forts & watermelon


Yesterday was filled with getting up at 3am to send our oldest to Nicaragua on a missions trip, phone calls, texts and a LOT of frustration between us and DHS. Some days can get you in a funk, only seeing the negative and in that moment I decided to grab my big camera and literally focus on the positive right in front of me.


The here and now – my baby loving his watermelon. I’m not sure why…but he basically takes huge bites, chews and then spits it all out. And then repeats over and over. Causing a very large mess.


But a cute one, none-the-less.


Those teeth. And you like those watermelon juice, slicked back eye brows? Stylin for sure.


Then there’s these two. We decided it was time to make some outside tents to read in, complete with our favorite Trader Joe’s lollipops. I love these moments. Little moments that make up our day, our day that can be full of white noise and distraction, are what I want to remember. Not the noise. Not the plans that failed. Not the holding pattern that our life seems to be in at the moment…


but these little faces…


these little toes…


and surely the hot tub area out back with this sign we take very seriously.

April Happenings…

What a blessing we had in April – SO MUCH SUN! WE tried to take advantage of it all.

I’m so thankful for Ruby – she is such an amazing big sister. She runs from the bus, every day, straight to Jo’s waiting arms and picks her up and says, “Let’s go play!!” Her imagination still runs wild and full of innocent fun, that includes her 19 month old sister. And although we don’t have acres of forest to build all-natural forts, she improvised like a champ. Seeing her read to Jo makes my heart happy.DSC_5119This girl. Sticker on nose. Jumping like her brothers – crazy! I had fun playing with angles while they were jumping too. Basically by laying on the trampoline and shooting up, while they are jumping, it gives an impression that she is higher than she is. You should try it. DSC_5115…and Ruby had fun adding some moves to make it look even higher… DSC_5106Aunt Teala comes to visit! We visited the Portland Saturday Market {briefly, because let’s face it, 7 kids on a hot day walking through vendors without buying anything = crabby kids} before heading up to Sandy to see extended family. We sure do miss having her here. We’re hoping that she’ll be back in a few years…wink, wink. DSC_5073 DSC_5073-2Of course Jo loved being in her stroller and wanted to sit the whole time. Not.  DSC_5070 We also visited The Spoon Guy. Tad and I bought monogram spoon rings when were dating 20 years ago. It was fun to revisit them and see what new contraptions that have now…including knife headbands. They’ve been at the market for 40 years! Make sure to check them out if you’re down there.DSC_5061 DSC_5059Me and the gang. I love these little hoodlums. They contribute daily to my gray hairs, but I’d have it no other way.  DSC_5053While Teala was here, we got everyone else together for a family dinner. First time in YEARS that all 5 of us siblings were in the same place at the same time. Good times. DSC_4856 DSC_4852Jo has met Aunt Teala when she was born, but didn’t remember her. She warmed up to her in no time, of course. And baby got to meet her too.  DSC_4844 Sisters. As you can see, Jo is not lacking in personality.DSC_4838 Thanks to Groupon Jo gets to jump at the mini Pump it Up with her bestie, Treva. Both adopted just 8 weeks apart, they will have a special bond for years, I’m imagining. DSC_4825 DSC_4824 DSC_4823 The girl has fear, I tell you. No fear.

DSC_4816DSC_4821  DSC_4813 DSC_4812I love the simplicity of toddler play. No need for fancy, plastic toys. Just a bowl of water on a sunny day. DSC_4776Thanks, April, you treated us well.

Jump for it!


Jumping is something we do all the time. I say ‘we’ lightly…because mommy doesn’t jump anymore. If she did…well, she might have an accident. TMI? Yes, probably.

It’s been so fun to watch Jo go from bouncing ever so softly with her siblings to this! Full-on jumping with 2 feet off the ground at the same time. This girl. Do you know that part of KINDERGARTEN testing is asking, “can you jump with both feet at the same time?” We think this qualifies her as talented and gifted at the age of 17 months.


This week she got to have a little play date with friends, Audrey and Madeline. It was dramatic, happy jumping, to say the least.  This is Audrey and I’m sure she gets this from her dad…

DSC_4258  DSC_4240 DSC_4228This is our family’s second trampoline. We basically killed our first one after 30+ kids living with us and 7 years of abuse. Best. Investment. Ever.

Spring is in the air!

The sun inspired me to find the magical in the mundane things of our lives over the last few days. Spring is in the air and I am so excited about that. With it brings fort building on cool spring mornings, reading books with sun rays felt on your skin, boys on bike rides, little girls pushing their babies down the street, big girls giggling in groups and my boy-going-on-man shooting hoops shirtless. I am thankful for these days – even amidst the arguing, messiness, laundry and dishes.







DSC_4215  DSC_4203 DSC_4202

snow is in the air

It’s pretty safe to say that Jo loved the snow.

DSC_3489 It’s pretty safe to say big sister loved the snow as well.DSC_3579 This girl. Darn it. She’s getting older.  DSC_3572 When I brought Jo out, they all fought over who could pull her, take her up the hill, vying for her attention. And I love that.DSC_3570And though she loved being toted…she wanted freedom. DSC_3564Pure joy. Snow seems to strip away any sense of “cool” the older kids have and brings forth the little kid in us all. It’s something for all ages and brings people together. I hate the cold, but love the side effects. DSC_3559One of Jo’s favorite things; getting pulled by Kayla. DSC_3552We really did put gloves on her…just not yet… DSC_3551 {earlier in the day}…wistfully watching for everyone to come back and play with her.DSC_3546 …and oh how sweet she looked! DSC_3543 And our neighborhood…really, I think our landlord may have to have us extracted from his house. We really don’t want to ever leave. Quads pulling sleds, everyone meeting at the end of the cul-de-sac at the one steep driveway (poor city kids) in the neighborhood to watch the kids sled, to cross country skiing down the road…it’s just good. We are blessed.DSC_3537 DSC_3535 Max even got a little snowboarding lesson…and a real board to try on. DSC_3526 DSC_3530

Meet Jack. He’s pretty much a new family member here. A.K.A. max’s best friend.DSC_3525 These two beauties! DSC_3504 …the token “this is our house” photo…DSC_3499 A good excuse to get the dirt bike out…DSC_3497The older they get, the less they want to be in front of my lens. It takes a lot more cajoling these days!  DSC_3492 DSC_3491It makes me happy when we get an image with all 7 of us {actually} in the frame at the same time…quite miraculous. DSC_3574Happy Snow Days of 2014!

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!

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}



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.

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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