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These photos are for you, Denise.

We have a crazy amount of snow for this early in the winter…

Two weeks ago it started snowing at seven in the morning and didn’t stop for two days.   It was the most snow in a single snowfall that I’ve ever seen — and I’ve lived in the mountains of the Northwest my entire life.   It actually broke all kinds of records in the area… close to two feet of snow fell in twenty-four hours — yikes!   Even for a couple of cities that are used to snow, Coeur d’alene and Spokane both literally shut down for several days until the plows finally got the streets cleared.   No one could get anywhere. 

It was a relief that we didn’t have anywhere to go!  We just holed up in the house beside the fireplace and enjoyed the gorgeous swirling blizzard outside our windows.

And it just keeps comin’ down.  In the last two weeks we’ve gotten at least another foot or more…  The kids are loving it.   I am too, in all honesty (just don’t tell my fellow-countrymen… no one else seems to share my opinion.)  I really don’t mind the snow.  I love snowboarding and cross-country skiing and sledding and snow-shoeing.  I would rather have a white winter than an ugly, brown, freezing-cold one.  (Although, it’s been a cold weather already, too… a cold front hit us a few weeks back with sub-zero temps.  It got down to minus six or seven at night for almost a week straight — and only up to six or seven degrees during the day… Bitterly Cold.) 

(I’m not complaining, though — really!  I’m used to it.  I’m just giving you Southerners something to be grateful for!  🙂

So anyway, here are a few pictures from that big snowfall two weeks ago.  It was the kid’s first time out in it this season and to say they were excited is an understatement.  Jo cracked me up in that hat.  It was the kind that fits over the head like a hood and it was too small for her so it squeezed her little cheeks hilariously.  She could hardly see because her eyes were so squished.  Hee hee…

But it was the one she wanted to wear!  And it kept her warm…

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Poor Henry had a hard time seeing as well.  His eyelashes are so long and curly — the wet snow stuck to them like glue and they kept getting heavier and heavier until he could hardly lift his lids.  It didn’t seem to bother him or detour him from loving the snow and playing in it until he was too cold to stay out in it any longer.   It certainly had me laughing, though.  My kids make me laugh all the time.  Who knew having children would be such great entertainment?  🙂

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They both loved making snow angels — and, of course, they ate the snow like it was going to disappear the next day.  I think Henry’s tongue was stuck out to catch flakes the entire time he was outside — it is in almost every picture anyway! 

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 Jo just ate it by the fist-full.

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We had to watch Henry closely so he wouldn’t disappear completely into the white abyss of snow.  He was actually standing up  in the snow in our front yard in the next photo.  

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 Yes, all that snow came in one fell swoop.

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 Crazy, huh?

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I hope you all are safe and warm and dry this New Year’s Eve.

I wanted to post some pictures from Henry’s birthday party Friday evening.  He had a double birthday party with our friends (Ross and Tessa’s) daughter, Chloe, who turned a year old on August first.  It was a very laid-back affair.  My family didn’t celebrate holidays or birthdays when I was a kid, and I think that’s the reason why I am TERRIBLE at planning birthday parties.  Friday night was so nice.  We just invited close friends and family to come hang out at the beach with us and eat cake and play in the water and celebrate two sweet little lives.  There was hardly any prep work and zero stress — and I hit the photo-opportunistic jackpot with amazing lighting and adorable kiddos everywhere!  What a great party.  :0)  Maybe I’ll go big for his third birthday.  And then again, maybe not… 

I’m sure these photos are destined to be developed and subsequently stashed in the “if I ever decide to start scrapbooking, these would make a great page!” pile on my desk…  Terrible, I know.  Hey, at least I’m blogging the pictures, right?  It’s a stab at preserving them for posterity!

Our kids love the river.  Being the laid-back (read: forgetful) parent that I am, I completely spaced the swimsuits.  Oh, well.  Thankfully I DID pack a spare change of clothes because Jo waded in up to her waist trying to catch minnows with the cousins.  (I was secretly delighted by her new-found bravery!) 

Chasing after minuscule fish is apparently BIG TIME fun!

Henry’s trying to figure out where all the minnows in his bucket went!! 🙂

Here’s the birthday girl, Chloe, with her dad.  She was very gracious to share her first birthday party with a boy.  However, she didn’t give me one. single. smile all night!  Too overwhelmed by kids, sun and sand, I think.

