the smell of my desperation has become a stench

“Like nothing I’ve ever seen ever”


Earlier last month I mentioned that we traveled to Moab to celebrate Leta’s birthday. It was the first time both girls had ever been to that part of the state where magnificent stone arches formed over millions of years disrupt the landscape in an otherworldly orange. There is no other place on earth like Arches National Park, and my two kids got to run up to those formations and run their hands along the grainy, eroded layers.

The idea of that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to a nine-year-old who repeatedly pointed out in the days leading up to the trip, “But we can see nature in our back yard, MOM.”

I hate it when she’s right. Rattlesnakes, squirrels, mythical bobcats, and dead birds. She probably doesn’t remember the raccoon that lived in our chimney, or that one time the taxidermist who lived next door rolled out a stuffed yak onto his front porch. Please no one remind her of the three tarantulas we found living underneath a rock in a flower bed.

Luckily, a few weeks before Leta’s birthday my ad partners approached me about a campaign they were working on with a brand that wanted to encourage families to get out and spend quality, enriching time together. The concept they showed me aligned perfectly with how I wanted to celebrate her birthday, by getting out and away from the grind of our daily routines, the homework and piano lessons and multiplication flash cards, and into the majestic scenery of her home state. I wanted her to see how wildly the landscape varies along the freeway between Salt Lake City and Moab, to have her own memories of the changing desert landscape.

Yes, she resisted at first. But luckily she totally surprised me. And now we have this to remind us of that amazing weekend:

Many thanks to the teams at FM and Hyundai and to David Crowther and Casey Peterson for making this such a wonderful experience. You helped make one nine-year-old’s birthday a huge success.


This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai.

  • Suebob

    2013/03/06 at 9:20 am

    Cool! I love that Santa Fe, too. I have a Hyundai Elantra Touring (smaller wagon, but still has room for the beloved mutt) and it is a great car. Three words: heated leather seats. My friends love it when I drive when we go on trips together.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/06 at 9:28 am

    Honestly, how did the pioneers settle this cold, desolate place without heated leather seats? They had it so rough, man.

  • Angela L Delgado

    2013/03/06 at 9:29 am

    GREAT video–it’s so weird hearing Leta’s 9-year-old voice when I am so used to listening to the tiny squeaks from her itty-bitty videos–

    –the best part is the fake child laugh track, though. That MAKES it.

  • Kate

    2013/03/06 at 9:54 am

    Moab is my happy place; I love the warm air, the smell of sage, and of course all that crazy red rock. You guys are so lucky to live so close to such a magical place! Your girls will remember this trip forever. And WOW is Leta a mini Jon Armstrong, or what??

  • Jennifer Lee

    2013/03/06 at 10:05 am

    That’s awesome! I love going out for walks with my four year old daughter. It’s amazing to see the world through the eyes of a child. We have a Hyundai Santa Fe and I love it.

  • Kristin K. Ausk

    2013/03/06 at 10:06 am

    Dude love this video! Loved hearing Leta’s voice! 🙂 I’ve never been to Utah but it’s def on my list of places to visit. Especially Moab.

  • Martha

    2013/03/06 at 10:10 am

    I took a roadtrip last year and went to Arches… I often wish I was back there. Its so amazing! Really cool that y’all went and it was snowy!

  • Jeca51601

    2013/03/06 at 10:17 am

    It is incredible how your kids resemble mine in their behavior. Which is all sorts of wonderful, because when they decide they’d like to know what they were like when they were kids, I’ll just point them out to this blog…

    Lovely place and lovely story.



  • KerriF

    2013/03/06 at 10:36 am

    Moab is one of those places I want to visit someday but after seeing that video Moab is one of those places I WANT TO GO VISIT NOW. Also, your kids are even more adorable with motion & sound. =)

  • Jamie Beck

    2013/03/06 at 10:45 am

    On my list of places to go. Looks amazing. What a great memory for your family.

  • Danalan

    2013/03/06 at 10:59 am

    Those dimples.

  • Nichole

    2013/03/06 at 11:06 am

    That looks like such an amazing place to visit, and that video is a treasure.

  • Sarah Wicker Kimes

    2013/03/06 at 12:56 pm

    Awesome. It’s definitely on my list of places to visit. What did you think of the Santa Fe?

  • CG

    2013/03/06 at 1:47 pm

    What a great video. Every time I think I can’t like your blog more, you surprise me. I think you’re the best!

  • socalmtnmom

    2013/03/06 at 3:28 pm

    Love the video, Heather! What a great memory to have! You and your girls are so beautiful, and it’s pretty cool to be able to see you all in action after reading your words for all these years! Thank you for brightening my day, as you do every day with your wonderful blog!

