Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Totally My Mom's Fault - I've Lost My Mind

This is Nacho, the newest member to our family. And yes our second cat and 5th pet.

I love to think it is all my Mother's fault that I am crazy insane and have as many pets as I do. I blame her that in a 1800 square foot home I have four children, a 50 pound dog, two cats, a fish and a frog. If she would have just been better at letting us have pets when we were children, maybe I wouldn't have such a weak spot for soft furry critters that purrr at the very sight of you.

OK - I know I can't blame my Mom, but I thought it was worth a try. I am a total softy when it come to the animal world. I know I am. That's why for a month I continually declined Emily and Sophie Crawford's invitation to come and see "the cutest kittens in the world" that so conveniently were being fostered by Sophie's neighbor. For weeks I resisted. I told Emily (and I was right), "Emily I can not go to see the kittens. I will see them and them I will want one and we can not have another kitten!"

Then on her birthday I let her totally manipulate me and I crumbled. It all went down like this:

"Mom please come see the kittens."
"No Emily, I've already told you, I can not go look at the kittens."
"Mom, please...for my birthday... please just come and look."
"OK, but we are not getting a kitten."


I can not believe I have such poor self control, that I crumbled so easily, that Emily already knows how to get from me what she wants.

But now we are the happy owners of the sweetest kitten ever.

We have named him Nacho. He and Chancho are very best friends.
(other names in the running were King - his birth name-, Chester - as in Chester the cheetah Cheetos-, Julius -like orange Julius, and Cheddar -short for Cheddar cheese-)

A Boy All Grown Up, A Best Friend and The Best Week of His Life

Two weeks ago Chase came home from Cub Scout day camp and said, "THIS IS THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!"

Last week Chase came home from three days of a marine biology camp with his friends Hunter and Levi and said, "THIS IS THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!"

This week Chase came home from flying all by himself to Georgia to see one of his very best friends, Ryan Johnson, and said, "THAT WAS THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!"

Either Chase is super easy to please, a really super lucky kid or just plain having the very best summer of his life. More than likely...all three!

For two years Chase has diligently mowed lawns to earn money to buy his first very own plane ticket. A golden ticket per se that would take him all the way non-stop across the country to the home of a very special long lost friend. Ryan Johnson has been very missed in our house. If it wasn't for our very good fortune of having the Huillet family move in soon after the military took the Johnsons from us I think Chase would be on heavy medication still for severe depression.

Ryan is one of those boys that you hope your kid will befriend. The kind of friend that makes your own child a better person. The kind of friend you hope your son will keep in contact with, go to EYF's together, be in the MTC together, go to college with kind of friend!

The boys apparently ran to each other and flung their arms around each other in a huge bear hug as Chase got off his plane. Isn't that kind of friendship great. Chase said they had all sorts of great times together!

Here are his favorites:
-being with his best friend
-staying up as late as they wanted
-playing whatever games they wanted
-eating all the candy I sent him
-going to the movies alone (to see Ice Age)
-playing on the trampoline in a thunderstorm
-getting to meet and play with Ryan's little brother Luke
-riding on his suitcase in the airport together
-a really awesome Smash Brothers tournament
-Johnson virgin margaritas (of which, Lisa if you're reading this I need a recipe;-)

Thanks Lisa for hosting Chase and contributing to his third in a row best week of his life!

Emily and Kaitlyn

When I consider all of the many blessings that life here in Dupont has blessed us with one of the most valued blessing of all is that we moved in next to Judy and her daughter Kaitlyn. Kait and Emily have been friends from the start. As the years have gone by they have grown closer and closer. As a Mother, there isn't anything more valuable than wonderful friends for your children. It's like one of those credit card commercials.

