Monthly Archives: July 2015

nana (was) here – Day 7 – more pool time!

nana left for home earlier this week.
well, two days ago (wednesday).
and i realized i didn’t get all these photos posted on the blog.
so here we go….

so i missed some days in-between days 3&7.
 it is what it is,
so here we go with more POOL pictures from day 7!

it’s a little far away (i can crop it) but i managed to capture nana with a real smile.
one that moves up into her eyes and lights up her face.
she does it ALL the time around her grandchildren.
just not in front of the camera.


someone’s big sister was able to convince her to jump into the pool.
but only while holding big sister’s hand.
still, that’s a MAJOR accomplishment for the littlest munchkin!

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she LOVED it!

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there was also some fun with the pool noodles.
i bought those things before pool season was really underway.
and they’ve barely been touched.
i actually decided not to buy any next year.
now i have to rethink that plan!IMG_2229

and then nana spent a LOT of time throwing balls to davey.
and later to samantha, too.
nana’s aim isn’t always “on,”
but there were some great twisting/stretching feats of catching attempted!
AND there were plenty of “dead on” throws, too.

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the littlest munchkin wanted to get back IN the pool without her floatie.
that’s usually a giant NO-NO.
but if there’s an adult in the pool who will be RIGHT THERE,
then she gets her way.
but mostly to practice some swimming and water safety techniques.
or to get love from nana.

IMG_2279(pure delight!
it’s not often one manages to snap a photo of nana smiling.
truly, genuinely, smiling!
this one is a keeper, for sure!)

and i love this:

but there’s something about this one that i love even more.
i think it’s samantha’s head snuggled on nana’s shoulder:

swim safety practice!
floating on her back:

i LOVE that these goggles are SO LARGE on her face!

a tender sister moment:

this munchkin has been ALL ABOUT sports in the water this summer.
throwing the football.
catching other balls while jumping in.
he’s ALWAYS moving.
well, ALMOST always.
there ARE times when he momentarily turns to the camera and flashes me a huge smile:

another surprising event this day…
the little munchkin was VOLUNTARILY putting her ENTIRE face in the water.
i’ve been trying to get her to do this for weeks.
and it was always a NO GO.
even just a few days before these photos.
but this day?
she rocked it!
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and since it was a sunday,
we opted for our favorite summer dinner…
frozen custard at freddy’s!
(except i got fries instead of custard.
just because.
no real reason.
other than i LOVE their fries.
freddy’s fries.
now i might need to go get some today….)






nana is here – days 1 thru 3


while it’s been relaxing,
we HAVE been keeping busy since nana came to town a few days ago!
her flight was a little late.
i taught the older kids how to read the board.
they weren’t so patient.
they have learned by WATCHING.
and i am learning that i need to change what i do.
parenthood is not for the faint of heart.


within minutes of arriving,
the munchkins had nana playing games,
and telling jokes,
and laughing.
a lot.

and then she took 20 minutes for herself.
to open the 46-pound box that she shipped here last week.
she had to pull out birthday gifts and wrap them.
she had to pull out daily “surprises” and hide them.
and THEN she was able to give them STUFF.

earlier this year,
nana had FOUR
(yes, F-O-U-R)
pipes burst in her upstairs.
while she was on vacation.
which means she needed MAJOR home renovations
(because the upstairs pipes bursting leads to flooding DOWNSTAIRS).
the upstairs has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.
those rooms would be my old room and my first old room.
(my brother hardly lived in that house, so i consider them BOTH “my room.”)

the need for new carpet in both rooms,
(among other things),
means she cleaned EVERYTHING.
including my roll top desk (i still miss that thing!),
and all the shelves in both rooms,
and she got rid of STUFF.
and some of that stuff/junk/things came here.


it included a LOT of books.
more like “reference” books instead of novels or stories.
we tend to use GOOGLE as our “reference book,”
but nana is of a different generation.
so the two older Munchkins spent a solid hour that first day immersed in various books.

later, i caught the girls checking out videos on nana’s computer.
in this photo (which is only “flattering” of alex),
they were watching the videos Dave posted of Alex’s pre-school celebration.
you remember,
the really CUTE songs?!
i must admit,
it was adorable.


along with all those books,
nana found some of my high school and college memories.
i found THE Bible verse quiz that landed me in detention.
see, i cheated on the quiz.
(i’m not “excusing” my behavior,
but a large percentage of us cheated on those things.
we just always forgot to memorize the verse by Friday morning.)
i didn’t get in trouble for cheating, but for FORGING my mom’s signature.
my first
(and ONLY)
detention was in grade 7 or 8 for FORGING my mom’s signature on a quiz where i got caught cheating.
what i didn’t know,
is there were some notes exchanged between my mom and the teacher because,
i also received 10 demerits for my actions.

but, as usual,
that was NOT the story i was planning to tell you here.
it just “slipped” out through my fingers.
you now know i’m human.
i was also reminded that i was only a slightly above average student.
(i have quite a few copies of report cards and progress notes that now provide that proof).
in the two large envelopes of paper goodies from my mom,
i also found these:


my two varsity letters AND my high school diploma.
I attended LBCA (lower bucks christian academy) from grade 4-10.
(side note: Dave’s grandpa helped found that school.
and Dave’s grandma taught there the first year it was open.)
after my 10th grade year,
the school closed it’s doors.
(long story to be saved for another day).
so then i attended PMCA (phil-mont christian academy) for grades 11&12.
my “athletic” career began when i was a sophomore.

but we’ll leave any more “trips down memory lane” for another blog post.
it’s time to get back on track.
i looked through those papers after the Munchkins went to bed.
but BEFORE they went to bed and BEFORE i looked at all that old paper,

we had dinner.
and then the Munchkins cleared the table (like usual).
and put away the left overs (like usual).
and loaded the dishwasher (like usual).
and then it was time for a belated BIRTHDAY celebration.
so nana pulled out gifts.
a card and a gift for Alex.
a card and a gift for Davey.
and just a gift for Samantha.
(because EVERYONE gets presents on ONE person’s birthday).


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and, as if that wasn’t enough,
nana likes to shop.
and she LOVES a good bargain.
(i was well trained).
so she regularly shops for clothes for the Munchkins.
i LOVE that habit of hers.
dave and i even got a pile of stuff this time!


(alex decided to try on ALL of her clothing AND some of Samantha’s clothing at ONE TIME).


(check this out…. she looks TUBBY):


this is her GROWN UP tank top (and jacket):


and then it was late and it was time for everyone to go to bed.
especially nana, who was on a plane by 6am that morning.
east coast time.
so that’s 3 am our time.


on day two,
ALL of the munchkins were up,
and READY TO GO by 7:30am.
emphasis on ALL.
even samantha.
so they left the house with Nana and didn’t come home until almost 10am!
they walked up to Einstein Bros. Bagels,
and then enjoyed an “adventure” walk to find more pellets.
despite the heat.
i think they’re crazy.
but they had fun.

while everyone hung out at home and relaxed,
i took alex to a local Imaging Office to get a bone growth x-ray.
her doctor requested it at her well child exam last Friday.


it was fun to have JUST alex on a little “trip” with me.
she brought this Baby Alive doll.
and she (alex, not the doll), was a TOTAL CHARMER in the waiting room.
she almost went home with another family.
but after a short wait, we were called back.
and it took less than 2 minutes for them to take a picture of her wrist.
x-ray complete.
now we’re waiting for the radiologist to read the x-ray.
and write a report.
and send it to the pediatrician’s office.
and the pediatrician to read it.
and the pediatrician to call us.


we’re not stressing it.

after lunch,
we headed to the mall to visit Macy’s.
(we had to return some of the things nana bought.
some stuff was the wrong size.
some stuff was duplicates.
from nana.
meaning she put TWO of the SAME shirt in the box to ship.
and she did it TWICE.
both times for davey.
at least she bought the shirt in two different sizes!)

after spending WAAAAAAAAY too long at Macy’s to conduct our business
(it wasn’t just an easy return – we had to find some replacements),
we needed a mid-afternoon treat.
Dairy Queen was a good stop:

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and then the kids’ play area was a good place to warm up.

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and then we hit up the disney store (where davey spent a gift card from Christmas!).
and children’s place.
and crazy 8.
and we got home with just enough time for me to BREATHE and prep dinner!

and after dinner,
something WONDERFUL happened for Samantha:


she pulled out her tooth.
her SUPER LOOSE tooth.
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(in the photo above, her BOTTOM tooth looks a little black AND seems to “fill the spot” of her missing tooth on the top row!)



samantha lost her tooth before she fell asleep on Wednesday night.
she HAD it.
she wrapped it in saran wrap.
she put it under her pillow.
and then a little sister got involved.
and it disappeared.
and there was much sadness.
but it was late and this mommy assured samantha that the Tooth Fairy was WELL AWARE that she’d lost a tooth from her mouth.
and that she’d lost a tooth from under her pillow.



we were up and out by 9am for SUMMER MOVIE FUN!
today was Curious George.


and then mommy had a PTSO meeting luncheon/meeting to attend:


while the Munchkins and nana relaxed at home.
started a corporation.
held their first meeting.
ate lunch.
and whatever else they did.

when i got home at 2:40,
i got in the pool.
eventually everyone else joined me.

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(her new swim suit is from the clearance rack at Crazy 8.
it was on sale for $9.99.
and it was another 30% off.

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(this cute girl ALSO got a new swim suit from the clearance rack at crazy 8.
her suit was only $7.99.
plus 30% off.
again: SCORE!)

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i tried to take a photo of all three munchkins in the pool.
they wouldn’t all cooperate at the same time.
here are the best two shots i could get.

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little un-cooperative buggers.
(i took these with my iPhone with a LIFE PROOF case on it.
it’s water proof.
and it’s cool.)

this was my reaction to their poor “photo subject” skills:


and then davey and i took some underwater photos:


but i guess i’m only showing you ONE of the photos we took.
that’s okay.
we laughed a lot.
it was fun.

and then the girls all got OUT of the water.
but stayed outside.

