Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jacob's Race

And the winner is.....

Our school district does something fun each year by holding a running race for all the kids in the district. There are 5 elementary schools that participate so it's a highly anticipated event. This was our first experience with it since they start in the First grade. Jacob came home with his permission slip a couple weeks ago very excited to be in a "race" of his own. On the drive over there he even told me that he thought he was going to get a number on his shirt just like a real race. He told me his "strategy" as we were driving which was to keep pace with the kids in front, and then on the home stretch he was going to "turn on his speed." Too funny!

As he was talking about it I started getting the butterflies! I know that sounds crazy but up to that point I hadn't really thought about him winning, I was just excited for him to have this opportunity. After all, there were going to be a ton of kids there, and even though I knew he was a fast runner I honestly hadn't thought about him actually winning.....until that moment when I thought, "Oh my goodness, he might have a shot at this!"

I'll try to see if I can post the video clip of him but if I can't get it to work here are the race details.......

He lined up on the start line with all the other first grade boys. He started off not so well because he didn't cut the field like the other kids did. He was trying to stay on the line (very typical) of him. Soon though he was at the top of the hill and was approaching the front of the pack. The race is 400 meters (equivalent to 1 lap around a track). Half way through, the course looped back around the school where you can't see them. In a few moments I saw him coming around the corner with a huge lead. He didn't know where the course was (it was a little confusing) and so he almost missed his turn to the home stretch. Luckily there were people there to help guide him down to the finish line where he broke through the ribbon and took first place. It was such a fun and exciting moment!

One thing I really liked about the race was that they gave out ribbons for more than just 1st-3rd place. The first 20 finishers also received ribbons and they had the race timer above the finish line so that you could see your finishing time......that way you can challenge yourself next year to try and beat your time from the year before. Anyway, it was so much fun and a great "first" race for my little runner.

Now that's one happy kid!......(and one proud Mommy)

Pumpkin Patch

Just some pictures from our trip to the pumpkin patch.....

Family October 2008

Joseph picking out his pumpkin with Daddy.

The boys posing with their pumpkins.

Joseph and Jacob as "Pumpkin Men"......(they came up with that idea on their own, cute!)

Hunter Farms is a little out of the way but a beautiful drive and something we've done every year since Jacob was a baby. They started charging money this year which we weren't very happy about but it's still a great place to go.
Hunter Farms has a tractor-pulled wagon that takes you out to the patch. Back at the farm they have a hay maze for the kids, a small little petting zoo and a hot dog stand that also serves other yummy treats like kettle corn, BBQ corn on the cob and funnel cakes. It's fun to go back every year to the same place. Our rule has always been that you can pick any pumpkin but you have to be able to carry it out of the patch (it can be kind of a long walk back to the tractor). As the boys get older it's fun to see the pumpkins they pick get a little bigger.

Jacob with his Pumpkin

Joseph's Pumpkin

Ben's Pumpkin

Lauren's Pumpkin......
Can you even see it? Oh well, it was the one she wanted. (:

This year the pumpkin selection was really bad. I don't think it was a very good season for growing anything but I was surprised to see so few orange pumpkins (most of them were still green and there were even some blossoms on many of the plants-weird!)

Still it was a fun outing with the kids.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Leavenworth Marathon

I didn't do it.
I was so close but not close enough to make my goal.

I wanted a sub 4 time but had to settle with a finish of 4 hours 1 minute and 45 seconds. Can you believe that!!! My pace was supposed to be around 8:40 min/miles but the course had some good hills and that coupled with a couple wrong turns (not the most clearly marked course) didn't help. Still though, I can't help but wonder if maybe I had run harder on the hills and slowed down less to drink at the aid stations would I have made my goal? I guess I'll never know.......all I can do is try it again next year. (: I did beat my husband's time from the marathon we ran together 2 years ago though and that felt GOOD! (: It also felt good at about mile 24 to still have enough steam to pass half a dozen men who I thought would have surely smoked me, (they looked really young and fit).

Overall it was a good race and I feel like I redeemed myself from the Tacoma Marathon in May. I finished 8th overall for women. The winner had a time of 3:23....... amazing!!!

I also wanted to tell my good friend Sherri how awesome she was. We run together and she drove me to the race and met me at the half way point to run with me and keep my spirits up. She was SO encouraging and really kept me going on those last few miles when it gets really tough. Thank you Sherri, you are a really great friend!

