Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Family Birthdays

May 23rd was Olivia's 14th birthday.  We love our family birthday parties when it's just us.  Food is a big deal on birthdays and we always let our children pick what they want on their special day (within reason, of course).  This year, Olivia didn't want a cake (not even an ice cream cake!) but instead chose fruit dipped in chocolate.  I called around in hopes of borrowing a fondue pot but no luck so instead borrowed a mini crock-pot perfect for dipping.  We had art class at our house on her birthday and then pulled out these goodies to share.  It was a nice way to wrap up art class.

Too many hands in the chocolate at once!

Sisters stuffing their faces!  Oh, I forgot to mention how the day began.  Rich has started a tradition on birthdays.  He always takes the special one out for breakfast with just him.  Sometimes birthdays fall on weekdays and so he will wake them up early to take them out before he goes into work.  Of course, they all love it when Dad treats them special.  The rest of us run around and decorate the house while they are away.  So Rich took Olivia out to a new place he has never been to before called The Original Pancake House.  They said it was fabulous with homemade syrups, real whip cream and "to die for" pancakes! I can't wait for my birthday!

In the evening, we picked up dinner and had a picnic at the local nature preserve.  This is a park with lots of walking trails.  The weather was perfect and we went for a long walk at dusk. 
One of our favorite things to do as a family is hike.  We love the outdoors too. I really wouldn't call this hiking because of the paved trails but it's a little hard to hike anyway with a stroller.

I really like this picture of Olivia.  If you click on it, you'll get to see her close up.  She is 14!  I can't believe it.  The reality of it hit when the night before her birthday we decided to watch some home videos of her first year of life.  Wow, talk about going back down memory lane!  
We've all changed so much in the last 14 years, not just Olivia.  Looking at her as a newborn and wondering what kind of person she would grow up to be is really eye opening.  I wonder if the next 14 years will pass as quickly as the first?  Will I look back on the next 14 years in wonder?  My guess is yes. When she is 28, I will look back on this picture with just as much astonishment!

I couldn't resist putting in a few pictures of our newest member, Micah James.  He is doing some funny things with his tongue these days.  He is starting to mimic us and we him.  He likes to stick his tongue in and out and then watch us do the same.  It's a new game we play.  Pretty cute!

He loves to swing!  This is him on the playground at the park.
I have no idea what kind of child he will be in 14 years.  Olivia has likes and dislikes but I didn't know what they would be when she was little.  Would she have curly or straight hair?  Would she be stubborn or easy-going?  You really have no idea when they are little what their personalities will be like.  
I think I'll enjoy Micah the way he is right now and get to know him better as God decides to show me his character. But I can't help but wonder. . .

This is another great shot.  Olivia is like a second mommy to Micah.  He reaches for her when she comes into the room and she loves it. I wonder what their relationship will be like as he grows up?

All hot and sweaty.  It was a very warm night.
Baths are in store when we get home!

We walked up to this tower that overlooks our area.  The sky was really cool and I was glad we just happened to do this at sunset.

This is what it looked like from the top. We decided to head back before it got too dark.

Ok, a friend of mine introduced us to lemon ices and they have become a favorite.  Especially on a hot night in Texas!  I'm drinking one right now, in fact.  We make them in the blender and they are the consistancy of an icy but lemon flavored.  If you want the recipe let me know.

AJ and Julia bought Olivia these sunglasses for her birthday.  She was pretty happy to be drinking a lemon ice with her new shades on!

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Dear Friend

I titled this post, A Dear Friend, because that's what Heather is to me.  Heather and I go way back.  We met at high school in a typing class.  We have been friends ever since even though our lives took different paths.  Actually I shouldn't say that, spiritually God lead us down the same paths but the timing was just different and the events that has us where we are today are different.  We both married Christian men, have devoted our lives to raising children who stand for Christ, decided to home school and are serving the Lord in various ways.  We love to talk about parenting methods, theology, good food, and old times.  

Our lives look different because my husband and I moved to Texas to join Gospel for Asia (a missions organization) and Heather's husband just recently died unexpectedly. Did I just say "died"?  Yes, Eric went to heaven to be with his Saviour a year and a half ago.  They had just adopted 2 children from Liberia the year prior to his passing and had celebrated 20 years of marriage. It is really a wonderful story even though it sounds so sad. 

 So we are experiencing different events in our lives but still have so much to talk about. Heather is by far, one of my dearest friends. 

I was so excited about Heather driving out here from California to visit me, I could hardly stand it!  Her children are wonderful and we always enjoy seeing this family.

One of the first things we did was visit Gospel for Asia where Rich works.  Heather and her family have been supporters of ours and the ministry for years.  Whenever we go to California to visit our families, we have had the privilege of staying with the Davis's.  She always manages to pull some friends together for us to share with about GFA and her oldest son organized a bike-a-thon at their church to raise money to donate towards needs in India.

I love this picture of Heather and her two oldest girls.  Becca on the left is 20 years old and is an incredible helper to Heather.  She loves to cook and sew.  Both Becca and her mom have an eye for color and design.  Becca is thinking of starting her own sewing business designing clothes and I think she will be fabulous at it.  She also wants to learn to cut hair.  

Mallory (right) is 15 and she and I talked a lot this visit.  I feel like I got to know her a bit better than I did.  She has an interest in missions and other countries.  She is thinking of being a midwife and helping moms in other countries deliver their babies!  She is also interested in homeopathic medicine. I'm so excited to see where God leads her.

I just had to post this picture because it came out so good.  AJ is so good looking (a mom's opinion!) and he has always been known for his smile.

Lobby of Gospel for Asia.

Joel and Rich took us on a short tour.  This is Heather's children (minus her oldest son).