IMG_4798 IMG_4803(see that dalmation from the Disney store?
the stuffed animal?
next to samantha?
Disney store had a 40% off clearance prices sale yesterday.
so this puppy was down to $4.19 plus tax.
and davey had $4 to “blow” on his gift card after he chose two things for himself.
so he bought the puppy for alex.
she was THRILLED.
but sometimes big sister likes to take over.
like today.
outside at the pool.
so then alex went inside.
got dressed.
and played with her puppy.
in the “cage” samantha made for the puppy.


isn’t she cute?!

so after dinner,
dave, alex, and i went swimming.
nana, samantha, and davey played Monopoly Jr.

and THAT,
my friends and readers,
is a synopsis of nana’s adventures in arizona for days 1-3.


easiest birthday parties ever…

in case you were wondering,
birthdays are fun around here.
but sometimes i take them too seriously.
and i tend to go a little (or a lot) over the top.

this year, as much as i love my munchkins,
i needed a break.
and i really wanted to celebrate ALEX and DAVEY
instead of daniel tiger’s neighborhood and teenage mutant ninja turtles,
or puppies and Lego,
or yo gabba gabba and the avengers.
so this year, we were on vacation (aka: out of the state) until the day before alex’s birthday.
with ONE day to pull something together,
i went for EASY and LOW-KEY.

On Monday,
when alex turned FIVE (holy smokes, HOW did that happen?!),
we invited her dear friend Jada to swim and eat fro yo.
the girls opted out of swimming.
not sure why.
but they’re 3 and 5.
no worries.
they found other ways to occupy their time.
and the older Munchkins were actually helpful!

and then we all loaded into the Pathfinder for the short drive to Swirl It.
(please note: at other times of the year,
we WALK to swirl-it.
it was a little hot on Monday.)
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the girls were well-fed.
i think jada was in candy heaven.
i didn’t limit any toppings and there were times i added her toppings instead of having her mom do it!  :)

for dinner that night,
we enjoyed BBQ chicken, mac-n-cheese (from Joe’s BBQ – hooray for FREE birthday food!), baked beans, potato salad, and grilled asparagus.

after dinner,
we enjoyed GF cupcakes (yellow & chocolate with pink icing)
and ice cream (neopolitan).

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she had two cards: one from her great grandparents and one from her grandparents,
new sandals from her brother and sister,
mini m&ms (b/c she LOVES candy) and a new scooter.
which was promptly taken outside.
in the evening heat
(which wasn’t really THAT bad).

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i think her special day was a huge success!
and i didn’t look on Pinterest ONCE for any party ideas!

fast forward to wednesday,
when davey turned EIGHT.
i’ve been a mom for EIGHT years.
but that’s a whole different story.
Monday went so well.
and i still wasn’t ready for an over-the-top party.
or a mediocre party.
so davey invited TWO friends over to swim.
and eat pizza.
and eat cupcakes (leftover from alex’s birthday party – but with blue icing).
and ice cream (also left over from alex’s birthday).


i’d say that,
once again,
was a HUGE success.

the new basketball backboard was a big hit:

and i took some close ups:



and there was a jumping contest:



and  there was diving for “buried treasure”
(aka: diving for whatever pool toys could be found).

and this guy had a GREAT time!

i was even able to sit back for a short while and do this:

and then,
before we went inside for pizza,
i encouraged a group jump!

but the boys didn’t quite jump at the same time.


so we tried again.
and let samantha join the jump.
but davey wanted to dive.
so he waited.

which means they didn’t jump at the same time.
what’s a mom to do?

i made the boys (and samantha) jump again.
and this time….


…they got it!
it was SOOOOOOOO worth it!
did you see it?
that photo above?
here it is again,
just in case you didn’t pay attention:
it’s pretty fantastic.


and then we went inside for lunch.
papa johns pizza.
and then the aforementioned cupcakes and ice cream.

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(and a candle left over from a parent turning 28…)


(did you see that?
EVERYONE at the party fit around my island.
that’s pretty fantastic.)


and with a little indoor Lego building time,
the party wrapped up.
well, most of it.
because one of the guests had to leave to go to his swim lesson.
but again,
before i would let him leave the house,
i had to snap a group photo (or two):


and then it was PRESENT time:

and that set provided a few hours of fun:

in our house,
on your birthday,
YOU get to choose what we watch.
but it still has to be something appropriate for ALL of the family.
or all of the munchkins.
since dave was at work and i was in the pool.
i’m serious.
i wanted to enjoy the pool.
the munchkins didn’t.
so they watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.


the birthday boy or girl also gets to choose dinner.
dinner was teriyaki chicken with rice.
it’s been a LONG time since we’ve had this meal.
the Munchkins could not stop stuffing their faces.
it is pretty good.

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after dinner,
davey chose FREDDY’s for his special birthday treat.
and they gave us his sundae for free!
i didn’t know they did that!


once we got back home,
it was time for PRESENTS:

i think he was pretty pleased with his haul
(a card from the grandparents, some t-shirts, and some board games). 

the board games were promptly opened
and enjoyed:

and THAT,
my friends,
is the EASIEST way to celebrate a birthday…
or two…
in a week.
with no planning.
it was wonderful.
and i’m looking forward to october when i get to do it again!


















and the oldest… is EIGHT!

how do i even begin?
eight years ago, i thought i had more time.
i had appointments scheduled at work for monday morning.
like, a FULL work day of meetings.
i wasn’t ready to have a baby.
the car seat wasn’t installed yet.
i didn’t have a bag packed.
i hadn’t scheduled my hospital tour yet.


for reals.
i was only 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant when i went to the hospital with AWFUL pain.
pain so bad i couldn’t sit down.
not on a chair.
not on a bed.
not on a couch.
not on a yoga ball.
not even on an open toilet seat.
just THINKING back to this makes me want to cross my legs.

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you came into this world in your own timing,
my Bug.
and i’m so glad you did.
you made me a mom.
you made us parents.
you filled our heart more than i realized was possible.
you were a delight and a joy.
and a trial and pure exhaustion all rolled into one.

you wanted to be walked.
all the time.
day and night.
mostly at night.
you didn’t want to sleep.
i was exhausted.
daddy was exhausted.
but you were so sweet.
so cute.
so tiny.
and we loved you.
we LOVE you.



but just so you know,
i would do it all over again to have you.
you have brought so much laughter and love into our home.
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you LOVE jokes.
you love to read them.
to listen to them.
to share them.
to make them up.
(but the ones you make up aren’t really “jokes.”)


you love your parents.
you love your sisters.
you are a GREAT big brother.
you LOVE your grandpa.
you have no personal bubble when you can be next to someone you love and adore.
you love your entire family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nana….
and you would do just about anything for any one of them.

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you are loyal.
you are intelligent.
you are logical.
you have the memory of an elephant.
(it’s uncanny, actually!)IMG_0378 Back CameraIMG_0439IMG_0469

you LOVE to read and are amazing at it (4th grade level!!!).
you love school – and we’re thankful for that!
you love science and social studies
along with reading and math.
you love to play with your friends.
but you also like to kick back with a book.
you are relatively easy-going.
you do best with structure and order.
you are ridiculously smart.


you love anything with a screen – TV, movie theater, iPad, iPhone, video games, etc.
you love electronics.
you really ZONE out in front of a screen, though.
i think your mind transports you to a different universe when you’re enjoying screen time.IMG_0677 IMG_0697 IMG_0752 IMG_0775IMG_0782IMG_0796IMG_0838

you are sweet.
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you’re a pretty good problem solver.
you like to think.
you like to be challenged.
you like to work with your brain.

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you love to build with Lego blocks.
you love to play board games (current favorites include Monopoly Jr, Rack-O, Trouble, Checkers, Sequence, Life, and others).
you love music.
especially Alternative Rock.
but most of the time you still pronounce is “Alter-native” and in many ways, I wish you would never correct that pronunciation.

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you’re about to start 3rd grade.
which is the OTHER side of the school.
and a whole new hallway.
why are you growing up so fast?!


you love life but you definitely need your time.
your space.
to process.
to decompress.
to relax.
to re-charge.

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you’re showing a real love for sports.
especially baseball and basketball.
you like to watch football.
you’re picking up terminology and lingo from kids at school.
and from grandpa.
and it’s so much fun to watch you learn to love something new.
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IMG_1954i love your laugh.
i love your smile.
you won’t always smile for the camera, but when you do,
they’re great photos!

you know WHAT you want.
you know HOW you want it.
and you make it happen.IMG_2092 - Version 2 IMG_2097IMG_2153

you seem to have fun anywhere.
doing whatever.
you prefer to be inside.
reading or building with Legos.
but you also like to be outside now.
swimming, basketball, baseball, throwing the football, kicking the soccer ball….
we sometimes have to command you to go outside and do something active.
but you really do enjoy it.IMG_2216 IMG_2219IMG_2238IMG_2240IMG_2241
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you prefer to take your lunch to school.
you always want a PB&J or a turkey & cheese sandwich.
but this summer you’ve started eating some ham & cheese sandwiches.
you like apples and grapes and strawberries best.
your favorite meals from home are teriyaki chicken or chicken satay w/ peanut sauce.
oops – and salsa verde tacos.

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you LOVE special “davey and daddy” movie dates at the cheap theater.
or at home.
or anywhere.
you just like the movies.
and you love your dad.
you’re eager to see the Avengers: Age of Ultron at the cheap theater with daddy.

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you want to be a Firefighter when you grow up.
and a police officer.
and in the armed forces.
and a pilot.
and an astronaut.
i’m convinced you can do ANY of those things.
more than one, in fact.
though i’m not sure that we’ll ever send HUMANS into space again.


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you’re approximately 3’10″ tall.
you wear size 12 shoes.
your waist is still skinny with 5T being the best fitting shorts for you.
you’re working your way into size 6 shirts.
you still prefer athletic shorts but i still won’t let you wear them to school.
or church.
(i’m such a mean mom.)
you weigh approximately 40 pounds.


you have a great mix of friends.
and i love that you have several friends who like what you like: Lego bricks, math, science, reading…
but i also love that you have friends who introduce you to sports.
and different professional teams.
though i’m not sure i’ve fully forgiven you for rooting for the Denver Broncos in the SuperBowl two years ago.
it’s okay, though. the Seattle Seahawks won.
moms are always right.
just remember that.
or learn it.
and then remember it.
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you LOVE to make paper airplanes.
and while i want to encourage that,
i really don’t want to keep picking them up off the floor.
off my craft table.
out of my closet.
out of my hair.
my hair.

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you are so helpful with your sisters.
especially with alex.
you are (mostly) loving, gentle, kind, and patient with her.
and you were so sweet with cousin amity this summer!
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you’ve been amazing lately at facing your fears.
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you haven’t been writing much this summer,
but when you DO write,
your stories are fun!
please keep writing.
develop your ability to tell a story.
it will come in handy in so many areas of your life.
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one day, your sensitive heart will be an asset and a strength.

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it has been so much fun to watch you this past year.
to see life through YOUR eyes.
to watch you learn how to do something new.
to watch you figure out how to problem solve.
to see the light in your eyes when something “CLICKS.”