Okay, this next shot has to be one of my all-time favorite pictures of my nephew, Hunter.  You’d have to know Hunter to appreciate it.  He is SUCH a lovable, mischievous character!  He was goofing around sticking his face down near the water and a big ol’ wave surprised him and splashed water up his nose. 

Hunter, we love you.

I snapped a shot of Ryan and Peter taking a break from all the birthday-ness to solve a few of the world’s problems…

…and here’s my beautiful (preggers) best friend enjoying the sun.

Tessa made a cake for each of the kids and they approached the task at hand from two different angles…

Henry obliged Peter with one bite of his cake sans silverware, and then waited patiently for a utensil.  “C’mon, Dad, I’m not a baby anymore!!!”

“THAT’s more like it!!”

Chloe, on the other hand, was all about the fingers.

Such cuteness…  

Okay, okay… I know this is getting long.  Only a couple more, I promise!  🙂  I love this shot of Joanna because she deliberately took her cake over to this spot to eat overlooking the water.  It made me feel very, very old to have a kid mature enough to enjoy sitting and watching the waves contemplatively while eating dessert. 

And finally, the gorgeous sunset that set the lake on fire.  The picture doesn’t do it justice — it was amazing. 

(this picture doesn’t have anything to do with the post — but I had to include it; I love it when this particular rose bush blooms.  You can smell it from ten feet away!)

Okay, first things first: this is a Completely Random Post.  And it includes some violent material.  There.  You’ve been warned.  Read at your own risk.

So I realize my posts have been getting fewer and farther between.  Not for lack of blog fodder!… but simply for lack of motivation and time. My deepest apologies for my inexcusable slacking.  In all fairness, though, I don’t necessarily see it changing any time soon… but, what can I say?  It’s summer! — Stay tuned for fall and a life-less-crazy! 

But since I am soooo behind with basic updates, I’m going to try to catch up on the last few weeks of happenings and such…

A couple of people have asked how soccer is going… but actually, we’re not playing this year.  We’ve been traveling back and forth to Spokane too much lately to make the twice-a-week trips to Canada feasible — plus we weren’t sure if we could successfully get the youngest kid out of the country and back in again twice a week without resorting to bribery (bribing border patrol officers being completely out of the question, of course!)  I really, really miss it.  I kick things around the house to relieve the built-up soccer tension.  (just kidding… sort of….)  Ahhhh. I deeply love the sport.

So in all our non-soccer-playing free-time (ha, right!!) Peter and I have been filling out mounds of paperwork.  Some of it has been for the non-profit’s tax exemption status, but most of it has been related to our property issue.  We’re in a bit of a “negotiation” (that’s a nice way to put it) with our county’s planning department over some re-zoning issues.  We’ve been jumping through all their hoops ((not really very happy about it!! — but jumping all the same.))  It is a crazy amount of paperwork and fees to get permission to re-zone and sub-divide OUR family property… But hopefully it will all go through soon and we can get to work. 

After such a cold start to the summer, It’s finally been HOT the last few weeks.  We’ve had our usual hundred degree temps — although it has been averaging in the low 90’s this week.  We were in Spokane a few weekends ago at Hoopfest with the Lairds (had a GREAT time with them!) and it reminded us a little of being in Liberia!  The intense heat and the insane amount of people crammed into a small area was unmistakably like the Monrovia airport. 

Of course, the warmer weather has brought out the doggone weeds.  My annual war to keep the acreage under control has resumed once again…  It’s never ending, I tell ya.  And, of course, there is also the battle against the dirt and the mud that my kids track into the house all day long.  Some days I think wistfully about how nice it would be to live in the middle of a city with neat and tidy little patches of grass where the sidewalks end and a postage-sized neat and tidy little yard in back of my neat and tidy little house (that’s how it is, right?  Please let me keep my fantasy!) 

With the onset of the heat, I’ve found that my kids literally live in their swim-suits… and when those get too constricting, their birthday suits. (There ARE benefits to living thirty miles out in the country sometimes! 🙂  It seems like there is always one cousin or another under-foot as well…  Such is summer around here.

 

This last week in particular brought some excitement (although not necessarily all good excitement…)  Thursday morning we had a major wind storm with gusts 60-70 mph that knocked over old buildings and blew down trees (and probably would have carried off small children had any ventured outside!!) It was all very exciting to sit inside and watch — even though we knew it was only a matter of time before the electricity went out. 

