Thursday, June 21, 2018

Double Digits

Chloe and Tyler had a unique and fun opportunity on Chloe's birthday week.  Tyler had planned a week of washing windows for his business in Spokane (Thanks Spokane family and friends!!) and Chloe was so eager to join him and stay with Blayre's family.  The two drove over together Sunday afternoon and Tyler stayed with Grannie and Chloe stayed with Blayre.
Tyler and Chloe

Tyler washing Logan and Julia's windows
These two share birthdays and so they planned a whole day of fun things!!  The two went to Raptor Reef waterpark WITHOUT kids and had such a good time!

Chloe was able to spend time with her cousins a lot during the week as well.  They had a little birthday party with her and even had a book club and sleepover night hosted at Grannie's house.

Chloe just LOVES the Maynes kiddos!
When Chloe got home we had our own family birthday party.  We must have been having too much fun because somehow this is the only picture we took.  She chose Chicken Noodle Goldfish soup for dinner.  Those presents in the picture were full of cute new outfits and the big surprise was a container of live caterpillars that will turn into butterflies.  While she was excited about this gift she was also quite sad as she REALLY wanted an incubator and chicken eggs.  I was sure caterpillars would be a good compromise.  Hard to change this girl's mind, though.

This next year is a big year for Chloe.  She will be starting middle school and off to school at the same time as the rest of the kids. 

Chloe has passion!!  She is a fearless baker, passionate creator, lover of "The Greatest Showman," baby whisperer, and a pretty good sassy mess maker too.  We sure love this girl!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Our house just grew by TEN FEET!!

We're so lucky this summer to have added the Watts family to our home!  They moved in mid June and will be here until mid August.  Sawyer and Rue are here for vision therapy and Isla is here to keep us all in line.  It's been such a treat to get to know all the kids better and spend time with Laura and Jared as well.  We just don't get to see each other often enough so having this concentrated time together is such a blessing.

Isla has been so sweet with offering daily massages to all the family.  She is caring and creative and absolutely loves it when Chloe and Alysee play school with her.

We're loving all our nap and bedtime kisses and hugs from Rue.  Having a toddler in the house has been fun again -- especially because she is an AMAZING talker!  She makes the mundane things in life sparkle. 

Sawyer has been such a trooper with all his eye therapy and being displaced from his home.  I think he likes having some more brothers and loves to play with the boys.

I'm loving having a second sister wife to cook meals and chat with when I am especially bugged by something.  Birch has enjoyed a new running buddy.  It's a WIN/WIN!!!  Love you Watts!!

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!