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i wouldn’t be surprised if you became an evangelist.
your current lunchtime prayer includes a request for everyone we know to repent.
your heart for God is an amazing thing.
don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
you listen to the truth.
you read the Word of God.
you grow in your knowledge of Him.
you grow in your love for Him.
you let HIM be your guide.

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you were the perfect way to grow our family.
from two. to three.
you’re my first baby.
my only son.
so grown up.
and yet still so young.
it’s hard to believe that day was already eight years ago.
i love you more than you can imagine, my Bug.
and i will love you forever.
i will rejoice in your triumphs.
and i will mourn in your defeats.
i will encourage you.
i will push you.
i will love you unconditionally through it all.
you are my son.
my only son.
and i love you.
don’t ever forget that!

happy, HAPPY birthday to the most amazing EIGHT-year old i know!
may this year surpass your wildest dreams as you continue to grow.
and learn.
and improve.
and stretch yourself.










































































































the littlest munchkin is already five?!

last night,
before putting the munchkins to bed,
we all worked with alex to try to “teach” her that her birthday
(which she’s knows is in july)
would be TOMORROW
(which is now today).
then i tried to repeatedly ask her
“how old will you be tomorrow?”

and she got it.
she picked up on the concept that TOMORROW
(now today)
would be her birthday.
and that she would be FIVE YEARS OLD!

and without ANY prompting,
she said,
“and then six.
and then seven.
and then eight.
and then nine…”

you get the idea.
my baby girl is FIVE today
and she’s already talking about getting even OLDER!
(i actually cried.
alex said,
“your eyes are watering.”)
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but as a mom,
how could my eyes NOT be watering?
this little girl has kept us on our toes since i was 24 weeks pregnant.
that’s when the doctors were stumped.
they didn’t know how she was alive.
they didn’t know if she would “make it.”
they offered to “help us” terminate the pregnancy.

and then 15 weeks later,
she was born healthy.
sweet as can be.
and with a full head of dark hair
(which explains all the heart burn i had!)!

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we let them test the blood from the cord AFTER she was born.
the results came back: nothing.
NOTHING was wrong.
whatever they “normally” test for in an amnio
(or after birth with the cord)
was fine.
she was deemed “perfectly healthy.”




this girl LOVES people.
she LOVES to cuddle and snuggle.
she LOVES hugs.
especially big squishy ones.
and one of my nicknames for her is “Squishy.”
she loves stuffed animals and baby dolls.
she loves really babies, too.
she loves ice cream, yogurt, chocolate milk, and cheese
(she WAS born in a dairy town!).
she loves music and will sing her ABCs until it drives a person crazy!
she also sings Jesus Loves Me, God is Powerful (from a recent VBS), and several songs from pre school.
she LOVES school.
she LOVES her teachers and aides and therapists.
she LOVES her friends.
she loves to JUMP – all. the. time.



she embraces life with an energy i don’t understand.
she was a late walker (22 months).
she was a late talker (took her until after age 3 to start saying phrases).
she gave up naps at age 2.

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she loves to clap and encourage people.
she is quite empathetic.
she really cares about people – especially when they get hurt.




she LOVES water.
and dirt.
and mud.
and sand.
and rocks.
she really doesn’t mind getting messy.
or dirty.
but she’s also girly.
she loves necklaces.
and dressing up.
and wearing big sister’s high heels.
and playing “mommy.


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she LOVES buttons and zippers.
if you let her sit on your lap and button & unbutton your shirt, she’ll be your best friend.
for life.
i guarantee it.


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she ADORES her family.
extended family.
(that list is in NO particular order!)


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she loves to make silly faces.
and funny faces.
and she loves when you do it WITH her.
she clearly makes her wants known.
she likes to pretend she’s still a baby.
she often says, “i too wittle,” or “i too small,” or “i skeered” when she doesn’t want to do something.


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she LOVES to play with people’s hair.
she hates to get her hair done.
she LOVES candy and you can use that to bribe her almost all the time.
she loves recently was obsessed with the Leap Frog movies, but is now obsessed with the TV show Super Why and all of the movies with the Minions.

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it’s impossible to read her too many books.
she loves to sit on your lap and turn the pages.
sometimes she’ll even let you read the entire page.
her favorite books are the Pete the Cat series.
the originals, that is – New Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons.
(she can recite them almost word for word!)
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she loves applesauce pouches and fruit snacks.
her sandwich of choice is PB&J (creamy PB and strawberry jelly).
fishy crackers are always a winner,
though she also likes the penguin cheese crackers from walmart. 
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she LOVES animals and always asks to go to the zoo.
if we see a dog while we’re out and about, she wants to pet it.
after, of course, she acts scared of it.
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she is the child who is most likely to wander off.
to get into things around the house she shouldn’t.
to make the biggest messes that only a mommy or daddy can clean.

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she’s always along for the ride.
she hangs out at basketball practice, games, and camp.
she hangs out at soccer practice, camp, and games.
she hangs out at t-ball and baseball practice and games.
she finds ways to amuse herself.
and to bug the grown ups.
and to wander off.
and to be found again.
and to have fun in ways only little girls can.
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she still falls asleep in weird places and positions when she’s tired.
in many ways, i hope that never changes.
she’s most likely, however, to fall asleep during the day only in the car.
and she still sleeps great at night.
she picks out her own clothes each morning
(i have matched outfits hanging together in her closet).
she’s fully potty trained (since December) with almost no accidents.


some of her sensory issues seem to be fading.
loud noises still scare her.
especially when they’re REALLY loud or REALLY close.
the fire alarm at school scares her.
unless she’s a little further away from the bell.
a train whistle can scare the living daylights out of her.
or can cause her to just plug her ears.
it all depends on her mood.
her environment.
her level of sleepiness.
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in just 3.5 weeks, she starts full time KINDERGARTEN.
she’s approximately 38 pounds.
she wears a 4T or 5T shirt.
but 3T bottoms (or 4Ts with the waist band pulled super tight).
she’s wearing size 8 shoes.
(she has itty bitty feet).
she’s approximately 38″ tall.

my dear, sweet alex,
may God continue to grow you in His way.
in His time.
and filled with His love.
may you grow to love Him more.
daddy and mommy are SO excited to see what you learn this next year!
you are the BEST addition to our family.
you make us ALL smile.
you give us ALL hugs.
your love is unconditional.
your smile brightens every room.
we are SO thankful that you are in our family!

Littlest Munchkin!




























































washington day 14 – bee in bloom photo shoot and day date day!

so i decided i couldn’t let the last full day of our trip go without being blogged.
so here i am.
the next morning.
sitting down to write it all out.
only now that i’m comfy on the chair,
i’m wishing i had a hot mug of tea in hand.
or a mocha milkshake (worth a bajillion calories) in hand.
yeah – i’m not too discriminatory, i guess.

my morning yesterday started with another drive out to Sara’s house.
you remember her.
she’s the one that’s not me and not a newborn in this photo:

this is the long driveway to her place:

(fun side note, that driveway to the left belongs to another dear friend – Shelly!)

over the past few years,
sara (a science teacher!) and her husband (a doctor!) have started a new business on their little farm.
and they’re about to LAUNCH their products.
and their website.
and their blog.
their business is called BEE IN BLOOM.
they’ve been bee keepers for the past 3 years.
and they’re also lavender farmers now.
while they still maintain their other jobs.
i know.
they’re crazy.

but yesterday morning, i went out to The Farm to take product photos.
and i had SO MUCH FUN.
while sara kept her eye on the distiller,
and while she geeked out over the chemistry involved in that process,
i reeked out about close up photos.
apparently that’s REALLY my thing.
people or products – doesn’t matter.
it’s about CLOSE UPS for me.

but i don’t want to give away the photos that you’ll be able see on THEIR website and blog.
so instead i’ll give you a few quick peeks:
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fun stuff, huh?
pretty soon they’ll have their product for sale on their website.
and later this month,
sara will have a booth at the
at The Lavender House
in Lynden, Washington.

but there’s a bonus!
The Green Barn
in Lynden
is also carrying ALL of their products!
this super cool display happened last night!

thanks, sara, for letting me geek out over product photos.
and thanks for letting my amateur photography skills try to make your stuff look good!
and thanks for the free lip balm!
i LOVE it
(in case anyone wants to know, i chose the Lavender Honey lip balm.
with tint.
because i LOVE the shape of the tube.
it’s not pictured above, but it’s oval.
if you want “clear” (aka: no tint) then your lip balm is in a round tube as seen above.

before heading home to see the family,
i stopped by Shelly’s house for a cup of tea and a nice visit.
with 5 kiddos ages 1.5 to 9 running around the house,
it’s not always relaxing.
but it’s home.
shelly even made brownies.
from scratch.
while i sat in her kitchen and tried to convince her youngest to smile.
(i think she eventually pitied me and gave me a fake grin).
we had a nice long visit.
thank you, shelly,
for your love.
your real-ness.
your kindness.
and your tea and brownies.
i miss you already.

i will be forever grateful for the T – I – M – E
i have had on this trip to spend one-on-one with so many dear friends.
i feel the need to say it again: these are the friends who helped mold and shape me into the mother i am today.
many of them knew me single.
and were there for my wedding.
and watched me learn how to balance work and marriage.
and then they watched me as i was pregnant.
x three.
and they encouraged me,
supported me,
uplifted me,
prayed for me,
prayed WITH me,
cried with me,
laughed with me,
laughed AT me,
and so much more.

back at home,
grandma found some green beans in her garden.
the girls helped her clean them and
break them.

alex struggled a little with breaking them.
but she made some FUNNY faces while trying!

after lunch, the munchkins broke into their party favor bags from Jorja’s party:

while i took a photo of the puzzle dad and i stayed up late the night before to finish:
(i wrote blog post day 13 AFTER finishing this puzzle.
and it was almost midnight when we finished the puzzle.)

then, while the munchkins enjoyed some “grandparents only” time,
dave and i enjoyed a day-date!
we started with wine tasting here:

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(it’s both comical AND sad that this sign has to stipulate “no… mood altering substances” by their outdoor venue. remember all the pot places i showed you the other day?)

