Monthly Archives: June 2015

washington day 4 – visiting christy…

over the years, you’ve read many stories of adventures with my friends.
you’ve read about shopping trips.
and mini vacations.
and girls’ night.
but i don’t think i’ve ever told you about christy.
she kinda changed my life.
and i’m not sure she even knows it.
though i guess she’ll find out when she follows the link i send her to this blog post!


oh-so-many years ago, i was ridiculously stupid brave and drove ACROSS the country.
by myself.
with a car FILLED with stuff.
including a soft-car-top-carrier filled with all my clothing and bedding.
(it was filled with pieces to a computer cart but when the roof of my car caved in, i had to re-think that packing plan. but, at usual, i digress).

i landed in lynden, washington the thursday before memorial day weekend back in 1999.
i had a place to live – a tiny basement room in a house with some other girls.
but about 4 months later, we all had to move out.
we didn’t have a lease, so we just found other places to live.
only i was new in town and was really at my wit’s end figuring out how i could afford a place to live.

i was regularly attending church and my amazing sunday school teachers (college & career group) offered me the spare room in their home.
rent free.
i just had to chip in for groceries.
and they stored all my extra stuff (b/c the bedroom was already furnished) in their garage.

i lived with that amazing family for 3 months.
during those three months, another girl from that sunday school class had housing issues and had to move.
we connected and agreed to get a place together.
we apartment-hunted and found a place pretty quickly.
we didn’t know each other very well.
but it was january and it was time for me to move out of that amazing family’s home.
we moved in on different days and neither of us was around when the other moved in.

i prayed hard that it wouldn’t be awkward.
i was seriously stretched thin with my finances.
when i moved in, i found a plastic male figure (not a doll) in my window sill.
and i think it was that one “strange” and really, really fun event that got us started on the RIGHT foot.

we eventually placed that guy (i think we named him “Todd”) on the top of the TV.
kinda like a house mascot.
for the rest of that year, we had a blast.
we shopped together and simply split the bill down the middle.
we hung out together all the time.
we worked out together (using our sliding glass door & windows as a reflective “mirror”).
we went to hawaii together.
we stapled christmas lights to our wall in the outline of a tree and then stapled christmas ornaments on the tree b/c we were too lazy to figure out how to get a tree from a lot into our apartment (including strapping it to the roof of one of our cars).
we laughed.
a lot.
we cried.
a little.
we were adventurous.
we shared.
we lived life.
and we lived it well.

and after a year(ish?!) we found a house to rent on the other side of town.
so we continued our friendship with another renting situation.
they were weird landlords.
super sweet people.
but very, very weird.
but in the house, we had parties.
we painted the walls.
we covered weird stains on the carpet (from previous tenants) with furniture.
we endured the ping-ping of rain on our metal roof until we got used to it.
we took photos of each other in our bathing suits (purchased for our Hawaii trip) when there was a foot of snow outside.
we were the “hang out” house for our friends.
it was fun.
it was relaxing.
it was a good life.

and then one of us started dating someone.
and then that one got engaged.
and that one became very ego-centric.
and the wedding wasn’t far away.
and the other one moved out when she found a cool apartment.
and the house felt very, very empty.

but despite that, the ego-centric roommate was still loved by the other roommate.
they remained friends.
a few years later, a boyfriend turned into a fiancé and then into a groom.
the ego-centric’s husband was the wedding photographer.
the ego-centric roommate was the wedding coordinator.
the other roommate was a BEAUTIFUL bride.

then came new jobs.
different lives.
and then two roommates were stay-at-home moms.
and they started getting together about once a week.
and then it was once every other week.
and then it was once a month.
and then the ego-centric roommate moved to another state.
far away.
and those visits happened less than once a year.
but the friendship?
it survived the drama.
it survived the trauma.
but only because that other roommate knows what it means to be a true friend.
and this is my PUBLIC APOLOGY to one of the best friends i’ve ever had….
i’m sorry that i was an ego-centric jerk who didn’t consider you.
your thoughts.
your feelings.
and i’m so very thankful that we’re still friends.
and i’m so very thankful that we can get together once every year or two to catch up.
to talk kinda like the old times-but-not-really-b/c-the-kids-keep-interrupting-us.

and now those children are almost-8, 7, 6, almost-5, and 4.
and today they all got to hang out together.

and the roommates were reunited.

and, yes, it did feel good.

i enjoyed checking out artwork by her daughter:


and she was surprised when her son didn’t run away from my camera:


and then the girls asked to pick blueberries:

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and i took pictures of other things in her garden/yard: asian pears, apples, blueberries (and not photographed are plums, cherries, strawberries, lavender, rhubarb, mint…. you get the idea):

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she “rescued” this cat from her parents when they moved.
ALL FOUR PAWS of this cat have SIX toes.
you read that right.
all FOUR paws.
have SIX toes each.
that’s TWENTY-FOUR cat toes.
instead of TWENTY.


but this girl didn’t care…. there was a creature she could pet!