A trip to Pioneer Farms $50

Blueberry picking on the way home $10

Finding a true friend...priceless!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Backpacking - A Lesson In Perseverance

The art of getting
closer to Nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.
-Author Unknown
Dave and I just got back from a camping experience I haven't yet decided how to classify.
Insane - because or plan was to take a short, 2 mile hike up to a beautiful Alpine Lake and we chose instead to go on a trek up and over and way down huge cliffs and ravines without really researching what we were about to do all because there was a suspension bridge to go see.
Painful - because we were carrying 30-40 pound packs up and down mountains for a total elevation of 11,000 feet for a grand total of 17 miles in two days with blisters all over our feet after years of serious inactivity.
Glorious -because we got to leave our kids behind and enjoy each others company as we walked through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen with hardly any other stranger to interrupt of peaceful views of grandiose mountains, whispering streams, powerful water falls, colorful sunsets, fragrant meadows in full bloom and ancient glaciers groaning with weight.
Memorable -because all of the above is true and as the blisters heal and my legs have recovered enough to walk with out feeling like I am going to pass out from the pain and I have slowly weaned myself off my Advil dependency...all that is left is a soft sigh of pleasure and I would so totally do it again.

Maybe my willingness to forget the hard parts of our journey to Spray Park and beyond has something to do with the fact that we camped in the most beautiful meadow I have ever seen. We set up our tent in a small patch of grasses in between two large snow drifts. We we in the shadow of Mt. Rainer, in the middle of a lushly flowering Alpine meadow set in the midst of saw tooth edged cliffs admiring their reflections in little pools of water that dotted the meadow. And there was nobody else. Not a sound except groaning glaciers, falling rocks and the occasional song of a bird. It was spectacular. I did miss having a campfire, but other than that backpacking won hands down over tailgate camping just because of the beautiful solitude one can achieve.The next day after our first night in our little paradise we decided to start off on our quest for the suspension bridge. Little did we know then what the day had in store for us. We crossed several glaciers with horribly foreboding red patches. It didn't help that we saw a huge bear prints either. I was absolutely convinced that we were going to be eaten up in the night by the hungriest bear in the whole world. As we walked trough the snow and ice and saw gruesome red patches every where we turned we decided to name the area Death Valley. (later we learned that even though the red was very bright, saturating and totally looked like blood soaked snow it is really just an algae). It didn't help me sleep any better though. I still had seen that bear print and ever noise that night made me wish for morning to come sooner. This is about the point in our trip when we really started to understand the mess we were getting ourselves into. Here we are at the top of a ridge and we knew we were in for much more down hill. Of course that meant a whole ton of uphill later on in the day when we would be already tired from the hours of downhill. Dave and I are a little bit nuts and like to bite off more than we should chew and so we went for it. Dave decided that wherever we were at 1:00 we would turn back and head back to camp. That would give us 8 hours of light to hike back up what ever we had managed to come down. We hiked like a couple possessed lemmings down those cliffs. At last at 12:30 we made it the Carbon river and suspension bridge. All I wanted to do was lie down and soak my sore blistered feet in the ice cold water. It felt so good. But then the horrible ascent began. It took us twice as long to hike back up even though we were really pushing ourselves. There we times when I asked Dave what would become of us if we just couldn't make it any further.
That night our dehydrated food never tasted so good. And nothing sounded better in the whole world than sleep. The next morning as we hiked back to the car and stopped to see beautiful waterfalls we had passed along the way up, all I could think about was how we had achieved something really great. And oh horrible it must have been to be a pioneer walking across the plains and over mountains in their efforts to reach Utah.

Another Year Of Dreams Coming True

Isn't it great that we get to send Emily to horse camp! What a wonderful privilege it is for her. And the best part is that she got to go with her super awesome friend again! And the wonderful memories of last year only made Emily even more excited to go this year.