i wouldn’t recommend that winery.
the wines were “enh.”
the atmosphere was “blah.”
and the owner was – well, different.
our wine tasting didn’t take as long as we expected.
so we were on our way back out the door less than an hour from when we walked in.
so we went somewhere we hadn’t been before:

and we didn’t know it,
but they have a tasting of their distilled spirits:

but that’s not my thing, so only dave did the tasting.
until this older guy came out and tried to convince me to like their stuff.
so he had me pull out a bottle of cider.
and then he would make me dip my finger into the shot glass of spirits and taste it before he’d add the cider and have me taste that.
he was trying SO HARD to convince me to like it.
in the end, i drank the cider + brandy.
i did not enjoy the cider + pumpkin spice liqueur.
and there was another one that was a flat out “NO.”
and before we knew it,
his errand behind the bar was complete
and with a smile on his face, he said something like
“just ‘cuz i own the place doesn’t mean i don’t have to work…”
and off he went!
he was a riot and had me laughing pretty hard.
and tasting some spirits.
just because he didn’t convert me doesn’t mean he didn’t win!
in the end, dave picked up some Honeycrisp Vodka.
then we toured the distillery area.
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and we were on our way once again.
to downtown bellingham.
through horrid traffic.
my nemesis: bellingham traffic.
especially on The Guide.
so we talked about traffic.
and the reasons we’re glad we left this area.
and if we thought we could ever move back.
and we made our way to one of MY favorite places in the county.
only i didn’t take any photos of the outside.
and while this is so NOT dave’s thing,
he looked.
he was interested.
he inspected.
he found some cool stuff.
he thought of something for me to look for on future antiquing/thrifting adventures.
but we bought nothing this day.


we did take a funny photo downstairs in ALADDIN’S ANTIQUES, though:


since we were in downtown bellingham
AND we were walking around,
we stopped and snapped a few photos of the places where I used to work.
you remember, back before the munchkins existed?!

my first job in washington was with people systems, inc.
but i worked in their mount vernon office for a solid 8 or 9 months.
or maybe even a year.
it was a long drive (45-ish minutes).
i was so thankful when spot in the bellingham office opened up and i was allowed to work up there.
i still drove to mount vernon one day a week.
the bellingham office was in the tallest building in bellingham.
all 15-stories.
we were in ONE office on the 4th floor.
we had 4 little office/rooms in our space.

(i don’t know why the sign says “towers” plural.
there’s only one tower.
you can see it here:


i remember feeling my first day-time earthquake while i was in this building.
(it was my 2nd earthquake overall).
the tower, it turns out, is one of the safest places in bellingham to be during an earthquake.
it’s built on a “floating” foundation, so when the earth moves (in an earthquake),
the building sways a little.
and the foundation stays secure.
(this is what i’ve been told, at least.
i’m not in construction, so this could all be a hunk of hooey.)
i remember the earthquake b/c my office had a cabinet with doors.
and inside the cabinet i had to store all my case files.
which were in giant binders.
we’re talking 4″ and 5″ binders.
with EVERY piece of paper from that case.
letters sent out.
letters received.
medical chart notes.
progress reports.
my own case file notes.
as usual…..
but my cabinet door was open,
and i saw it swaying,
which wasn’t normal.
and i stood up and felt movement under my feet.
and i checked down the hall and my colleagues told me it was an earthquake!

another fun memory in this building?
driving up to the garage roof (only at the 2nd or 3rd floor level of the building) on the 4th of July with dave to watch the fireworks display over the Bellingham Bay.
and my co-worker showed up with some friends.
we could see the fireworks clearly.
there were no crowds.
we had access to a real bathroom (inside the building).
and we didn’t have to fight traffic to leave.
it was fantastic!

fast forward a few years and i moved across the street to the 4th floor in this building
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same job, new employer.
more money.
i was the ONLY employee in the northern 2 counties of NW washington state at the time.
i was employee #19.
i think they’re on employee #200 or so now.
but i was in this cool building.
on a floor with a bunch of individual offices but a main receptionist.
so i was alone.
but i wasn’t.

the building was cool, too.
it used to be a macy’s.
and not all THAT long ago.
friends who are my age remember going back-to-school shopping at the Macy’s in downtown bellingham.
the local mall opened in 1988.
and that’s when Macy’s moved from downtown to the mall.

the door i would enter and exit had this outside of it:


i’m guessing you could drop off payment for your “store tab” here back in the day.
and then later you could drop off payment for your store credit card.
and now it’s sealed shut so you can’t drop off anything.
because people are weird.
and gross.
we won’t even begin to speculate what they might want to put in there if those slots still opened.

the view from my window included this spire:

that’s the Mount Baker Theater.
my view wasn’t this straight on.
but it was a clear view of a “more-to-the-right” angle of this spire.
i’ve always regretted not going INTO the mount baker theater.
maybe one day we’ll come back and watch something there.
a movie.
a concert.
a recital.
a ballet.
so many options.
i love the old theater feel it has maintained outside.
i do know that they’ve updated the inside.
at least the back stage and “getting ready” area has been overhauled.

my office was on the 4th floor (the building has 5 floors)
and i think i had the 2nd or 3rd window from the far left in this photo:

i miss that office.
i never said a complete “farewell” since davey surprised us all by arriving 4 weeks early.
he was born early on a sunday morning.
i had appointments scheduled for monday.
thankfully, i had an intern who covered for me for a few weeks.
i miss my lunches with dave.
we used to have lunch together every day.
usually with some of his co-workers.
i miss knowing his co-workers like that.
i don’t really miss working.
at least, not what i was doing.
i mean, i enjoyed my job.
and i was good at it.
but i clearly recall many of the BAD things about it.
enough that i really don’t want to go back to it.
the money was great.
but the stress level has only increased in the years i’ve been gone.
so with all three Munchkins about to start school FULL TIME,
i’m wondering “what will i do when i grow up?!”
i’m super thankful for a loving and supportive husband who WANTS me to stay home.
WANTS me to be involved in the school.
WANTS me to work IN the home rather than outside AND inside the home.
and i did it again….
so. many. bunny trails with me!

with the nostalgia of my “pre-Munchkin life” complete,
we headed to a different part of town for dinner at Scotty Browns.
we’ve eaten there before.
a few times.
it wasn’t stellar this time.
oh well.
i guess we SHOULD’VE gone to anthony’s at the marina.
next time.
just remind me, okay?!

so even though my food wasn’t great
(can YOU find the fish in my fish taco?):

my peach bellini was DELICIOUS (perhaps one of the best i’ve ever had):

after dinner,
we tried to go for a walk at Boulevard Park.
it was too cold.
like not-even 70* and windy.
so we drove around various parts of bellingham and talked about whether we thought we could ever live there.
we didn’t come to a consensus.
well, other than “no” to living in Lynden.
and “no” to living near the mall.
and ultimately, i think (unless we HAD to), “no” to living back in this area.
it’s a great place to visit.
we liked it when we lived here.
but we are so happy in arizona.

and unrelated to ANYTHING else i have written about in this blog post,
here’s my dear friend Julie.
she’s on the OTHER side of this continent
she’s actually in Pennsylvania.
she’s actually at my alma mater:

and she’s been sending me fun pictures all weekend of the campus.
it’s changed a LOT since i graduated in 1997.
(almost 20 years?! what the heck?!)
but a few things have stayed the same.
and even after her photos and looking at a map of the campus on line,
i STILL can’t remember the name of the on-campus apartments i lived in for the first semester of my senior year (i went to israel for 2nd semester).
do any of my readers remember?

and now, my friends,
i need to get going.
i need to shower.
i need to PACK.
we leave later today.
tonight i’ll sleep in my own bed.
i’ve been comfortable here.
but now the weather is changing (it’s even colder today than it was yesterday!)
and i miss my pool.
it’s time to go home.
and get back out in the heat.
i’m looking forward to the 108 & 109 temperatures forecasted for this week.
and now that i’m leaving,
you may enjoy your rain.
i think it’s supposed to start tomorrow!
thank you for being kind enough to keep it away while we were here!























washington day 13 – blueberries and jorja is 7

before we really get started here, i need to tell you that it’s 12:11am
(so i’m already “late” in getting this posted)
and i’m chilly
(even though the window is only open 3″)
and i have a blanket on my lap.
tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 77*.
that’s just COLD, my friends!

after another dusty day of walking 2.0 miles with my friend sara,
my morning was pretty relaxed.
in fact, we didn’t do anything until a solid hour or more after lunch.
we spent our morning doing puzzles,

making faces,


drinking a mocha:

and doing some “creative” reading:

grandma found some boxes of books she’d been storing and we got to go through them and choose a LARGE stack to take home.
chapter books.
picture books.
old golden books.
i’m going to the post office tomorrow to ship a box (book rate)!

we finally ventured out to this place here in town:
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berries are only $1.50/lb (for u-pick or $3/lb if they pick them).
we were all about doing some berry picking!

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aren’t they BEAUTIFUL?
they’re SUPER tasty, too!

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there were a few different varieties of blueberries out there.
four people in our family liked the DUKE berries the best.
so that’s what the girls and i picked…


one person in our family preferred the SPARTAN blueberries,
so davey & daddy picked those…..


i love this cluster above….
some ripe,
some almost ripe,
and some not-quite-there-yet berries.

even though we preferred a certain type of berry, after awhile, they all tasted the same.
and you ARE allowed to eat while picking. 
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since we’re not bringing the berries home with us,
i didn’t let the munchkins pick very many.
in the end, we had about 3.5 pounds of berries in less than 15 minutes of picking.
it was perfect – enough berries to make us happy,
enough photos to make mommy happy,
a fun outing,
and some berries for our tummies AND for someone else’s freezer!

these girls were a delight today.
pretty much always happy.

on the drive home, we checked out a few new buildings around town.
and we stopped so i could take a few photos.
have you ever moved away from a place and been able to go back and visit?
we have (obviously).
and each time we come back, there’s something different that flips the “memory” switch.
i’ve been trying to collect photos of those “switches” each time we come back.
for me, seeing this giant “GOT MILK” sign painted on a red barn off the main “fast” road (which is no longer AS fast thanks to the construction of some circles – which are such a pain!).
but this sign is something i would see EVERY TIME i drove to mom & dad’s house.
or to carrilee’s house.
or to sara’s house,
linda’s house,
anna’s house,
stacy’s house (you get the idea)
for play group.
it was a FIXTURE in my mind.
something that i could see without even seeing it.
or something that i no longer “saw” because it was part of the landscape.
and now when i drive by it,
i SEE it.
it’s no longer commonplace on my daily commute.
(it ALSO reminds me that whatcom county is a DAIRY county.
i didn’t realize that when i moved here.
and it was a bit of a shock to my “suburbia” mentality.)
and for me, that’s enough of a reason to snap a photo.
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THIS sign:
is stinkin’ cool.
it makes me think of the 50s and 60s.
it makes me think of vintage and thrift and garage sale shopping.
it makes me think of milk (b/c it’s  dairy).
it reminds me that there are still people who make a living as FARMERS.
whether it’s dairy, cattle, berries, corn or something completely different,
some people still life a FARMING life.
up before the sun.
working very, VERY hard (physically).
farming is HARD work.
it’s not easy.
it’s not for the weak.
it’s definitely not for the lazy.
but i can imagine it’s rather rewarding.
not necessarily financially.
but to watch something grow from a speck to food.
to harvest something that has gone from seed to plant.
and, unrelated, it also reminds me of roller blading.
to you, that seems VERY random.
but to me, it makes perfect sense.
i used to roller blade a LOT.
especially when i first moved to Lynden.
and i would blade past this building a lot.
i LIKED the bumpier road.
i liked the challenge of going over the train tracks.
i liked ending up at the smooth path through the park.
see why this was an important photo to take?!

speaking of important photos…
i saw this super sweet moment between grandma & alex and i had to run to the other room to grab my camera.
grandma was “resting” and alex was snuggling with her.
by the time i got back,
snuggling was over,
but these two LOVE each other and you can SEE it in this photo.
their smiles.
their delight.
their joy.

