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August in Review

September is more than halfway over already and I haven’t yet posted about August. But the wait is over folks!

I know we were busy; but what were we up to?

We spent much of August enjoying the summer weather; which usually included daily trips to various parks around the county. We also had a variety of medical appointments; well checks, follow ups, dentist appointments, eye appointments and even a brain MRI for myself (thankfully that checked out normal)! We were also preparing for Kristin and Brian’s wedding, buying Callie an entire new wardrobe (this little lady is growing!), getting Eli’s back to school supplies and school clothes, prepping and throwing Kristin a bridal shower, mourning the loss of our beloved pup Lola, enjoying a weekend trip with friends to San Juan Island and trying not to cry about our oldest going off to Kindergarten! It was a month of fun, and to be honest, it also held a fair amount of stress and sadness.

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Callie’s glasses arrived.

Callie’s glasses arrived and we were so excited to pick them up so she could start to enjoy the benefits of better vision. She has been great about keeping them on and keeping them in good shape. We’ve had to make adjustments to them with the help of the optical staff so that they sit better on her nose and don’t slip down while she is playing. I do wish that I was able to communicate with her about her vision so I could know if her prescription was correct or if there was more we could do to assist her in this area. We follow up with her ophthalmologist at the beginning of October.

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Luke watering in our new tree.

After losing our big, old rock pine this June we hemmed and hawed about what to do with our now bare-looking backyard. Ultimately we decided to buy a new tree; this time a baby Northern Red Oak. It should grow quickly in this climate and we are hopeful that someday we will have some great backyard shade again. In the meantime I may need to relocate some very sad shade plants that spent the summer in full sun! We replanted grass where the old tree stood and decided to wait on leveling the lawn until we make some bigger decisions about our home and property.

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Sticky S’mores!

It is no exaggeration when I say that Eli and Luke look forward to the Antique Tractor Show all year long! This year Andy took them to enjoy the fun and Callie and I spent some quality time together. This event is a highlight of the summer for the boys! They’ve learned so much about the different models of tractors, steam engines, threshers, etc.

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Luke and Eli at the highly anticipated Antique Tractor Show
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Watching the saw mill.
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One of our last photos of Lola; with her buddy Wiley.
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Sharing a book
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo
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Beach Day at Semiahmoo

We don’t get out to hike much these days because of the logistics of hiking with three little ones. In reality, Eli is an excellent hiker and he is very capable. Luke is three and doesn’t really want to walk if he doesn’t have to, even on a flat sidewalk. He also gets car sick (so we discovered). And Callie isn’t quite ready to navigate the trails; though I am sure she would attempt it happily. So, I carried Luke and Andy carried Callie and our gear. It was exhausting! Luke weights 40lbs and climbing hills with him on my back was a huge feat for me. We made it, we enjoyed it (mostly), we avoided major injury and avoided vomit in the car…so I would call it a win! But we might not try it again until next summer. Here’s to hoping Luke starts to like walking again.

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Hiking the Dock Butte Trail
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Callie, Eli, Luke and a very muddy but happy Lola keeping watch on the Dock Butte Trail
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Andy and I and Mt. Baker from the Dock Butte Trail

Each year Andy checks the schedule of the Abbotsford Airshow and drives the boys north to the Canadian border to catch a glimpse of the jets flying. The boys love it! He captured this photo of them watching together.

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Watching the Abbotsford Airshow from afar

Callie had a follow up doctor appointment at UW Medical this month and of course she just charmed everyone’s socks off! Most people just can’t handle her cuteness; personality, pigtails and tiny glasses seem to do the trick! She was an awesome travel buddy; playing happily in her carseat and napping on the way home. She is doing fantastic; making strides in her growth and development! She continually amazes us at her joyful attitude despite the difficulties she’s encountered in life!

Another very popular event around here is the NW Washington Fair. It, too, is highly anticipated. And of course, one of the best parts is that there are so many tractors to look at, sit on and pretend to drive. We also love the animals, ice cream and rides. Eli saved his allowance and birthday money so that he could go on rides this year and Luke joined him for a few. They had a blast! Callie loved to see all the animals and we were busy learning the sign language to teach her the names of each of the animals. She now knows and uses accurately, Dog, Cat, Cow, Horse, Sheep, Pig, Bird and more!