After the race,...... don't I look lovely!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October Updates

Piano lessons

Jacob started taking piano lessons at the beginning of the month. His teacher is a young man from our ward who is an amazing pianist. I love the fact that he comes to our house to do the lessons, it is a huge bonus. It also helps that he is a boy.....so far we haven't had any comments that "playing the piano is for girls" and I think that's because he can see that you can be a cool guy and still play the piano too. I have been very impressed with how quickly Jacob is picking it up. It's also been fun for me to have the review for myself and to be able to help him when he practices. It's really important for me to have sons who are well balanced and that can appreciate the arts and music as well as excel in sports. Next year we're hoping that Joseph will be ready to start taking lessons too. I would like for them to play the piano into High school but if in a couple years (after they have the fundamentals of reading music down) they want to venture out and learn to play the violin or some other instrument that would be fine with me. We'll have to wait and see but at least we're getting off to a good start.

Girls Weekend

So our girls weekend was at the beginning of the month and it was so much fun! We went to Leavenworth and rented a luxury condo on a golf course. It is so beautiful over there this time of year and as always it was just so great to hang out and have girl time. We left on a Friday afternoon and got back on Sunday evening. While we were there we watched general conference, took in the sites of Leavenworth (an old Bavarian style town), and stayed up late talking and eating delicious food. I am so grateful for the many women I've had the pleasure to know in my life. I take away a little something from each one of them that helps me to learn and grow and enriches my life in so many ways. Thanks everyone for the great memories and for being such good friends. I also want to express my thanks to Aaron for always being so supportive of me having these getaways. He never complains and always makes me feel deserving of the break. At the end of the weekend I love coming home to my little family and finding my children happy and healthy, the house in order, and a sweet, smiling husband who is happy to have me home. (:

Phantom of the Opera

Aaron surprised me with tickets to go see the Phantom of the Opera in Seattle. We went to the performance on the Thursday just before their closing weekend. We had heard back at the beginning of the year that they were going to be here in October but with the business of life it had just slipped my mind. Luckily Aaron remembered and got tickets just in time. The Paramont theater is so gorgeous and historic! During the intermission I waited out in the lobby while Aaron used the restroom and just gushed over how beautiful it was. It was also really fun to see everyone all dressed up....you don't see that very often these days and I totally enjoyed "people watching" all of the nicely dressed couples. So Aaron wasn't really raised to appreciate the arts but he got into my Sarah Brightman CD's years ago and after that he gave my Phantom of the Opera CD a try because she was the lead vocalist. It didn't take long before he was hooked. So I first saw Phantom of the Opera over 10 years ago in San Diego with Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford and that may have been a mistake. Because after hearing her sing the part (in my opinion) no one else can sing it better. I just wish I would have appreciated it more back then.....Anyway, we also decided that no matter how much it costs we are going to splurge next time and get the expensive seats. We had the best seats we could get (buying the tickets so late) but they weren't close enough to enjoy it as I know we would of had we been closer. The couple next to us had brought their binoculars and I was so tempted to ask if I could peek through them for a minute because the sets and costumes were incredible but I couldn't see all the details or the expressions on the actors faces. Overall though, it was a great night out and as always fun to dress up and spend time together. Thanks Aaron.

Lauren Turns 2 !!!

Lauren turned 2 on Saturday, September 27th. We celebrated her birthday at Papa and Grandma Laws house. Grandma bought a pretty ice-cream cake and spoiled her with wonderful presents. Lauren is the 2nd granddaughter in the family (there are a lot of grandsons) so she gets pretty lucky when holidays come around.....both Mommy and Grandma can't resist all of the cute girl clothes and toys that we're totally not used to buying.

Shopping for Lauren's birthday was such a joyful experience for me, seriously! There's just something about shopping for a little girl after years of only buying race cars, Legos and weapons. I was finally able to get her all of the cute things I knew she'd been wanting but I hadn't gotten for her yet. I'm pretty strict about not buying the kids anything from the store unless it's their birthday or Christmas. As a result I never have problems with the kids whining or begging for things they want. However, Lauren is now entering that age where she's starting to see things in the store that she likes and wants. "Training" her has been especially painful for me but I know I need to be consistent and not treat her any differently than her brothers. Every time we'd go to Wal-Mart she'd pick out the same toy cell phone at the checkout by the rack of candy bars and gum. She LOVED that phone. Several times I've had to calmly pry it out of her little hands while she threw a screaming fit-not fun. She also likes to grab purses and carry them on her shoulder. Recently we were at the Dollar store and she had this adorable little kid size handbag on her shoulder marching up to the check out line. Now THAT was hard! She looked so dang cute and I wanted to get it for her SO bad, but I also didn't want to sabotage my efforts to teach her. Boy you should have seen the looks of the people in line as I dealt with that fit. I knew they were probably thinking I was either really poor or the world's meanest Mom, (after all it was only a dollar). But, I didn't back down and boy was she devastated......

