Friday, October 10, 2014

Washington Coast

 Camping on the Olympic Peninsula has been on my bucket list for over a decade. Every summer, Josh and I talk about what our ideal list of summer fun activities should consist of and every summer I suggest camping on the Washington Coast. I don't know why he's never taken me seriously, or why I haven't just planned it out myself, but for one reason or another we've never gone.
 That all changed this year thanks to the brilliant researching and diligent efforts of my dear brother-in-law, Micah, who booked two perfectly placed campsites at Kalalach Campground six months in advance!

 I looked forward to this trip all summer long and was ecstatic when Labor Day weekend finally rolled around despite the somewhat formidable weather the coast was promising. I may or may not have over packed in the "cold weather clothing" department; however, after the gorgeously warm summer we have had our thick skin for tolerating cold and gloomy weather has nearly vanished. I was determined to be toasty and warm despite braving the elements.

 As luck would have it, we never even pulled out our warm jackets, wool blankets or hats. Instead, I found myself silently patting myself on the back for having the good sense of also packing swimsuits and shorts amidst the flannel shirts and fleece pajamas. I, for one, did not partake in the freezing cold waters of the Pacific Ocean any deeper than my mid-calf; my children, on the other hand, were a different story.
I am eternally grateful for husbands and fathers on trips like these as they willingly pull on their shorts and dive into wave chasing with their children. We quickly learned that it is entirely impossible to keep 8 children out of the water regardless of whether the weather encourages a dip in the water or not. Rain or shine, warm or cold, they are going in that water.  

 (Ruby Beach)
 Most of our four day trip was spent at various beaches, making fires, or preparing meals but we did manage to make it up to the Hoh Rainforest (another portion of my bucket list). I found it too overwhelming to try and capture the magnitude of beauty the old growth rainforest holds to offer. Maybe, that was because a "walk in the forest" with 8 children doesn't afford much time for stillness or pause for photographic artistry, but mostly, I wanted to soak up what I was seeing with my own eyes rather than see it through a lens.

 All in all it was a wonderful weekend of camping. I'd love to go back and camp a littler further north in the park but Kalalach was a beautiful spot in its own right. I imagine we will save further explorations for a few years down the road when naps aren't required and little legs can walk farther than 1 mile.

Monday, June 23, 2014


A few weeks ago, I got a bee in my bonnet to go camping.
I don't know if it was the drive over to Chelan on Memorial Day weekend to help my Grandpa move or the onset of summer but I knew we needed to act on the idea quickly. A few text messages, some quick campsite research and six days later we found ourselves on Highway 2 stuffed like sardines around the essentials for outdoor living.
 Since June is so fickle in Western Washington we headed over to the mountains in hopes of ensuring a successful (read dry) first camping trip for the season. Two hours and a few pit stops later we pulled into the Upper Johnny Creek campsite just outside of Leavenworth and began setting up our nylon home for the next two nights. 
 Almost immediately, the kids ran into the woods, found sticks, got poked by a few bushes, and came back to our campsite with a fine layer of dirt already covering their hands and legs. Right then, I knew the next few days were going to be near perfection.

 Just as I suspected, the next two days contained all the things that deem a camping trip as delightful. There was a hike near a glacial raging river, alpine wildflowers lining the path with their delicate beauty. Though there may have been more than one point along the trail where the number of children needing to be carried outnumbered the available adult arms, backs, or shoulders. We'd still do it over again.

 There were numerous treks in the woods to find "fire tending" sticks and immediate fire etiquette lessons for three little burgeoning pyros. Boys and fire, the fascination and obsession is instant.   

 There were hot breakfasts with warm cups of coffee and hot chocolate in the morning. Delicious dinners followed by almost immediate and constant pleas for s'mores. Lots and lots of s'mores. There were giggling kids who were delighted to be sleeping in such close quarters to their siblings and adult conversation around the fire late into the evening.



Like I said, it was perfection and left us all eager for future trips to come.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

10 on the 10th

The late-spring sun beats down warming the earth and our souls alike. 
Sweat beads on tiny noses and pleas for less clothing quickly follow. 
I pry open the bottle of sunscreen left abandoned to it's winter home in the closet and say a silent prayer that it will keep my children's creamy white skin safe. 

 Articles of extra clothing fly off their bodies in eager anticipation of what awaits outside.  The swish of Lycra, the slapping of naked feet against pavement and wood as tiny legs propel themselves to the cool dampness of the lawn. They wait.

 The nozzle sings a staccato song in squeaky protest of disuse; rubber creaks and groans as it swells and fills with cool water rushing to fill it's hollow void. There's a spit, a sputter and a final whoosh as the water forces it's way out of the sprinkler head into a glorious fountain. Sunlight greats the droplets and momentarily transforms the gentle cascade to a crystalline state.

 Bodies blur in motion. Cool water meets hot skin and a simultaneous shriek of shock and relief fills the air. Over and over they gallop, hop and dodge through the arms of their watery escape.
With teeth chattering they retreat to the warmth of their terry-cloth islands. Off goes the water. The ground is sodden and their wrinkled skin tells the story of their water-filled escapades.
There is truly no greater combination than sunshine and water.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

10 on not quite the 10th

 We had two birthdays since the last time we talked.
This one turned 2. I always thought Owen was "all boy" and then Jesse came along and took that to a whole new level. He is constant motion. He jumps off of everything and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Curbs, mini slides, steps, ottomans...if it's elevated he will most assuredly jump off of it. While most kids walk or run, Jesse prefers to jump 5 times before breaking into a full body run in which his hands are tucked up into his arm pits, his elbows start swinging and his little torso twists to and fro as his little legs beat the ground. It's a wildly inefficient way to run but ridiculously cute to watch.
He's our little beast. We frequently pause and speculate as to where his body type came from because he's built like a brick. I keep wondering if he and Owen will be in the same size clothes by the end of the summer. He dislikes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but other than that is a great eater. Hot dogs are his favorite food by far.

He loves all things super-heroes and is quick to point out any suspicious individual by saying "bad guy, mama!" He likes to pick out his clothes (something Owen could still care less about) and, naturally, his clothing of choice has "mat-man" on it.
 He is my little snuggler, quick to dole out hugs or kisses unprompted and a mama's boy through and through (lucky me!) I adore and cherish this little one. 

 The other birthday belongs to this little boy. My big 4 year old!
In this past year we have seen so many traits come out in him which cause our hearts to soar. He is left handed. He loves to learn, soaking up every opportunity to do his "school book" or practice writing; I love seeing how his wobbly letters have progressed since we started preschool activities at home. 

He loves to sing and has a quick mind and ear for picking up lyrics, which now means I REALLY have to think about what I am listening to. He gave up napping this year but, thanks to Adventures in Odyssey, daily quiet time is a breeze most days.

He loves to encourage others, if very affectionate and has a beautifully sensitive spirit. When Josh was remodeling our bathroom this winter, Owen would poke his head in to check Josh's progress and always left him with some sort of praise "You're doing such a good job, Daddy!" "You're such a hard-worker!"
I adore seeing life through his eyes.

 How blessed and rich our life is because of these two precious boys the Lord has given us. 
I love every day I get to spend with them.