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indoor toys (especially someone else’s) are fun:

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what you can’t really see below is a beautiful view of mount baker (it’s covered by clouds):


and you can’t see the beautiful backyard that’s being put in.
an in-ground pool.
an outdoor fireplace with benches for marshmallow roasting.
a hot tub.
and there’s a SECRET ROOM at the end of Cece’s closet.
it’s her private space for playing and creating art.
it’s really cool.
like super cool.
and totally hidden if you don’t know it’s there.

crafting is always a “win” with my munchkins:

she made a crown.
davey made something.
alex made a mess of stickers.
erik made a sign that read “please do not go in my room” (spelled OTITI b/c it’s written from right to left!):


i attempted to snap a few photos of christy with her kiddos.
they weren’t super cooperative.

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thank you for being there when i needed a roommate.
thank you for leaving that weird “Todd” in my window sill.
thank you for being my friend.
thank you for being really neat and clean.
thank you for all the fun.
all the laughs.
all the tears.
i wouldn’t change them for anything.
and thank you for STILL being there for me.
your friendship is priceless.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

and if that wasn’t enough fun for one day, i started my day (ON VACATION) at 6:10am so i could join another dear friend, sara, to walk at 6:30 this morning. and on the way home from christy’s place, i scored these:


i stopped taking photos at that point (it was about 2pm) b/c my day was complete.
or so i thought.

did you know that tonight Venus and Jupiter converged?
and that that hasn’t happened since 02BC?
and that this is what it looked like:


(just bright lights)

but i cropped the photo a little:

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and it still looks like two bright lights.

but the MOON looked REALLY cool:


wait – here’s some more detail after cropping the photo:
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and i think that made for a pretty cool ending to a pretty great day.

(photo credit for the moon goes to my dear husband.
photo credit for the shots of Christy & me go to my daughter, Samantha).









washington day 3

day 3 was another hot day for the record books… but we found ways to enjoy the weather (which is cool for us!) and enjoy some family time even though daddy was at work today.

the morning started without daddy but with grandpa & video games:

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…and with stories with grandma:


… and puzzle finishing for this mom:


… and building with jenga blocks for this girl:

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when we i finally got my act together, we packed a quick and easy picnic lunch and headed out through the garage where i found this:

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it’s evidence that the kiddos were playing in grandpa’s workshop!
but in a very precise, size and rainbow color order!

we all (minus Dave) loaded into the borrowed Lexus and hit the road…

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at our destination we enjoyed a picnic lunch:

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followed by some playground fun:

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followed by a walk to the water…


Whatcom Falls, to be exact:


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and it was there that i was reminded of what it’s like to live with LOTS of rain.
in a place that’s the opposite of a desert.
in a place where the trees are so tall, sometimes the sun doesn’t reach the ground:


but on days like today, the sun found it’s way (in places) to kiss the ground:

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(^^^  ”wait fah me, gwampa!!”)

we watched some people (and a golden retriever) swim in the water:


…before we continued our journey (“hike” is too strenuous a word for this)…

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^^^ i loved the texture and detail in the bark… and the moss:


while alex and i slowly meandered behind everyone else, we crossed paths with a little creature – can you see him?


there he is:


oh! alex got too close! he ran across the path:


yep. we befriended a little squirrel.
i was actually surprised he let us get so close.
he was either burying something in that little “field” area or he was digging it up.

while waiting for us, the rest of the family stopped at a fallen tree.

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(it was a big tree!)IMG_6651 IMG_6652

after samantha and davey walked on it like a balance beam, alex wanted a turn, too.
honestly, i was quite surprised that she walked on the log.
and that she stood still (and smiled) for some photos.
every day she seems to be doing SOMETHING  to surprise me.
i love the way she’s tackling life these days!