So, back to the shopping thing. I had SO much fun going back to the Dollar store and buying her that little purse, then going to Wal-Mart and getting her the little cell phone. I also bought her her very own pair of sunglasses (she LOVES to wear mine) and her own little pair of pink dress heels in a kid size, (she's always clomping around the house in my heels). Then, of course I had the supreme joy of buying my daughter her first little baby doll. The poor girl has grown up playing with matchbox cars and Lincoln Logs but I could tell that she was ready for a baby. I found the coolest little baby that makes life-like cooing sounds and gurgles. She even says "Ma Ma" in the sweetest little voice. The sounds are very realistic and the cool thing about it is its motion activated so it will stop making sounds when she's not playing with her but if she even walks by, the doll will start moving her little arms and turning her head and cooing for MaMa! It is so cute and so much fun.

I was so excited for her to open her presents and very pleased at her reaction. She was so excited when she opened the purse and cell phone and was absolutely mesmerized by the baby doll. She carries her around with her all the time. Even now, several weeks later she is constantly caring for her little baby and will wrap her up in blankets and feed her her bottle. It is so precious. Several times we have been driving in the car somewhere and she'll say (with a concerned look on her little face), "Baby, Mama.....My baby's cying (crying)."
Papa and Grandma got her some adorable brown and pink velvet outfits and a pink Radio Flyer inchworm ride-along. She loved her cake and overall had a wonderful time.

Things to remember about Lauren at 2 years old:

-Lauren is very affectionate and loving. She gives the tightest squeezes and Koala hugs around our necks all the time. Her little kisses are so sweet with such perfectly puckered lips. But she can also be very choosy about when and to whom she gives her kisses to. It's pretty cute to see her turn her head with a furrowed brow and say, "No" to the requests from her brothers or even Daddy when they ask for a kiss. She does not like to feel obligated to show affection and will usually be most giving when unprompted to do so.

-Lauren loves to "talk" on the phone. She is too cute holding a phone (or anything that looks like a phone) up to her ear and has these little mini conversations. Here's a typical dialogue for one of her phone conversations: "Hello?,........uh huh,.......(chuckle),.....uh huh.......(indecipherable gibberish).....(giggle),.......no,....uh huh, yeah.....bye bye." It is so fun to listen to her. She gets embarrassed easily though and if she knows your watching or listening to her she'll stop and hide her face.

-Lauren loves her Kitty. We have had a kitten for a year now. We're actually on our third one.....the first one died of an undiagnosed illness (the vet was retarded) and the second one got hit by a car. So Lauren carries that kitty around with her everywhere. We keep her claws clipped and she is the best little pet. I've never liked cats but when the mouse traps weren't doing the trick we sucked it up and bought a cat. Who knew that they could keep the mice away AND be a wonderful snugly companion for my daughter. She carries her around under her arm and rolls and wrestles with her on the floor. What an amazing little kitty to put up with so much! I have to say I have a place in my heart now for cats.....at least ours anyway.

-Lauren is a great eater. The only thing that I can think of that she doesn't like to eat is green peas. Once I tried to trick her to eat her peas by feeding her a bite of applesauce with some peas underneath it. 10 seconds later peas came dribbling out of her mouth one by one after she had sucked off the applesauce. I had to laugh!

-Lauren is such a good sleeper. She is starting to move away from needing naps during the day but at night she goes down to bed like clockwork and we've never had any issues of her not going right to sleep when we lay her down in the crib. Aaron usually puts her to bed at night while I'm reading to the boys. We have the same routine for bedtime and naps. I turn out the light and turn on her music maker (Fisher Price-Rain forest sounds). Then we rock her in the chair for a few minutes. Usually after a little while she'll point to her crib and we'll lay her down tell her goodnight and walk out of the room. Sometimes as I'm closing the door I'll hear....."night mom." Amazing!