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Checking out the Tractors at the NW Washington Fair
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Callie on a Tractor at the NW Washington Fair
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Petting Zoo at the NW Washington Fair
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Luke and Eli on a roller coaster ride at the NW Washington Fair
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Andy and Eli attended the noon time Demolition Derby at the NW Washington Fair
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Apples are nearly ripe

The Blaine Library hosted a “Roadeo” with all the awesome trucks from Blaine Public Works. The boys and I headed over to check out the backhoes, lift truck, street sweeper, fire truck, ambulance, police car and more! The Sugar Shack Ice Cream Truck even made an appearance so we indulged in some delicious treats.

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Blaine Library for their “Roadeo”
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Blaine Library for the “Roadeo”

On August 20th I hosted a Bridal Shower for my beautiful sister. It was a lovely morning celebrating her upcoming wedding with her friends and family. Somehow after putting it all together, I didn’t manage to get a single picture!

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The next morning, on August 21st, we said goodbye to our sweet dog Lola.  It was an incredibly sad time for us. Lola was ten years old, so we knew that she was reaching an elderly age, but she hadn’t been showing many signs of slowing down. We, of course, had hoped to have many more years with her.

On Saturday evening, the night before Lola died, I encouraged Andy to take Lola with him to our friend’s home and I am so thankful that he did. Andy was walking over to help our friend move some equipment and I thought Lola might enjoy the outing. Andy rode his bike and Lola ran along side him. She loved visiting our friend’s house because they live along the creek where she can swim, and their home backs up to a large field where she can run. She had a great time playing while Andy worked; then rested at his feet on the patio when the work was done. She walked home that night with Andy, he gave her a treat, then we said goodnight and headed upstairs while she remained downstairs. She had a perfect evening and nothing seemed amiss.

When we woke in the morning to get ready for church, Andy headed downstairs before me to let Lola outside to use the restroom. I came downstairs a few minutes later. Andy mentioned that Lola didn’t seem to be feeling well and when I looked in the yard I couldn’t immediately see her so we went to find her. She came to us when we called, but laid down right away and I could tell when I looked at her that she was very sick. Her eyes looked sad and fearful, her tail was down, her ears sagging and she seemed miserable.

I said to Andy, through a broken voice while trying to push away my fear, “I know I tend to exaggerate sometimes but I think she is dying”. We encouraged her to come with us and she was able to walk into the house where, just as she did every day, she went into the kitchen to her food bowl. Only this time she didn’t eat, but plopped down uncomfortably on her tummy, legs splayed to each side. Andy quickly began frying her an egg to see if she’d show any interest and I tried not to panic. After a short debate of whether I should call my Aunt, also Lola’s veterinarian, at 6:50 in the morning on a Sunday, I decided it couldn’t wait. Trying to hold back tears I explained what was happening with Lola. She asked me to look at the color of her gums; they were grey. Things looked grim. My Aunt instructed us to get her to the emergency veterinary clinic as soon as we were able. We hung up.

Andy called the emergency clinic to let them know he’d be on his way and while he was on the phone and I sat with Lola she lost the contents of her stomach, let out a soft sad and sudden yelp, fell to the side and had what we believe was a heart failure. It was unbearable to witness! I comforted her as much as possible, reminding her what a good dog she was and how much we loved her; she hadn’t completely passed yet. Andy carried her to the truck and loaded her into the passenger seat. We said goodbye. Lola didn’t make it to the veterinary clinic but breathed her last breath in the truck with Andy.

It has been lonely without our sweet dog Lola. She was truly the greatest dog and we know that we will likely never have another dog as loyal, friendly, safe and well behaved as her. She leaves a pretty big dog shaped hole in our hearts and its been a huge change in my day to day routine without her by my side. I really realize, now, how much I had relied on her for comfort when I was sad, stressed or worried. I also feel very strange going for walks without her on my left side trotting along next to the stroller. We miss the click clack of her nails on the cement when running up to the house, or the jingle of her collar. My feet are cold when I read books to the kids in the evening because there isn’t a dog laying on them any longer. There isn’t anyone waiting for us when we leave the library, or the bakery, or when the kids are done swinging at the park. We miss the joy that she brought us and we long for her to still be around.

I had really hoped that Lola would live a longer life so that we’d be able to enjoy more years with her but I also selfishly thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if she lived a few more years so that when she did pass we would be in a better place to raise a puppy?”; knowing that it would be difficult to no longer have a dog in the house.  At this point in our life, with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old we do not have the time or energy to train up a puppy; but someday I do look forward to having another doggie companion. In the meantime we will live with the many many happy memories we had with her.