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check out all the ferns on the ground behind them:


we don’t have plants like that back in arizona!
(just curious: does it make anyone else want to read Where the Red Fern Grows?)

i loved this photo:


but dave just said, “a pinecone?”
guess that’s why photography is SOOOOO subjective – like other forms of art!

seriously, though, the trees here are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TALL:

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look what i found:

can you see it?
here’s a closer shot:


someone is probably really sad that they lost their basketball.
i’m assuming there’s a trail on that OTHER side of the water.
but i’ve never been over there.
i’m guessing that ball will not be rescued.

and even though this is super washed out, i wanted to see the falls in the background….
we did it…. we walked full circle and made it back to the bridge where we started.
even alex!
she did complain a bit.
and in the end, she did get a piggy back ride.
but our short walk (less than 1/2 a mile) was a fun adventure anyway!


the munchkins didn’t care much for the falls.
they weren’t impressed, i guess.
but on the OTHER side of the bridge from the falls is this:

…a giant “slide” (not for people).

at the same park, there’s a fish hatchery:

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and then we got out of the sun and into the shade at the little playground to cool off:

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before heading home, since we were “in town,” we stopped at Dollar Tree and then made our way home for an afternoon ice cream treat:

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(^^^ that WAS an ice cream sandwich. she likes to “deconstruct” her food.)

when we got home, grandpa & grandma had a window a/c unit waiting for them (a loaner from some friends from church – THANKS, BERGS!!) so most of the family congregated in the kitchen/eating area to play games:

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…and play with stickers (from Dollar Tree):


…and paint toenails:

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…and play more games…


and then the girls finally moved to the formal dining room to assemble a new puzzle:

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and then i guess grandpa got too chilly in the a/c so he moved to the living room to read:


…but then he got interrupted with multiple requests from the littlest munchkin “will you pwease wead me a stowy, grampa?” so instead of reading his OWN story, he read hers:


after dinner in the VERY a/c’ed kitchen area, we headed outside (it had cooled off quite a bit) to enjoy the weather and davey’s new treasure: a plastic bat & ball…

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as you saw, the munchkins and grown ups had a LOT of fun with that bat & ball.

it’s a good thing, too, because they both got destroyed during this rousing game of baseball:

bat and ball

a certain munchkin convinced her daddy to let her have an ice cream bar (two ice cream treats in one day?! seriously?!):


i LOVE that she’s standing on her TIPPY TOES ^^^ to eat her ice cream bar.

we had to head in pretty quickly to Skype with son/brother/uncle Tom:

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alex gave him plenty of kisses ^^^^

and snuggles:IMG_6919 IMG_6924

and after our almost-hour-long conversation (it was SOOOO good to see you, tom!), we enjoyed the front deck:


and a partial family (davey, grandpa & grandma stayed behind) walk around the big block.

yet another terrific day for this vacation.




washington day 2

Day 2 here in washington was a good one.

i started my morning by ordering this beauty:


it will be here on wednesday.
i accidentally left my bulky “underwater phone case” on my phone when we left home.
and since i don’t need to take underwater photos while we’re in washington (we didn’t even pack bathing suits!), i don’t want to endure a bulky phone case.

after getting up and getting ready, we headed here this morning:


to surprise dave’s best friend from high school.
we wanted to hear him preach.
he did a good job.

and then we waited around after the service to chat with him.
the munchkins found a ladybug:

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and then some catching up happened.
and some theology.
and some loose plans to get our families together next week.


we enjoyed lunch at an “old favorite” restaurant with grandpa & grandma.
but they weren’t quite out of church yet.
so we wandered around the parking lot and i took tourist-y photos:


(^^^ or davey took this photo!)

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(yep. mount baker. still love that view.)

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(^^^ close up. this one makes me happy.)

the rusty wagon is an old family favorite for after church.
breakfast or lunch.
both are delicious.
the waitress even remembered that dad wanted pepsi (though he changed it up today and had root beer) and that mom likes a straw in her mason jar water glass.
she even remembered/recognized dave and i and commented that she hadn’t seen the littlest Munchkin since she was in a car seat!

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(^^^ alex’s happy face pancakes.)

and after lunch, we drove around just a bit.
and i finally got a photo of the kids and of us at this sign:

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(^^^ photo credit to samantha)

and then we drove to our old ‘hood to check out the old place.
i barely recognized it.
new paint colors.
new landscaping  xalmost all of it.
that tree on the front left grew and filled in like crazy!
but in the end, yes, this is where we lived for almost 10 years.
it’s the home where we had friends live with us for various reasons.
it’s the home we came to after international travel (including our honeymoon).
it’s the home where we “oopsed” on a plumbing job.
it’s the home where we built a deck.
it’s the home where we hosted parties.
it’s the home where we set up a tent inside. for a month or more.
it’s the home where we grew from kids to grown ups.
it’s the home we shared.
it’s the FIRST home we shared.
it’s the home where we had furniture delivered (when we got married we had a queen bed, a computer & a computer cart, a hand-me-down love seat, a desk, and a borrowed card table & chairs set).
it’s the home where we hosted lots and lots of parties for our friends.
it’s the home where we played a lot of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution).
it’s the home where we first became parents.


it was good to drive by it.
it’s good, i think, that the new owners have really made it there own.
truthfully, i don’t want it anymore.
but it’s fun to reminisce.
to remember all the history.
and to be thankful for our new home!

after getting back to grandpa & grandma’s house, we enjoyed our own activities.
davey wanted to “kick your bottom!” at Smash Brothers.