-Lauren is really starting to talk now. Her first sentence was "Sorry for biting you Ben." Her very first words were "Da Done" (all done), "Hi", "Mah" (for Mom.....sounded like a little goat bleating), "Uh, Uh" (as she shakes her head for no), and Dah (for Dad). Her other words for things include "Whaa" (water) "Andy " (candy-or anything that's sweet & yummy), "Hone" (phone), "Oggy"(doggy), and "Coo, Coos" (Blue's Clues- a kids show recently introduced to her -she LOVES it!). She now (at 2yrs) speaks in 3-4 word sentences and is learning new words everyday. It's so cute to hear her say different words for the first time. She'll sometimes point at something and say it in a questioning way until she's certain she has it right. It is fun to hear new words coming out of her mouth for the first time. The other night at dinner something happened and she belted out, "What the....!" The boys say this all the time and about died laughing hearing it come out of their 2 year old sister.

-Something else special about Lauren is how much she loves her Daddy. It's been so wonderful to see Aaron get the much deserved hugs and snuggles that he's longed for. She loves and snuggles Aaron much more than the boys ever did at this age. She will lay her head on his chest while Aaron takes a nap or come up to him with her arms outstretched and say "up Daddy, up," whenever she wants to snuggle or be held. When he gets home from work she'll come running to the door with this happy little face exclaiming wildly, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" I love that my daughter loves her Daddy so much. I am so grateful for the bond that is emerging between them and I feel so thankful that my daughter will have the kind of relationship with her father that I would have loved to have had. We can't choose our parents but I'm so grateful that we can choose what kind of parents our children will have. When I think of the kind of father my daughter will have it fills me with deep gratitude and happiness.

Every time I think about what my life would be like without you Lauren I can't imagine how it ever was before you were here. I have loved having my three little boys and they are the sweetest most precious sons a mother could ever ask for but having a little girl has opened up a whole new part of my heart. I suddenly can look ahead to the future and my thoughts are flooded with the prospect of sharing countless "mother & daughter" moments. You have enriched my life in so many ways and because of you I know that there are many more warm wonderful memories ahead on my life's path. Thank you for being the sweet, lovely and feisty little Lauren that you are.

Happy Birthday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jacob's 7th Birthday

My apologies in advance for such a long post......this is my way of journaling all the details about my son that I know my frazzled Mommy brain won't remember 10 years from now.

I can't believe my baby boy is 7 years old! This year Jacob wanted a STAR WARS theme for his birthday. So we celebrated his actual birthday with a family party on Wednesday with Papa and Grandma Laws and then on Saturday he had his party with his friends. This was the first year that Jacob had a party with all boys. In the past it has been a pretty even mix of girl and boy friends. He is definitely growing up and entering a new phase of boyhood. He is still, however, very sweet and childlike.

One thing that he was very excited about was dressing up for his party. We just happened to get his costume for Halloween early this year, (he wanted to be Darth Vader) but he insisted that he wanted to wear it for his party too. His friends Gavin and Charlie also dressed up as Yoda and Annikin and I must say that the three of them were ADORABLE! We played a Star Wars version of pin the tail on the donkey where you tried to hit the death star with one of the boys Nerf Suction cup shooter guns. I painted a picture on a piece of poster board, sprinkled it with glitter (for stars) and then covered it with contact paper after the paint dried. We taped it up on the wall for the party and they each took turns trying to hit the "eye" in the center of the death star. They got 3 tries each and recieved 10 points for hitting the "eye," 5 for hitting the death star, 5 for hitting Darth Vader's ship and -5 for hitting the rebel star ship. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun. The crazy thing though was that Benjamin (who just turned 4) beat everyone. That kid has such amazing aim he put all those 6 and 7 year olds to shame! We left the poster up for a couple of days after the party and had fun playing it with each other.

Something else cute that Jacob wanted to do for his party was to finish his "tunnel" out in the sand pit so his friends could crawl through it. The boys are always out there playing (it's like a giant sand box) and recently they have started digging tunnels to drive their cars through. The last tunnel they dug was big enough to drive Ben's big remote control car through. They got so excited about that tunnel that they had the idea to dig a tunnel big enough for them to crawl through. I thought it was pretty ambitious and doubted that they would actually do it but after many days of tirelessly digging I went out there to see how it was coming and they were only about 2 feet from connecting the holes. They were so cute and smart how they used a stick to measure the distance from each hole to see how much further they had to go to connect them. Jacob worked on that tunnel for a couple of weeks but when school started he got busy with homework and soccer practice and didn't have as much time to play outside. So the night before the party (Aaron had the priests over for a YM activity) Jacob and I went outside and spent the next couple hours digging. By 9:00pm it was done and I must say it was VERY exciting when we finally were able to see each others head flashlights shining through. He would work on one side and me on the other and then we'd switch until we finally connected the two. It was totally awesome.