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Lynden Library with a play Clifford dog Luke named “Lola”

At the end of August we were blessed to take a weekend trip to San Juan Island with our good friends, Zach and Ashia. On our way we stopped in Anacortes to visit my Grandma Faye. It was my grandma and Callie’s first meeting! It was so nice to see her and I really cherish the time we have with her. I have many lovely memories of the days spent visiting her and my Grandpa Lars as a child and I look back fondly on those visits. I do wish I was able to get down to Anacortes to see her more often. The kids were good sports and posed for many pictures!

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The kids with Great Grandma Faye

We loved our time on San Juan Island. It was relaxing and so enjoyable to be with friends!

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South Beach on San Juan Island
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Family Trip with Friends to San Juan Island
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Luke at South Beach
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Eli at South Beach
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Eli and his drawing of a jelly fish

Since we are already more than halfway through September, maybe there will be another blog post in just a few weeks time; no guarantees though. There should be some exclusive information on Eli’s first day of school, my sister Kristin’s wedding (spoiler alert: it was beautiful), and maybe definitely even more medical appointments! Thanks for following along. See ya next month!

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July in Review

Another month is behind us already! I am having a difficult time remembering what happened this month to be honest. Thankfully I have some pictures to help.

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Cultivating a reader
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Fresh handpicked blueberries!

We love to pick berries together as a family each summer. We get enough to munch on and some to freeze for the winter. Some of the prices at the local berry fields are fantastic. With Callie on my back and the boys “helping” us pick we were able to go a few times this year, resulting in plenty for blueberry muffins, pancakes, scones and smoothies this year. Eli and Luke stayed up a bit later and had some S’mores as a treat. Eli then camped with Dad in the backyard and Luke got to have some special time with Mom and sleep upstairs. Luke is loving having  a new sister most of the time, but it has been a big transition for him and he was in need of some special attention.

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S’mores!
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Bonfire!
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Campout with Dad
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Swinging in style.
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Rocket Donuts for a treat
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Rocket donuts for a treat
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Sharing her donut with me.
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Biking through the trails at Berthusen
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Walking the trails in the rain
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Homemade blueberry scones
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Happy 4th of July!

Eli turned 5 this July and he asked to spend a day at the Everett Children’s Museum instead of having a party. We had a great time as a family. The kids loved it. By far their favorite area was the water play area.

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Celebrating Eli’s 5th Birthday at the Everett Children’s Museum
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Celebrating Eli’s 5th Birthday at La Fiamma for Dinner
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Celebrating 10 years of Marriage at Drizzle
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Luke “driving” a truck at the Car Show during the Raspberry Festival
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Callie posing for a picture post church

We met some friends at the beach to play on a beautiful summer day this month. The weather was perfect and the kids LOVED looking under rocks for small crab, sand dollars, and other creatures. It was a lovely day.

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Beach Day
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At Semiahmoo Beach
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Eli at the dentist for a check up

Callie didn’t fall asleep at nap one day this month and so she fell asleep hard at bedtime. Isn’t she so cute? You’ll notice that I have to put her sleep sack on backwards, otherwise she will undress herself as much as possible. She can actually unzip her sleep sack and get her feet out even with the zipper backwards.

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Sleepy girl
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Two cute boys with great big imaginations

This month we took Callie to a pediatric eye doctor to have an eye exam. Her UW Medicine Pediatrician recommended we do so. Going into the appointment I imagined they would find her eye sight to be normal and healthy, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Now that I am more educated on the subject and know what signs to look for it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she cannot see well and it explains many things. Her glasses are being ordered and we hope they will arrive next week. She will need to wear them 100% of the time and we are hopeful that they will help her see a great deal better. I have posted a picture from the internet below that attempts to show what her vision may be like without glasses based on her prescription. It probably isn’t totally accurate but it helps me to have a better idea of what she is facing so that I can parent her better.

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Trying on the Mr. Potato Head toy glasses.
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Safety goggles for fun!

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Callie’s left eye has worse vision than her right eye, but as you can see both aren’t great. Without a prescription you or I would see what is shown to the right (Left and Right Eye with good vision); Callie would see something similar to what is on the left (Left and Right Eye). It is easier for her to see things at a distance (20/200) but very difficult for her to see things at a close range (20/20).

Finding out that Callie has trouble seeing was not what I expected and it was hard for me to hear; not simply because it was unexpected but because I feel so sad that she has to deal with one more thing. She has been through SOOO much in her short life so far and I feel sad that she has one more challenge. Ultimately I am incredibly thankful that there are ways we can help her with her vision and I am glad that we will be able to walk through all these challenges with her one step at at time

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Playdoh
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Twinning with Aunt Kristin
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Ice cream with Dad

We are looking forward to the month of August. The Antique Tractor Show and the NW Washington Fair are big highlights for the kids, so they excitedly look forward to this time of year. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments for everyone lately and we have many more to come so we are going to work diligently to sprinkle in some intentional family fun too this month; especially because Eli begins school this Fall!! Have a wonderful August.