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Samantha enjoyed some iPad time:


Alex found some toys (including this darn whistle from McDonalds):


Alex found a new victim favorite reader:


after screen time was cut off, this one found his book:

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there may have been some naps:


there may have been toys strewn across the floor:


there may have been some games:

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and some bows:


and some ice cream after dinner (nachos!): 


and some more games:
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with a victor:


and the day ended with some serious progress on a puzzle!

today was a good day.



Washington Day 1

we did it!
it wasn’t a “last minute decision” but it wasn’t planned far in advance, either…
but no matter the planning involved (or not) for this adventure,
we’re here.

yesterday morning alex helped me finish packing:

(she pulled out clothes for daddy:
about 12 shirts
10 pairs of underwear
1 pair of jeans.
i re-packed after she went downstairs.)


dave busied himself with some more yard work.
and changing the thermostats.
and dropping off keys with friends (via a pitstop at Starbucks).

and then we both brought in the inflatable pool toys.
i also found a visitor in the pool.
i thought he was dead at first.
and then i saw him moving his legs.
so i rescued him.
he’s much bigger than what i’m used to seeing on our walls(fences):

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after all the errands and packing and cleaning and rescuing….
this happened:


that is the FIVE of us at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

and this is us walking out to and boarding our plane:


i love the smaller airport.
the walk outside to get on and off the plane.
the slower pace.
the relaxed vibe.

during the three hour flight, there were more group shots:  IMG_4138

this one took good care of her baby doll:


until she started dropping her on the floor on purpose.

this guy and i had a good time:



the two older kids did some reading:

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and daddy did something computer related:


this one had her moments:
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she was cute and cuddly one minute.
and a crazy, non-listening Munchkin the next.
it was a long three hours with her next to me.

the views were pretty:


but this view:

that’s Mount Baker.
it’s pretty big.
and it’s covered in snow.
and it’s beautiful.
and it’s a symbol of “home” for us.
(even though home is now the east valley of phoenix instead of washington).

but our adventures on the plane weren’t over yet.
the littlest Munchkin got brave and became good friends with a sweet lap dog (that never made a peep – or a bark, yip, or yap – on the plane).


after de-planing and gathering our bags, we found dad with our friend’s 8-seater Lexus:


and we headed to our final destination:


the Munchkins love to be outside in the cooler air.
the greener grass.
they like to explore the plants.
and the vegetable garden.

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they check out grandpa’s wood shop (aka: the garage).
they just make themselves right at home.
they know where the toys and books are stored, so those end up strewn across the living room floor within minutes of entry into the house.

and it’s all worth it.

it was fun to give dad his belated birthday present and belated father’s day presents:



(^^^ Sam made a card/picture).


and we found a great book just right for grandpa!


the munchkins all signed it (even alex):


and davey read it aloud:


i think samantha will read it aloud tomorrow.

it feels good to be here.
hooray for family vacations.



after enjoying some underwater photos of my Munchkins last year (taken by a friend), i started stalking amazon so i could buy my own Lifeproof phone case.
i think i finally ordered it in october (after pool season!) because the price dropped to $45.
THIS is the case i have.

it’s pretty fantastic.

but i’m still learning how to use it.

i’ve had LOTS of photos i’ve had to delete.

but i’ve also had some real winners:

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^^^ that’s grace, a dear family friend

 all those bubbles below are henry, from the recent 6-post series “The Dycks Visit”:

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^^^ that’s another photo of Henry.

and so is this one:


i knew i wanted my eyes open, so i borrowed davey’s goggles:

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i love these of davey.
he jumped in the water and then swam toward me in the shallow end:

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and jorja (also of “The Dycks Visit” series) just loves to be goofy:


all in all, i’d say the Lifeproof case is pretty cool.
i DID do the test it recommends.
(put a tissue inside the case. close it. submerge it in water for 24 hours.)
but it’s still pretty unnerving to put your hundreds-of-dollars-phone underwater.
on purpose.
because…. well, there’s always the possibility the case isn’t fully sealed….

i’m excited to see what other fun underwater photos i capture this summer!

twelve days ago….

life happens at the speed of sound these days, i feel.

and i know this because 5 days with one of my dearest friends on this planet just passed by in the blink of an eye. despite the fact that those 5 days included 7 kids, 2 spouses, and the 2 of us.

so i guess it’s not TOO crazy that what happened just 12 days ago with another very, very dear friend, feels like it was already a lifetime ago.

