We took the foot ferry to the Fountain Parks in Bremerton. Benjamin is almost 5 and still won't stand under them. Spent the Fourth of July with some really great friends, watched their fireworks show, felt like a kid again. Met Daddy in Seattle and went to a Mariners game. They lost-what's new but we had fun anyway. One night the boys wanted to camp out on the trampoline, by the time we got there with the popcorn they were fast asleep. But less than an hour later they came running inside, leaving their pillows and blankets when they heard coyote cries. Early one morning I was snuggling on the couch with Ben when we looked across the floor and saw a furry friend. I couldn't get a good look from where we sat, so we moved in closer and discovered it was a bat! Totally freaked I woke up the older boys, Jacob "took care of it" I love my brave boys. Swimming at Long Lake then playing at the Park. Who's the Lava Monster? It's Mommy, watch out!
Swimming at Horseshoe Lake then just before leaving "Can we walk over to the dock Mom, just for a minute?" Jacob wanted to jump off, but I didn't think he would. So we walked out to the end I was shocked when he did. Not to be outdone after Jacob jumped in, he was followed by his Kamikaze brothers JoJo and Ben! Needless to say we were there for a while, as they honed their jumping skills and belly flopped with style.
Summer movies at P.O. and G.H.-they're free! Couldn't wait for Lauren to see Little Mermaid on the big screen. Smoothies from Jamba Juice after the show. The best brothers in the world sitting through the Little Mermaid for their little sister. For FHE went skiing on the lake, the boys in inner tubes bouncing across the wake. Finished up the night with Daddy in tow, strapped on Papa's ski and slalomed like a pro. Making banana bread muffins, kids sneaking bites of the batter. After finally getting them in the oven I find Jacob up on the counter. Giving new meaning to the word "finger licking good" he had finger licked that bowl about as much as he possibly could. Great deals at garage sales, Sketchers and Jenga blocks, they drew a tower then built it to scale -future architects?
We found a great deal on craigslist for an old canoe big enough to hold a family of 6 with weekend camping gear! Amazing I know!!! We put in that weekend down at the beach near our house. But unfortunately we had to carry the canoe and all our gear out to the waters edge quite a ways since since neither of us bothered to check the tide chart and just happened to head out on a morning where it quite possibly could have been the lowest low tide of the month! That was GREAT planning! Lauren was scared when we first got in. But soon she was settled and had fun while we all paddled 3 miles (one way) out across the strait to Blake Island. I thought my arms were in pretty good shape, yeah, not so much. I felt like a baby when they started aching half way through our trip. Thank goodness Daddy's buff because we would've been stranded out there in the strait. The boys had paddles too but their muscle power wasn't much help either. Daddy tried to make it fun by making up silly songs as we paddled, it was only fun because Daddy can't rhyme and his best efforts only made us laugh even harder. Looking at the kids all snug in their little tent makes me smile to think that one day we won't believe they all used to sleep in there-comfortably.
Once we arrived we were lucky to get one of the only two available campsites. I felt sorry for the old guy next to us, who was probably hoping for a nice quiet weekend getaway. We tried to keep the kids quiet for him but you know how that goes....Didn't feel quite so bad when the same guy had his portable radio on all day listening to some weird SCI-FI talk show. He fell asleep with it right next to his face turned up pretty loud. Finally, when we couldn't take it anymore Aaron crept over to his tent and found the guy's head hanging halfway out with the radio 6 inches away. He was about to turn it off but felt too weird being so close to a perfect stranger in the middle of the night. Awkward, and annoying all at the same time. Finally the guy turned it off (I'm not sure when) but it was sometime before 1 am when we awoke to the sound of some other crazy guy anchored on a sailboat about 50 feet offshore. He was serenading the Puget Sound with his very loud saxophone!!!! It was beautiful music but not at 1am!!! He kept playing and Aaron and I both were worried he was going to wake up the kids. We tried to ask him to keep it down but he and his buddy were obviously drunk and VERY rude!!! Then they came onshore and Aaron grabbed his Man Vs. Wild knife "just in case". We both staked out the campsite in the dark until they left. Turns out they were just taking their dog onshore to go pee. We're nerds.
Played catch with the football along the trail. On the way back JoJo lagged behind bringing up the rear. He walked the whole way back from the beach barefoot because his shoes were wet and he didn't want to wear them. Arghhh! We made rock people with a sharpie then hid them to be found again on our next trip back out there.