(and not 5 minutes later, alex was “removed” from the room b/c she couldn’t sit still to rest and let grandma rest AND because she wasn’t listening to grandma. proof positive that she is ever-so-sweet but she’s still a kid.)

while DCD3 and DCD4 played checkers, i started a new puzzle:
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and then grandma was finished with her rest and chose to practice some songs for this sunday’s church service.
samantha chose to dance to the music.
until i tried to take a video.
then she got shy.

did i mention it was really, REALLY warm in the house again this afternoon?
and while samantha was dancing to grandma’s piano playing,
she (samantha) was also playing a “let’s pretend” game with alex.
something about alex going to school.
“GOOD BYE! i see you in da morning!”
so she wore her backpack
her sweatshirt.
zipped up.
in a house that was over 80*.
yes, it made me hot just looking at her.
i had to FORCIBLY remove the sweatshirt about 15 minutes later.
she had clammy hands.
“nooooooo! i coooooold!”
whatever, munchkin.
take it off!  ;)

early this evening,
we headed to a birthday party.
sweet, wild, funny JORJA turned SEVEN today:

we enjoyed time with friends

along with dinner,

and lots of outdoor fun!
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carrilee had set up some different stations in an attempt to “occupy” the kids without having to do organized games.
jorja LOVES art, so there was a watercolor station:



my middle munchkin spent a LOT of time there!

there was a sandbox station:

that was well-loved by my youngest munchkin!

there was a soccer ball & net.
there was a baseball bat and a pitching machine.
there was a blanket with homemade “poppers” (a cool pool noodle + balloon + duct tape meets craft pompoms PINTEREST project).
plus there’s the play structure.
and sidewalk chalk.
and basketball.
and bikes.
and i don’t remember what else.


i am SO GLAD that these kiddos have such a great time together:
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(Davey + Henry / Alex + Albert)

this girl recently spent 5 nights under my roof.
i felt like i got to know her pretty well.
she was in RARE form tonight.
carrilee said that jorja has been waiting for this night for 364 days.
and as far as i could tell,
she made the most of EVERY moment that tonight was HER night.
she was this ball of energy and sunshine and crazy and funny and silly and goofy and loving and kid all rolled into one tiny (but strong) body!


she saw this pillow at Charming Charlie when we had our girls’ shopping day.
but she chose something else instead.
of COURSE auntie tam went back and bought THE LAST ONE!
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and THEN auntie tam hauled it all the way to WA in her luggage.
because that’s what auntie Tams do.

carrilee doesn’t understand WHY jorja wanted a guitar and a ukelele for her birthday.
but she’s been asking for those two specific things for weeks.
perhaps even for months.
and low and behold, when carrilee drove up to a garage sale one morning,
what did she find?
why, yes.
a COMPLETE ukelele kit.
a “kit.”
so not only is it a ukelele.
it’s also a “here’s how to learn to play me” gift.
no need for those ukelele lessons then, right?!

and what child’s party would be complete without a piñata?
but when your trees are over 90′ tall, it’s hard to find a decent branch to use to hang it.
but when your dad owns a (side business) company that has a BUCKET truck,
you have the BEST place to hang a piñata….
from the bucket!

and then the children needed MORE sugar,
so it was time to sing to the birthday girl and eat some cake.
some very heavily frosted cake.
but it was beautiful.
and tie dyed.
and made at home.
by someone who is NOT a cake decorator.
but by someone who manages to outdo herself with every cake.

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tim & carrilee’s house is on 5 acres, so they rent out the extra land to a local berry farmer.
in previous years, that land has been loaded with raspberry plants.
this year, it has been turned into a “test field.”
so they’re growing different varieties of raspberries.
and they’re gauging which kind grows the best under differing watering situations.
only this summer has been CRAZY, RIDICULOUS HOT (for here) so i’m not sure how all that research will actually help them….
but the raspberry fields have ALWAYS been a favorite of the kids.
and they’re ALLOWED in there.
and it’s easy to see them (neat & tidy rows with plants that are NOT over their heads).
tonight was no different.
every kid who left the party was FILTHY.
but had a GREAT time.
sometimes it really is GREAT to be a kid!


and at the end of the party,
carrilee had a chance to sit down and look at the shutterfly book i made of their visit
(yes, she got her own copy).
it’s so hard to believe that was just a couple of weeks ago!

and, as if today wasn’t fantastic enough already,
we got back to discover that the neighbor really IS having a garage sale.
so i decided to go hunt her down to find out the price of the gum ball machine.
it was GONE!
i promise you, i LOOKED.
and i got really sad that someone had come along and “swiped” the very thing i’d been eye-balling for the last 3 days!
but then samantha ran outside to tell me that “grandma bought it!”
(turns out she was cleaning it to see if i really wanted it!)
it works.
it’s in good condition.
it was only $10.
and now i have to figure out how to get it home with me ON the airplane (i’m not going to pay to ship it)
i have to leave it behind for my dear friend Julie.
i really want it.
for reals.
but i’m pretty darn sure this will be going into Julie’s collection.
insert my HUGE sigh here.

but you know what makes any disappointment better?
puzzle time.
especially puzzle time with family.
especially puzzle time with my HUSBAND who does NOT like puzzles.

yes, indeed.
today was another fantastic day!
(and now it’s REALLY late/early – it’s 1:17am and i need to go to bed!)


































washington day 12 – bellingham, fairhaven, and girls’ night

i knew today would be a tiring day.
but i didn’t realize HOW tired i would be when it was over!
i started my morning with another 2-mile, dusty walk with my friends.
i took some photos this time:

i told you it’s dusty.
and on gravel.
and dirt.
and patchy grass.
and by a cornfield.
but it’s sure can be pretty!

when i got home
(at almost 8am – after a stop at Starbucks to pick up caffeine for my husband),
my munchkins were ALL still asleep.
so was my husband.
i think davey finally woke up around 8:30 (that’s SUPER sleeping in for him!).
the girls were still asleep at 9am.

i think alex got up around 9:10 and samantha around 9:30.
these late nights (the sun goes down a LOT later here!) are finally catching up to them!

we were out the door a little after 10am, though.
i packed some supplies b/c i wasn’t sure what the full day would be like.
this was my snack of choice:

rainier cherries.
and they are available in arizona.
but they’re SOOOOOOO expensive.
they’re about half the price here.
and they’re SO worth it!


we drove into downtown bellingham and parked (for free) in a Faithlife Visitor spot.
this was the “grate” around a tree on the sidewalk.
i love the circular detail.


this is the building where dave worked before we moved.
and where dave worked last week when he was in the office.
it’s the flatiron building and it houses the CEO offices plus ALL of development.
and i’m not sure who else is in that building.
on street level is a large coffee shop.
it’s a local “chain” called Woods.
some people love their coffee.
some really don’t.
i drink their orange cream frappe’s in the summer.
i haven’t had one yet on this trip.
might have to change that tomorrow….


across the street from Faithlife is this place:

their donuts are pretty good.
their decor is pretty great.
and it’s a family favorite place.
(here are some old blog posts with Rocket Donut: 2009, 20102011, and 2012.)

it’s so hard to choose WHICH donut to eat….


the biggest bonus of this place,
BESIDES the fun of it being located next to dave’s office is this…..
so dave gets to eat at treat WITH us!

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(^^^ boston cream, my second favorite donut in the world.
what’s my first favorite?)

The Munchkins enjoyed a chocolate frosted donut, a boston cream donut, and a maple bar.

and because we were in bellingham and it was chilly (not yet 80*) and we were near the water and there was a bit of a breeze,
the munchkins enjoyed some hot chocolate, too!


we walked a couple of blocks around bellingham so dave could check out one of the newer Faithlife buildings. (the company is in several buildings scattered in a very small area around town. it’s a VERY common sight to see Faithlife badges on people as they walk around town. while bigger than little Lynden, Bellingham is still a small town.

the munchkins and i had to wait outside b/c there was no printer for visitor’s passes.

we passed the time with some pictures:


and then we went to ANOTHER Faithlife building so dave could pick up a package.
we saw this inside while we were waiting:
i suggested he create a campus map for the Tempe office.
the whole ONE building.
he laughed.
i love that he gets my sense of humor.

after he picked up his package, we wound our way back to where we parked.
which was outside of the OLD building where he worked when he first started.
so he took a quick “run through” the first floor while the munchkins climbed in the car and i occupied my time with selfies in the big windows.
IMG_9867the best part is someone was probably inside watching me take photos of myself!  

i intended to take some photos of the buildings where i used to work.
back in the day.
you know, before munchkins.
back when i worked downtown.
(did you know that I worked downtown BEFORE dave did?!)
but i forgot.
and we were driving.
and it’s not easy to get a good angle on buildings in a downtown area when you’re in a vehicle.

you may remember that a week ago i showed you a photo from dave.
it was from one of the windows in the Flat Iron Building.
it looked out toward Bellingham Bay.
and included an old building with a giant GREEN heart on it.
not a painted heart.
a living, growing, heart shaped leafy plant.
and i told you i wanted to have some photos taken there?
but not an actual photo shoot.
just some snapshots.
well, today was the day that happened.
it’s only a few blocks from the office.
unfortunately, the road is closed for construction.
and the sidewalk is closed.
and i think the building itself is condemned.
but we managed to park illegally by a stop sign.
and we walked beyond the “ROAD CLOSED” and “SIDEWALK CLOSED” signs.
and just as we arrived at the heart,
we heard a train.
which passes by on the OTHER side of the road.
so close.
and then we heard the whistle.
but it wasn’t a happy “toot.”
it was one of those LOUD LOUD honks that makes you jump.
poor alex.
it totally freaked her out.
i feared that our photos would be ruined.
(of course, b/c that was one of the main things i wanted to do on today’s adventure).

but she pulled it together SURPRISINGLY well.



and then davey stood in the middle of the road (b/c there was no traffic because the road was closed, remember – don’t worry, i’m not endangering my child for my photo op!) to snap these photos:

IMG_9901 IMG_9907

in that last photo, i’m not checking my phone.
i was trying to “sneakily” pull my phone out of my pocket to take a photo of my son, standing in the middle of the street, with a huge camera strapped around his neck.
i should’ve just waited for him to finish.
and then ASKED him to stay there for a quick snapshot.
oh well.
hindsight, right?!

after loading back in the car, we drove out of downtown and to boulevard park.
(you should remember that from THIS post from last week).
i love the history in downtown.
i love the old architecture.
i love the old signs.
i love that OLD buildings are used for NEW purposes.
and i took photos of NONE of it.
(again, we were driving.
had we been walking,
i would likely STILL be there, snapping photos).
this, however, is one building i snapped a photo of while we waited at a red light:


it’s in the process of being remodeled.
it should be really cool when it’s finished.
i hope they leave this old “HOTEL” on the exterior.

since the Munchkins got to PLAY at the park last week,
we skipped that today and went straight to the sign and the boardwalk.