so twelve days ago was a friday. and it was almost the end of vacation week for my very dear friend, Julie. she and her family (husband, children, parents, and her brother & his family) were vacationing just 11 miles straight north from my home. they arrived on monday. on thursday, i got to spend some time in the morning shopping with julie and her sister in law (we took ZERO photos!?!?) and then another hour in the afternoon with julie and her girls at Charming Charlie…

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that day was fantastic (seriously – a bestie + shopping = one of my dream days!).

but it was over all too quickly.

even our shopping adventure at Charming Charlie (the most amazing accessories store on the planet!) with the girls only lasted an hour (i’ve spent MUCH longer in that store with one other adult…).

thankfully, her vacation wasn’t over and we had ONE MORE fun thing planned.

but before fun with the Ball Family, the Munchkins enjoyed their final day at VBS:

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and after lunch AND rest time, we stopped for a brand-new-to-us special treat (milkshakes made from fresh ice cream made from ingredients from a local farm):


and THEN it was time to SWIM at the company house with our dear friends, the Balls!

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this rock feature is SUPER fun and always elicits cannon balls, dives, crazy jumps & more:

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those lashes:


miss sarah – now a senior in high school:

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samantha ADORES sarah:

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the slide on the rock feature is fun, too.

but at the bottom it twists you “just enough” to make it a little uncomfortable:

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Miss Elise here is going into 4th grade:


Miss Becca has changed the most since i last saw these beautiful girls. she’s grown SO TALL:


and this capture was one of julie’s favorites from my camera…. her parents:


(side note: Teacher Leslie ^^^^ runs an in-home pre school. Davey attended it for 1/2 a year before we moved to Arizona. He LOVED it. and he CLAIMS he remembers her!)

this little one wanted to hold EVERY. SINGLE. TOY:

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this guy here, Ed, is the lone male in the Ball house:


… and it doesn’t bother him. he LOVES his wife. he LOVES his girls. he works hard to support them and to provide for them. he pitches in at home. he listens. he cares. he’s the perfect man to have FOUR beautiful daughters.

(bonus: and he will scare the pants off any guy who tries to date any of them!)

the littlest Munchkin got brave and wanted to climb the rocks and slide down the slide.

and then she wasn’t so brave.

but mommy “encouraged” the sliding part and she LOVED it!

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(no wonder she loved it – it turns out i held her up out of the water.




dave was even able to join us after work for some fun pool time:


we enjoyed a yummy dinner together.

followed by a pinterest worthy dessert.
(i got the recipe from pinterest and it wasn’t a FAIL. well, it was.
but then i scraped off the part i burned and tried to “fix” it and it was edible.
so at least there’s hope to really make it a Pinterest success next time.)

but i forgot to take a photo of the FAIL and the minor SUCCESS.

but take it from me. it was good.
(it was THIS recipe)

and then it was time to leave.

again, a few hours passed by in the blink of an eye.

time needs to SLOW. DOWN.




this is what the Ball girls and the Munchkins look like when they get together (after swimming):


i love that they’ll smile for the camera on command.
(we’ve trained them well, Julie).

i also love that they’ll do this without a thought or concern about looking goofy, crazy and weird on a blog:


then again, look at the women that is rearing them:



love you, julie!

come back soon!
(and i know that “soon” means in a year or two….
i guess this is one time when i DO want time to fly by!)

The Dycks Visit – Day 6

well friends, today was the day.

the day Dave went back to work.

the day we had to clean up toys and towels and sheets.

the day we had to separate their toys from our toys.

and their books from our books.

and their clothes from our clothes.

today is the day we had to say “see you later.”

in between cleaning and tidying, there was some reading time for this blondie:



and the girls were SUPER EXCITED to get their best friend lockets “filled:”

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and there were some requests for stories from their daddy:



but even though it was the day for something sad,

it was also the day we had to enjoy one last swim together.

davey did some diving:

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…while miss jorja attempted to do some diving:


samantha finally let Mr. Tim launch her:


Jorja had her daddy launch her a lot:


so did Davey:


the sky was beautiful today

(all blue is pretty but sometimes it’s nice to see some clouds for contrast):


and these two were adorable:


Alex LOVED snuggling with Henry


we left home around 11:30.

we stopped at costco for gas.

and at long john silver’s for lunch.

and at walmart for airplane snacks.

and then it was time to go to the airport and return the rental van.

and gather borrowed car seats from the rental van.

and get in line to check some bags.

and then the Munchkins helped distract the other kiddos while waiting in line.

that turned out to be a win-win situation.


and before we knew it, it was REALLY time to say “see you later.”