We found an even cooler clubhouse just down the beach from our campsite that you could only get to by climbing up into the roots of a fallen tree which led you to a clay tunnel then up into a sand room with roots that the kids climbed up. It was awesome! What a fun weekend, relaxing and close to home. I know we'll do it again but I wish I could just fast forward about 10 more years when I know the boys will be strong enough to paddle us out there themselves.
Another fun camping trip, one we've been meaning to do for a while now. A pretty hike along a trail to see a waterfall. Lots of cool stops along the way. The boys loved the huge rock that they pretended to be holding up with their superhero strength. I love little boys. Jacob pretending to be Yoda with his mini hiking stick. Took a nap back at camp in the tent. When I woke up the boys were down by the shallow river next to our campsite doing "bravest boy" competitions. The water was frigid but that didn't stop them. You can really get boys to do anything if you make it a matter of bravery and strength. So funny! Aaron is so much fun with them, why can't I be a more exciting Mom? All I could think about was taking a nap in the great outdoors, I'm always so tired, as a result of my fatigue I only caught the end of the bravest boy competition. ):
One of our favorite campsites on the pristine shores of lake Cresent. We had a great campsite right on the water, you can't beat that view. The last time we were here I was 8 months pregnant with Lauren. Time sure flies. The boys were skipping rocks as usual, bathing in the lake, making boats out of leaves and bark then setting them off on their maiden voyage. Later, after they had drifted out too deep to reach they threw rocks again trying to sink them. So clever. Reading the BFG around the campfire. Bathing in the lake, enjoying the beauty of this incredible place.
This was definitely one of the highlights of July and our summer. When I was 15 I went on a Pioneer Trek as a stake youth conference and since then I've always wanted to do it again. So when Aaron and I were asked to be a Ma and Pa I eagerly accepted for both of us. Of course it ended up being a great experience. Aarons parents and my uncle took turns watching the kids and while away from our 4 little ones we were entrusted with 10 children: 5 daughters (Alex, Jackie, Larissa, Claira & Stephanie) and 5 sons (Evan, Scott, Zak, Nelson & Brady) for the 4-day adventure. We couldn't have asked for a better group of kids. They were all so much fun and such a joy to "parent." I really grew to know and love each of them and felt so grateful to be able to share in this experience with them. It was so fun to be a girl again and lay out under the stars with my sweet daughters talking about boys, dating and first kisses. And then as the hours stretched deep into the night finding ourselves engaged in meaningful discussions about the gospel, sharing our testimonies and our faith. Encouraging them on their path, so proud of the lovely young ladies that they are becoming. My sons were great too. Some of them stronger than others (; It reconfirmed to me the importance of teaching boys how to work. I loved them all dearly but found it so entertaining to see the different levels of physical and mental strength that they possessed. Some of them were "strong like an ox" pushing & pulling those handcarts up hills through rivers, etc. And then others were content to leisurely walk along the side while their sisters and mother did the majority of the work. Sometimes even lagging behind or asking if they could ride in the cart while we ladies pushed. It didn't make me mad at all I just found it very interesting. Aaron, however was not amused. He knew though that it was more important to help these youth have a positive experience and so he bit his tongue and practiced patience. In the end the lesson that I took away from much of this weekend was the importance of not judging but loving others for where they're at and being accepting of their offering however small it may be. I genuinely believe that those of my children who were not pushing or pulling their fair share were doing the best that they could do. It made me think of our Savior and His love and acceptance for each of us and where we're individually at. He doesn't hold us all to the same measuring stick. He is loving and compassionate to our individual abilities and only asks us to do the very best that WE can do. I know a lot of our sons and daughters were doing just that. But with that aside I just have to say that 2 of my daughters thoroughly impressed me. They were with me side by side as we pushed and pulled up and down dusty hills and steep mountain slopes over rocky trails and through freezing rivers. I felt proud to call them my daughters and was grateful for their hard work. They were my kindred sisters, and I bonded with them in a way different than the rest. But all were wonderful children.
Fun times were to be had after the long hours of pushing and pulling. Jumping in the river to cool down (and get clean), the stick pull for the Pa's (my husbands so strong), and even me arm wrestling a 17 year old boy which ended in a dead tie for over 10 minutes. They finally called it. Aaron doing back flips off the log above the river. Our Napoleon Dynamite themed skit where we traveled back in time using a plunger and a bead pan. Stargazing up at the incredible sky, watching shooting stars, eating burned oatmeal, telling funny jokes, playing hand slap games, trying not to laugh when one of my sons was using a pair of his underwear for a pot holder. Then on the last night dashing under the cover of trees when an un-forecasted weather system moved in and got us all wet. Good times and great memories, I hope we can do it again in 4 years.