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.


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 πŸ™‚


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.

a fabulous 4th





We’re living the suburban life now…I know this is so normal for most of you. It’s just so foreign, yet so lovely to us. We feel as if God placed us in the perfect neighborhood for our family. So many great families here and they are putting up with us “country folks” as we adjust the kids to all the “city” rules…you know, like don’t walk in other people’s yards. We are still working on getting the kids some bike helmets…but all in good time πŸ™‚

We enjoyed the 4th here and loved to be a part of the neighborhood’s 4th annual block party including, a kids parade, snow cones, bounce house, games, water balloon fight, yummy food and fireworks. I think Urko (our exchange student from Spain) enjoyed it, even with all the jet-lag!

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Texas, Friends and Hope

Memorial Day weekend we said goodbye to the 4 older kiddos and sent them off for a fantastic camping trip with grandpa and grandma. They go every year to their church’s family camp and almost always take some or all of the kids with them. Which is one of the reasons they deserve the “grandparent award” in my book.

Meanwhile, Tad, Jo and I packed our own bags and set off for a weekend with the Von Guntens, a.k.a. our most fun, belly laughing, besties in Texas. This is basically how Jo handled the plane ride. Lucky her. Got to snuggle with daddy and had him all to herself for 4 days!

TexasThough I brought my camera, it rarely made its way out of the bag…except for a few shots of this fabulous family. We just adore this family – every one of them. They fall into the category of friends that you could go 5 years without seeing and pick up instantly where you left off. We’re (not-so-secretly) praying that they make their way back to Oregon in the near future. Texas-4We got to visit them at Camp Tejas, a fabulous Christian camp they are serving at this summer. We stayed in an adorable room, ate yummy camp food every meal, enjoyed the pool and SUN, and mostly just sat and laughed for hours. Texas-3Jo couldn’t get enough of these kids and the feeling was mutual. I don’t think she ever got put down for 4 days straight. In fact, most the time, there was a line of eager boys waiting for their sisters to hand her over.

Texas-5This girl. She brings so much JOY everywhere she goes. Texas-6

IMG_1339Texas-2She lived the life last weekend. Like an only child, soaking up every second of being the center of attention. Who am I kidding? She lives like that 24/7 even at home with 4 siblings. I don’t think she could be any cuter…

Texas-2-2Oh! And since I’d been pondering getting a tattoo for a few months, I decided Austin was the place to do it. I’ve never had an overwhelming desire to get a tattoo, never been drawn to them personally, but for some reason I had really been thinking about it as an option lately.

So we called Scarlett’s tattooist and asked if she could get us in before our plane took off. She came in just for me. I decided to get the word written in Japanese Kanji. I am 1/4 Japanese and I just plain love the look of their alphabet. I chose the word HOPE and had her place it at the back of my neck.

Texas-4-2I’m in love with it! It’s feminine, small, easy to cover with my hair (if I want to) and most of all it is a constant reminder that my HOPE is in the Lord and nothing else. Not in where I live, how I’m performing as a mom (or not performing), what choices my kids make or where my husband works. Hope. Without it life can be super hard, and downright dreary. With it we can face each day knowing that God has our back and has already paid the price for our ultimate hope in eternal life with Him.


Ice Skating





Ice Skating 2013This was our last fling before school started back up. The kids have been dying to try ice skating and we’ve managed to push it out 13 years lol. The good news is that because they are all professional roller skaters, it just transferred right over and they all took off on the ice like they’d been doing it their whole lives. This skill would be from their father.

Ice Skating 2013-18He just looks like a pro sitting like that, doesn’t he? (thank you Tunings for the gloves loan!)

Ice Skating 2013-10Mitch in action (in the plaid shirt) on the ice.

Ice Skating 2013-19The little polar bear had fun warming everyone up as needed over the 4 hour period.

Ice Skating 2013-5Ruby and Annette…two little cuties.

Ice Skating 2013-15Mitch and Noah…friends for life, I’m sure.

Ice Skating 2013-22Some of the rest of the crew we skated with. I say “we” lightly. I HAD to sit on the bleachers with Josie and be the designated picture taker. This 37 year old mama knows that it hurts worse to fall as an adult and the recovery time is just a wee bit longer than being 9.

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Ice Skating 2013-2Despite the cold, the bruises on knees and the raw patches left from the skates being on too long, everyone wants to go back! Crazy kids.

December happenings…

Here is our month in pictures, as well as a wrap to this year’s blog. This was a goal of mine…to blog for the entire year and then print the blog into a beautiful book for my kids, and I did it. Truly a miracle. Seriously.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2013 to YOU!! And remember, “The days are long, but the years are short”. Cherish your time, for we are only a vapor on this earth and we don’t know if we will be given the gift of tomorrow.

Josie's first snowJosie first snowbig sister reads to little sisterDSC_0275DSC_0259all the cousinssantas helper all tired outninjagochristmas morningbabies first christmasDSC_0377DSC_0398DSC_0400DSC_0404DSC_0417DSC_0419IMG_0056IMG_0125Happy New Year!

