with school closures not just your family.

    1. Wow. You have a lot of nerve to be so judgemental and downright mean to someone who works so hard to put out so much good in this world. I hope you can find peace and happiness in your life that helps you contribute to lifting others up rather than tearing them down. This comment is telling to the type of person you are or the type of pain you are in. I am so sorry for that.

  15. I understand that everyone is under a lot of stress because of Covid-19. I also agree that we all have a right to say what is on our mind. What I do not understand is how rude some of you people are. I have followed and enjoyed this blog for many years There is no reason to be rude or treat other people badly when their situation is different from yours. Our country really needs to come together and support each other despite different races, religions, or socioeconomic status.

    1. Well said, Susan. Attacking Shawni’s religion, socioeconomic status, and parenting decisions is bullying behind a computer screen. If you are so triggered by what Shawni shares, don’t read her blog.

  16. Shawni,
    I have read your blog for 10 years. I just want to tell you how much your blog means to me. When this world we live in is so crazy and I lose hope in humankind, I get a notice in my inbox that you have updated your blog. I can’t wait to read what you have posted! It is always uplifting and I have fallen inlove with your cute family. You have given so much of yourself and your family for everyone to see. There may be some negative and hurtful comments on here but there are thousands more that stay silent like I usually do that just really, really love what you share with us. You build, you uplift, you encourage, you educate and to see how you parent helps so many of us. I just want to thank you for sharing so much with us and I hope and pray you will always continue to do so. We need your words of wisdom, we need a great role model and a fun, close, happy family to follow now more than ever. I love seeing your travels so much and I aspire to one day be able to do those things with my family. I love that you share your children’s struggles too and the day to day decisions your family makes and how they come to make those hard decisions. I love how you share your testimony in all that you do. You are an inspiration to many and I can’t thank you enough for your courage to share so openly with all of us. You keep it going girl!

    1. Aw thank you sweet Suzanne! Sending love right on back…to you and everyone else…even those who are mad at me. Susan is right, there is so much stress and emotion out there right now. Thanks for sharing your light in the middle of it all.

  17. Very happy to see your family happy, smiling and having a good time in a small group of friends! I know many people are divided, angry and living in utter fear and I am sorry for the way many feel they can attack you, your family and your character. You do so much to contribute to a positive family narrative and I appreciate the efforts you put in to better the families of the world. I also know you are a respectful citizen and mindful of those who are the most vulnerable to this pandemic and their safety.

    We are all going to make it through this really hard thing, but many of us will make it through easier because we have not let our hearts turn to hate and anger over things out of our control! I hope I can be one of those.

  18. Always talking about “doing hard things”, but you and your family, can’t even apply simple lessons like social distancing, sacrificing, mask wearing, etc. This is definitely not a respectful behaviour. You are harming the most vulnerable.

  19. Everyone commenting about the pandemic should know that your source of information determines your opinion on the pandemic. Nobody denies the reality of Covid-19. It is real. But there is plenty of debate on mask wearing and social distancing because science proves that mask wearing does not stop the virus. 6 ft. distancing does not stop the virus. Survival rate for those who contract covid-19 is 99%. Better odds than many other illnesses. My sister is a doctor and has studied virology and I trust her knowledge on the issue. She is also one who is at high risk for contracting illness and will be the first to say that healthy people should not be wearing masks. It can cause bigger health problems than it is supposed to be preventing. People are getting all kinds of bacterial infections and even lack of oxygen from constantly wearing masks. There are a lot of people who cannot wear masks due to their own health struggles and are exempt. You all don’t have a clue who the exempt people may be. Telling people they don’t respect others because they don’t wear masks is wrong. False judgments. And to start bad mouthing someone’s religion and personally attack them shows complete disrespect. Such hyprocrisy. It is very sad that so many feel the need to not only police other people, but also to judge and condemn them without an understanding of their reality.
    This was a happy birthday post for a beautiful young lady who should be celebrated. Shame on everyone who has felt the need to “call out” and try and shame this family. Shawni is always so nice to you all, but I’m really quite disgusted at your lack of decency.

    1. Hi, I am a nurse practitioner and would love to read your “data” about healthy people getting sick from wearing masks. Thanks!

  20. Ask your sister doctor about large gatherings of people traveling in from
    all over the country descending on a small town.

  21. Shawni- I have followed your blog for years and love that you share the joys, and sorrows, of your life with us. I just want to give you a hug (and not a social-distanced air hug) after reading how rude people are. Please don’t let them discourage you. You have a beautiful heart and light that shines bright. Something we need more of in this world!

  22. Anybody who says that COVID is “political” and there are differing opinions are basically just saying that they intend to buck the CDC, cherry-pick how they want to respond, and will do NONE of the heavy lifting to get us to the other side of this pandemic. We WILL get to the other side, but this will be in spite of and not because of people like Shawni and her family. They have sacrificed nothing. I have enjoyed reading her blog since Max and Elle were young children but it’s a lot less palatable now that Shawni has shown us who she really is: someone who is not willing to put the needs of others before herself. Not even for a summer. I’m not being rude or mean, I’m simply pointing out that actions speak volumes.

  23. To the BLOG police: Though available to the public, this blog is in fact a record of a personal journey. She can choose what parts to share or not to share with us, and has no need to provide disclaimers/explanations about any aspect. If you don’t like/disagree with this journey, or its delivery, or whatever, you are more than free to not read it. Do yourself a favor and stop reading/supporting non-essential things like this blog, for instance, if it brings you so much emotional distress. She is not the news, nor is she creating policy so there is no NEED for your comments. Your comments aren’t helping, or revealing anything other than your own emotional state. Know when it is time, in your personal journey, to move along. And Shawni, thank you for sharing your family’s journey! If you ever decide this blog needs to go private, please add me to the list!:)))

    1. I bet you wish you had all the authority you think you have!
      Who do you think has to obey your words here. If you say NO ONE
      you would be accurate …🙄

      1. no authority here! ha! You might tell your fellow officers the same thing…
        Just wishing some would move along since this blog seems to upset them so often.

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