Sunday, September 30, 2012

{Back to School 2012}

We went to the Ape Caves on Monday and then had one day for our final prep before school started on Wednesday.  Tuesday was insane.  Too many events collided...including:
1.  Our anniversary
2.  Rylan's birthday (yes, on our anniversary)
3.  Back to School dinner
And then throw in soccer practices...ugh. Those kept us out until 7pm so it was a race to fit everything in that evening.  It was just a long day.  Of course our anniversary got bumped, and we celebrated the next weekend.  Rylan was having a birthday party on Saturday, but I couldn't just let his birthday pass by with nothing.  That's the problem when you have a birthday party on a different day then their actual birthday. I made a cake and called that part good. 
And then our traditional back to school dinner.  It's a fun tradition. Addy helped me with the table.  It was a gorgeous day, so we opted for dinner outside on the deck.   We had to set it up and get dinner partially ready before heading out for soccer.  Again, crazy. 
The table decor was all their school supply stuff that was headed to school the next morning!  The only thing I bought were the cute apple cut outs from the dollar section.  It was simple to do and the kids absolutely loved it. It definitely heightened all the first day of school excitement! Carson got to pick the meal this year and he choose spaghetti.  Fancy, right?
The next morning was a rude awakening for my kids who are used to sleeping in until 9am (yes, I have kids that love to sleep in, and I love it). Thankfully the excitement was enough for the sleepiness to pass quickly.  
Carson is one good lookin' 5th grader.
 And this sweetie pie is in 2nd grade. 
These two are walking buddies.  So glad they have each other at school.  They really look out for one another and were so happy to find out 2nd and 5th graders have the same recess. They played together on the first day of school. How cute is that?
I bribed them with fresh cookies when they got home as long as they would tell me all about their day.   They both love their teachers (seriously scored on that, so blessed) and couldn't wait to go back the next day. That's a good thing!
 Thankfully, Preschool started a week after Elementary school.  Rylan was beyond excited.  With a September birthday, he just misses the deadline, so this will be the first of 2 years of preschool. He was SO ready to have his own activity away from home.  He absolutely loved it.  How can you not when the first week of school was working on the letter P and included (Popcorn day, Pirate Day (treasure maps and hats), and Pajama Day (pancakes and strawberry breakfast at school). His preschool teacher is awesome.  She puts so much effort into each day, and Rylan just eats it up. 
 We survived that first week of chaos; the reams of paperwork that come home and the organization and homework schedule that follows.  It's  been a difficult adjustment from our easy-going summer, but a schedule feels good sometimes. Just not on Tuesdays/Thursdays when I am in the car from 3:30 to 7pm. Mom's taxi service has started once again. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{Labor Day: Ape Caves}

Even though school was starting the next day, we decided to live it up on the last day of summer break.  Our friends invited us to join them on a day trip down to the Ape Caves (near Mt. St. Helens).  So glad we went...they were so cool!
It was about a 2 hour drive south and east, so we left at 7am to make the most of the day. 
Ok, the ape caves:  They are 2000 year old long tunnels through lava beds....i.e. lava tubes.  Something about how the lava cooled on the surface vs. underground...something, something. And there you have it, a "cave".  I clearly was very into the science.  Whoops.  There are two paths, the upper cave and the lower cave.  The upper caves includes more climbing and crawling, so we didn't opt for that one with the little ones.  But the lower cave was a fairly easy and flat hike, .75 miles in and then turn around and go back. 
It's a constant 42 degrees in the cave year round and pitch black.  So we had our sweatshirts (should've brought gloves!) and flashlights, glowsticks, and head lamps. 
 Carson was obviously so excited to be in this picture.
 Descending down the staircase to the entrance of the cave.
 At the cave entrance.
We had an optional tour guide for the first little bit of the hike, but the little boys were so fussy that I didn't get much out of it.  In fact, Rylan was terrible (too tired from getting up early) and Miles was apparently starving.  So Trevor turned around about .5 miles in and headed back with them. The big kids and I went to the end.  Sometimes it is just divide and conquer.
The camera flash captures some of the cave walls in the pictures below, but you couldn't see this detail while walking.  It really was so dark. I was glad the kids had glow sticks on them. It helped keeping track of them!  Luckily there is only one trail, so even though it's dark, there is no where to get lost. 
Rylan and Ethan checking out the cave ceiling.
 We made it to the end.  The cave angles down to a point. 
It took us a while to warm up after the hike (took about 1.5 hours...we were seriously slow, you should be able to do it in half that time).  And it would be fun to come back with the bigger kids and do the upper cave with more climbing.  It was something so cool to do as a family on Labor Day.  We live near some awesome places and what's more fun than a legit cave to hike in and explore??
We had packed a lunch and found a gorgeous spot nearby to stop and play.  It was right along the Lewis River. The water was beckoning the kids, so they stripped down to their undies to jump in.  This was right near where I used to go swimming as a teenager (Merwin Dam)...the water was just warm enough to have a little fun.  Luckily just our group of families were around to see the kids in their undies. 
Okay, now to the first day of school....Whew! What a summer!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