And like clockwork, it did.  And since practically our entire county was out as well… and since our section of the grid is at the bottom of the priority list, we were out of electricity both Thursday and Friday.  So no AC, no coffee, no computer, no way to recharge the phone, no lights after dark… I’m such a wimp.  Going days without electricity always reminds me just how reliant I am on all my plug-ins! 

In addition to the outages, the downed power lines sparked all kinds of wildfires.  We heard the constant hum of fire planes and helicopters for three days straight.  Saturday afternoon Peter and I were outside working and we looked across the field toward my parent’s house and noticed a small strand of smoke on the hillside.  We called and reported it, and then kept an eye on it.  Within an hour it had tripled in size and it kept growing all day.  Thankfully it was finally shut down after dark.  We would have been a little more worried if the river wasn’t between our house and the mountain.  This is a picture about an hour after it started.  It’s amazing how fast wildfires can spread in an area like ours where things are so dry and the forests are so thick.  I always wanted to be a wildland firefighter.  We have friends that are and it’s really an adrenaline-loaded job.  Not the kind I’d want now as a mom… but maybe someday when I’m old.  (Do they take old lady firefighters??? :0) )

Friday night and Saturday morning we butchered chickens.  (Yes, you read that right.) We raise chickens… and that means somewhere between the fuzzy chicks from the feed store and the rosemary roast chicken on the dinner table is a weekend of *ugh* that I choose to not think about before or after it happens.  It’s just part of living on a farm.  I don’t like it, but I do like the organic, home-grown chickens currently residing in my freezer!  (No hate mail, please!!) 

Peter’s mom actually does most of the raising of the chickens, we just get together as an extended family to help at the end.  So thankfully it wasn’t just Peter and me.  AND I got the easy last step job of cleaning and bagging them before the freezer.  How lucky am I?  But I’ve done every step before, and I’ve survived… We grew up raising chickens so it’s really just part of life.  (I know, I know… I am REALLY starting to sound like a weirdo!!)   

Joanna was so funny this year.  We decided to finally break the news to her about what we were doing (i.e. “where chicken really comes from.”)  You should have seen the look on her face as she realized what we were saying!  But she was actually totally fine with it.  She helped me bag up the birds in the kitchen and told me that they weren’t “real” chickens anymore… they were “chicken to eat.”   

I decided to spare you pictures of the poultry event.  Yeah, I kinda figured that might be a little too much for a g-rated blog…

So, um, anyway… moving right along.  🙂

Through a series of events, we ended up getting a little backhoe to use for the weekend.  Peter was in boy-heaven.  Seriously.  I couldn’t get him off it!!  It WAS handy, and he DID get a lot of projects done super-fast that would have taken five times as long without it… but I think he invented some “projects” too… just to get to play some more!  🙂  Henry loved it too.  He would have sat on Peter’s lap all day. 

So there you go.  A totally-random update on the fam.  I WILL try to post more.  I have about a zillion summertime pictures of the kids that are begging to be posted!  🙂

I hope y’all’s (am I allowed to use that term? I am about as far from a Southerner as one can get!!  It’s just such an easy word to use…) Anyway — I hope y’all’s Fourth of July’s and subsequent weekends were grand.

We had a great Fourth.  We rallied our three oldest nieces and set up a hot dog stand at our community’s Fourth of July celebration as a fundraiser for mosquito nets for Liberia.  (Well… actually, I think the Kids Lake project this month is mosquito nets for Sierra Leone… but the kids had already worked so hard on the sign.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them.)

We sold a ton of hot dogs and had a great time sharing with people about Liberia and Malaria and Peter’s impending trip to Africa and all that.  The girls were really excited about raising money to save lives — and I was stoked to see how excited they were!  We also took our stash of Threads of Hope bracelets and sold a bunch of them to benefit families in the Philippines.

It was a great weekend.  We ate a lot of terribly un-nutritious food, laughed with good friends, watched the fireworks show (Henry loved it.  Peter had to take Joanna to the truck because it was just too much for her sensitive little self…) and thanked God for America.  We know our nation isn’t perfect (what nation is??) — but we are deeply proud of what our country stands for. 

Okay, enough words… I’ll get on with the pictures!   🙂

The master-griller himself at the helm… (note the serious look.  Because, after all, it IS hard to grill a perfect hot dog!)

Here’s niece #3 (Nattie) with Henry

Niece #1 (Halle) taking a well-deserved break. 

Niece #2 (Mackensie) selling the bracelets

Like I said, the girls did a great job on the sign! 

Our very-good-best friends lent a hand, too.  Notice Sarah’s adorable bump (and, no, that’s not from too many hot dogs… 🙂  She’s due in October and we are super-excited about Henry’s little playmate.