Minute to Win it!

ahem…backtracking to Thanksgiving pictures…

We went to our friends’ home and played some super fun, super silly Minute to Win it (go here to see a ton of different games to play) games! Brace yourselves…yes, we are all sporting tights with a baseball at the bottom…on our heads πŸ™‚ And trying our hardest to knock down the water bottles in less than a minute. And may I just add that the Madre of the house, yes me, whooped everyone in this game! Pretty sure it’s because there was a baseball involved!

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The next game was, “using only your facial muscles, get the Oreo from your forehead to your mouth”…in a minute. I just loved the game because of the photo ops! DSC_0328 DSC_0330 DSC_0334 DSC_0338

And this one…stack a certain number of die on a popsicle stick…easier said than done. But Kayla wins the prize for being the most steady in this game πŸ™‚DSC_0347

So, there you have it. A few laughs at our silly expense πŸ™‚

Days 22-30…ah-hem….

One of my STRONG POINTS is having a vision and running with it. One of my weak points is not always finishing so strong. Darn it! First step is admitting it, right?

And at least it’s still November, right?

Day 22: I’m thankful for TRIPODS – funny, I know…but how else would we get a crazy family picture like this? πŸ™‚


Day 23: I’m so THANKFUL for this girl! The honest truth is that when I found out I was pregnant with her (while Mitch was 9 months old) I was a slight bit depressed for about an hour…until I accepted that this baby was supposed to be in our family and that God knew what he was doing. I’m SO THANKFUL God is in charge of my life and not me…how could we ever live without this sweet, helpful, loving, full-of-hugs, adorable little girl!!??


Day 24: I’m THANKFUL that I get to wear my SUNGLASSES in December! Whohoo!! We went and got our Christmas tree the earliest ever (in my recollection) last Sunday because who could pass up getting your tree in Oregon in the SUN??!! And…we didn’t have to traipse through the woods…just hop on the tractor trailer and ride to the trees, pick it out and hop back on the trailer. Loved this little farm/winery!


Day 25: I’m thankful for this boy. Mitch is certainly our little spit-fire, and often times we think of selling him (for free) but boy does he add character to our family! Here he is mourning because he wanted this cute little tree, but got out-voted by the rest of the family. We love him and know he will be a future leader…after all, leaders are always stong-willed, right? πŸ™‚


Day 26: I’m so thankful for Kayla…who, may I add is a half inch taller than me now!! Oh dear. She is certainly an extension of me and so helpful around the house and with Josie. Actually, I have to remind her that I’m the mom several times a day πŸ™‚ (Moms of teens, you understand this, right?) Kayla has a sweet, quiet disposition, a fierce love for babies and orphans and wants nothing more than to go live with Katie in Uganda when she’s old enough.


Day 27: I’m so thankful for Max. This guy gave us a run for our money when he was little and caused us to pray more than we ever had before…and just look at him now. An amazing big brother, so compassionate, loves babies, is eager to help others and is everyone’s friend. He is a joy and I’m so excited to watch him grow into a young man.DSC_0089

Day 28: I’m thankful for this picture that I get to burn into my mind! To watch my amazing husband be such a great daddy, and watch as my “baby” girl is almost tooΒ  big to get on daddy’s shoulders, stretch out to put up that little angel that we scored at Goodwill. Precious. {even if it is a little blurry}


Day 29: SOOOOO THANKFUL for our lawyer, Meghan!!! She was our lawyer for Gage and when we knew about Josie coming to our family, we sought her out to help us finalize her adoption. She still cries with me about Gage and now she rejoices with us over Josie. AND….she pushed her finalization through in less than 3 months, whereas the average time it takes to finalize is 6 months!!!!! Whohoo!!!


And last, but not least….Day 30: I thought this summed up our month so well…and it gave me such hope that our Mitchel brought this home from school. At this point he is our toughest nut to crack πŸ™‚ and to know that he told his teacher all these things he was thankful for? Totally warmed my heart. It was just what we needed as an encouragement to keep on keeping on!


Day 21 our forefathers

I am THANKFUL for our forefathers, who founded this amazing country. May we never forget…or get so far from our roots that we can’t find our way back.

Here is our nation’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation, from George Washington.

Proclamation of National Thanksgiving

George Washington

City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Day 20 old friends

Last night was 3 hours of pure fun with our friends Dave and Christina and three of their 5 kiddos! Amazing cabbage soup, fluffy, homemade rolls and even E coli contaminated water! (Ok the E coli wasn’t on the menu, but came as an uninvited guest and hopefully one that won’t do much harm!)

I am so thankful for friends, who though don’t live close, can just pick up right where we left off last. We are blessed.

{Just look at those 2 girls…I mean, young ladies! Just yesterday they were running around in diapers together…sigh.}

{I just love that our boys have known each other since being in the womb :)}

{And our little girls just love each other too…}

{Playing a game…they had to mimic each other – too hilarious!}