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we took our time.
we looked at the water.
we watched the sail boats.
we wandered down the boat dock.
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and then we exited at the end of the high hill and began the short walk to fairhaven.
the munchkins didn’t understand that this rock showed the line between the two cities (Old Bellingham and Fairhaven). dave tried to explain that it’s where the two small cities grew bigger and bigger until they were right next to each other.

we saw some cool flowers
(with bees!)
on the way. and wild blackberries!

IMG_9988 IMG_0019

it’s a rocky path from the boardwalk to fairhaven,
but it’s a nice walk.

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and then we had FINALLY arrived at our destination:

IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_9997
IMG_9999 IMG_0007

the munchkins had fun trying to select a new book.
the one davey REALLY wanted was JUST released yesterday
(book 4 in the Land of Stories series).
but that means that the only one available today was HARDBACK.
(aka: much more expensive).
so it took awhile to find something else he would be willing to read that he wouldn’t finish in an hour.
he’s pretty picky.
and i know nothing about boys’ books.
or science fiction/fantasy.
but in the end, i found this series:
and he chose one and seems to be enjoying it!



(we should’ve helped samantha choose “more wisely”
because she finished her book before we even got home!)

even though we’d had those donuts pretty late,
we knew we needed some real food.
this mexican restaurant was around the corner.
it turns out that dave and i ate there a few years ago on a kid-free date.
it’s now a different restaurant.
but mexican is mexican.


i wanted to try this margarita:


but i shared a half carafe of sangria with dave instead:

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we enjoyed carne asada tacos (Dave) and carnitas (Tam)
while the kids enjoyed chicken quesadillas.
(yes, they were with us,
even though there are no close up photos of them.
it’s not ALWAYS all about them, you know!)

and then we worked our way back to the boardwalk:


and we got distracted before getting very far down.
a family of sea otters came out to play:
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then, of course, samantha had to go potty.
thankfully we were close to the public restrooms
(at the top of the hill).
so while she was in there, i snapped some flower photos outside:
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IMG_0064 IMG_0065

on this walk BACK toward the car,
i got to walk down to the boat dock.

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see this cool “rock” in the water?

there used to be a cannery where this boardwalk now runs.
this sign tells you WHAT that rock REALLY is:


and this photo shows you that you can see the rock FROM the sign on the boardwalk:IMG_0075

again, we took our time walking back.
the munchkins wanted to throw rocks in the water.
it’s a favorite pastime for them.
so we stopped on the end of the boardwalk and went down the stairs.
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we saw some people out sea kayaking.
it was a beautiful day.


davey found a cool piece of driftwood.
i was tempted to let him bring it home.
but then i thought about the smell.
and it went back into the Bay!

this little munchkin filled her pockets to OVERFLOWING with rocks.
not “special” rocks, mind you.
just rocks.
any single rock that she picked up went into her pocket.
bit ones.
little ones.
ugly ones.
pretty ones.
she’s not discriminatory.
not even a little bit.
and when her pockets are full,
she just fills up her hands.
i’ve actually watched her fill her pockets so full that her shorts fell down.
thankfully she had sweatshirt pockets to use today.
(did you know that Old Navy 4T sweatshirts have deceptively LARGE pockets?!
they look small.
but they can hold a LOT of rocks.
it’s pretty ridiculous.)

these are the stairs that are (apparently) no longer used.
before the boardwalk was built, this was the staircase at the edge of the park.
it was near here,
(but across the path, on the boulders in the water),
where dave and i were sitting when he proposed.
march 2, 2002.
or was it march 3rd?
now i want to know.

but i’m guessing that these stairs aren’t used for anything anymore.
they’re quite overrun.

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while i waited for a munchkin to use the potty, i snapped a few photos:

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i feel like i have a long way to go with my photography skills.
i’m learning that my strengths really are close ups of faces.
and only small groups.
but it’s good to stretch one’s skills, yes?!

as we drove out of the park,
we stopped by this sign that i’ve wanted to take a picture of for YEARS.
and i do mean YEARS.
like 10 years.
or maybe 13.
something ridiculous like that.
it’s this crazy painted sign that is NOT easy to access.
it’s easy to drive PAST it.
and there’s a sidewalk NEXT to it.
but across the street is nothing.
it’s an overgrown cliff.
so today, dave pulled the car to the side of the road.
and i crossed the street.
and i walked.
and walked.
and walked.
and i took photos.
but then i had to walk down PAST the sign to take the photo from the other angle (the one shown here) that i like better:

i think i still prefer the landscape photo i bought in a scrapbook kit OH-SO-MANY-YEARS-AGO from Miss Carly Tee, but i’m glad to have a digital copy of my own.

the old HERALD (bellingham herald – newspaper) sign is still on top of the building in the back of this photo (at the bottom of the hill):

this is an old building.
it was a museum for awhile.
this is only the top of it b/c i took it from the moving vehicle:

i’ve ALWAYS loved the look of this building.
it sits up high on a hill,
so it looks much taller than it really is.

our final destination for FAMILY FUN DAY was “The Duck Store.”
we i have this bad habit of not accurately answering the kids’ questions.
sometimes we tell them “it’s a surprise!” so we don’t have to answer questions.
or to see if they’ll just roll with it.
but other times, we throw them completely off by providing outlandish answers.
today was one of those days.
we told the kids we were going to The Mallard.
but we wouldn’t tell them what it was.
and then we told them that a Mallard is a type of a duck.
so we told them we were going to “The Duck Store” to eat duck.
and then we said “not really” (to the eating duck part).
even if we still lived in lynden, our munchkins wouldn’t be familiar with downtown bellingham.
dave and i know it from years of working there.
but it’s not the most amazing place in the world,
so it’s not worth the 30 minutes it takes to drive there.
plus finding a parking spot.
and feeding the meter.
AND remembering to have cash b/c they only take cash or checks.
but all that to say, i think the Munchkins liked “The Duck Store:”

The Mallard is actually an ice cream store.
they make homemade ice cream.
(store made since it’s not made at a home?)
and they have normal flavors like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
but they also have some weird flavors.

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did you see some of those?
Yerba Mate?
Sour Cream and Turmeric?
I’m not that hip.
or Hippie.
I think there’s a lot of weed-smoking happening in Bellingham.
(it’s legal in this state, you know?!)
Also note the fun flavor: Hilary’s Swanky FRESH Nerds (b/c the actress Hillary Swank is from Bellingham)
fun fact that has NOTHING to do with ice cream: comedian/actor Ryan Stiles (made famous on the Drew Carey Show and Who’s Line is it Anyway?) is from Vancouver, Canada, and has been spotted in Bellingham on many occasions (he actually owns the Upfront Theater, a comedy club in Bellingham).
okay. no more tangents……

none of us were stupid adventurous enough for those crazy flavors.
two people close Mint Oreo:

one person chose Chocolate:

one person chose Coconut Chocolate Chunk with Almonds:

and one person chose Super Chocolate
(not pictured).

any guesses on who chose what flavor?
here’s a hint:

(i’m not sure if you can see into anyone’s dish to see what they have).
Davey + Tam = Mint Oreo
Alex = Chocolate
Dave = Coconut Chocolate Chunk with Almonds
Samantha = Super Chocolate

(side note: i actually heard someone at the table next to us ask her friend, “but it’s just got Coconut IN it, right? it’s not actually coconut ice cream? it’s just regular ice cream flavor, right?”
so my question for her is: “what is REGULAR ice cream flavor?”
did she mean VANILLA?
b/c if so, the ice cream would have the name VANILLA in it.
some people…….

after ice cream, it was time to drive home via Costco (for gas – we were on fumes!) and BevMo (for some pineapple hard cider dave has been wanting to try).
i chose today to document a few of the CANNIBAS shops located en route from Bellingham to Lynden.
just the ones along the Guide.
or if you’re not a local, The Guide Meridian.
or if you’re REALLY not a local, State Route 539.
(i just made up that number,
but it’s something kinda like that.
it does have a number.)
ANYWAY…. shortly after we moved (or was it just before but it didn’t go into effect until we moved?), Washington voters legalized the growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana.
when you’re not used to it,
it’s pretty trippy to see all kinds of Weed stores along the road!

there’s A Green Leaf and The Local Joint:

IMG_0202 IMG_0203

and then you have two in one complex: Top Shelf and Green Liberty
followed by 2020 Solutions:

and there are more.
quite a few more.
some are off side roads.
some might be a little more hidden
(though i’m not sure why).
one of them – The Local Joint, i think,
actually has a huge sign just north of it
or something ridiculous like that.
right now, i’m very thankful i’m living in arizona.

and i’m at a loss.
i have absolutely no way to smoothly segue into this photo:
but i just want to say that i love it when my husband is driving and he reaches one hand over to hold my hand.
or to rest it on my leg.
it makes me feel loved.
it makes me feel special.
it makes me feel important.
it makes me feel noticed.


my friends in lynden are also really good at making me feel loved.
one of them JUST had a baby two weeks ago.
(baby girl #5, no less!)
and she organized a get-together tonight.
and she bought an ice cream cake.
and another friend
(at the last minute)
offered to host it tonight.
even though she worked today.
and even though she had THREE brand new kitchen appliances delivered today.
and even though her kitchen was still a torn-apart disaster at 5pm.
and even though everyone was coming over at 7pm.
those are the kinds of friends i have.
and i love them all.

so this is Jessica.
she just had baby #5.
she organized tonight.
if you think i get a lot done in a day, you don’t know this woman.
she is amazing.
and she’s a perfectionist.
so that means everything is done well.
and correctly.
and if she doesn’t know how to do it,
she learns.
in her “spare time” she makes, decorates, and sells cake pops.
(none with weed in them, though).
she also does design work.
most specifically,
Christmas cards,
birth announcements,
you get the idea.
she’s amazing.
i don’t think she sleeps.
many, MANY thanks to you, Jessica, for tonight.
and now i can’t even remember if i gave you a hug?!

as if it weren’t enough to bring her newborn,
and some card games,
and some beverages,
she also stopped at the local ice cream shop for this bad boy:

that ice cream cake was GOOOOOOOOD!
jessica left it at missy’s house.
see – she’s smart, too!


i’m going to introduce you to my other friends who were there tonight.
i could tell you dozens of stories about each one of them.
i could tell you the ways they have touched my life.
personally, spiritually, as a mom, as a friend.
i could tell you how much they mean to me.
i could tell you about times when i needed a friend and they were there.
but if i did that with EACH of them,
i’d probably start to cry.
and i wouldn’t be able to go to bed for at least another 2 hours
b/c that’s how long it would take for me to write it all out.
so instead,
you’ll just have to assume that they’re all special.
that they’ve all done all those things listed above.
and that i love them all dearly.