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/03/06 at 3:54 pm

    You have heated seats in your car? Oh I need to trade my Santa Fe in for a new one. Serious!

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/03/06 at 3:55 pm

    I have never been to Moab. I’ve been near it a dozen times. Pretty sure we drove past the highway sign for it at night a few times. I need to add it to my list of must go soon places. Sheesh. I’m not even that far.

  • Meg H

    2013/03/06 at 4:17 pm

    I have to remind myself that Leta is only nine. She seems like an adult in this video! (Marlo is adorable.)

  • Amy K.

    2013/03/06 at 4:35 pm

    aaawwww…. Leta’s voice!!! I completely understand your respect for her boundaries regarding your website, but I LOVE when we get to see her!

  • Jinny Swinehart

    2013/03/06 at 6:52 pm

    I can’t see the video!!!! My life is over.

  • Kim Douglas

    2013/03/06 at 8:02 pm

    This is lovely, and I too found Leta’s voice completely charming. And then, absurdly, I was a teensy tiny bit disappointed that we didn’t likewise get to hear Marlo STHAY STHOMETHING! because that would’ve been gold. Like “STHANTA FE!” Hyundai, you missed an opportunity here. 🙂 I myself drive an Accent, but it doesn’t have the heated seats because I think I’d doze off in cozy bliss and plunge over an embankment.

  • Trish

    2013/03/06 at 10:20 pm

    I am from Australia and of course we have some spectacular national parks. In 1994 (gosh, that long ago?) I spent three weeks traveling around this part of the US in a Winnebago with my best friend and my Montana-based uncle. Utah is AMAZING has that same grand, awesome, as-old-as-time feel about it that central Australia has, but with snow. I can’t wait to go back there with my family and show them around. My sister has just moved to Montana so I’ll be heading there before another twenty years flies by.

  • Bluemarker

    2013/03/07 at 5:54 am

    that was beautiful! I have to say, well done on Hyundai’s part, I didn’t even mind that it was an ad in the end.

  • Beth Horton

    2013/03/07 at 7:33 am

    I LOVE THE ELANTRA TOURING! I had my heart set on it for years and finally bought one last March, and we put 16,000 miles on it in the past year. It is the best road trip car on the planet. The amount of stuff we can fit in there on an IKEA run (the closest one is 300 miles away) should be in a commercial.

  • Brad

    2013/03/07 at 8:11 am

    That’s wonderful. My aunt and uncle took me through Arches when I was a teenager and I was in awe. Not only were the formations great, but the landscape all around us was beautiful and different. I remember driving to the SIDE of a lightning storm and how unreal that experience was. I look forward to taking my kids too. By the way, it was great hearing the voices behind the pictures.

  • Jules

    2013/03/07 at 12:06 pm

    What a lovely video. Your girls are so cute. My oldest girl turns 9 this Saturday and we’re going camping AND it’s spring break, so it’s going to be fun. Nothing like Moab, but we’ll be near a pretty lake. Camping is something we’ve just started doing, and it is fun to see the kids outside enjoying fresh air and nature. If I could just get over my fear of bugs…ugh.

  • Rachael

    2013/03/07 at 2:51 pm

    Is it weird how star-struck I feel when I heard Leta speak? Leta posts are the best. I really want to go to Arches National Park now. Great post and great video!

  • Misty Hinnefeld

    2013/03/07 at 3:18 pm

    is that a commercial that will air on tv or something?

  • Luv and Kiwi

    2013/03/07 at 3:52 pm

    I had the same reaction as Amy K. “Leta’s voice” lol. She’s a tiny 30 year old I must say…old soul right thur.

  • Chris

    2013/03/08 at 8:34 am

    This looks amazing! Your girls are adorable, and it’s great that you did this for them. Definitely inspires me to do something similar for my daughter’s birthdays.

  • girlsgonechild

    2013/03/08 at 11:15 am

    I love this. And you.

  • Aimee Giese

    2013/03/08 at 4:58 pm

    I can’t believe you have never been to Moab. It is one of our favorite places on earth!

  • Aimee Giese

    2013/03/08 at 5:00 pm

    Ahh, the GIRLS first time. GOT IT. I am slow today. Still one of our favorite places.

  • allconsuming

    2013/03/09 at 8:48 am

    Eugh, so now I have to come all the way to Utah to hug Leta and stand in her personal space for inappropriate lengths of time and then gobble up Marlo. Geez, the things you make me want to do Heather. Can you hear my eyes rolling? (*whispers* I’d also help you pack AND cook for you.)

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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