Speaking of our little man — here he is celebrating his first Independence Day as a resident of the United States doing what he does best: eating.  And eating another hot dog, no less.  Let me tell you — the child can PACK away the dogs.  I have to stop him at four because I’m not sure what would happen if he kept going!  His stomach is only SO big after all! 🙂

Joanna all patriotic (with her new “smiling at the camera” expression.  Don’t ya love this age?!!?!  She looks like she sat on a tack or something!)

…and in action.  As she was ALL day.

More of that cute belly!! 

Henry discoverd the teeter-toter on Friday.  He literally sat on one end and waited for kids to come along so he would have someone to teeter with.  The funny, smuggish look on his face in this photo is on account of the cute girl on the other side at the time. 

She IS a cutie, all right!  (Arynn is one of our neighbor’s girls… Henry definitely likes her!)

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So there you go.  Our Independence Day in photos. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Like a lot of moms, I rarely get in on photos unless they are “official” family ones… and I know someday I’ll wish I had more snap-shots of me with the kids.  So, even though I’m not a big fan of being on the that side of the lens, I was happy the other day when Peter got out the camera and took these pictures of Henry and me playing around on the lawn.  We were both tired and dirty from working outside all afternoon, but we were having such a great time playing in the grass.  He was laughing and shrieking SO hard from being swung around!  I figured these pictures were a good follow-up to my last post —  I am wildly grateful to have this amazing little guy in my life!  🙂 

(…and because I still haven’t finished any of my wordy-reflective-drafts!!) I thought I’d share a few more of my favorite shots from our “photo op” with the kids last week.  Peter and I took them down to the river so I could try to get some nicer portrait-like photos to frame for our moms (laaaaate mother’s day gifts…) 

The evening was beautiful and the lighting was unbelievable — it was actually raining just a little and there was a gorgeous rainbow arching over the water as the sun came out.  The kids were surprisingly cooperative (thanks in part to the antics of my husband standing behind me!) and I got a few shots (out of hundreds) that made the cut.  I am completely frustrated by how steep the learning curve is with the new lens Peter gave me for mother’s day.  (The lens itself is *amazing*! — but I have so, so much to learn… At least it’s fun experimenting! 🙂 )  

 

 

 

 

 

…it’s been a while since I’ve posted!  But in all fairness, it’s been a crazy week here with Peter’s entire family visiting. It’s been like a seven-day-long family reunion — sun up to sun down (and way later some nights… these guys like to party!)

I also realize it’s been even longer since I’ve posted anything thoughtful or contemplative…  But, never fear — I’m pretty sure I’ve still got “contemplative and thoughtful” in me… (ha! 🙂  It’s just gonna take a while longer to get the thoughts I’ve had lately formulated into readable posts…  I think you may have to tolerate some looonnng photo posts first, because I’ve certainly been snap-happy lately! — but I’ll try to get some thoughts down later for all my serious, contemplative, thoughtful readers (yes, you know who you are!!)  

 I’ll start with some photos from this last week with the G family.  It’s been as crazy and chaotic as one would imagine (if you know the family at all!) — but also a lot of fun. 

Besides all the snapshots this week, I also managed to get a few “official” shots since it’s been years since we’ve taken any — and the family is growing all the time! Amazingly enough, we actually got a decent group picture with everyone looking at the camera at the same time!  (Although, note the three kids in the front — all with hands near their noses!! KIDS!!!! )

I love this picture of Peter and his brothers.  His oldest brother lives close, and we spend a lot of time with his family, but we don’t see his other two brothers very often.  Drew is finishing up school this year (we’ll soon have a licensed chiropractor in the family!)  Dan is in the military and just returned from Iraq. 

Drew and his lady-friend, Danielle, graciously let me “practice” with my new lens — we had a fun, spontaneous photo shoot one afternoon.  They are such a cute couple.  It was the family’s first time meeting Danielle and she is awesome!  We had a great time getting to know her.

Dan and his wife, Channelle, also let me use them as a practice target for my lens.  Wahoo!  I loved having all these cute couples around to shoot!  It’s a WHOLE lot easier taking pictures of willing adults than squirrely kids!  🙂

Case in point: getting a picture of all the cousins together was rather difficult!  It took the promise of popsicles to end up with this one… 

The rest of the pictures looked something like this… (notice the MAJOR frown on Henry’s face!!!)

