Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Year In Review

It's seriously ridiculous to try to sum up a year with just a few words and photos, but I'm going to try.  This blog lies neglected for many reasons.  First of all, there is just TOO MUCH going on and it makes it hard to know where to start.  Some of it is too personal for the internet.  Some of it is too boring for the internet.  Some of it feels too time-consuming to try to summarize.

I struggle with blogging because I don't really know who reads them anymore.  Seems like Instagram took over blogs about five years ago.  But I still like blogging better.  It's probably a generational thing.  I don't want just a few tidbits.  I want it in journal form.  Long, wordy, and full of pictures... more than just one "perfectly posed" one.

So I decided I will keep blogging as time permits.  For posterity...  but mostly for myself.  I like it.  So whoever is still out there... enjoy!

Because I can't back up and summarize an entire year, I'll give you one pictures from each month since I last updated.

First day of 7th and 9th.  This might be the only day these shirts were completely white so we had to document.  The other three are still homeschooling.  Having Graham and Asher gone most days made it a whole lot quieter around the house, and the little three developed a pretty special bond.

This one turned 8, and I'm super glad he still wanted a costume for his birthday.  He's always my baby, no matter how old.

Joseph is 10 and requested Red Lobster for his birthday dinner.  It wasn't his year to have a party, so he settled for all-you-can-eat cheddar biscuits.  

They clean up pretty nice.  I don't know what it's like to have a daughter, but I can say that I'm so proud of each of these boys turning into men.  I know everyone says it, but it happens overnight.  One day they are eating goldfish crackers and carrying around their toys in their chubby little hands, and the next they declare they are done playing with Legos.  When did it happen?  When did they stop playing and begin the entry into manhood... spending time researching camping equipment and colleges?  I don't remember.  I'm thankful for each season, but always feel like I could have used a little longer in every one (except for my OWN junior high years!)

Our "official" foster care license!  We spent a lot of the summer scanning every piece of paperwork that our family has (birth certificates, driving records, auto insurance, social security cards), running around town getting fingerprints, TB tests, doctors appointments, and attending classes.  Becoming a foster parent is not for the faint of heart.

So much fun skiing through Winter Storm Helena.  And thankful for time with my family.

January 25
Just after I had spent at least 45 minutes complaining to a friend that this foster care thing just probably wasn't going to happen, (because my faith is SO strong!) my phone rang while I was going through the McDonald's drive-thru to get an ice cream cone for the boys.  They had a three day old baby girl needing a home, and the rest is history.  We all spent most of this winter loving and nurturing her.  We didn't get much done.  Our house was probably messier than it's ever been.  I had to remind myself every night, as we fell into bed exhausted, that this is important.  Loving her is easy, but so many other parts of foster care are hard.

Well, lots of newborn snuggles.  The boys literally fighting over who got to hold her.  At this particular moment, Joseph won.

Grateful for Grandma and Grandpa who lovingly served us.  The boys always cry when you leave, which I think is the sweetest thing ever.

I'm starting to see pictures like this and realize that these years of all being together are coming to a close.  Graham will be driving this winter and it will change everything.  But for right now, I love all my people being all together and how much they love Sweet Sammies.

We finished school and headed to southeast New Mexico to explore two more National Parks.  They just NEVER disappoint.  I love seeing the boys in awe of things that they should be in awe over.  What God made is so creative and amazing and fun to explore.  

Now it's June, and I want time to creep by as slow as humanly possible because summer is my favorite.  
Summer forever.  Pool days forever.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

National Park Trip 2016 {Signs and Selfies}

To recap, we visited four National Parks (+ a National Monument)
I've started a collection of refrigerator magnets of us in front of the National Park signs.  They make me smile every time I open my freezer :)  So far we just have five, but I hope we can collect many more!