(or “see you next week” since we’ll be up in Washington soon!)

it was a fantastic 6 days.

they were long.

they were exhausting.

we ate a lot.

we swam a lot.

we enjoyed a lot.

and i hope they’ll come back again!

The Dycks Visit – Day FIVE

seriously, ya’ll.

today was FUN.

F.U.N. kind of fun.


what was different?

nothing, really.

we did the same stuff. but it was fun.

life is just better

(waaaaaaaaaaay better)

with great friends.

things like LEGOS are more fun with friends:

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and with daddies:


work phone calls don’t HAVE to be quite so frustrating when you’re on vacation….


these two guys did a great job watching the kiddos in the pool.

only one rescue was necessary.


playing in the wok pots was a favorite for abby (it used to be a favorite for alex, too):

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davey enjoyed the new basketball hoop:


alex just liked floating around.

she REALLY liked using the borrowed puddle jumper (we have two and we borrowed one more from a friend so all the kiddos would be well “covered” when it came to swimming and pool time):


time with mommy in the pool is always fun:

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and then we had hot dogs for lunch while the men picked up supplies and the kiddos played inside the house. and after an hour(isn), i had the chance to enjoy the pool all alone…. with THIS as my view: 


and then the craziness began.

we call it child-launching.

davey and samantha (with dave’s help) showed the Dycks how we do it:



but then the photographer in me wanted to REALLY get in on the action.

so i pulled out the good camera instead of my phone.

and davey and JORJA (not samantha) were launched over

and over

and over

and over


O. V. E. R. again:

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and then dave agreed to try launching me.

and it didn’t work.

at all.


but then the most amazing thing happened.



which became more real at this stage:


and then turned into THIS:


followed by the obligatory “I’m going to sit criss-cross-applesauce” pose:


we laughed for a long time.

and i was amazed.

and stunned.

and jealous.

but mostly, i was impressed at what my friends were able to do!

not to be out done by her big sister and mommy, sweet abby got in on the action:

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she LOVED it.

carrilee liked this photo – a daddy with his little girls:


and then it was time for more launching:

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guess i shouldn’t have tried to get so close!

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it was so fun to watch these two VERY DIFFERENT kiddos get launched.

jorja was all arms and legs all akimbo.

with huge smacks and splashes into the water.

davey was all form and precision and tidiness.

with big splashes and LONG underwater times.

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Abby just smiled a lot:

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no one else wanted anything to do with launching, but the pool was still very busy:

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and very fun.

it’s always fun to get out of the pool when it’s for a timing issue instead of a behavior issue!

the big girls didn’t mind getting out of the pool.

they had a matching outfit to wear.

that they PLANNED to wear.


on the way home from the mall the other day, these two SIX-year olds PLANNED to wear their new Frozen shirts with their new BF necklaces….


combined with their air-drying hair, these two #6goingon16 year old girls are KILLING me. this is a glimpse – be it ever so tiny – of the future.

with teenagers.

and before that, with tweens.

but instead of going down that “woe-is-me road, the four adults headed out for a fun evening, kid-free (many, MANY thanks to two AMAZING babysitters)!

our evening started at The Keg:

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(mmmm. peach bellini for me. two, in fact).

we all enjoyed our steak dinners and then our waiter delivered a bonus dessert for the anniversary couple:




happy 13th anniversary to two of our best friends!

after dinner, we began to meander toward FROST, a gelato place at the mall.

our first stop was the apple store:

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yeah, the apple watches are cool, but they’re not my style.

and i don’t really “get it.”

and dave is currently content with his pebble.


but then we enjoyed some more shenanigans before moving on…..


to a shoe store.

where, on the spur-of-the-moment and in a few short minutes, carrilee purchased an amazing pair of super-comfortable sandals:

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(trina, she won’t let me THROW AWAY your cast offs, but i’m pretty sure she’ll never wear them again after putting these things on her feet!)

the line at FROST was too long for us impatient adults, so we headed to Barnes and Noble

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and THEN we went BACK to FROST for a cold treat.

a quick stop at Total Wine rounded out our evening:

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and we were home ON TIME for the baby sitters.

and by the time i got upstairs to check on the kiddos, they were all sound asleep.

it has been a fabulous FIVE days with our friends.

our dear friends.

and it’s gone by SO. FAST.

and we’ve done nothing “special” or “extra” other than SPEND TIME TOGETHER.

but that’s what it’s about, isn’t it?




it’s about time.

not entertainment.

we didn’t visit the science center.

or the i.d.e.a. museum.

or any indoor trampoline parks.

or ropes courses.

or anything else.

and we don’t feel that we missed out.

we spent 5 glorious days swimming.

and playing inside.

and talking.

and eating.

and it was perfect.






The Dycks Visit – Day FOUR

day four was Sunday.

and it was also FATHER’S DAY!