THIS, my readers, is my dear friend Sara.
the one i’ve been walking with each morning:
(she’s holding Jessica’s newborn).

this is my amazing friend Karla:

this is Dyona:

THIS is Carrilee (who you know about from her recent visit to AZ with her family):

and this is the hostess with the most-est, Missy:

as you can see, we never have fun together.
and missy is always serious.
and stern.
and she never smiles.
seriously, though, Mis,
THANK YOU for hosting us tonight.
and for dishing out sweatshirts when it got (gasp!) chilly outside.

and another peek at baby Ulla (pronounced: YOU-LAH):

what a sweetie!

and that, my friends, was the end of day 12.
it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, ya?
i’m going to bed now.
i’m tired!








































washington – day 11 – play date + birch bay with the baileys

today was a very fun, but very low-key day.
that’s the way vacation is supposed to be, right?!

after a morning of sleeping in (a certain princess had to be awakened at 9am):

the older two Munchkins had a play date this morning with our dear friends Henry & Jorja:


while they were off having their own adventures,
dave and i decided to do something special with the littlest munchkin:

we went to the local toy store (Bumblebees Kids) for her to pick out one thing:
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choosing just one thing in a toy store is WAAAAAAY too hard.
she had about 10 things picked out before we were fully inside the front door.
one by one, she would hand things to us to put back.
in the end, the blue with green big-eyed kitty cat won.
she named it “Boy.”

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then we walked around the Fairway Center for a little while.
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we stopped in at Lloyd’s Electronics to say hi to dave’s former boss (he worked there for a short time):
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and as we were leaving, we saw a mini computer museum.
including the type of computer he used when he learned how to write code.
when he was 5 or 6 years old.
no joke.
it’s a lifestyle for him.

then we popped into True Value to check out their sunglasses (i bought myself a new pair last week, remember, but dave has needed new ones for a few years. he tried several pairs but walked out without any). we also found a wiffle bat & ball set, so purchased that to give the broken Dollar Tree bat & ball a break from use in the back yard!


before picking up the older two from their play date, we stopped at The Dutch Market so i could pick up my June check.
i think dave is proud of me.
he took this photo which shows a lot of my stuff in the window:


these two waited so patiently for me.
dave was pretty chill, too.  ;)


the big munchkins were finishing up lunch.
but we had to run b/c Carrilee had to get Henry to his robotics camp!
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when we got home, some FUN MAIL was waiting for us…
in all the fun and excitement of our week, i’d forgotten about this order!


that would be TWO copies of a shutterfly book i made about the Dycks visit to our house.
in case you missed that series of blog posts, they’re a little ways back HERE (a link to my JUNE blog posts). i’m excited to give Carrilee her copy later this week!

after some of us ate lunch, it was time for a little baseball in the backyard.






some BUNTING practice.


practice swings.
what better way to occupy yourself as the catcher during “practice swings” than to play catch with the pitcher:



they were both definitely hitting more than they missed.



leading off a base is perfectly acceptable if the base is a frisbee:


but sometimes you decide to stay tight…. just in case!

we enjoyed some more games of RACK-O:
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before we headed out to Birch Bay State Park.
we had to pay $10 to park (ugh!) but it’s still one of my favorite places in the county.
well, shoot. i think i say that about all of my favorite places in the county.
i guess i just love it here.

the munchkins combed the rocky beach looking for seashells,
which were ABUNDANT,
since the tide was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY out.
it was probably out the furthest i’ve ever seen it, in fact.
kinda crazy.



and then our friends arrived.
that means Justin & Brandi.
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plus their 4 children, ages 9, 7, 4, and 6 months.
Dave and Justin go waaaaaaaaay back.
like, their parents were friends in college.
and in seminary.
and their moms were pregnant at the same time.
and they’re EXACTLY one month apart (july 28 & august 28).
and after they were about 6 months old, the families moved to different places.
and they met up again when the boys were in 9th grade.
and they became fast friends.
good friends.
justin was a groomsman in our wedding.
dave was in their wedding party.
we’ve got some history.
but enough of that story.

Mr. Justin helped the kids find CRABS by flipping over rocks:

lots and lots and lots of teeny, tiny crabs.


yes, that’s a crab on dave’s wrist.
here’s a close up:
tiny crabin case you didn’t know,
they really do skitter sideways.
it was really easy to find them tonight, since the tide was so far out.

IMG_9542 IMG_9544

the kids were hilarious together.
anytime something moved and they weren’t mentally prepared for that to happen,
they’d drop whatever they were holding.
other live sea creatures that i don’t want to know about.


the picnic table we used for our dinner:

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i just love the details.
the moss.
the growing things.
and aged wood.

alex just loves babies.
6-month old baby cole was no exception.


thankfully, my munchkins all love each other, too.
but this little bond here fills my heart:


he really did just want to hug her.
i thought he was trying to do something else.

the kids all collected some shells.
brandi was adamant that they were NOT coming home.
i wasn’t as adamant, but i knew that there would be a large bag of shells left behind….


but then the girls started playing with sand and shells and before we knew it,
they had used large rocks to pulverize the seashells.
and i do mean pulverize.



i think samantha’s influence won out here.
they were playing some kind of restaurant.
the shells were potatoes so they had to pulverize them to make potato soup.
the seaweed was spinach.
the dry/dead grass was “lemon stick.”
so they created a potato spinach soup with lemon stick.

the boys, meanwhile, avoided the kitchen (after they were TOLD to leave the girls alone!) and created a spaceship game.

and then they would get out of their spaceship and go on missions.
or adventures.
or something.


and i just had fun tonight playing around with the two lenses we brought on this trip
(our daily use lens and our telephoto lens):
IMG_9595 IMG_9607


brandi asked if i would take some photos of her with Cole,
since she’s usually the one taking the photo.
i kid you not,
on our FIRST ATTEMPT at a photo,
THIS happened:

and, as if that’s not classic enough, it continued: 

i couldn’t quite warn her about it before she felt it.
look at his face.
she’s oblivious to what’s about to hit her.
he’s thinking “hahahaha! mommy’s about to get hit with my spit!”

so after a quick clean-up, we captured these:

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two super cuties, eh?!

i have this one so well trained,
i sometimes worry that she’ll want to go into modeling.
i repeat that my hashtag for her is #6goingon16

IMG_9637 IMG_9640

i just love him:

being the crazy mom with the camera that i am,
i decided to snap a few group photos.
because, why not?!
my settings weren’t right for the sun,
but i lightened these a bit so we could see them better.
hopefully they’re not all thrown off now.
i really do need more practice.

the bigger kiddos:


my munchkins:

little miss crazy-pants:
her smile has been cracking me up this trip!
at least she’s beginning to smile upon request/demand/command.
i’ll take what i can get from her!

ALL of our SEVEN kiddos:

and then we did a mini family photo session
(again, unplanned and my lighting meters were off):

and brandi offered to take the camera and snap a few of us.
i’m so thankful when people aren’t intimidated by a DSLR.
i like being in photos, too.
and i like when ALL of my family can be in the SAME photo.
thanks, Brandi!
once i crop it, it’ll be a favorite!


the hazy sky and the time of evening made for really good photo light.
soft and easy.
except, of course, i’m not used to that so i didn’t adjust my settings properly.
but it’s not about the TECHNICALLY perfect photo for me.
i want the shot.
the crop.
the angle.
the feeling.
the mood.

IMG_9769 IMG_9775

IMG_9794 IMG_9797

i hate post-processing on photos.
i do my best to crop only.
sometimes i have to lighten a photo.
i try really, REALLY hard not to do anything else.

who can resist this cutie:

in the end, brandi and i allowed the kids to each bring home a few shells.
i’m already unsure of where ours are.
perhaps i should go find them before they are broken like these shells that were left behind:


we had a fun drive home.

IMG_4480 IMG_4483

until poor Boy kept getting “dropped” on the floor of the backseat and i had to repeatedly rescue him.
i tucked him safely in my seatbelt.
IMG_4484and then it was time for showers and baths when we got home.
that, also, did not make me mom of the year.
as usual.

and that, dear friends and readers, is the end of day 11.
for those of you have endured this journey with us,
it’s not over yet.
it’s been such a privilege to sit down each night (usually really, REALLY late)
to write these blog posts.
to review our day.
to view all the photos THE DAY i took them.
and i’ve really enjoyed writing down what’s been happening AS it’s been happening.
it’s been such a boon to my spirit.
and i don’t feel BOGGED down
despite the reality that i’ve got almost 2000 photos already from this vacation!
until tomorrow….





















washington day 10 – mount baker, artist’s point, nooksack falls

many of you know that my FIL is on staff at the church we used to attend when we lived in washington. as long as i’ve known the family, his two days a week “off duty” have been saturday and monday. (and “off duty” only means he avoids going to the office and tries not to answer the phone).

in an attempt to do something FUN with grandpa on his day off, we planned an adventure up to mount baker. i LOVE going up there anytime of year. i wish i had access to my older photos (i can only store a year’s worth on my laptop – i have this trigger finger problem where i take “too many” photos) so i could show you some to compare with today’s adventure.


going up to mount baker doesn’t actually mean you’re ON mount baker. baker is actually a glacier and to climb it, you need ropes and crampons and you need to practice your “crevase” rescues…. you get the point. back when i was single, i had some friends who climbed it. beautiful photos. definitely not a hike i’d want to endure, though. so when we say we’re going “up to baker,” we actually mean we’ll be on an arm of mount shuksan. but on that arm, you’ll find the mount baker ski area AND you take mount baker highway to get up there.
so confusing, i know.
artist’s point is waaaaaay up at the tippy top of the mountain and you can only drive up there in july and august. and sometimes september. western washington had such a MILD winter, and the drought has been so intense, and the weather has been so warm/hot (not compared to arizona, of course!) that artist’s point was opened in MAY of this year. that’s two months earlier than normal. in fact, when we were here for a visit THREE years ago (summer of 2012 – just 6 months after we moved to arizona), artist’s point didn’t open until AFTER we returned home (we were in washington until at least mid-july).

