Thursday, June 26, 2008

The family that walks together...

...stays together!

So on Sunday afternoon, we went walking as a family together. It was hot and sunny... just the sort of weather we pacific northwesterners have been waiting for! We walked around the neighborhood and explored some new areas around where we live. It was hot and the kids were w-h-i-n-y. As we walked we realized that our kids really shouldn't be so whiny over a simple walk and it hit us that we have a lot of work to do with them. We need to keep them active... and we need to be active ourselves. So we vowed to keep these kids active this summer and try to go walking everyday. I'm really happy to report on our progress thus far...

On Monday, we took a different path around the neighborhood. We still had whiny kids, but that's okay! On Tuesday, I had to work. Grandma and Loral came over that night and I just couldn't take the time to go with them. They all went for a walk and then played at the park. But, I still jumped on the treadmill and did a brisk 25-minute walk. Then I showered and headed off to work. Yesterday, we did a longer walk around the neighborhood and got to discover some really cool areas right around the corner from us. We've lived here for over 7 years now and had no idea some of these places existed.

And that brings me to today... Today was our jackpot hike/walk! By the way, the kids have gotten less whiny everyday... go figure! Yesterday kept saying, "I don't like walking. I like hiking!" So Mike obliged him today. We started out "walking"... headed across the street and through the elementary school playground. At the back of the school is a trail that goes into the next neighborhood. We walked through that neighborhood, down the hill and then headed over to the apartment complex across the street from the chapel. At the back of that complex is a trail through the woods that goes all the way down to Dash Point State Park. We took it all the way!! I had no idea we'd gone that far until we got there. I was so excited! It was a really fun hike through the woods and although the kids were a little whiny, for the most part they did really well. We walked around the campground and then headed back up the trail and took the fork that lead out to Hoyt Rd and then headed home. We had a BLAST... and the whole venture only took us an hour and ten minutes!

I'm so happy... it's getting easier and easier for me to trek and keep up without feeling winded and exhausted. I am really enjoying these walks with my family and I do think it's an activity that really brings us closer together. We get to talk and explore and just be with each other. Plus, it's keeping us all active and moving. Besides all that, we are going camping next week and we are super excited about being at Rialto Beach and the Mora Campground. Also, there is an awesome hike from First Beach to Second Beach in La Push. When we were there two years ago, I stayed behind and didn't go on the hike. Not so this year! I will be doing that hike. Mike wants us to try and do the hike every day. I think it's a novel idea!

Anyway... so thus far, these are our adventures in hiking and walking. I told Mike that we should really look into geocaching. I know Ethan would have an absolute blast doing it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cousin adventures!

Mary came over with the kids last week and stayed over one night when Jay was gone on an overnight business trip. We had a lot of fun. Mary and I stayed up until about 2am just talking about our new favorite obsession... Twilight! (Side note here... Mary... and Jay for that matter... are both done with the first two books and getting started on #3. I was lucky enough to score two tickets to Stephenie Meyer's book signing/concert for the release of book #4 in August. Mary and I are going to go together... hopefully we can get a sitter and leave early... make a day of it... do some girly stuff and then hit Benaroya Hall in the evening. I can't wait! And as another side note... we conned Linda and Cynthia into reading the series as well! I mean really... what's not to love about Twilight????)

Okay... so moving on... the kids all got up before us of course. I got up and made everyone breakfast... toast and eggs... easy and simple. (See the first picture below.) And then we decided that since we didn't have any other grand plans, we'd take the kids and picnic somewhere. We both agreed that we wanted to go somewhere different. But we couldn't go too far because Mary had to pick up Jay that night from the airport. After picking my own brain, I finally decided that Flaming Geyer State Park would be fun. The day was nice... it was warm... there's water there... and neither of us had ever been there.

We piled into the Pilot with Maiden hunched down in the back and took off! We stopped at the store and got a few cheap eats... picnic food that didn't require a lot of time or prep and away we went. We drove up Hwy 18 and took the Black Diamond exit. We took a right on Green Valley Rd and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery on the 9-mile drive out to the park. There was so much to see... lots of green... lots of farm land... lots of animals and homes on the twisting road. We even stopped at Mosby Farms produce stand and picked up a couple of things... some oranges, other things, and flavored honey sticks.

As soon as we arrived at the park entrance, we got excited. We could tell right off that it wasn't that crowded and it was full of beauty. The entire park is surrounded by green trees. The river runs through the place and its waters were traveling at a pretty good speed. We found an out-of-the-way place and sat at a picnic table and had lunch. Then we went on what we thought was going to be a little hike. As we descended into the forest cover, we didn't really feel good about it and didn't like the direction it was headed, so we turned around and took the kids to a more populated area where they could get their feet wet.

After playing the water for quite awhile, they all wanted to play on the playground equipment. The kids had a great time doing that. Then we packed up and headed home. The kids were all glued to a movie in the car (see the last picture) and nobody would fall asleep and nap! We slept good that night for sure!

Anyway... Mary and I have decided that we need to do more exploring this summer, now that everyone is out of school until September! I can't wait for more adventures!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beach Day

Yesterday when I got home from work, I was tired, which is pretty typical when I've worked 3 12's in a row. I gave the boys control of the remote and told them I was crashing out on the couch. I gave them snacks and then slept for a couple of hours. When I woke up, I was surprised... no drama, nothing destroyed... they weren't even fighting! Besides that, the sun was shining and it was WARM! The sun was calling to me, luring me up and out of the house... seems to be such a fleeting phenomena lately.