Also, Chris and I tried to take a selfie in front of all the best views from the trip.
I LOVE these... he is my favorite!

from left to right...[Sylvan Lake, Badlands, Snake River, Phelps Lake, Us taking a selfie, Old Faithful, Artist Point, Mount Rushmore, and a beautiful valley in Yellowstone]

National Park Trip 2016 {Badlands}

We couldn't be all the way in South Dakota without making a stop in the Badlands.  We were only there for 2-3 hours because we had to get on the road (and it started to rain).  I was a bit sad to leave before getting in a good hike.  But I'm glad we made the effort to drive through the park.  It's beautiful because of its massive views and the stark contrast of the green meadowlands next to the giant mounds of dirt and sand.  The boys LOVED climbing on the structures.  It was fun for them to be so high but it wasn't scary high because the worst that would happen is that you would slide down some sand.

See Nathan way up there!

These are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

And last, but not least, Nathan's shoes, with his toe poking through.  Poor baby.

From here, we started our trek south :(
All good things must come to and end.  We left tired, but full of memories from all we had experienced.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Eating in National Parks

Let's just say that no one goes to national parks for the food.  The food is rather reminiscent of my college cafeteria (and that was before they were making college cafeteria food good!).  In addition, it's pricey.  And we have lots of mouths to feed.  
We opted, most days, to eat out of the back of my parent's truck.  We practically had a small grocery store back there.  Made to order sandwich buffet.  We packed things like bread, tortillas, hummus, cut-up veggies, pb & j, an assortment of chips and pretzels.  I also went to Costco before we left and stocked up on packs of almonds, cashews, and good-quality bars.  Those were great to tide us over until mealtimes, which were often random.

To make it kinda special, we bought one of those styrofoam coolers and filled it with a 12 pack of soda and lots of ice every morning so we could have a "icy cold soda" with our lunch.  There's something about having something cold and refreshing when you're in nature.  I would start to think about that cold diet coke on the way down from our hikes.  I know, lame.

Here we are, eating with a view of the Tetons isn't bad at all.

In Yellowstone, it was even more remote with less food.  We made a big deal about our lunch stops.  We sometimes drove far past our hunger to find a good spot to explore while we ate.  Here they tried to get across the river without getting pulled in and drenched.  Some fell in and we had some good laughs watching.

This particular lunch day was wooded, lots of exploring here.

Asher liked to hit little pebbles in the river with his whiffle bat.

This was quieter river, but fun just the same.

Also, lunch time seemed to be the place when most of us needed one of these.  Not always the most pleasant experience ;) 

In South Dakota on the way to the Black Hills, we stopped at a convenience store and bought peanut butter and jelly and bread and ate at a local park in a TINY town.  

The day we visited Wind Cave, we actually ate at a real restaurant!!  A local pizza place and it was delicious.

This was our first meal in civilization, after the Badlands.  We drove for about six hours to find a dinner spot.  There was NOTHING in between Badlands and Nebraska!  So don't do what we did and leave hungry.  We survived on peanuts until we finally made it to a city.  This was at 9:45 PM at Panda Express.  We were starving and I think we ordered about a  million orders of orange chicken.

National Park Trip 2016 {An Afternoon at Custer State Park}

My friend bragged on Custer State Park and so I had to copy her and go there.  We didn't get to stay in the park because everything was crazy booked when we were there due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  We asked the front desk guy at our hotel what his favorite thing to do at the park was and he said it was Sylvan Lake.  Again, it didn't disappoint.  After our afternoon, I put it in my list of places to return.  

Our boys swam out to that rock... how fun is that!  Nathan looked like a little European in his swim team suit ;) 

On top of the one of the rock formations.

Love this one of him, he's laughing at something his dad said... it's like you can almost see the admiration in his eyes and I love that.

Nathan literally rolling in the sand.

Lots of accessible rock adventuring.

Their true selves.

Maybe one of my fav pics of us ever.  Only wish Chris weren't the one taking it, so he could be in it too.

My very first baby... amazing how grown up he is.

Stopping to see a crawdad.

I found lots of these photos on Chris's phone.  Thanks babe, for capturing me doing my thing :)