Jacob's cakes this year were NOT my favorite. but he wanted a Darth Vader cake ("the whole body Mom, not just his head..." he said) so I did my best. Have you ever tried to draw Darth Vader with frosting? What a nightmare! I had to mix up 3 shades of gray to black and the first cake I did (for his actual birthday I used white frosting and turned it black with food coloring-not easy. It took so long and was so ugly I just did his head for his party that Saturday. Here's a tip for you cake decorators out there. Turning Chocolate frosting into black is pretty easy. I don't know why I didn't think of it the first time but maybe I'll save someone some else some time. As always though his reaction to the cake was just what I hoped. Aaron had him close his eyes until he brought it out and he had the cutest little grin on his face when he saw it. I thought the cake looked hideous but thank goodness 7 year olds are easy to impress.

Here are some things about my 7 year old Jacob that I always want to remember:

-He is very responsible and hard working. Jacob's chores include taking the goats out each morning and bringing them into their shed at night, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the back porch, cleaning up the playroom, putting his laundry away, swiffer dusting under the couches (hard wood floors) and cleaning out the litter box. Each day he does the goats and usually one other chore which he shares with his brothers. Jacob also sets his alarm every night and wakes up at 7am to get dressed and make his lunch for school that day. He doesn't like making his lunch but I'm trying to raise self reliant kids and although I could easily do it for him it's much better to start habits young.

-Jacob loves sports and has a lot of athletic talent. Not surprisingly he is also very competitive and plays really hard out on the field. He is very into keeping score (even though at this age the coaches try not to focus on that). He will often give us the report at the end of the game to tell us what the final score was and how many goals he made for his team. Aaron wrestles with the boys all the time and has expressed to me how impressed he is at Jacob's strength. He admits that it's a challenge to get both of his shoulders down on the rug to pin him. Jacob also really loves to run. I remember last year in Kindergarten that he would race the other boys down off the field to be first in line after recess. I'm sure none of the other kids really cared that much who got there first but every day he prided himself on telling me that he beat Gavin or whoever else he raced that day.

-Jacob loves to draw pictures. His favorite things to draw are race cars and rocket ships. I can't tell you how many pictures of race cars with flames, rocket boosters, and spoilers I have collected over the past couple years. He also enjoys making recycled art out of old food boxes, Styrofoam or toilet paper rolls. Just the other day he made a star wars shuttle out of Styrofoam and toothpicks.

-Jacob still wants to be a pilot when he grows up.......no change there. (:

-Jacob also really enjoys math and numbers. He loves to count (I had to listen to him count to 1000 the other day by 5's just because he wanted me to see if he could do it without making any mistakes). By 500 I was secretly hoping he'd mess up just so he'd have to stop. (I know I'm terrible) But he didn't make a mistake and loved doing it. Jacob also enjoys doing word searches and "I Spy" types of activities.

-Jacob recently started taking piano lessons and is picking it up very quickly. He is so cute when he practices. If a song is hard to play I notice that he does this little breathing pant with each note that he strikes. I can tell that it's something he does when he's really concentrating. His piano teacher is a 17 year old young man from our ward who plays the piano incredibly. It's been really good to have him teaching Jacob because I think he's much more receptive to his instruction.

-Jacob has a very "take charge" personality at home and on the sports field but at school it's a different story. He's well liked by the other kids and dare I say even considered to be "cool" but he seems to be oblivious to this. When I volunteer in his class, I notice that he's very quiet and even a little shy. He keeps to himself most of the time and just does his work quietly. When his classmates says hi to him he usually gets embarrassed and doesn't even say hi back. He is a good student and is very appreciated by his teachers.

-At home Jacob is for the most part a very sweet older brother. He's not always "fair" with his younger brothers when they play though. He will often times manipulate the outcome of their make believe match-box car adventures to produce an outcome where he is the coolest or the fastest car but usually they are okay with that. He could also be described as a little bossy to them too. He gets very frustrated when his brothers don't do what they're supposed to and sometimes takes things into his own hands, administering his own version of discipline (hitting them), when they don't do what they're told. He loves his little sister and is in heaven when she decides to grace him with a hug or kiss. He still lets us hug and snuggle him although he has become a little more resistant in recent months. I've also been noticing that at night when we tuck him in he will sometimes try to hide under his covers when I lean in to give him a kiss. It will be a very sad day for Mommy when he stops letting me hug and kiss him. Hopefully that day will never come. ):

Friday, October 3, 2008

Triathlon (My First 1st Place!)