Emily says that one of her favorite parts of camp was her time around the campfire. She is a big fan of all the fun songs that she learns every year. This year she came home singing a whole new set of songs. And she is still singing... Most of the songs are repeat and answer songs and she has been busy teaching them to her sister. Smores are always a pleaser too. And getting them twice in a week was a pretty cool treat. The night before camp finished she had campfire and stayed up all night long. Emily says that they got to eat as many as they wanted because the counselors said they wouldn't have to deal with girls on sugar rushes - they were all headed home.
Her horse this year was Misty. Emily was lucky to get her favorite horse. She was nice and gentle. Emily said that she wasn't the best horse in the world and nobody else wanted to ride her. That made Emma love her even more. She is always looking after the underdog. I went to visit her one day and got to watch her drift away into her own little world of horsey fantasy as she stood there braiding Misty's hair and tail. I got to see her riding bareback when I visited. She is always riding bareback. I have such wild daughters. Emily thinks it is more fun. She also had a soft spot for her horse who apparently had a girth sore and it would have been painful for her to ride with a saddle. That is my Emily; sweet to the bone. She had more practice trotting this year. And even started to trot her horse over poles in preparation for learning how to jump.
Emma and Kaitlyn enjoyed all the arts and crafts that they were able to do. This year they were allowed to swim a lot in the pool. She swam so much that she came home with green hair! They painted their nails, ran through the fields trying to catch horses together and got to talk long hours into to the night sleeping on third level bunk beds right next to each other.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cub Scout Day Camp - A Huge Success

This has been one of the greatest successes I have ever been a part of. In February I joined a committee to plan our Stakes Cub Scout day camp. My friend Karin Huillet and I went to meeting after meeting planning what will become a wonderful memory of team work. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed working on anything as a group. I usually dread it. In fact after my first of these meetings I didn't have high hopes. But now I know that it is totally possible to create something wonderful and memorable WITH other people.

I never have been a team player. I shun help. I remember the first time I really hurt Dave's feelings. We were getting ready for our wedding reception. I was decorating my wedding cake with fresh flowers and Dave came up and offered his help. I turned him away. I knew I had hurt him, but I didn't want to share the job.

It is just in my nature to go at it solo. I guess I have trust issues. Any how... now I know that with the right people team playing can create something magnificent.

Last year we participated in the day camp sponsored by the Boy Scout district in our area. It was down right awful - and expensive. I shared how disappointed I was with Karin (my friend and our Primary president at the time). She went to the stake with the idea of doing the camp as a stake the next year. From that a committee was born. And then months later and after long hours of planning a Day Camp that Chase says got better ever day.

Our theme was Book of Mormon Heroes. We planned for four days of camp. Our first day was planned around the explorers and settlers of the Book of Mormon. We focused on Nephi and Lehi. The boys made liahonas, had a compass class and orienteering course. We had them build model boats, play capture the flag, do come cooking and make their own den flags.

On the second day we focused on the military leaders of the Book of Mormon like Moroni. The boys got to construct catapults that shot marshmallows. They tied knots, played tug of war, cooked some more learned about what true patriotism means and came up with Den cheers.

Day three was all about missionary heroes from the Book of Mormon like Alma, Amulek and Ammon. we taught the boys about being instruments in the lords hands and had them build tool kits and learn first aid. They cooked, played games practiced working together to make skits.

On their last day the boys went on a three mile hike, collected trash, learned about nature along the trails and about enduring to the end on a hot day. We had a family potluck dinner and them enjoyed the presentation of skits and awards.

I haven't heard a single negative thing about or camp. Chase came home tonight and said, "Mom, this was the best week of my life!" That's when I knew it was all worth it and that I would do it all over again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

London Bridges Falling Down...

At least I feel like the world is falling down around me. Today was a really dreadful day. We found out last night that our whole Battle Ground plan has collapsed. It is crushing. Like the lose-your-faith-in-humanity kind of crushing. We had for 6 months been working so hard to carefully make plans to move to Battle Ground. I can't count the number of trips we have made to look at neighborhoods, schools, wards, have dinner with the selling dentist, lunch meetings, business meetings and so much more.

Just a day ago I was lying in bed fantasizing where all my furniture might go in my new house. Now I am lying in bed depressed at the thought of losing $5,000 of earnest money.

