A Blessed Life

I was just looking through the recent photos from our phones tonight and I knew I had to blog post it. I just can’t help but smile. The best part about having a camera on your phone is that your phone is almost always with you, so you can capture moments so quickly and then go back to life. It doesn’t feel like a big ordeal and it just so fun to look back on the “normal” days around here.

Days are often hard as a parent, but it is easy to see that we are also so blessed. SO BLESSED. Each of our kids brings so much life, personality, and joy to the family.

This is our life…

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Camping at William Heise |Mother’s Day Weekend 2015

The conditions were probably the worst I could imagine.  The temperature was in the 30’s, the wind was icy, it was raining the whole drive up the mountain, and when we got to the campsite the ranger mentioned that it might snow during the night.  The map by the ranger station suggested that each and every campsite was booked for the night, but as we drove through the campground, we saw only three other campsites with people.

The fog was deep and thick and so were my spirits.

When we got to the campsite our friends the Dennis’ were already there but they hadn’t started setting up any of their things yet. They commented that they were waiting to make sure that we were really all committed to this. 6 families with 19 kids total…and temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s.

“Are we really going to do this?” Julie asked me, “Man, this is COLD. I don’t know.” I responded. We looked at our guys. Daniel said, “Let’s do this.” So we set up our tents in the fog and mist, praying for the rain to hold back until our shelters were ready. God answered.

As all the other families arrived we barely said more than 3 other words to each other, we kept our heads down and set up everything as quickly as we possibly could. Rob later said that is was if we were all playing a game of chicken with each other that Friday night, if anyone said they were going to bow out, we all would have quickly followed. Much to our surprise, the courage was high and determination won out.

Saturday morning when we woke up the temperatures were up to the 40’s. We made a fire and breakfast, shared sleep woes and some laughs.

Before we went camping I reminded Daniel that camping to me has never been about comfort. If you want to sleep well or be comfortable, you don’t look for those things while camping. Camping is about adventure and making memories. This camp trip was full of a lot of really sweet, sweet memories.

Here are a few of my favorite:

  • August had to sleep in my sleeping bag with me both nights to stay warm. I have a mummy bag. We snuggled all night long and I woke up many times, looking at him, watching him breathe. Sometimes I had to sing him back to sleep. Comfortable? No. But my heart swelled up so big and it felt so beautiful to hold him and sing him worship songs all night. He is growing up and heaven knows that I will probably never have to snuggle and sing to him all night ever again.
  • Bash spent most of Saturday hanging out with older boys, admiring them, taking in their every move. He bombed around in his new rain boots, rode a scooter, drank a lot of hot chocolate to keep warm, kicked up dirt, threw around a football, watched the other boys play soccer. He is only 3, but over this trip he felt much older. He was so independent the whole time and having a blast being around all those boys and people. He was a happy happy camper.
  • Dayla, true to herself and her likes, spent the whole weekend in a tank top and a skirt. She spent most of Saturday by the fire drinking hot chocolate, but as the sun came out and it got warm she played board games, colored, and read Highlights magazines with her friend Tabitha (who in her words, “Likes the same things I do”).
  • Sunday morning Dayla taught all the kids two songs that she had learned in Girl Scouts. Such was such an amazing teacher, but the real catch was that she lead all the kids in a show for the parents. There have been many shows before with all these kids, but Dayla usually bows out. She usually sits with me in the audience and watches all the other kids preform. Paralyzing stage fright. This camping trip however, she not only performed for all the parents, she LEAD the performance. Our girl is growing up! To see her with so much leadership and confidence after years of shying away, well to say the least, Daniel and I were smiling ear to ear.

This camping trip mostly consisted of trying to stay warm by the fire, a lot of hot chocolate, a couple small nature “hikes” with the kids, scooters, books, laughs, stories, and most importantly a lot of time with good friends.

Comfort? No. But adventure? Yes. Good memories? Oh my yes.

And best of all my sweet husband said he is excited to go camping again! I have it written down in my Mother’s Day card. 🙂

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Cousin Friends

For years we had bible study together on a weekly basis.  We went from couples with no kids, to pregnant, to now we all have 3 or more. We don’t get to see each other as often as we used to when we had bible study all together on a weekly basis,  we have all moved on to different churches and some of us even at different bible studies…but the love and friendship still runs deep.  It is nice having those kind of friendships, the ones that are just a deep no matter how many times a month you see each other.  I would say that not only do us adults have that with each other, I think even our kids all still do with each other.

Kristy once said that she thinks of all our the kids being “cousin friends”.  The way that you don’t get to pick your cousins, don’t see them often, but love them and love playing with them.  I think this describes the kid’s relationship with each other “to a t”.

Since the kids don’t see each other as often I jumped at the opportunity to watch the Lindsay kids last weekend when Kristy called out for help.  It is so fun to have them over and see how different they are then the last time we had them.  I swear these girls are practically teenagers in some ways…but then they ask to play tea party and I remember that they are still so young.

Here are a couple pictures from the day together:

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Here is another one with “cousin friends” from an overnight we did back in January to help out the Friesen family.

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It sure is fun to watch these kids all grow up together.

Monkey August Has A First Birthday Party

August is a mover and a shaker, and if you couple that with the fact that he loves to climb, be tipped upside down, and absolutely LOVE bananas…..a “Monkey First Birthday Party” seemed like the perfect fit.
 
I personally feel like the 1st birthday party is an excuse to “GO BIG”.  I love coming up with a theme and decorating…and Daniel and I both love having everyone we love right here in our home with us.  
 
August is our 3rd child, but I would beg to say that we put the same amount of time, effort, decorations, food, and love that we put into our first child’s and our second child’s 1st birthday parties. Being a youngest myself… I wanted August to know that he is just as special and loved as our other two….because that he is.
 
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We had a great turn out of 40+ friends to celebrate our little guy with us.  August just bombed around, up and down, through all the big kids, getting ice out of the cooler and laughing at it all.  When his safety seemed like it was in danger I would pop him in his high chair and he was just as content to sit there and watch all the chaos and people who had come to celebrate him.

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When the cake came out, a bazillion VERY LOUD big children gathered around him and shouted the “Happy Birthday” song…and little August didn’t cry or even flinch…he just kept on smiling….and then he ate cake.
 
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God held off the forecasted rain until right at the party’s ending time….the food was plenty…and the love of friends warmed the whole place.  It was a great way to celebrate one great little monkey.

 

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Mama and Son Time

Sebastian’s naps still take up most the time that Dayla is away at school, so I feel like I am missing that precious time with just he and I.  Every once in a while I am jolted by the fact that Sebastian is growing up fast and will be off to school before I know it, so we push back his nap or skip it all together for a little date.
 
This time we went to the mall.  We had a cake pop from Starbucks, walked around to play with all the fountains, and rode all the escalators.  I have to say it was probably my favorite day of the whole month. We had no agenda….just spent a lot of time walking around and laughing. Sweet, sweet times.

 

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August Milton’s First Birthday

Just a couple days before August’s 1st birthday monkey extravaganza party was his actual birthday.  Turning one is no small thing, so of course we needed to have cake.  As an added blessing my parents (Grandpa and Nana) were here with us on their annual trip, so they brought gifts and we made it a special little birthday party in Balboa Park.
 

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I don’t often have the time or capability to sneak my kids away for portrait sessions like I always thought I would be able to.  Have you heard the phrase, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes”?  Well it also turns out that the photographers’ children don’t have portraits too.  So when there was a respite at Balboa Park, Nana and Grandpa had taken the big kids and Daniel to some museums, I was beyond thrilled to have all the things I needed for an impromptu portrait session: my big fancy camera, a beautiful location, an adorable outfit change, and August, the willing model.  It all worked out so wonderfully! I was praising God the whole time!

 

Here is what I got:

 
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