Last Saturday I did the Autumn Classics Triathlon near Olympia. We stayed the night at Aaron's parents house and then they all drove me to the race the next morning. Several weeks prior to the race I kept having anxiety dreams where I'd be late to the start line and had to try and catch up, etc. etc. Even on the way to the race I was a little nervous mostly because this was the first time where I really had it in my mind that I was really going to compete. I've run lots of races, and placed (for my age group) a few times but it's never been because I was trying to win. Usually I'm just working to get a personal best on my time or to try and average a certain pace.

This time was different though. I had been training for this and so I felt confident that I was in pretty good shape, and since the event was not huge I figured there was a good chance that if I really pushed myself I might finish in the top 7, ( the top 7 times for men and women get trophies). And of course since my very competitive boys were watching me and cheering me on I wanted to make them proud.
I started off on the swim strong but because of the mass of people in the water I got kicked in the face a few times, my goggles filled with water and I lost my breathing rhythm and momentum. I was not happy with my swim time but as I ran out of the lake and rushed to my bike I still had the idea that if I did good on the bike and run I could still have a good race.

The bike portion went really well. I started off hard and passed several racers within the first mile. Then the racers became more spread a part (and they were all men) but I just focused on the one ahead of me and began picking them off one by one. My strategy was to push myself to narrow the gap and then I'd race up right behind them and rest myself in their shadow. The drag from the wind (it was windy) is really exhausting but if you get right on someones rear they take all the drag and it's much easier for you. Anyway, I'd hang out behind them for a couple minutes until I regained my strength and then I switched to a faster gear and confidently blaze past them like they were standing still. They would be so intimidated at the speed in which I passed them that they wouldn't even try to compete and fight for the lead. It worked again and again and really helped me work my way up the line. When I came back to the rally point to dump my bike and start the run, Aaron was there to help me get off my gear and put on my running shoes. I still had my ipod on but could hear between the beats in the music saying, "Babe, you're doing awesome.... I think you might be in first place....... I haven't seen any other girls in front of you..."

(on the run....I'm in black)

The run was torture. I forgot that the hardest part about a triathlon is how much it zaps you of strength and energy. I kept thinking on the bike ride that I'd catch some of the riders ahead of me during the run because they were bikers and I was a runner. (you can tell this by where they place their race number-if you consider yourself a runner, more than a biker, you would most likely wear your number on your front. Bikers wear theirs on their backs, down by their rear). Anyway, that run was crazy hard. I felt so uncoordinated and couldn't get my breathing down. I thought after a couple miles I would get into my rhythm but the whole race was just grueling drudgery. It felt like an out of body experience. Not fun. I did however manage to pass more people on the run and moved up the rankings even more.

Long story short, I placed 8th overall men/women and took first for women. It was very exciting and fun to see the boys chanting as I ran by, "Go, Mommy go.....Go, Mommy, go...."
A good race, and my very first EVER 1st place. (:

My little Cheerleaders

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Aaron finished the swing set that he designed for the kids this August. He used some of the trees from our property and put it up at the top of the hill by the sandpit where the kids play. It is HUGE and so much fun! Because of where it's positioned when you swing out over the hill it's quite thrilling. It took about half a dozen men to get it up and another week of work to secure it and make the swings but as always Daddy came through and made the world's coolest swing set.

The first time Benjamin rode on the swing he yelled out in utter excitement, "I feel like I'm flying!!!" This was exactly what Aaron had in mind when he designed it. Mission accomplished. (:

Summer Camping Trips

This summer we only went camping twice. Because of Aaron's canoe trip to Ross Lake we didn't have a lot of vacation days to go for as long as we would have liked. So we packed as much as we could into the time that we had and ended up making some great memories.

Wish Poosh Campground (Cle Elum, WA.)

This was mostly a stopover campground to break up the trip. We were on our way to Idaho, chasing the sun, because the forecast that week for western Washington called for heavy rain. So we chased the sun all the way to Sandpoint, Idaho.

We stayed at Wish Poosh for the day and left the next morning to continue our drive. Although we weren't there for long we enjoyed our time and had a lot of fun. We also checked out another campground nearby named Salmon La Sac. Aaron had camped there as a kid so we took a drive and walked down to the river where we hung out for a while.