{Camping: Deception Pass}

We finally got a camping trip in with my parents at the end of's been 6 years!!  I couldn't believe it when we figured out it had been that long! We grew up camping together as a family.  My parents made huge sacrifices to make those camping trips happen when we were kids.  I definitely did not understand  back then the work it took for my mom to pull off the prep for those trips. Not to mention my dad making sacrifices with work schedules and commitments in order to prioritize the family time.  Despite the craziness, they always managed to create that time away, together as a family, a few times each summer. 
  All my siblings still have the camping bug, and it's so fun to have our own trailer now and be able to have these same experiences with our own children.  Unfortunately distance has become a real problem with coordinating with my parents for a camping trip.  Especially when you factor in hauling trailers across multiple states.  That, and having a sister in collegiate sports (Erin, holla!) that took up most of August for the last 5 years, there just hasn't been time to squeeze a camping trip into the summer in addition to our regular reunion in July. 
But my parents were determined to make it happen and drove their trailer from Southern Utah to Northern Washington where we met them at this beautiful place: Deception Pass; about an hour north of Seattle on the Puget Sound.  Gorgeous spot.
We parents picked up my brother's kids on their way up and we met my sister and her family there too. We had a great group with a lot of fun Grandma & Grandpa & cousin time!
 The weather was a little cool, but perfect for hot cocoa in the mornings and just warm enough in the afternoon to soak up the sun.
The one year olds were difficult to contain this summer (age 1 being the hardest year in my opinion for kids to camp!). We tried to keep them in camp with plenty of toys and food.
 My mom rocked it out with an awesome dutch oven meal one night.  She's the master.
 Aunt Reese brought supplies to paint rocks. I have a whole collection in my front yard now :-)
 The kids piled into Grandma's "new" trailer (new to them because they don't even remember camping with them before!) to watch a movie.
One of our big outings was taking a ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on the San Juan island. The kids loved it! My bigger kids were thrilled to ride their bikes onto the ferry, and the rest of us walked on.  (So much cheaper than paying to drive your car on).
We spent about 4 hours in Friday Harbor...a not so kid-friendly place.  We didn't see that many kids in general, so our group with 10 kidlets with at least 2 crying at any one point...let's just say we were noticeable in the crowd.
  We found our way to a cute (small!) Whale museum. 
 And spent some time looking at the boats in the marina and the fresh seafood for sale. 
 A pit stop for ice cream.
 The view of the marina. 
It was a gorgeous (and long!) day. We didn't get back to camp until really late, but you can't pass up the ferry ride.  It was a blast.
The next day we went down to the beach, and we had the typical pacific northwest beach weather...cold! The kids didn't seem to mind. 
Not pictured are the mini-golf outing with Grandpa and Trevor, games being played, the flyby sounds of huge jets crossing the sky (the campground was right near an air force base), smores, campfires, biking around camp, and plenty of cousin time roaming the camp ground. 
On the last day we walked out onto the Deception Pass bridge.  A shot from one side. 
 And a shot from the other side!
It really was a beautiful place.  It was such a treat to be able to camp with my parents and family. I'm so glad we snuck it in just a week before school started up.  It was our last summer hurrah, and it was great! Thank you to my parents for booking the sites and coordinating the effort and for driving that far to meet us...that was huge!  Love you guys!

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My little blog is a family journal. I include things on here I want to remember years and years from now. So when I post a zillion is because I want to have it for my posterity. So please forgive the often posted-picture overload.

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