The kids always have such a great time playing together.  They are really, really blessed to live so close to each other (all of Peter’s nieces and nephews live near us.)   Here are a few of my favorite, random snap-shots of the kids…

 

 

We had a croquet tournament on Memorial Day.  Peter set up a crazy, obstacle-filled course — which he then dominated, of course!  Oh well, it was fun anyway…

 

We also hiked down to the river on Memorial Day and climbed the clay cliffs.  Most of you know that Peter and I grew up together — so that also means that I grew up with Peter’s brothers — it was great fun reminiscing about all the crazy things we used to do down at the river.  We practically lived down there during the summers when we were all in high school.  We did some pretty crazy things back then (we were invincible teenagers, right??? 🙂 )

The guys tried to re-live some of the memories by attemping to roll this boulder down to the river.  (Yes, that was one of the things they used to do when we were young and had time on our hands… 🙂 ) Thankfully these old men didn’t throw their backs out… although I guess Drew DID bring his chiropractic table, so at least he would have gotten a little practice if they did!

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I feel so fortuante to have married into such an awesome, loving family.  They are some of the least judgemental and most warm, welcoming people I know.  I feel blessed to have grown up with the people who eventually became my brothers and sisters through marriage. 

I feel really blessed that I don’t just like, but actually deeply love my in-laws!!

 

 We took the kids to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle last week while we were there for Henry’s appointment.  They had a BLAST!  (And so did we, for that matter!) 

 So many fun animals to see.

  

 

As I said in an earlier post, Joanna is LOVING gardening this year.  She is my little shadow, following me around as I work outside.  I am amazed by how eager she is to learn and help.  We have such funny conversations — the kind that you can only have with a three-year-old! 

About a week ago I began discovering pots like these all over the place.  They were everywhere!  After questioning Jo about them I discovered that they are actually her “trees”…  she has been watching me transplant trees and flowers and decided that she needed to have something to plant as well.  She’s taking very good care of her potted trees and let me tell you, she knows where each one is and I don’t dare move them.  She is very protective of her pots! 

 I’m curious to see how they grow…  🙂 

On a bit of a different note: I am really, really enjoying having two kids.  It’s quite different than being a mom to just one.  It’s such a sweet thing to see my kids play together and watch their bond grow.  I’m sure most moms feel this way, but really there isn’t anything sweeter to me than when they are loving on each other.  

Henry is pretty much Jo’s little sidekick.  He follows her around faithfully.  (Actually our dog, Sophie, follows Jo around, too, and one of the cats generally tags along as well, so there is a little parade following Jo wherever she goes outside.  Quite amusing to watch!)  Jo will say “come, Henry” when she’s getting ready to move on to the next activity and she waits for him to follow her.  If he’s not going fast enough, she’ll take one of his arms to help him along. 

When Henry looses Jo (sometimes he gets wrapped up in what he is doing and she leaves without him) he will scoot to the middle of the yard and yell at the top of his lungs “C’maaaaaawn, Jojo!”  “C’maaaaaawn, Jojo!”  over and over.  It is SOOOO funny!  It’s “come on Jojo” as clear as a bell and LOUD too.  Eventually she comes.  He’s figured out that it’s the best way to find her. 

 Henry is now running around.  (Well almost running… he thinks he’s running!)  Boy, does he take some nastly spills, though.  Whew.  I am wondering about a helmet… he just gets going so fast and his legs can’t keep up with his body and he falls HARD.  It usually doesn’t phase him… he has a very high pain tolerance.  Sometimes I wonder if that is the result of his neuro issues… ?? 

I have some video of him walking — I’ll try to get that posted soon.  It is guaranteed to make you smile.  And we could all handle smiling more, right??  🙂

Switching topics again… Many of you remember the Liberian man that ended up living with us for three months last fall.  We keep in touch with him often and he has a friend that may be coming from Liberia to stay with us this summer.  We are super-excited about this possibility.  When Ahmad was here we felt like it was such a great opportunity for us to walk in the passion we have to help people — and we were tremendously blessed in the process.  I love how God works things out — sometimes unexpected situations in life end up being the biggest blessings for everyone involved. 

(*Also, I know I promised a green smoothie post soon — and I haven’t forgotten.  Our kitchen is still under construction, so I have had zero inspiration in that area lately… and I am a sorry writer when not inspired! The kitchen should be done soon though, and I will be back to blending and juicing.  I’ll post then.)
 

A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

Photography Website:

Contact Me:

sunfreckled@gmail.com
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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