Memories from Wish Poosh:

- Bow and Arrows. Jacob and I found a bent stick along a trail that looked like a bow. So we used some string and made it into a bow and found a stick for an arrow. I was impressed with how well it turned out and before long all the boys wanted one so we searched the woods and trails for "bow shaped" branches and straight arrow sticks. I could hardly believe how much fun they were having with their bows and arrows. They carried them around everywhere. They had so much fun aiming and shooting at things. They all shot really well and kept them entertained all day!

-Catching a squirrel. There were several squirrels and chipmunks in the campground and the boys wanted to try and catch one. So we set up a pot with a stick and line, baited it with Sun Chips and waited. We never actually caught one but they came pretty close. It was funny when it was Ben's turn to hold the line. We told him not to yank it until we told him but when we told him we had to whisper it so the squirrel wouldn't get scared. We kept saying, "Now, Now, Now!!!.....Pull it, Benjamin, Now, Pull it!" He just replied in a somewhat confused way, "Now? Yes? Can I pull it?" ......to which we all emphatically replied, "Yes Benjamin PULL IT!!" But by then the bait had already been eaten and the little critter was long gone. It was so funny

-Hide & Seek. Our campsite was backed up against a little forest clearing with stumps and fallen logs and we all played a few games of hide and seek back there. The best part was when it was Aaron's turn to seek. He found Benjamin (who was only about 6 feet from my spot) he walked right past me . I was laying on the ground in some underbrush next to a fallen tree. I couldn't believe he didn't see me! It was a lot of fun. (:

-Big Kids in their own tent. This was the first time that we had all the kids in their own tent. In the past we have all crammed into a 6 man dome tent but as our family has gotten bigger it has become pretty tight. We got a glow stick for each night and put it on the ceiling of their tent. It was so cute to see them in there all lined up with their sleeping bags.......Ahhhhh, I thought this day would never come. No more being kicked in the face, stepping on each other and trying to fit a port a crib inside a dome tent.

Camping in Sandpoint, Idaho

My sister Megan and her family live in Sandpoint. They set us up with a great campsite right on the lake. You can only get to it by boat so she lent us theirs and we headed over to this little peninsula right on the water. Here's a picture of our site.

Memories from Sandpoint

-The boys fishing. Aaron packed the tackle box and each of the boys fishing poles. On one side of the peninsula the water dropped off pretty quickly and got really deep. The boys had so much fun casting their lines and trying to fish. They didn't have any luck the first day (or the whole time for that matter) but they were so diligent in their efforts. It was so cute! Jacob told us after the first day of having no luck that he was going to wake up at 6am the next morning and go fishing because that's the best time to fish. True to his word at 6am (before the sun was even up all the way) we heard the zipper on the kids tent and when we looked out we saw Jacob in his pajamas and sweatshirt out there fishing.

-Skipping Rocks. Aaron is an amazing rock skipper. I however feel pretty great if it skips 3 or 4 times. One end of the peninsula at our campsite had really soft sand but the other side had pebbles and flat rocks that were perfect for skipping. They spent a lot of time out there looking for skipping rocks and trying to out do eachother. I think the record was 11 skips.

-Feeding the ducks. Lauren was in my hair on the last day when we were trying to pack up camp. I noticed some ducks swimming by so I tore up a couple pieces of bread, sat her on a chair by the water and showed her what to do. She was too cute feeding the ducks, giggling and laughing uncontrollably when they would all swarm the piece of bread. Soon the boys joined her and enjoyed the show as well.

-Water day. The third day we spent the entire time in the water. It was so beautiful out and the water was so clean and clear. We made sand castles covered with pretty rocks and pebbles. The boys dug trenches and canals that filled with water. Megan came down that evening with Tyler and Tyssen and brought their ski boat with them. Aaron slolem skied out on the lake at sunset and after a while dropped his tow line and skied right up onto the beach by our campsite. I WAS impressed. Jacob and Joseph had fun on the ski bob and enjoyed their time with Tyssen their cousin who is a very cool little kid.

-Cousins & Sisters. I loved seeing Megan and hanging out with her. It is so great to have sisters and I feel so blessed to have a sister like her. She is such a hardworking gal! She has been through so much and has made a wonderful life for her and her family and I couldn't be more proud of her. Her life these past years have been a source of inspiration and a testimony to me of the human spirit conquering the trials and challenges of life. I love seeing our kids play together and was especially touched at how much Lauren took to her Aunt Megan. She is usually very picky about only snuggling with me or Aaron but she warmed right up to her Auntie and was having so much fun sitting on her lap playing peek a boo and giving hugs.

Second Beach Campsite, (near Forks, Washington)

This place was incredible but it did not come without a lot of effort and sacrifice......

