This Scene

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Oh, these kids… I had to take a picture of this, because it was one of those things I dreamed about when becoming a parent, and it finally came true…  Last Saturday as I was busy packing for our trip, I walked by and saw the four of them playing games on the table; two and two.  I almost didn’t take a picture because I was in such a frenzy trying to get ready, but decided I just had to capture the moment; the time I found my kids playing games totally on their own.  To be fair, it wasn’t all smiles and fun.  A certain little boy wasn’t too happy when his sister beat him to the card pile, and a certain sister was getting tired of giving in to her brother that cheated… you know, the usual stuff.  But, overall they had fun and it was just such a joy for me to see!  Big kids are cool.

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Seattle Getaway!

It was short, but sweet.  We arrived in Seattle Saturday night after dropping our kids off with friends.  My first comment to my husband was, “I can’t wait for tomorrow morning so we can go try some Seattle coffee!”  Arriving at the hotel and knowing we could stay up as late as we want and not have to get up in the morning was incredible.   Before coming, we vaguely researched Seattle, but ultimately we were taking it easy, enjoying time with the two of us, and of course looking to try some yummy food and coffee.  I’d say it was the most relaxed vacation ever, and left us feeling totally refreshed!

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After sleeping in and enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we went out in search of coffee.  This place was ranked #2 in Seattle, and was probably my favorite cup of the whole trip.  Although my husband doesn’t enjoy coffee, he is always up for a good warm drink… so Seattle apple cider it was!

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Despite the rain, we headed out to Snoqualamine Falls.  We were so glad we did!  The rain wasn’t too hard, and was off and on.  The falls were stunning and something neither of us had ever experienced.

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We then hiked through luscious green to get to the bottom of the falls.  (And we saw a young couple hop the fence onto the rocks… craziness!)

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Driving back towards the hotel, we drove through a little town called Issaquah, and followed signs in search of their salmon hatchery.  Ironically, it was not on our gps, but right smack in the middle of the town, and completely empty.  We followed along the self-guided tour, and really learned a lot.  It also put me in the mood for some salmon…

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One of my favorite parts of the trip was eating meals at “off-times.”  We had this delicious lunch around 3pm, then went back for a nap at about 4pm!  We also pulled off the road once more when we saw a sign for a lake, and it was beautiful!

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Though I have no pictures, I must make mention of the dinner we ended up going to.  Daniel found a Japanese Ramen house, and when we arrived it was packed… even though it was 8:30pm!  Luckily for us, there was a table for 2 open.  We felt kind of bad being seated before all the other people waiting, but we both agreed it was the best ramen we ever had… (even if I did smell like garlic for a day!)  We topped off our full day with a late movie at the hotel.

Day 2: We headed west to Pike’s Place and downtown Seattle.  When Daniel went to pay for parking, the man next to us told him he had just been broken into.  So, we found a different parking spot!

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We walked and walked… enjoyed coffee, cheese samples, fish samples, and dried fruits. A man at the Fish Market told us February is known as “Deaduary” since it’s their slowest month.  Since neither of us is good with crowds, we were very thankful it was slow season, though there were still quite a few people!

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We left the market with the most incredible plums and huge shrimp cocktail, then ate on our way to the chocolate museum.  If ever in Seattle, I highly recommend Theo’s chocolate factory tour.   They have the best chocolate, and literally make you sick with all their samples.  I actually left not wanting any more chocolate… My husband didn’t know who I was!

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One last shot with my lovely hair net…

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That night, we worked out at the hotel gym… ( I still don’t think I worked off even half the chocolate I consumed!)  Then we walked half a block to get sushi take out, which we enjoyed as our last night in the hotel.  Early the next morning, Daniel dropped me off at the airport, and I headed back on my own as he began his conference.  The trip was less than 72 hours, yet it was full… and fulfilling!  I was so happy to be back home today doing school with the kiddos.  I really was!  It was great to be away, and great to be back.  What a blessing!

Valentine’s Day 2017

I tell my kids this all the time… be specific in your prayer requests!  God cares about the details.  He certainly honored my request for a romantic husband.  It’ll be easy for you to see when I post these pictures of flowers and chocolates, incredible meals, and a fun hike… he really did bless my socks off with a wonderful birthday/ Valentine’s day!  But truly, I am also grateful for the day-to-day of taking the kids out so I can have a break… offering to cook or take us out… noticing something needs to be fixed and doing it… choosing to play games or go for walks over mindless tv… this man of mine… oh, for him I prayed!

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Our day began with a quiche breakfast, and special cards for us all.  The kids look forward to their special cards from Papa more than even their chocolates from him, (though it’s close!)

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As I began to read Malachi his card from Papa, he got a bit embarrassed, and ran to hug Papa.  It was the sweetest thing…

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After breakfast, we picked up a movie for the two middle girls since Sierra wasn’t feeling well, then headed out to our favorite waterfall.

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Daniel And Allison decided to take a hiking break to try out some of their Taekwando moves.

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The water was incredible after all the rain we’ve had.

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We came home, and Daniel sent me off for my massage while he cooked dinner.  Amazing!

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bv-19 bv-20The chocolate soufflés were probably the best birthday dessert I’ve ever had.  And, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using the leftover heavy whipping cream in my coffee every morning.

42 is off to a fabulous start!

Surprise!

In the past 14 years of birthdays with my best friend, there have been many planned surprises, but few actual surprises.  (Poor guy… somehow his plan always get foiled!)  But, this year he got me!  The day before my birthday, I was teaching about The Crusades to our afternoon History class, when in walked my big girls and my husband with little bundtlet cakes for all 60 kiddos in the co-op!  After singing “Happy Birthday,” we headed down stairs for the second surprise… Yogurtland for all of us!
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Whatever my husband does, he does it well… he loves to generously bless not only me, but those around me making us feel honored and special.  He has an amazing gift, and I am so blessed to be the recipient of his love!

Thanks for a special day and wonderful surprise, my Love!

Sunshine and Smiles

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I just sit back and smile… I really do.  How can you not love a girl in a leotard practicing skateboarding with her unicorn helmet?

Once again, it’s a night where I need to be reminded of her smile, and of what’s really important.  We all know as parents we have to choose our battles.  Sometimes I think I let important things go… and other times I am convicted for choosing to battle where I really didn’t need to.  Finding that balance between teaching difficult lessons and showing grace is a hard one for me.

How grateful I am to have the opportunity to practice this, though… And how grateful I am for a  Heavenly Father who continues to shower me with His grace as I feel more inclined to condemn myself when I don’t make the right parenting choice.  He’s a good, good Father, and I pray I grow to be more like Him every day!

S’more

This was not tonight.  But, tonight was my night to look at these pictures and smile.  Tonight was anything but smiles… tired, fussy, tempers… and the kids weren’t so great, either!  🙂

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The house is now quiet.  I feel like I can finally breathe.  Despite my fatigue, I am going to crawl into my bed and sincerely thank God for this day and the people he’s blessed me with.  I am also going to thank him for the trials and struggles that parenting can be, knowing that He wants to grow me once again.  And, I am going to cry out to Him who is able to raise my kids much better than me!

I am thankful for s’more nights, (and I could use a few more right now!)  I am thankful for trials, (though I wish they would pass quickly!)  I am especially thankful for these precious lives God has entrusted us with…

Whale Watching 2017

We were all exhausted after a long day and a long week.  My big girls were leaving for winter camp the next afternoon.  The forecast was for extreme winds.  But, our Groupon was about to expire and the only other day we could possibly use it, the forecast was for rain.  So, windy and tired it was… we decided to head out to whale watch the morning before sending the girls off to winter camp.  That means, they were riding on a boat and seeing dolphins in the morning, but playing in the snow by evening.  Only in Southern California…

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The winds were indeed as strong as predicted, but we were prepared with hats and gloves and such.  The strong winds made for beautiful clear skies and we enjoyed seeing the snowy mountains the girls would later be driving up from the boat.  Can you spot them below?

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Sadly, we saw no whales.  But, the boat ride was lots of fun and there were so many dolphins it was hard to be disappointed!

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And, sea lions… we did get coupons to come back since we saw no whales, so we will definitely try again.

One girl was extremely tired and crying about having to whale watch instead of doing school… (yes, seriously!)  By the end, she was hugging her brother and smiling big.  (Actually, she was smiling the whole time once we finally got there).

Kids.

Snowy Mountains and Ice Cream Trucks

The view from my office in the morning…

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I just love seeing the snow on the mountains!  I know it won’t last much longer, (unless the next storm brings more), but isn’t it glorious?  It’s especially fun to see snow when we’re enjoying the outdoors and some warm weather.  The ice cream truck even made it’s way through our cul-de-sac today, so we couldn’t say no!

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Happy February!