the lake

we were in northern idaho with family last week playing at my aunt and uncle’s lake house. i had over 1000 photos between my phone and big camera. i’m only sharing a few here…

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playing, smiling, paddle boarding, sailing, talking, waterskiing, running, eating, jetskiing, collecting, laughing, boating, teaching, fishing, learning, swimming, jumping, loving, exploring, celebrating.

home is…a week of lake life.

{milestones} the little guy is seven

We celebrated the little guys seventh birthday recently.

Seven.

That’s big.

He’s awesome.

Physically, he can do anything he sets his mind to.

Rock climbing, bike riding, baseball, skiing, snowboarding, swimming…pretty much anything he tries, he is good at.

When I asked him what he wanted to do on our upcoming trip to the lake he replied, “I’ll try anything.”

And, he will.

He’s reading. Not voraciously into books quite yet, but I imagine it will only be a matter of time.

He’s brave. It’s hard to remember what it was like to go to a new, big school and have to make ALL NEW friends. He did a great job this year.

His favorite class (and teacher) in school this year was music. Music. What an awesome thing.

He loves his sister. Sometimes, it’s not cool to show his love, but most times he does. He reads to her, lets her play minecraft with him, shares his legos with her, and indulges in the play that she leads. He is the best big brother she could ask for.

As tough as he is, he has a real sensitive nature. He loves fiercely. His feelings can be easily hurt.

One on one time with him is amazing. He has awesome thoughts and ideas that he doesn’t always get to share unless we get time alone with him.

He loves science, nature, and exploring the outdoors.

He knows a lot about technology and is not afraid of it…he knows more about iPads and iPhones than I do!

He is creative and thoughtful.

He has boundless energy that can sometimes get him into trouble, but most times is just hard to keep up with.

He keeps us on our toes.

He tests boundaries.

He loves his family.

And, we love him. Like crazy.

the little guy is seven

I asked him some questions this morning to get a feel for how HE feels at seven.

  • favorite color:  green, yellow, gold…well, actually, the whole rainbow
  • favorite toy:  bike
  • favorite t.v. show: wild kratts
  • favorite game: minecraft
  • favorite snack:  chewy chcolate chip granola bars and poppa’s popcorn
  • favorite animal:  pronghorn
  • favorite holiday:  christmas
  • favorite book:  anything about minecraft
  • favorite song: welcome boys and girls (sung by his music teacher as they enter the classroom)
  • what do you take to bed: sweetie (his big yellow dog)
  • favorite food: pizza
  • favorite thing to do outside: ride his bike
  • what do you want to be when you grow up:  zoologist or wildlife biologist
  • what are you most grateful for: ben and pop-pop
  • favorite part of the day: afternoon
  • what makes you happy: sweetie at bedtime
  • what are you scared of: spiders
  • what makes me special: my family

To be part of his life EVERYDAY and watch him grow is one of the biggest joys of my life.

home is…seven of the most rewarding years of my life.

grand river hoji ben {january 25, 2000 – july 7, 2014}

We bought our first house with him in mind.

He was born less than one week after we were engaged.

We drove 6 hours, one way, to pick him up…I had to drive the last hour so Ryan would not speed.

His biological mom’s name was Jo-Jo.

His biological dad’s name was Fast Eddy.

He was a grumpy old man as a puppy.

We got married when he was 10 months old.

We used to run across creeks and hide behind trees to make him learn to swim.

More times than not, when he would throw a fit about getting into the car (usually in the middle of nowhere Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas or Nebraska) we had to get in the car without him and drive down the dirt road, with him in hot pursuit, just to get him to decide to get into the car with us.

He taught us about tough love.

He introduced us to people and places we never would have met or seen without him.

He took us on adventures I will never forget.

We ran through high mountain parks in snow-thunderstorms together.

We “got turned around” (you are only lost if you are never found) after dark on logging roads in Idaho together.

We woke up with a snow covered wall tent at 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains more than once together.

He traveled from coast to coast with us.

He stayed at Hotel Monaco in Chicago (even took a bath in the tub) and Super 8′s all over the country.

He swam in rivers and lakes from New York to Colorado to Oregon.

He chased birds where most will never get a chance, or be good enough, to chase birds.

He stopped me from walking in on a burglary in progress in our home.

He taught me patience.

He taught me unconditional love.

He taught me to be a mom before I was a mom.

GRHojiBen

flat tops 9:2005

hunting in the colorado flat tops {9/2005}

bella beach 7:2011

bella beach {7/2011}

walk around the block 2:2012

walk around the block {2/2012}

thought we would lose him then 3:2012

almost lost him {3/2012}

st louis ponds 4:2006

the three amigos – Oak, Ben & Odyssey {4/2006}

snuggles 3:2012

snuggles {3/2012}

sleepy face 3:2012

sleepy face…he was so sick in march 2012 {3/2012}

sharing his bed 12:2013

such a gentle boy – sharing with baby teal {12/2013}

reece's first hunt 11:2010

reece’s first hunt {11/2010}

mt hood 8:2010

mt. hood {8/2010}

mike gould and ben 10:2005

grand river seminar with mike gould {10/2005}

lab at play

always

just hanging 10:2011

just hanging on the deck {10/2011}

instagram dog 8:2011

dog of instagram {8/2011}

idaho 10:2006

loved to dig a hole to rest in – idaho {10.2006}

grandchild is a dog

pillow we bought for ryan’s parents

grand river seminar 10:2011

grand river seminar – idaho {10/2011}

getting a bath 2:2014

getting a bath {2/2014}

family dog 8:2011

family dog {8/2011}

family dog 3:2011

dog pile {3/2011}

chukar 1:2009

chukar hunting {1/2009}

 

He couldn’t hear.

He couldn’t see.

He was in pain.

For the last week he barked each time he had to go out to go potty because he needed help standing up to go outside.

Last night, after he barked for help I slept on the floor with him.

His last night with us.

This morning, I carried him outside so he could go potty.

He was stubborn. Always.

He didn’t want to have to be carried outside to go potty, but his body was failing him.

It was time to let go.

Fourteen and a half years.

Our family won’t be the same without him.

grand river hoji ben

Rest in Peace, Grand River Hoji Ben.

home is…knowing all dogs go to heaven.

festival of balloons

Each June there is a balloon festival near our house. On Saturday morning we woke up at 5 am to go see the balloons launch.

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As we walked down to the launch field these balloons flew right overhead.

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Once onto the field, we got right next to the balloons as they filled with hot air.

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There were drones with cameras flying next to the balloons. The little black spot in the photo below is one of the drones.

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They slowly drifted south of the park.

balloon 18

Such a beautiful sight.

home is…an early morning filled with balloons.

 

a day at the fishin’ hole

today i got to spend the morning fishing with a bunch of kindergartners and it was perfect…well, almost.

there was one kid who fell in the water. he was in our group. luckily, he just got wet. the teacher wasn’t surprised.

the little guy rode the school bus for the very first time and liked it. he was nervous, but got right on and waved from the window when we arrived at the fishing hole. {although, he did tell me that he will only ride school buses on field trips until he is in college}

sunshine and blue skies overhead, jumping fish, and happy kids.

our group of three boys each caught a fish.

gone fishing 1

gone fishing 2

gone fishing 4

the mom leading our group was, obviously, a fisherwoman. between the two of us we had no problem baiting the hook, casting the line, holding the fish, and getting the hooks out of the mouths. so much fun!!

the boys were as patient as three kindergarten boys will be. luckily, there were salamanders to look for, osprey overhead, and other groups to compare fish with!

they eagerly watched the fish get cleaned and were excited to take them home. {the pond is stocked with trout and there is no catch and release}

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gone fishing 6

gone fishing 7

baby girl came along and had just as much fun watching the boys and playing with all the kids. i can’t wait to go again with her in two years!

gone fishing 3

i absolutely love being able to be a part of these opportunities with them. i am one blessed momma.

home is…a sunny day at the fishin’ hole.

little swimmers

summer break starts on friday, but we got a head start today when we picked the little guy up from school and drove straight to the pool.

joy

 

i have the feeling that this is the summer that these kids of mine really become little swimmers. it’s going to be awesome!

home is…summer at the pool.

{our yard} pallet xylophone

I’ve had 3 pallets in our backyard for almost 3 years.

I had one idea for a project and it just didn’t end up working out.

So, the pallets leaned against the fence for the kids to climb on and look over into our neighbors yards.

Until a couple weeks ago.

I took a jigsaw and a dremel saw-max to the pallets.

Now, I have a few projects in mind for the pallet parts and pieces.

Here is the first one…

pallet xylophone 1

…pallet parts and pieces…

pallet xylophone 2

pallet xylophone 3

…power tools…

pallet xylophone 4

…paint…

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pallet xylophone 6

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…and a puppy dog helper.

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{You can see another spray paint project that I have been working on…trying to add more color to the backyard!}

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Once all the boards were painted I just screwed them into the partial pallet.

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I just lightly spray painted the pieces so that they have a weathered look.

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The final product makes me smile.

home is…pallets, paint, and power tools.

 

 

evolution of my happy place

This year I have been taking “daily” photos of our backyard. You can see them in my instagram feed or #dailybackyardphoto2014.

I actually take a couple a week, but it is really fun to see how the yard changes with the seasons.

I get comments each time about how people love our yard.

It hash’t always been my happy place, but has evolved into my happy place in the 6+ years that we have lived here.

february2008

When we moved in it already had “good bones”. Awesome 80-100 foot tall douglas firs, a large deck, a flat grassy area held up by a rock wall that separated a lower “dirt” area that was great for the dogs.

march2011

The dog runs fit almost perfectly into the lower corner of the yard.

It stayed this way for 3 years. That was all we needed at the time. The kids were young and we didn’t need much to keep them amused…grass and a few toys and it was just fine.

may2011

About a year after we moved in we had some landscaping plans drawn up for the front and back yard. Eventually, I talked Ryan into an idea to build a platform between the two trees in the middle of our yard so that the kids could have a play/tree house.

october2011

Later that year we had the landscaping done. It was a bigger project in the front yard. In the back yard, we added a gravel path through the lower dirt, had some stone put in, and added gravel for our fire pit area.

july2012

Since 2011, the backyard has been my happy place. We’ve hosted birthday parties, backyard movies, impromptu late night fires with the neighbors, and spent hours and hours out there as a family.

june2013

It gets a perfect mixture of sunlight and shade during the summer.

october2013

After the leaves fall, it opens up to get more light during the dark winter months.

june2014

In late spring, as the leaves fill out the trees and the grass finally fills in, we can fully enjoy our happy place.

Here are more posts about the landscaping and playhouse:

{update} play-tree-house

my husband rocks

{in our garden} the big dig…and move, and build, and fill, and plant

play outside every day

friends around the campfire

home is…evolution of a happy place.

 

 

 

wishing it was summer break

I woke up this morning, tried to figure out what day it was, and wished that it was summer break.

Reece wished for the same thing when I reminded him that it was a school day.

Just a few weeks ago our summer was WIDE open.

No plans.

We had a summer full of travel last year thanks to Ryan having extra time off between jobs, but this year we thought we would just stick close to home for our adventures.

Within the last week or so our summer calendar has begun to fill up…all road trips within the Pacific Northwest (except for Ryan’s cross country trip to New York for a wedding).

JUNE

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan’s parents booked their trip to visit us in Portland. They arrive the day after the kids get out of school and will stay for a week! I am hoping they will get some nice weather during their visit as June can be a temperamental month here in Oregon. Some of the adventures during their visit may include a trip to Multnomah Falls and a visit to the Historic Timberline Lodge up on Mt. Hood. As always, a trip to Powell’s, a brewpub, coffee consumption, and Nana’s awesome kid activities will ensue.

JULY

This week, our 3rd annual trip to Lake Pend Oreille with my parents and my sister’s family came together. My aunt and uncle graciously open up their summer home on the lake for family to come play. My parents rent a house for all of us to stay in and we head over to my aunt and uncles house each day to have fun at the beach, sail, kayak, fish, jet ski, and explore the lake by boat. It is definitely a memory making trip for our family.

AUGUST

Yesterday, with both kids up before 5:30, I booked a beach house on the Oregon Coast. It’s been a few years since we have had a vacation at the coast and our day trip during spring break “sealed the deal” for me. The kids are at a perfect age to get out and enjoy what the coast has to offer. We have stayed at a few different locations over the years, but tend to like Bella Beach. We have stayed in 3 different houses there and I booked a different one for this stay. We usually spend time on the beach, explore Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and head to to Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.

 

The Pacific Northwest offers so much during the summer. In between the big plans we will have a lot of small adventures:

It’s going to be a good summer…we just need to get through the last month of school!

home is…making summer plans.

 

 

 

hard and soft

When I got out of bed this morning all I could think about was crawling back into bed after I got the kids dropped off at school.

As I made the kids their hot chocolate, breakfast, and lunches I tried to justify crawling back into bed.

I could use the rest.

I will exercise tomorrow.

My allergies are really bugging me.

It’s raining.

I also thought about how my body has been feeling soft and my heart has been feeling hard.

I want my body to feel hard and my heart to feel soft.

I want to be in better physical shape and be kind, loving, and forgiving on the inside.

I reminded myself that the best way to change that is to do something about it.

I put on my running clothes.

I dropped the kids off at school.

I grabbed my running partner, Odyssey.

I did what I know will help my body become hard and my heart become soft.

I did something about it.

I spent an hour with a good friend.

I communed with nature.

I got rained on.

I saw a baby duckling.

I added an extra loop to my route.

I sang Pharrel, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo, Robin Thicke, Daft Punk, Taio Cruz, Jay-Z, and Macklemore songs out loud.

When I got home, I put fresh sheets on my bed…and made it.

home is…hard and soft.