A day ago we were about to purchase a really great practice that would be ours. We would make our own hours, take vacations, have Dad home in the evenings, and eventually own a business that would really be worth something. Now we don't know what to do. Dave has already given his notice to his employer in Graham. We don't want to be in Dupont forever. Next year, two of our really great friends will be moving and we will be stuck, left to make friends with a new round of military greats only to lose them too in a few years.

A day ago the kids and I were discussing the adventure of tree house construction. Now I am back to yelling at them when they try to hang on the limbs of our ONE, TINY crab apple tree.

All of this because someone was greedy and dishonest. Is is too much to ask that you base the price of your business off of correct financial records. Shouldn't we pay for what it's worth now and not what it could potentially be valued at. What ever happened to negotiation?!

Everyone has said, "there must be something better"...well, bring on the something better!

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Cool Is This...

Our friends Troy and Priscilla Baker have a new toy. They bought a boat. Now for full disclosure they were our friends before they had a boat...but how great is it to have friends with water access!!!! If only our schedule was more normal and we could go out with them as frequently as they invite us.

Dave and I both agree that we are not the boat owner types. Maybe sail boats...but not awesome, totally cool, built for hours of awesome entertainment boats like the Bakers. But it sure is great to be out on the lake. In beautiful weather, with really great friends pretending to be in the X games! Even Chase and Emily got up!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Strawberry fields, forever...
the essence of childhood
captured in time.

Beautiful, endless fields
to young eyes and weightless hearts
always a dream.

There is nothing but sweetness,
No thorns to be wary of,
no cares for now.

Time passes quickly by you,
memories will fade and leave,

Strawberry fileds, forever!
Tender memories linger,
somewhere in time.



We went to see sea stars and sea stars we saw! As we strolled along the shore, I thought to myself as I listened to the sound of the surf and the squeals of the kids in the background, why am I moving? I love it here. I love being close to the sound. The sound is so beautiful and provides for so many adventures. I will miss the Sound. I will miss seeing it on our strolls through the forested trails. I will miss canoe rides to almost deserted islands. I will miss ferry rides to premium swim spots. I will miss rainbow colored sea stars and little pinchy crabs. I will miss it's beauty. The kids will miss it too, though they don't know it yet.

We went hunting...
The tide was low...
The weather perfect...

Our friends had captured an octopus the day before. I have to admit that was on our mind. We really wanted to see an octopus. They are so full of mystery. Karin's kids had seen there's ink and everything. So an octopus would have been really nice. It wasn't meant to be though. We found lots of other cool creatures though. A hermit crab, some really funky long armed crabs, fish heads (yuck), slimy snots (we have no idea what they really are, they are disgusting), big crabs, sea stars, sun stars and lots of other shells, snails and bug creatures. Are favorite were the sea stars.
Not Sara though.
Look at that face. She was not about to touch this really cool, squishy creature!

The next second she had found away to keep her hands safely out of trouble.These guys, with their way more safe feeling stiff bodies were more up her ally.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


MUD RUN 2009
The muddiest year yet.

One of our families favorite family traditions is the Mud Run at Fort Lewis. Every 4rth of July for the last three years we have gotten up early to run. OK Dave and Chase run and the girls cheer, and run all over the course trying to get good pictures.

Each year the Mud Run has gotten progressively muddier and longer. It started as a 5K (3.1 miles). Last year it was a 7K (4.4 miles). And this year it was an 8K (4.97 miles). The course changes every year too. They added the deep pit back this year. It is my favorite. there were more low crawls and I don't remember the tire obstacle.

I love seeing my boys do something hard together. Next year Emily might try joining in on the fun and it will become more of a family event. Not just for the guys. If I could find a photographer I would think about it. I guess I'll never have to worry though, not much hopes of hiring a personal photographer for the morning.
Here are some of my favorite shots.

The Boys in all of their MUDDY glory!!!

Fourth Of July Dupont Style

I love being an American. What can I say other than it really must be the best place to live in the world. I can't even imagine life without all of the rights, privileges and freedoms that we have. Because I love America, and celebrating the birth of our wonderful country...I LOVE DUPONT. Dupont really knows how to throw down a great festival!