TWO years ago (summer of 2013), artist’s point WAS open when we were here. but there was snow EVERYWHERE. in fact, the hike we did today was covered in snow. so we didn’t hike that time. we simply climbed up some snow banks, slid around on some icy-snow and had some photos taken.

today’s adventure was much more reminiscent of a hiking trip we enjoyed back when alex was just a month or two old (2010). which means the other two munchkins were just 1 and 3 years old. there was almost NO SNOW then. and there was almost NO SNOW today. but i’m getting ahead of myself here.

my morning started bright and early again with another walk with sara. on my way to her place, i got stuck behind this:


just another day.
just another piece of farm equipment on the road.
nothing unusual about this.

and as i’ve told you before, i think, sara lives outside of town.
so when we walk, we go across her side yard,
through some trees,
over a barbed wire fence,
to walk on a gravel/dirt road for a mile.
we pass some houses (or one?!) and a barn.
but we also pass corn fields.
and then we turn around and walk back.
when we got here, my shoes were grey and bright pink.
they currently look like this:

IMG_9206thankfully i learned (the hard way) three years ago to bring OLD shoes with me if i wanted to walk with sara. three years ago i ruined my new shoes with mud. two years ago, some old shoes got older with mud. and then i left the shoes with my friend karla for her dad to take on one of his trips to haiti. i’ll do that again this time. hopefully some of that dust will come out of the shoes before they get packed, though!  :)

after my morning walk, i came home to find some fun happenings in the garage:

i know davey really wanted to build something WITH grandpa on this trip.
it *almost* makes me wish we had driven so we could take something home with us.
instead, he’s been helping grandpa with his projects.
i love how much these two adore each other.

dad claimed he was trying to stay away from the puzzle, so he was busying himself in the garage.
that didn’t stop me from working on the puzzle!


and several hours later, we were all loaded up and ready to finally begin our adventure for the day. our trip to mount baker.

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we had to make a pit stop on the side of the road (mount baker highway) in an attempt to alleviate some carsickness for a few people. we all got out. breathed some (mostly) fresh air (there are fires in canada and washington state right now and it’s pretty smoky and hazy!), and shuffle seats.
we don’t grow trees this tall in arizona:
IMG_9181 IMG_9186



(i LOVE the texture and depth of field in that photo above.
and yes, that’s MOSS.
growing on tree branches.
heavily growing on tree branches.
if you’re not from here, it might freak you out.
to us, it’s normal.
and, in fact, that’s a light layer of moss.)

IMG_9188 IMG_9209

dave was trying to plant a pistachio tree where we stopped:IMG_9204

after about 15 minutes, it was time to get back on the road.
from my new seat in the waaaaaaay back, i enjoyed some time with this cutie:

IMG_4420and we could see a TON b/c the very back row is up QUITE high.
at one point, before this little pit stop occurred, samantha piped up from her back seat position, “There are SO MANY TREES in Washington!”
the grown ups thought that was HILARIOUS!


after a LOT more winding on the roads and hairpin turns and increasing our elevation a lot, we saw some pretty views:


see this:

that says we were at 5100ft above sea level.
it’s a “harrowing” enough adventure to be at Picture Lake and the ski area when you’re afraid of heights.
but to venture further up?
to artist’s point?
samantha informed us that she will NOT EVER take her children to artist’s point.
she said it was too scary.
i must admit.
i closed my eyes.
but again, our back row seats had us up pretty high and we could see really well.
perhaps too well for the hairpin turns and sheer cliff drops.

IMG_4432 IMG_4443

we ate lunch first and then walked along the trail for awhile.

IMG_9215 IMG_9218IMG_9222 IMG_4441

IMG_9224 IMG_9223

(even photographers sometimes get their finger on the lens…
especially when it’s an iPhone photo!)



IMG_4438 IMG_4435  

IMG_9212 IMG_9230

(so the photo with just D+S is Mount Shuksan and the photo of all three munchkins is Mount Baker – sorry it wasn’t a more clear day to make it easier to see!)


(yep, those last two photos are selfies.
and you can’t see mount baker in the first one. but it’s there).

IMG_9234 IMG_9237
IMG_9235 IMG_9239

IMG_9240 IMG_9243
IMG_9252(many thanks to dad for holding the big “scary” camera for this photo!)

(yes, i staged this photo.
and yes, it was worth it.
because i love it.)


as soon as we got to this spot on the trail, i recognized it.
i knew which rocks we had used as seats for 3-year old Davey and 2-year old Samantha (alex was strapped on me in the Baby B’jorn carrier that i borrowed from Anna for a ridiculously long time – like 4 years!).


so i put the munchkins back on the same rocks.
they’re a little taller now.
and we added alex after i took a few photos.

and then we walked up these steps:

and i remember my little 1&3 year olds stretching their legs in an impressive attempt to walk up the steps on the trail.
and they succeeded.
they talked about that hike for MONTHS.
they kept asking if we could go back.
but it’s a seasonal trail, so it wasn’t an option.
it was so fun to enjoy little memories like that today.

as you can see, it’s just breath-taking up there.

(hi grandma & grandpa!)

look CLOSELY at these photos:

IMG_9302 IMG_9305

this is where we decided to end our hike today (we weren’t very far in).
i don’t remember if we went much further than this point almost 5-years ago, but i’m thinking we probably stopped around the same place.
the munchkins threw rocks into a “lake” (aka: a giant puddle of melted snow) while dave scaled the mountain.
he just walked up the rocky side.
skipped the trail.
(shhh! don’t tell anyone!)

do you see him?
here’s a cropped version of the photo:
dave close

while the Munchkins were occupied with rocks, water and mud,
and while dave was busy scaling a mountain,
i occupied myself with some ferns.
i really like this one:

but then i turned around and i couldn’t find alex.
big surprise, right?
she had wandered just a short distance away but it was hard to see her b/c of the rocks boulders that were in the way.
and by the time i got to her to help her climb the rocks she wanted to climb,
this was my view:

for the first time this ENTIRE trip, she said “i gwamma’s big goy-el. i not wittle. i big.”
but fast forward 10 minutes later when she was told she had to WALK back to the parking lot and she was instantly “too wittle” and a “wittle goy-el” again!



we really, REALLY don’t grow trees like that in arizona.
not even in flagstaff.
those bad boys are TALL.
and they were the SMALL trees around us.

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by the way, alex DID walk all the way back to the parking lot.
no piggy back rides.
no one carried her.
she walked the WHOLE way.

IMG_9328(but she wasn’t very happy about it.)

one last one of mount baker before we move along….


there was this one SMALL HUNK of snow off of the parking lot and we promised the munchkins (samantha, in particular), that they could play in it.
or on it.

it was super dirty, as you can see.
and it was icy.
but it was snow.
i’m guessing it’ll be gone before the week is over unless it cools down significantly.

then we stopped at Picture Lake (which you can access ALL year long, b/c it’s on the same driving path as the ski area.
i have some AMAZING photos of mount shuksan reflected in the water at picture lake.
but not from today.
it was a little too breezy for calm, reflective waters this afternoon.
but you get the idea:

i was hoping you could see the “icy blue” of the snow (that means it’s COOOOOOOLD) in that close up mountain photo above).

IMG_9390i love these wooden boardwalks to the lake.
and the benches at the lake.
when i first moved to washington in 1999, one of my roommates shared this place with me.
it became a favorite place to visit to read the Bible, pray, and journal.
i’ll always feel emotional visiting this place.

after a brief stop, though, we loaded back into the vehicle and headed towards home.
but via another stop.
nooksack falls.
it turns out that our little “pit stop” on the way UP the mountain (remember – some people were getting carsick?!) was just around the bend from the turn off to Nooksack Falls.
we managed to enjoy our little pitstop even without the falls.
but we DID stop at the falls on our way DOWN the mountain.

a sweet little someone fell fast asleep.
so grandma & mommy took turns visiting the falls.


Nooksack Falls is where the melted snow travels down the mountain and goes over a cliff to join with the Nooksack River. The speed of the water and the volume of the Falls depends entirely upon the winter AND the spring. see, if there’s a LOT of snowfall in the winter but then it’s a warm spring, there’s a LOT of snow melt which means a LOT of water is going over that cliff.
Last year they didn’t have much snow but it’s been a really warm spring/summer, so there was still lots of snow melt (as in, the snow from the year before).


as seems to be common with most waterfalls, there’s not a great spot to photograph it.
it’s super cool to be so close.
to hear the ROAR
and the WHOOSH
as the water travels at break-neck speed over the cliff.
and to watch it swirl and twirl and mingle with more run off water below.

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(same waterfall above – dave played with the camera’s shutter speed). 

and here’s a little glimpse of the Nooksack River:

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we have been SO THANKFUL for this amazing vehicle, loaned to us by our dear friends.
it has been such a blessing for us to travel in ONE vehicle as a family of five.
and to be able to add grandpa & grandma to the car, too? major bonus.
and, as i discovered today, the waaaaaaay back is where all the cool kids (and moms) sit:

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(she tried REALLY hard to touch her tongue to my tongue.
i just kept turning my head further away until dave snapped the photo.
so gross, sam. so gross.
but kinda funny, for sure.)

our final stop on our way home was at a street sign. i saw it in passing on our way UP the mountain and we all worked HARD to find it again on our way back DOWN.
just a quick shot of Davey at Eastwood Road.
the last name of his 1st grade teacher was Eastwood.
i e-mailed her the photo earlier this evening.
hopefully she gets a kick out of it!

and then, HOURS later, dad sent us all outside to look at the moon.
or was it the sun.
this was actually the sun.
i’m already losing my mind.

IMG_9445it was actually MORE orange-red than that.
it was beautiful.
and kind of creepy.
and i know the photo isn’t super clear/sharp/in focus.
i was holding the camera by hand.
that’s not easy to do in low light.