We grabbed the camera, a backpack, and a few bottles of water and headed out. We then stopped and grabbed a few cheeseburgers and some Blizzards and made our way down to the water. We went to Dash Point State Park, which is our piece of backyard heaven. I can't even begin to express how blessed I feel to live just five minutes from this water mecca, with all it's water, vast beach, and beauty. It was an absolutely PERFECT day out. I figured we'd stay for an hour or so. I had to beg the kids to leave around 5pm... nearly three hours after we'd arrived.

I love the beach. I grew up surrounded by the sea, so I feel like it's a major connection to home for me. The briny smell of salt and the seaweed drying in the sun just takes me right back. There is something so serene about pacific waters. It's a very humbling experience to stand on a vast beach and realize just how small and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. Spending time near the ocean (or the sound, which is still ocean water) nearly always strengthens my testimony of God's infinite love for His children and the power of creation. Yesterday was no different.

It was a neat day at the beach yesterday. It was pretty crowded, but it seemed like EVERYONE there was just out to have a good time. EVERYONE was smiling. People smiled at each other. The teenagers were all there with their sand boards and friends. Kids were everywhere. And the dogs were having the time of their lives too. I think everyone has felt the absence of the sun in our world and all were anxious to just be happy and soak up the rays. There was a very prominent feeling of perfect happiness among the crowd that was there.

I didn't take bathing suits. I figured the kids would just play in the sand. Besides, just because it's warm out, doesn't mean our Puget Sound waters are warm. But yesterday they were. At first I told the kids not to get wet. But after awhile, I realized it was inevitable. And how could I stop them really? When would we have another grand opportunity? Besides, we live five minutes up the road, so it wasn't a big deal. Next time, I'll plan differently! Evan wound up riding home bottomless because his clothes were soaked!

The kids had a fabulous time. Evan began packing sand across a log that spans the little stream that empties into the sound. And before long, he had attracted 5 or 6 other kids to his little area and all of them began working together on a sand project. It really warmed my heart. It was such a nice group of kids and they were all polite to each other and played so well. I could hear them all asking, "What's your name? Wanna play with us?" There was Evan, William, Ethan, Andy (the lone girl in the group!) and two other Evans. It was funny having three Evans there. Everytime someone called, "Evan!", all three boys looked up.

Around 5pm, the afternoon beach-goers started packing up as the evening picnickers began filtering in. I finally pried the kids away and we headed home. We met Mike for dinner and then took the kids to Cold Stone to spend some money that Tutu had sent for them. They were dying to go and get the ice cream she suggested! Even grandpa joined us for dinner and ice cream. It was fun!

Here are some pictures of our beautiful day. And boy am I glad we took advantage because this morning, I'm looking out my window and we are back to the typical cold, doom and gloom... it's VERY gray and chilly out this morning. If I hadn't experienced the sunshine myself yesterday, I might not believe it had made such a grand appearance!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A party for Mike

We had a birthday party for Mike today! The whole family came over and we had a great time. In attendance at the party were:
  1. Mike
  2. Christina
  3. Ethan
  4. Evan
  5. Roy
  6. Linda
  7. Loral
  8. Stephanie
  9. Kam
  10. Jorrell
  11. Alex
  12. AJ
  13. Nikki
  14. Jay
  15. Mary
  16. Samantha
  17. Sierra
  18. Savana
  19. Jayson
Wow! What a group! We all had a really great time! I wish I had taken more pictures of everyone at the party, but I just didn't. But here are a few. We were too busy having a good time!

Happy Birthday Evan!

Dear Evan:

I meant to have this posted on your actual June 11th birthday, but I didn’t make it! I still wanted you to have this birthday letter!

I can’t believe you are five years old! What a little man you have become. Just five short years ago, I experienced the thrill of holding you in my arms for the first time. It was such a sweet, sweet moment. You were the snuggliest, cuddliest, num-num baby! You loved just sleeping with me in my hospital bed. I was so blessed when you were born. You would sleep for five long hours at a time and you really gave me good sleep during those first couple of months. Come to think of it, you’ve always been such an amazing sleeper.

During that first year, we watched your tenacity. You were never to be stopped by anything and you always had a look of firm determination on your face as you worked toward those all-important milestones. Rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking were mastered before that first year was over. So many accomplishments! In the second year, you became a bit more competitive with Ethan, yet you were still so laid back. When you turned two, you decided you’d been quiet for long enough and began to grace us with words! And not to be outdone by Ethan, you toilet-trained yourself at age 2 as well!

And in the past three years, you’ve really, really come alive. I admire your sense of determination, your will to never give up and your ability to pick up on things so quickly. We’ll never forget the day you started playing video games. It became quickly apparent that you were going to beat out everyone else, including your dad!

And just look at you now… you’re five! You’re growing up so fast! And this fall you will get to start kindergarten. I’m so proud of you. I’m so blessed to be your mom and so very happy that you came to join our family. I can’t imagine our lives without you! Thank you for bringing me such happiness and joy. Thank you for all the daily snuggles and hugs and kisses. I hope that never goes away. Thank you for being YOU! You teach me far more than I could ever hope to teach you and so for that, thank you for being a teacher. I look forward to recording many, many more lifetime milestones with you. I know that the future is so bright for you and I can hardly wait to experience it all with you!

I love you!



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Birthday Cake!

Evan insisted on helping to make his birthday cake. He had an amazing time helping out with a vanilla cake. He loved being able to crack the eggs, pour things, and of course lick up the batter! Here are some random pictures: