Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ode to Papa

This year Father's Day was a little crazy with our household bursting at the seams with lots of family in town and just getting back from our surprise trip.  We didn't get to dwell on Daddy as much as usually do as the day was shared with several Daddy's (Uncle Ryan, Uncle Jared, and Poppi). 

I am daily grateful for the amazing man I am married to and for the incredible father he is!!  Birch perfects his awesomeness each year and I am just along for the ride.  Love this man!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Drum roll....SURPRISE TRIP 2018!!

All year long our annual Kick-off the Summer Trip is quietly planned and prepared for by mom and dad.  It seems like the last month of school is a killer for all of us - big projects and tests, tons of concerts and programs, finals, and late nights.  We were all so ready to have some time with just our family!

So where did we go?  Anderson Island!!!  Where is that you ask?  We had no idea either until we discovered it this past year.  Basically I did a vrbo search for a place to rent that was around $200/night and was within three hours of our home.  Anderson Island popped up and after doing some research it seemed like the perfect spot for our 2018 Surprise Trip.  Anderson Island is the southernmost island in Puget Sound.  You get there by taking a twenty minute ferry ride from Steilacoom, WA.  There are only about 1000 residents and we found the roads to be sleepy and the parks to be plentiful and so nicely kept up.  It was the perfect place for our family to unwind.  There is one little general store and a cafe so we packed in all our food and rented a nice little house in the trees.

But our adventure started before we arrived to Anderson Island.  We drove up Hwy 12 and made a pit stop at Mount Rainier.  Sadly, it had been probably fifteen years since we last went with the kids (meaning we only had two at the time).  Only an hour and half from us and we find ourselves so busy that we haven't carved time to experience the beauty of Mount Rainier.  Chloe had a free 4th grade pass into any National Park and it is just about to expire so we decided we should take advantage of some hiking.

Our first hike was to the Grove of the Patriarchs.  The trails were well-maintained and we had a great time even though it was a bit chilly.

After that hike we decided to go on another hike to Silver Falls.  It was beautiful as well.

Just missing one awesome Elder!

Chloe was sure to capture EVERYTHING!!  Between Alysee, Tyler, and Chloe taking loads of pictures -- I'm not sure why Birch and I even bring our camera anymore.
We were FAMISHED after our hikes so we snarfed down our sack lunch while we finished our drive to Steilacoom.

Getting ready to load the ferry.

We rented a little house in the forest on Anderson Island.  We saw deer everywhere but this site was especially sweet to see right out the kitchen window.
Saturday morning we headed to Andy's Marine Park.

It was about a mile hike to the beach...really I should say it was a mile walk.  The trail was so well maintained with markings naming the tree types.  The trail was through a forested area that lead straight to the beach.  I kid you not -- we only saw one other person while were there.  This marine refuge was full of crabs of all sizes, millions of sand dollars, starfish, tons of shell fish, shrimp, little eel looking fish, etc...
Hours squealing with delight when finding a new creature.

Check out the size of that crab -- sure would have been fun if we were allowed to take one home to cook up.

Tiny shrimp

Chloe carried around that starfish like her pet.

Not sure why Tyler is making the nasty face - we learned that the black sand dollars are still alive and the white ones dead.

The kids loved digging down and trying to pull out or squeeze these slimy clams - geoduck and razor clams.

Coop looking for a treasure.

Handsome Lover
 After our morning at Andy's Marine Park we went to Ol' Swimming Hole at Johnson Park.  It had a great sand volleyball court where several spikeball games were played.

After spikeball everyone (minus me that needs the water temperature to be at least 80 degrees) jumped into the fresh water lake.  They had a couple of fun docks to swim to and even a high jump and slide.
The boys showing off.




Coop going down the slide.


Swan dive by my Lover

I pumped up a raft that everyone had fun in as well.

Me basking in the sun.

Chloe going down the cute little baby slide.
That night after dinner we watched the newer version of "Cinderella" and then the boys stayed up way too late watching "Lord of the Rings 2."  The mornings found us all sleeping in and then lounging around.  Birch, Tyler, and Nate went on a tough six mile run to keep in shape for XC in the fall. Our meals were simple - pancake mix, yogurt, canned mangos, chicken pasta from Costco, breaded chicken sandwiches, caesar salad, and treats at night while watching movies.

Saturday we hiked out to James Point.  This hike goes through the forest and along a little peninsula.  It wasn't as exciting as Andy's Marine Park but it was still beautiful and a lovely walk.

Ditto Family as James Point
Our last stop before loading up the car was Pine Park.  This small park was immaculately maintained and had a great frisbee golf course and little fish stocked pond.  Everyone was sad when it was time to pack up to catch the ferry.
These boys LOVE frisbee golf!
After we bid farewell to Anderson Island we drove to the Seattle Temple.  I had arranged for the kids to do baptisms.  Cooper just turned twelve year's old so this was his first time being able to go inside the temple.  Nathan is our ward Youth Family History Specialist and had found many family names to do baptisms for.

Coop said it was a really neat experience.
While Chloe and I were waiting for Birch and the older kids she conned me to look on google maps for a Humane Society.  As fate would have it there was one four minutes away.  I'll spare you all the pictures she took of all the dogs and cats but I was amazed at how many pit bulls were there.  Chloe loved every minute and didn't beg too much to touch all the animals.  I found a cute little bakery close by which I knew Chloe would love as she is an extreme delicatent treat baker.  She chose a cream puff to try and loved every bite.
So yummy!
Chloe and I headed back to the temple and picked up the rest of the family and we surprised them with a hole in the wall burger joint that had great reviews.  It was way greasy but we all muscled down our onion rings, fries, and chicken or hamburgers.  We all went away thinking we should have shared and then stopped for salads at Trader Joes.
Boiler Bay in Bellevue, WA

Packin' in the grease
2018 Kick-off the Summer Surprise Trip did not disappoint!!  Anderson Island was such a great find and we loved how it felt like we owned the island as we rarely saw anyone else.  Some of my favorite moments was opening a bag of Twix fun size candy bars from my mom and finding a dollar wrapped around each candy bar with instructions to give a compliment to a family member prior to eating the chocolate.  It was great hearing everyone's praise and we all loved our stop at the Country Store to spend our dollar on treats.  Thanks Ami and Poppi!!!

I'm already excited to start thinking of next year's trip!!  Sure do love my family!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The last two

The past few months we've been getting a glimpse at what life will be like in a few years.  Often the older kids all have something going on during the weekend and Coop and Chloe are left at home.  The other day they were both DYING of boredom and so Chloe offered to give Coop a spa experience.  Pretty sure he loved it!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

APW - Coop's BIG day!

Coop had been counting down to his twelfth birthday were several months.  He's been SO excited to be done with primary!  Coop didn't have to think long to decide his special birthday dinner - homemade pizza!!
I don't make homemade pizza very often but everytime I do the kids beg me to open a pizza shop.
This is our first lego architecture set.  Coop loves to learn and share his knowledge about the world so this set was an easy decision to get for him.

Some how I got possessed and bought a laser tag set for Cooper.  Until about two years ago we didn't own one gun (fake or real) but somehow we've collected several nerf guns recently and now...a laser tag gun set.  The kids have had so much fun playing together in the evenings.

Making a wish!!
THEN....a couple of days after Cooper's birthday we celebrated A.P.W. (Aaronic Priesthood Weekend)

A day of dozens!!

Inside each balloon was a special note written just for Coop about why that person thought Cooper would be a wonderful priesthood holder.

Headed to church to be ordained with the Aaronic priesthood.  Tyler was able to stand in the circle to ordain Cooper while Birch did the blessing.
Everyone who stood in the ordination circle.

Popping each balloon to reveal a special note. 
 Such thoughtful things were written to Cooper:

  • Coop will be a great priesthood holder because he is a great communicator.  He puts people at ease and makes them feel comfortable when he speaks with them.  Congrats Coop.  –Uncle Ryan
  • His ability to make people laugh and smile from the joy he feels in life will make him the kind of priesthood holder that others want to be around...and when you are around people, you find more opportunities to serve...and that's what the priesthood is all about: service. – Uncle Logan 
  • Congrats Cooper! We are so proud of you and know you will honor your priesthood and work hard at using it to bless the lives of others around you! I was really impressed last year when you're mom said that you had made a goal to read the Book of Mormon and beat your goal by, what? Two months? That was amazing! That diligence and dedication to the Book of Mormon and to completing goals are both such great qualities that will continue to bless you. I know that as you continue to read and study the Book of Mormon you will have the Spirit with you more and more and it will help you as you use your priesthood power. Wish we could be there to celebrate! Love, Jessica 
  •  I love Coop for many reasons and know that he will make an amazing priesthood holder! Cooper has an enthusiasm for life that will help him as he serves others in his quorum, at school, in his family and all around him. This enthusiasm is infectious and makes you smile just by being in his presence. As he serves his smile and zest for life can help to lift the down trodden and lighten others burdens when they feel Cooper’s spirit and positive vibes. Heavenly Father smiles down on you! I love you! Sis Cobia :) (I know all the other Cobia’s feel the same way!) – Tara Cobia 
  • Coop will be a fantastic priesthood holder because he is inquisitive and learns lots of things about lots of things. love ya bud – Uncle Luke 
  • Cooper definitely is qualified to be a holder of the Priesthood because he has a great heritage and  has proved himself to be an outstanding righteous young man that loves his Heavenly Father. Cooper You are loved by Great Grandmother........................ Sister Rose Harvey 
  •  Yay Cooper!I’ve noticed that Cooper looks for the good in people and in situations. Seeing the best in people is a very Christlike characteristic!Wish we could be there on your special day! Love, Julia  
  •  He’ll be great - quite simply because he is a “son of God” and has a great family who have raised him to know and appreciate that knowledge.  All the best Coop! – Uncle Geoff   
  •  Cooper, I think you will be an amazing priesthood holder because you are so easy to like! People won't hesitate to ask you for help because you are so friendly, outgoing, and fun to be around. –Aunt Jenna
  •  Cooper-You're going to be such a great priesthood holder. You're kind and thoughtful and you always seem to know the needs of the people around you. Those are such wonderful traits to have as you serve the Lord and those around you. -Uncle Juje  
  •  God needs all of us to do his work. As they say in west Africa, "man is God to man". Coop, you are a unique person with unique gifts and strengths, God has called you to this special responsibility because he needs YOU. The priesthood helps us not to be different people, but better people. The world is lucky to have the light, humor and love you bring to it! -Uncle Seth  
  •  What a special time this is!  I think one of the reasons Cooper will be a wonderful priesthood holder is because he likes to understand things  so he can then do what is expected of him.  He wants to be responsible and follow through.  –Ami and Poppi
  •  I know Cooper will honor his priesthood because of the examples of his own family before and his maturity now in knowing the sacredness of what he will hold.  He's a responsible and loving young man...both things the Lord needs! – Uncle Matt  
  • Because he is kind to people and knows how to put their needs before his own.-Uncle Kelly 
  •  I’ve always been impressed with how good Cooper is with my babies.  He loves to hold and play with them- that’s a pretty awesome trait for a pre-teen boy! Love you! Congrats! – Aunti Blayre
  • Cooper will be a great priesthood holder because is joyful. –Aunti Camilla
  • Coop will be a good priesthood holder because he is humble. -Nate
  • Cooper will be a wonderful priesthood holder because you are great around people.  Making others feel comfortable around you is an important trait as it will make you more easily approachable and help provide more opportunities to use your priesthood.  –Love momma 
  • Cooper! You are a gifted, talented, delightful, kind, and obedient young man.  I am so thankful to be your father.  This next step in your life of becoming a holder of the Lord’s Holy Priesthood will help you in your further development as you become more like Jesus.  Cooper, I admire your ability to have fun and be happy, as well as to make good friends.  Thank you for being a great example.  I look forward to learning from you and helping you grow in your priesthood service.  Love, Dad 
  • Cooper is always super happy.  You will be happy to do your priesthood duties. Love, Chloe 
  • Cooper will be a good priesthood holder because you recognize when people are in need.  Love, Alysee 
  • Cooper will be an excellent priesthood holder because he thinks of others.  He has a natural talent of engaging and connecting on another’s level which will help him be able to serve in a meaningful and specific way to each individual. Love Aunti Emi 
  •  I think Coop will be an awesome priesthood holder because he has a creative mind. Being a priesthood is all about serving others, so he will excel in finding creative ways to exercise his priesthood power! –Elder Alex Ditto
  • Cooper will be a good priesthood holder because he knows what is right. – Abbey Cox 
  • Cooper has been taught by example of what a priesthood holder does and how to honor his priesthood.  Because Cooper has had this is whole life, he is able to follow this example and honor and respect his priesthood.  So excited for him to receive the priesthood and watch him continue to grow into a young man. – Love Brooke Cox
  • Coop always tries his best.  He cares for others.  –Tyler
  • The Lord needs young men who are not afraid to live the gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness and courage.  Cooper is just the guy to do the job…and he’ll make you smile and be glad you are on the Lord’s side while you’re doing it.  Cooper is a leader, a mover and a shaker!!  He has been ready for this for a long time.  Congratulations Coop!!  Be honorable!  I love you…Grannie