Every year we look forward to another great feast of tradition. There is the trip to Old Navy to wardrobe the family in new flag T-shirts. Then the stop at Michaels to buy all sorts of red, white and blue stuff to decorate the kids bikes. The kids did a really super job this year with their bikes, which they decorated all by themselves. We look forward to seeing Dad and Chase run in the mud run. Zeke is always the center of a favorite tradition. Each year he gets all decked out in red, white and blue and a mohawk to celebrate our awesome country. We love the face painting, pony rides, music, hot dogs everything. Getting to ride in the parade, collecting candy from people on the floats. The coolest personal / neighborhood fireworks show your eyes have ever beheld after a long hour perusing the firework booth display. It all adds up to the coolest celebration ever!
This year the kids had their own lemonade stand. They did everything all by themselves. Made posters to advertise, cooked up many batches of cookies the night before, decorated and manned the table... They earned a whopping $50.00! The extra cash was a big boom to Emily's efforts to earn her $100 for horse camp.

We danced, ate, sat in the shade and the whole time celebrated the birth and continued growth of a truly "Promised Land!"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Big Boom

We were playing in the pool when all the sudden we look over and see a man in an Army suit drop something into a bin and that's when everything started. We saw stuff start foaming up and bubbling. Everything started bouncing around making sounds that sounded like guns and fireworks.

The guy was jumping around, trying to get around a big cylinder trying to get out of the room. When he got out he told everyone that some gases had been released from the chemicals and that we all had to get out of the pool.

We weer playing with our friends in the big pool trying to figure out what was making all of the noise. Then Sara jumped out of the pool. She told us, "it's a chemical reaction...get out of the pool!" We saw everyone running away from the baby pool. We wondered what was so bad about a chemical reaction. A bunch of little kids were crying because they didn't know what was going on.

Tons of emergency vehicles started coming and we had to evacuate the pool. We saw three firetrucks, six ambulances and then a ton of police cars.

-reported by Chase and Emily

"He didn't say smores." - Kate

The kids are all watching Survivor Man as I make frail attempts to clean up the house. The Survivor man, Les Stroud, is talking about the things he has packed for his seven days of survival in the Sierra Nevada's. He has two meals, a tent, sleeping bag and some other various camping stuff.

I heard Kate say, "He didn't say smores."

Just plain matter-of-factly.

Then she says, "He said all the stuff you need for camping, but didn't say smores."

Apparently, for Kate, smores are a matter of survival.
It made me smile, and I haven't smiled all day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


We visited our first "new" place this summer. The Bakers invited us to camp with them on a beautiful beach on the Olympic peninsula. Kalaloch was gorgeous. We camped right on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. We could watch the surf from our tent. The sand was wonderful. The weather fantastic. It was just a really pleasant camping trip. We will have to maybe go back and stay longer. Camping over night is always so disappointing. All the work to load up, set up camp...and then the next morning you are tearing it all down again after hardly getting to enjoy the scenery.

We made the most of our weekend trip though let me tell you.
The kids really loved flying kites there are our campsite. It was so windy. Sara Baker made sure that Chase was near by to anchor her down from flying away. It is not the easiest kite to fly, so I was very impressed how fast they both picked it up.

We had a great time at the campfire of course. I look forward to smores like nobodies business when I am prepping for a camping trip. And every since my friend Karin disclosed that the best smores are made with peanut butter cups, I have been super addicted!

Of course we had a light show too. The kids really look forward to getting their glow sticks at night. We had lots of fun dinking around with the camera. And everyone was super good at taking turns.
But the best part of this trip was getting a new family picture. The one we have on our header now. We haven't had a real family picture in four years. So it is nice to have Sara (and even Zeke) represented in our family blog shot. We loved visiting Rudy beach, as seen below, Rialto beach, Sol Duc falls and a very short (mostly a waste of was so cold no one was interested in the gorgeous trail) trip to Hurricane Ridge.
I am so excited for Washington Summers. There is no better place for exploring!