Forced Family Fun Day

So you know when your kids hit a certain age? That age of not thinking the same things are cool that we just did 1-2 years ago? Like walking with your family around the local wetlands on a gorgeous, sunny day? Yep. We’re there. Hence the title “FORCED FUN”.

But, when you have teens, tweens, elementary and babies all in one family, there is no win-win. There will always be SOMEONE that complains. No worries. This too will pass. And I hear that for the most part, they won’t remember all the whining they did, but they WILL remember the adventures we went on.

So, I take pictures to prove to them that they had FUN. Walking around wetlands, enjoying God’s creation. FUN. They’ll thank me later, I’m sure of it.

My unsolicited advice? Force em’ to have FUN (wink, wink).


And while we’re talking about forcing…this photo. Yup. Lots of forcing to get this one.


Checking out the river rat at the edge of the bank, while momentarily forgetting they didn’t want to go in the first place.


We even brought our friends to have fun WITH us…cuz we’re good parents like that.

2014-01-06_00032014-01-06_00072014-01-06_0001Let’s just say Jo won the prize for best attitude!

Christmas 2013

A recap of our Christmas this year…

Christmas Eve is usually at my sister’s house with my side of the family. We have the famous Morton’s Steak, baked potatoes and smoked salmon stuffed jalapenos. We have chaotic present opening with 9 kiddos ripping open their gifts and this year, ended with a game of scrabble. And let’s not forget pumping Jo full of Infant Advil to keep her fever down and semi-happy. Poor baby.




And this would be Mitzy, my grandma’s dog. She graces our presence each year and loves the kids and commotion.




Christmas Day we head over to Tad’s side of the family and have a day of eating more yummy food, playing games (Risk is always the boys’ favorite), making cookies and watching movies.


A day of firsts…

Today was a day the boys have been working towards for four and a half months. They work out at Impact Athletics about 9 hours a week, perfecting their twists and turns that happen HIGH in the air. Harness? Nope. That’s old school apparently.

Their first meet. Their first time performing for a large crowd and judges. Their first taste of victory. They both walked away with 2 medals, totaling 2 golds, a silver and a bronze.

So proud of them!

{Their team}

2013-12-14_0001{Max below on the double-mini}

2013-12-14_0002{Mitch on the double-mini}

2013-12-14_0003{the crowd and other participants}



{Mitch doing his trampoline routine}


{Max on the trampoline}


{the medal giving begins…Mitch takes first}


{Max takes the gold}


{Dad assumes role as a medal giver and gets to give both boys their medals}


{two very proud boys}



Thanksgiving 2013

We ran away with some of our bestest friends this year for Thanksgiving. We celebrated early with family and then got ourselves 900 whole square feet of beach house in Rockaway and crammed 11 of us into it for 3 days. It was fabulous! And a little secret about the Oregon coast is that the weather is FAR better in the fall that the summer! Gorgeous sunny skies and no wind…which means FUN beach photos of course 🙂


The gang.

DSC_1895 DSC_1891 Her first time running on the beach…of course she loved it and so did I. Such JOY coming from this girl.


Ruby and Mitch are my two hunters. They will spend hours beach combing and showing me their finds. I know I only have a few more years of this with them, so I want to catch these memories and freeze them forever through the lens of my camera.

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My three girls. Teen, child and baby. Sigh….they grow up so darn fast.


How on earth did she get taller than me? Yes, I hear you saying that I’m only 5’2″…but still!


Life long friends for sure. They really have no choice…their moms are life long friends too.

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Super thankful for this girl. We’ve ridden the bus together as kids, grown up as “farmer’s daughters”, and now get to do adult life together, being just a 15 minute drive from each other.


And this guy? I love him. He (who was only going to have 2 children when we married 18 yrs ago) is the best dad ever.


DSC_1823Just one of those snapshots that makes me smile.

The girl is ONE!

Jo is a bundle of JOY. That’s all there is to it. She’s full of energy, smiles, giggling and loves to growl at people and animals. She spends her time getting into things…like toilet water, art drawers, her new car, mom’s purse. The girl loves her food and says, “mmm mmm”, while scarfing her meal.

One year old birthday cake

A HUGE thanks to Michelle Rubio for making this UH-mazing cake for us! I asked her to “make a cake that had pink on it” and this is what I got. Over the top!


You never quite know what a one-year-old’s reaction will be to 20+ people staring at her, encouraging her to “blow out a candle”, and make a mess of her cake. But Jo was the star of the night and pretty much gave everyone a show.


She even showed enthusiasm for a her presents. The xylophone and electric guitar were the hit of the night. 2013-10-02_0004We truly thank God for this little girl – that He CHOSE us to be her parents. We couldn’t have asked for a better gift. Ever.

Wilson River + Birthday Day

Somehow we have a 14 year old now. I’ve heard for so many years that the days are long and the years are short…and it’s proving correct. To celebrate we spent the day with two other families floating lazily on the Wilson River AND had the place to ourselves.

untitled-128This girl. Starting high school this year! Artistic, LOVES fashion and makeup, and eats and breathes horses.

untitled-126Her with one of her best friends, Savannah. These girls – growing up, growing more beautiful every day.

Wilson RiverJo adores big sister…in fact, she’s probably going to go through with-drawls when they all go to school today…poor baby will only have her boring mommy to play with 🙂

untitled-112Jo also adored eating rocks the entire day…building the immune system right there.

untitled-113Peas in a pod. That’s what these two girls are! Silly, screaming ninnies they were, floating down rapids all day.

untitled-133But look at the LOVE! Only one pair of river shoes between them, so they shared. That way they are each in equal pain while running on rocks. I adore these two’s friendship.

untitled-117And these boys? Hunting crawdads and whatever else they can find swimming or slithering the the general area…ALL day.

untitled-124Well…besides a few little cliff jumping breaks! Oh my boys.

untitled-130And my biggest boy? Yes, he’s riding the bull down the river with his compadre bringing in the rear.

untitled-23Then we were off to have dinner and cake at grandma’s house. Grandpa’s birthday is a day before Kayla’s so we combine most years….

untitled-17After a long day at the river Kayla was having a hard time getting all her candles out…it’s hard getting older and having SO many candles 🙂

untitled-26And the cousins and siblings…

Such a fantastic day.

A full day…

Day 2 was fantastic. We played “tourists” all day and it was so great. We learned some super interesting Seattle facts on the Underground Tour. If you ever go, we highly recommend. Just the fact that Seattle is still standing is miraculous! Really.

untitled-74We spent about an hour and a half underneath the city, seeing what used to be the street level shops and businesses.

untitled-62 We went in a group of about 40 and had the privilege of having a guide who had been doing this for 27 years and who is an author, as well as a historian. He knew his stuff!

untitled-63 untitled-67 untitled-69 untitled-72 Things that were still down under. There was a few items that didn’t get stolen, sold or antiqued. I loved all the old gears, the rusty-crusty stuff and the old drawing of the original city.

untitled-73  Next up was walking the boardwalk…and what an amazing, SUNNY day! untitled-80 And of course, THE Pikes Place Market. This place is crazy! It goes on, and on, and on. And I, of course found some fabulous buys.

untitled-85 untitled-90 untitled-93 Gum Alley. This makes me cringe when I look at, let alone step in the gum laden sidewalks that are in this alleyway. But, we had to add our piece…right??

untitled-95 untitled-100untitled-14We ended the evening by going to the Skyview Observatory. Pretty impressive to be up on the 73rd floor looking down on the Seattle Space Needle. Seattle is beautiful with all the water everywhere…but it’s wetter than Portland, which makes it a great place to visit, not live 🙂


It ain’t the size of the rock that matters…

18 years. Yup. We’re just getting started; still learning and growing and changing; loving a little deeper, understanding more about each other. I LOVE that you can be with someone for 20 years and still discover things about them you never knew, fall more in love (though it seems impossible); it just gets better with time.

I came across this quote just yesterday…“Neither the size of your diamond, nor the extravagance of your wedding will make your marriage last. That takes something money cannot buy”.

This is TRUTH. In fact, when we got married 18 years ago, being 19 and having NO money, we were blessed to be able to use my Grandma Sharon’s wedding ring. It is a gorgeous, “vintage type” ring, but it had a diamond that you could literally barely see. I didn’t care. And I still don’t. The size of my “rock” has nothing to do with the success of my marriage. And free is a very good price.

untitled-3This year Tad took over the planning of our anniversary. Last year we adopted Jo, which meant no anniversary. Every penny went to bring her home and we couldn’t be happier. 2 years ago we were still heart-sick about losing our little Gage, which meant we cried a lot and weren’t in a “celebrating” place in our lives.

But this year? We were more than ready to celebrate each other, our 18 years, our 5 children and our wild ride thus far. So, Tad secretly planned something. Told me a week ago to “clear my schedule” for 4 days and had F.I.V.E children all “farmed out” to friends. That deserves a medal. And so do my friends!

So, he tells me how to pack and that our driver would be here soon. And when she arrives, she then takes us to the MAX station, says, “Have fun!” and pulls away. Off to Portland we go and though I have an inkling of where we could be headed, I’m still not 100% sure.

untitled-5Till we get to the train station. Then I know it’s either Seattle or San Francisco. FUN!


And Seattle it is. We get to go be tourists! And I must say…so much more relaxing riding the train that riding thru traffic to Seattle with your husband driving. Love him, but don’t love his driving. Wives…you understand, right? Yes. You do. (TOTAL side note, but you MUST go here and watch a FUNNY about being your “husbands little helper in the car”.

We enjoyed the scenery, I didn’t have to remind him what the speed limit was or to “back off” and it was stress free!

untitled-4We checked into our hotel (which is lovely and in a fabulous location) and headed down to happy hour at the hotel restaurant. Next? Down the road 2 blocks to stock up on some “healthy” snacks. You know. The kind that taste good on the lips, but stick to the hips. Yep. Then it was time to plan out our next 3 days, followed by a few episodes of Parenthood.

untitled-10…and seriously enjoy the view from our hotel window.

Thank you Lord for husbands, for creating us to perfectly match, and for being our Rock these last 18 years. Without God, I-know-that-I-know-that-I-know we would not be here today. It is not because of us that we are “still standing”, but because of His love, his grace and His word working through and in our lives.

Welcome Basque BBQ








What a FULL, FUN day yesterday! I guess that is going to be the theme of July while the Basque students are here with us from Spain. One of the goals is to keep them speaking English, as their parents are very eager for them to become more proficient. That being said, we played many games (some that needed words and some that needed a lot of energy), we sat and ate on our picnic blankets as families, we swam in the pool (as well as played football and water polo games), and even did some dancing led by a “crazy American”.

It’s been great getting to know our student, Urko and him becoming more comfortable with our family. Looking forward to the rest of the month with him and the other students!

















Oswald West fun in the sun

Yesterday we spent a glorious 8 hours with friends at Oswald West…a fabulous beach. Known for it’s surfing, there were lots of fun surfers to watch, water to play in, tide pools to discover, fire pits to dig, knives to throw (because doesn’t everyone bring throwing knives when they go out?) and beach blankets to nap on. It’s a 3/4 mile hike in, but an easy hike for sure.

Urko and the kids had a great time. He learned that the water is just a bit colder than the Atlantic! Trees at the beach were also a new site for him, as well as roasting hot dogs over a fire.

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