First of all just to get down to the campsite you had to backpack 3/4 of a mile into it. Aaron and I both had our REI packs on and were each carrying an ice chest. We loaded each boy down with their own pack and sleeping bag and Aaron carried Lauren on his shoulders and I carried an extra bag/pack on my arms. It wasn't long before Benjamin gave out and I was carrying his pack too. By this time Aaron was long ahead of me, (his plan was to go get his stuff down there and then come back to help me) and I was seriously humbled by the load I was carrying. I like to think of myself as tough, and I know that I am, but this hike (carrying all that gear) kicked my butt! A guy who passed by me offered to take some gear off my hands and normally I would have said I was fine but I WASN'T so I appreciated his generosity. I told him my husband was down the trail further with the rest of our kids and he would undoubtedly be hard to miss.

We finally made it down the trail only to find that the beach was completely fogged over and there was about 25 feet of logs stacked 10 feet high that separated the trail from the beach. So after climbing over logs and lifting up little ones we found our "campsite." I was NOT impressed. It was pretty but very primitive. Really all it was, was a clearing in the woods next to the beach. No running water, no bathroom, no picnic table and no where to cook meals. So Aaron made a fire pit and put a grill over it for cooking. We had a shovel and T.P. for our bathroom, and a freshwater stream about 15 feet from our site that we used for cooking and drinking water (Aaron bought a pump-style water filter for his canoe trip this year which came in very handy).

Anyway, if the sun had not come out the next day I would have voted to pack up and find another place but as you can see the sun DID come out (the next day) and it was just too beautiful to leave.

Memories from Second Beach

First of all I just have to say that we have the best kids (I know I'm a little biased) but I just have to say how impressed I am with what troopers they are and even more so how creative their little imaginations are. I absolutely loved how they kept themselves entertained . They were always busy doing and playing things and never once (on any of our camping trips) complained about being bored. They were always so cute and happy and it made things so much fun.

Running races on the beach, snow angels in the sand, kelp whips and race car pictures, looking in tide pools and chasing the waves. I love remembering their fun little ways.

-Surfboards. I don't know where they got the idea from or what started it but the boys started collecting pieces of driftwood that were shaped like "surfboards." They would get so excited when they would find a cool one and before long our pockets were full of them. Benjamin would sit in the sand and race his surfboard (pretending that the sand was water) doing turns and jumps over mounds of sand. They would also take them down to the little stream that fed into the ocean and drop their surfboards at the top and watch them race down to see whose was the "fastest."

-Chopping wood and gathering Kindling. The boys found an old paddle board laying around and used it to chop up a log for kindling scraps. They each took their turns "chopping" the wood and felt very proud of their contribution. Benjamin was a beast when it was his turn, with eyes bulging and pieces flying. It was pretty funny.

-Surfing. Aaron propped a big piece of driftwood across a log to make a teeter totter for the kids. Jacob used it however to practice his "surfing." It was kind of like a teeter totter but he would be up there twisting his body like some hot shot riding the waves. It was too cute. Too bad these boys live in Washington and not California.

-Helping their little sister. To use the bathroom we followed a little trail back into the woods. To get onto this trail there was a steep part that you had to climb up. Lauren had no problem following her brothers and climbing up the steep part but on the way back she would stand at the top and make a little girly moan for help. One of the boys was always right there to answer her beckoning call. Not surprisingly it was usually JoJo that would come to her aid and carry her down. It was so sweet.

-Seeing a Bald Eagle up close. One evening when we were walking down the beach to look for starfish, a bald eagle landed on the sand and began eating a crab. The boys were so excited and began slowly walking closer to it. The eagle was HUGE and looked like the size of a small turkey. We got withing about 20 feet of it before it flew away. It was truly incredible to be that close to such an amazing bird.

-Nelly our dog. We didn't know that dogs weren't allowed on the beach or on the trail for that matter, but what were we supposed to do with her when we had driven 3 hours to get there? We kept her on a long leash in our campsite and she was pretty sad. Lauren would frequently go up to her and give her hugs and loves. Poor Nelly.

Random pictures of the boys playing in the water and exploring a cave at the other end of the beach.

This place was SO beautiful. We took a long walk down the beach (about a mile and a half) and found a cave and some breathtaking rock formations. It felt very reminiscant of our days in Hawaii and I confessed to Aaron that this was the most beautiful beach I had ever seen......and that includes 6 years of living and traveling to all the islands in Hawaii. What a beautiful place.