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10th Wedding Anniversary

 

Andy and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past week. It has been a wonderful 10 years and I am so thankful that he is my husband. It is a great feeling to be married to your best friend and Andy is just that. He is an incredible husband and father.

Andy and I have known each other for a long time; since we were kids. I still remember the first time that I ever saw him – though I don’t remember it because of romantic reasons at all, since I was maybe 10 years old. I was visiting Central Elementary School to watch their yearly musical production. My neighbor was giving me a tour of the school and while we stood at the entrance to the library she pointed out some of her friends in the distance; one of them was Andy. He was in the library with some other cast members loudly goofing around. I can still picture it in my minds eye.

A few years later my family started attending the same church that Andy and his family attended. And while I still didn’t get to know Andy well at this point, my older brother Adam and him became good friends. Andy would spend time at our house often and quite frankly I couldn’t stand it. They were in middle school and early high school at this point and since I was the younger (likely annoying) sibling I was often teased and picked on.

Fast forward another few years; I am now 16 and Andy is nearly 18. We are both in high school youth group together and attend Ferndale High School together as well. My brother Adam is now off to college. I am noticing that Andy is funny, smart, hard working and a great friend. We have a lot of fun together and even though I am not supposed to be dating anyone I ask if I can go to grub tolo with Andy; my parents say, “With Andy? Of course!” or something along those lines. We went to the dance together; didn’t dance much – skipped out for some Ben and Jerry’s and drove around to look at houses before heading back to my house! (I really like going for drives to look at houses; still to this day) And the rest is history.

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Our first official date.
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Andy graduates. June 2002
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Jess graduates. June 2004

Of course Andy still went away to Seattle University for 4 years of college before we were married and I had two years at Western under my belt by then as well.

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Lake Pearrygin Youth Group Camping Trip. Summer 2002

I am so thankful for Andy every single day. I know that when I was 16 I was in love with him and that I dreamed about what our life would be like together; and I feel like I lucked out big time with this man! He is unbelievable to do life with and he makes my days so much easier. He is still so smart and so hardworking. He makes his family his number one priority every single day. He provides well for us. He sacrifices daily and never turns his nose up at a chore. Did you know he cooks dinner every night (he’s an amazing cook) and grocery shops each week and that is just the start of all that he does around here?!! He is genuinely concerned about my well being, my happiness and my struggles. He listens to me and cares for me. And he loves the Lord.

Of course we drive each other nuts sometimes and we get on each other’s nerves, but it never lasts long because he knows exactly how to make me laugh and how to talk it through with me. And we disagree about things from time to time, but he is easy to communicate with because he is patient and kind. He treats me as his partner in life and I love him for that. I may still not be able to tell when he is being sarcastic or serious; but that usually works to his advantage (“No, really, honestly…I was just kidding, I was just being sarcastic”). Uh huh..sure.

I love him so much and I am so thankful that he has been by my side through all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Right now our life is busy with little kids and work and we don’t have as much time for one another in the same ways as we used to. We miss getting out to play, explore, hike, bike, and eat out together as much as we used to, so we continue to remind ourselves that this is a season; that there will be more time for that with our family as the kids grow a bit older and everyone settles into this new family that we’ve God’s created. And that someday our kids will be out of the house and how weird will that be, and surely we will miss it!? We are looking forward to the next 10 years of our life together, and the next 20 and 30 and 40 and so on.

I had a lot of fun and some sorrow too as I looked back on photos of our life together so far. We have many pictures of the fun we had together before kids and precious moments with our children too. There were lots of selfies too; who knew we were so hip back in the day before smart phones?

Here is a glimpse at just a few of the memories we’ve made in life together so far.

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Hiking the Scott Paul Trail
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Wedding Day July 2006

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 Tofino, BC for our Honeymoon

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Our only piece of furniture when we got married!
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Rocky and Gingersnap
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I tried snowboarding. Guess how many times I’ve been since? (Hint: ZERO)
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Backpacking the Washington Coast
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Climbing the Great Wall in 2008
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Snowshoeing (it is slower than snowboarding)
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Purchased our Home. Summer 2009

Yellowstone National Park. Summer 2009

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Biked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Summer 2009
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Hugged a Tree in Redwood National Forest. Summer 2009
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Visited Banff. Summer 2010
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Welcomed Eli into our Family. Summer 2011
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Welcomed Luke into our Family. Summer 2013
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Eli and Luke together at home.
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Luke and Momma
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Stop in Nehalem on our way to Winthrop to Camp

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Andy and Lola
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The first photo we received of Callie. In our hearts we knew she was meant to be in our family. August 2015

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In China to bring home Callie. May 2016
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It doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

Looking through these photos it is so easy to see that we are immensely blessed in this life together! Thanks for following along.