Dave and I served in the 2-year olds class at church, so our friends were “on their own” for the service.

(as a side note, samantha spelled out emily’s name in the blocks the kiddos love to use:


we are SO THANKFUL to be on rotation serving with Omri and Emily… today was a rough day in the 2s class, but i think all four of us were able to laugh and find some moments of joy in the midst of crying children!  :)

Carrilee said she really liked our church and she snapped this photo which touched my heart….


after church, we stopped at el rancho market in chandler for some pollo asado. i sent carrilee and the kiddos to check out the giant parking lot grill


and while that happened, miss abby and i played peek-a-boo through the gap in the headrest and the seat back:


and then we drove home with THIS:

every time we buy it i’m super tempted to break into the bag and chow down on the drive home. we got two chickens this week to feed the eleven of us. it was enough. i love that pollo asado and their fresh corn tortillas.

after lunch, the dads opened their cards and gifts:

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before some people ventured out to the pool for the afternoon:


the kiddos have been pretty good about “self-imposing” breaks from the pool (they get tired of swimming and head inside for some other play time). today’s inside play turned into a huge endeavor by multiple children…. Big Joe’s Restaurant was opened and enjoyed by many:


and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. the men took a quick trip to Fresh & Easy to pick up some pre-marinated meat while i roasted some potatoes and steamed some broccoli:

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after dinner, it was time to venture out (yes, it’s still WELL over 100* and Tim does NOT like the heat), for an obligatory family photo with a cactus:

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it wasn’t too bad at the Riparian Preserve. it was still hot (102* according to my phone) but there was a slight breeze and the sun was going down so even though it was hot, it wasn’t abominable. we enjoyed venturing around the preserve…. and i was surprised at ALL THE BUNNIES. we’re used to seeing bunnies/rabbits at Veteran’s Oasis park, but we’ve never before seen them at this place. and they were everywhere.



all those “dots” in the grass are rabbits -you can see SIX in this photo with the boys!)

i also saw a LOT of birds’ nests today:


the kiddos loved getting out and RUNNING around. these walls were pretty fun:

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(^^^ this girl LOVES to chase animals. LOVES. she really wanted to catch a bunny. poor thing. guess we should head to south carolina to visit my cousin Rebecca!)

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(^^^ mission accomplished! i got a GOOD smile of this kiddo!)


(see, ^^^ still running to catch bunnies!)

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(or ducks)

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(guess those ducks were HUNGRY! too bad we didn’t have any food!)

this girl has LOVED having another “wee one” in the house. she’s been helpful with abby and tonight, when abby wanted to hold her hand, this happened….

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melt. my. heart.

#6goingon16 isn’t always a bad thing.

we also found this guy tonight:


yep. a big fat bullfrog.

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after getting out the wiggles, it was time to end the day with a nice, cold treat…. Rita’s Italian Ice for everyone (except Tim who had a chocolate milkshake made with custard from Rita’s).

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and that, my friends, made for a very full and very fun day.

tomorrow is our last full day together…. i guarantee there will be more swimming!




The Dycks Visit – Day THREE

can you handle it? day THREE was FUN!

the kiddos (remember, all SEVEN of them), slept


last night.

there were no midnight wanderings.

no late night chats.

i think most of the kiddos were out cold before 10pm!

after some morning photos around the house….

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(alex thinks Mr. Tim is her personal jungle gym. ^^^^^  she loves to sit on his lap. and play with his hair. and climb on him. she is frequently heard saying things like “two daddies!”)

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(it’s not all fun and games on vacation. ^^^^^ when you struggle to obey, there are still consequences. for one kiddo, this means writing math facts.)

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(those freckles ^^^^^^ kill me (in a good way).




Then after an INTERMINABLE wait (in Jorja’s world), the mommies and oldest girls were ready to enjoy a shopping adventure (samantha had her heart SET on a 4-way best friend necklace she saw at Childrens’ Place a few months ago – one heart for each mommy and one for Jorja and one for Sam).

But before we could leave, we had to write down some instructions for Tim…..

he’s a good dad. but he pretends he can’t do anything.

especially when it comes to the kiddos.

but he can totally handle it.

(his name is at the beginning of each “to do” item, but that just meant it was HIS responsibility to make sure that happened with the remaining kiddos. when i re-read it later, it made me chuckle b/c it reads more like a to-do checklist for himself!)

and after Tim received his “instructions,”

he agreed to a home workout with two of the Munchkins:

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(^^^^^ she is SOOOOO happy to be hanging upside-down!)