Ok, oldest to youngest. This is Rebecca (she goes by Becca).  Her brother, Nathan (18), couldn't come on this part of the trip but he will be meeting up with them later.  They are traveling for 7 weeks seeing different places along the east coast!

Mallory (15)

Paige (14 this month) is only 13 months younger than her sister Mallory.  She is blond and blue eyed just like her Dad.  Mallory and Paige were so close in age they should have been like twins but their coloring is nothing alike.

For those wondering what Olivia looks like with contacts, here she is!  She and Paige are one day apart!  They have been kindred spirits their whole lives!

Olivia and Paige got no sleep while they were visiting.  Too much to talk and laugh about!

Here are the boys.  AJ, Reece and Joe (9) built forts and had gun fights.  My boys could not get enough of Joe.  Reece wanted them to stay for a year (he told me).  

This is Joe and Gabbie. I hope I'm spelling her name right?  Gabbie is 3 and aren't their smiles wonderful!

Gabbie performing for the camera.  She loves putting on a show and being the center of attention.  Not in an annoying way but she is actually quite funny.

We'll just say, she is not shy at all!  Our family really loved getting to know her better too.

My only regret is that I wish they could have stayed longer but I know we will be visiting California again sometime soon.  We will see them again.  

Love you guys!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Making Memories in Idaho

Before I begin telling you about my trip, I want to say Happy Mother's Day to my Mom.  This is a picture that was recently taken when we went to visit my parents in Idaho.  My Mom and I share the same birthday and have enjoyed every birthday because of it.  I have never wished that I could have my own birthday separate from her but instead have always thought it was a special gift to be born on her birthday!  Happy Mother's Day, Mom and Happy Birthday early!

Jigsaw puzzles are a big part of our family.  My Dad has taken up a real interest in them since he retired and I grew up visiting my Aunt and Uncle in South Pasadena who always had a card table up with a thousand little puzzle pieces just waiting for our attention.  It's becoming a tradition to see if we can complete a puzzle before our visit ends.  

AJ picked this one and it was 1,000 pieces!  I thought, "he'll never be able to do this" but he surprised us all and met the challenge!  I'm starting to realize how much he likes a challenge of any kind.  AJ and my Dad did another one when we first got there but I chose to post this one because it represents much of the beauty in Idaho.  We were surrounded by mountains and most had a little snow still at the top.

This is a moose that AJ is sitting on.  These are all over the small town of Coeur d' Alene and they are placed around to signify an important place to see.  You could ideally follow the moose and see all there is to see in this little town.  This one was at the base of a hiking trail called Tubbs Hill.  There is a 2 mile trail through trees and wildflowers that follows the perimeter of the lake.  It was a beautiful hike!

I had decided to book my ticket to see my parents when my eye problem wasn't quite healed.  By faith I felt I should step out and believe that by the time I would be flying to see them, my eye would be healed enough to make the trip.  God answered and I'm so grateful that I made the trip.  We have never all gone to see my family because of the cost of airfare.  This was my second time to visit them since they moved to Idaho, 4 years ago.  The first time I took Olivia with me so this time AJ got to go.  

He was such a joy to have along!  I really needed him in the airport to help me cart Micah around and all his baby stuff.  Then when we got there he was game for about anything!  This hike was one of his favorites.

We hadn't planned on going the entire 2 miles around this trail but we got a little lost so after we found our way back on the main trail we decided we had better stay on it.  AJ bounded along with all the energy of an excited puppy while Dad and I plugged along stopping frequently to catch our breath with the excuse to take in the beauty!

Here is that excited puppy stopping just long enough to pose for a picture. There were some really great rock formations and AJ felt he needed to climb the top of them all!

My brother flew up from Portland.  It was so nice to all be together again.  My brother is still single so he was able to request a few days off work and join us.  AJ thought Uncle Steve was really cool.

It was perfect hiking weather!  

Another great treat was that my niece, Mandy, made the 3 hr. drive to see my brother and I.  It had been 9 years since I had seen her at her wedding and I had never met her two adorable children.  We figured out that I was 7 years old when my half-sister had a baby girl.  So I became an Aunt to her when I was just a girl.  I remember getting a lot of attention over that. 

I'm amazed that she is a mature woman now and mother!  She is beautiful and lots of fun.  I remember her as a little girl just like her daughter.  It's really mind boggling how people grow up and change.

This is Mandy and my brother at the park.  We were joking about this picture wanting to title it "The Denim Duo".

My brother is an Uncle again.  This was his first time to meet Micah.
It's fun for me to see my brother with children especially babies.

This is my Mom with Micah and AJ.  She was very willing to watch Micah despite her health issues while the rest of us ran around town.

Micah was all over their house, crawling in and out of everything.  Every time we thought he was trapped (like inside the base of this bar stool) he would maneuver his way out.

On our last night there, my Dad took AJ to a restaurant/hotel on the lake for a dessert.  AJ really wanted to see this place since his older sister had bragged about eating there a few years earlier.  We ordered the largest dessert possible and shared it.

This expression is for Olivia!  Check it out, a 16 inch banana split!

The blue roofs in the background are little "boatports", a word I made up as a spin off of "carports".  Boat owners rents these along the lake to park their boats.

Grandpa and Grandson

Thank you all for praying for my trip!  I really felt the Lord answer your prayers.  I was very anxious about the flight home since I realized on the flight there how crazy it is to fly with a baby in the first place!  We had to take two flights to get there and had a 2 hr. layover in between in Seattle.  It makes for a very long day!  To my amazement though, on the trip home, Micah did awesome!  He didn't sleep much but was content and happy on the 4 hour flight from Seattle to Texas!  Thank you!  It was truly a miracle.