And THEN it was FINALLY time to get in the car and head out….




repeat: the MALL

two mommies and two 6-year olds.

first we stopped at the apple store to check on carrilee’s phone, but the line was too long, so we left before she could ask anyone. the girls didn’t mind the wait, though:


and then, in an attempt to see ALL of our possible “best friend necklace” options, we started at Charming Charlie (it’s like Claire’s or Afterthoughts on crack & steroids… it’s about 10x larger than those stores, it’s for grown ups and it’s organized by color. it’s a happy place for me. but they do have a small kids’ section…..

there were no best friend necklaces, but we DID find this amazingly LARGE display of animal purses that were on clearance:

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(this “J” pillow was NOT purchased - hopefully i will get back there SOON to snag that as Jorja’s birthday gift)


(she paid for her puppy purse with her own money!)

some of us enjoyed some tea samples at San Tan Mall:


as we walked to Childrens Place (which did NOT have the 4-way best friend necklace anymore)….

so we headed to Claire’s to find a better option…



the girls agreed on a set of BEST FRIENDS lockets.

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and then, even though our “mission” was accomplished, this mommy likes to shop so a quick trip to Macy’s led to this scene:


along with new FROZEN themed t-shirts (matching, of course!) for the girls.

The shirts were on clearance for $9.

They were an additional 60% off.

They rang up at $6.40.

That’s NOT 60% off.

So I quickly walked to the OPPOSITE corner of mace’s to take a photo of the sale sign:


and then we had to go find a new cashier b/c ours disappeared.

and even though it took awhile for her to figure out HOW to change the computer system, the new cashier got it right. and the shirts were $3.60 each.

never underestimate my shopping prowess.


and even though the girls were pretty much


by this point,

they DID rally for a stop at the Disney store.

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Samantha used her own money to buy a pair of wedge princess flip flops and (somehow) i didn’t take a photo of them. but they’re pink (of course).

the mommies were pretty hangry (!) by this point, so a quick lunch was in order….

Chick-fil-A to the rescue!

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(^^^^ yes, i know, that skirt is MIGHTY short as she poses on the top of a slide tube)

after lunch, we needed a quick stop at Dollar Tree (for a new coin pouch to go inside Jorja’s puppy purse) and then we went home to see the men, the boys, the little girls and the pool!

Sometime while we were gone, Alex drew a triangle:


and she told daddy that she wanted Mrs. Andrea (one of her pre school teachers) to see her triangle. So Dave forwarded the photo to me and I forwarded it to her. She responded almost immediately:

“Wow. That’s awesome. Check out those diagonals!! Give her a hug for me.”

(and THAT, my friends, is another reason why I LOVE LOVE LOVE Alex’s teachers…. they are no longer her teachers but they still love her, encourage her, and celebrate her accomplishments!)

after several hours of RELAXING swim time, we headed out for dinner (i forgot to thaw pork tenderloin for dinner tonight…. and then when i checked the freezer, i discovered that i don’t even HAVE any pork tenderloin! oops – so much for my meal planning!)

so dinner was at In-n-Out.

and even though today’s high was 111*,

we ate outside.

not because we really wanted to.

but because there was no place for ELEVEN people to eat dinner INSIDE….

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(my new “mission” for this visit is to get a GOOD photo of this stinker ^^^^^ who will not sit still long enough for me to snap a non-blurry photo of him where he LOOKS at the camera!)

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(one of my most favorite-EVER photos of Henry, who is now NINE years old – ACK!!!)

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(those lashes ^^^^^  - um, yeah)

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it ended up being great that we ate outside.

when the kiddos were finished with their dinner,

they were able to play and not disturb other diners:

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my hashtag for ^^^^^ is so accurate at #6goingon16, don’t you think?!

mini skirt,

high wedge flip flops (with sparkles),

and that stance?!

i am already praying for our relationship as she ages. i have a feeling there will be some battles. and i will have to start choosing which ones to fight and which ones to let go.

and since we’re running out of time and we haven’t enjoyed any “special treats” yet, we headed to Freddy’s for FROZEN CUSTARD (don’t dare call it “ice cream” in our house!)… and some of the best french fries in the world:


(they’re my favorite).

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and (as if that wasn’t enough for one day), when we got home, most of the kiddos spent a little bit of time playing outside (it was only100* by then):

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and that, my friends, brings day #3 to a close.

no pool pictures, but every now-and-then a day “off” those is a relief.

(and in case you’re wondering, dave ended up CUTTING the pool gate latch so we can open and close the gate to access the pool. which means we now have to pay closer attention if any kids are playing in the grassy area of the back yard. because they can ALL access the pool area with a little tug on the gate.)

i wonder what tomorrow will hold…. then again,

tomorrow is FATHER’S DAY,

so i’m sure there will be plenty of photo-worthy moments!!!