Eli is 5!

It is hard to believe, but our oldest is 5!

Eli celebrated his fifth birthday this week and we are finding ourselves very thankful for him. He has many wonderful characteristics and he is a lot of fun to spend time with. Right now he loves spending his time building legos, riding his bike, jumping on the trampoline, playing at the park and spending time with the neighbors and with his friends. He is a great playmate with Luke and they can become quite engaged in imaginative play with one another. He is particularly caring and gentle with his new sister Callie.

We really enjoy watching him grow and learn. Of course it hasn’t been and isn’t always butterflies and roses; if any of you remember him as a small babe you’ll know what I mean.

I had fun perusing some photos from the last few years and reminiscing about his baby days. I am feeling particularly nostalgic because I know he will be heading off to Kindergarten this fall; and while he is ready for that, I know that I will miss him!

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Just days old.
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Chubbiest cheeks around
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Christmas Elf
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After nap happiness
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San Diego, loving the swing
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First Birthday Fun
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Off to the NW Washington Fair
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Hi Mom!
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Fall Photos – age 1(of course poor tripped and Eli fell into the bottom stair and cut his forehead just days earlier)
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Helping plant flowers
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Morning snuggles with his puppies
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Toddler Eli
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Thorough nose blowing
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Father’s Day at the Airshow
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At Grandma and Grandpa’s
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Hiking with Mom (Luke in Utero) and Dad
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Kissing Brother Luke
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So happy to have a brother
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Date to the park with Mom
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Morning Snuggles
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Third Birthday
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First Fish 
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Fishing at Lake Pearrygin (3 years old)
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Dad, Luke and Eli 
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Family Photos (Eli is 3)
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Winter Biking
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They love to dress alike
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4th Birthday
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Off to Preschool
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Riding to preschool
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Spring at the Park
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With Luke and new sister Callie ages (nearly) 5, 2 and 2

 

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June in Review

Hey everyone!

Let’s recap June! I have been busy busy with these three lovely little kiddos! I would love to blog more and share a bit more about what our day to day is looking like, but my day to day life just doesn’t allow any time to do so. So for now we will just take a brief peek into the past month.

In all honesty this month has been hard, but really really good too and we are starting to see some of the rewards of our hard work parenting these kids through this transition as a family.

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A morning trip to the City Park: Callie loves to swing! I wish you could hear her giggle, it is pure joy!
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She loves to dress pretty.
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Waiting with Dad for the highly anticipated Farmer’s Day Parade! Callie stayed home with me since she’d only been home a few days.
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Luke watching the berry pickers.
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Eli and Luke
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John Deere Boys
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At the Parade
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Dad and Daughter
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Water play on a warm day
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Callie Selfie
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Our sweet girl
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Lego Ferry!
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Callie has some spunk; this picture was taken after a long day to Seattle Children’s, and she is still SO happy!
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This picture showing our yard before we lost the tree; taken in Spring of this year.
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We’d lay under the tree and enjoy this view often.

Friday, June 10th at 7:30ish in the morning I was sitting on the couch drinking a chai tea latte, reading and waiting for the kids to wake up. (Sounds relaxing doesn’t it? Don’t worry this RARELY happens!) That relaxation came to a crashing halt when Lola (the dog) and I were startled silly as we heard our very large pine tree break and smash to the ground. The kids were still asleep, thankfully, so after a quick check on the monitor that they were okay I ran outside to see if the tree had caused any major damage. I was unable to see how far into the neighbors property it had gone so I called 911 (in hindsight maybe this was a bit unnecessary but I was kind of freaked out!) to ask them to send a police officer to check on my (very elderly) neighbors. Turns out the tree didn’t do any damage to the neighbors or their house! (Thank goodness!) Our fence was quite damaged, the raspberries took a hit, and the kids sandbox and slide weren’t in the best of shape but NO ONE was hurt!

We are counting our blessings and so thankful that the tree fell at a time when no one was in our yard; especially considering the fact that it landed directly on the sandbox which is occupied by some or all of my children for many hours of the day; especially in the summer. We’d had the tree inspected several times in years past by an arborist and even asked them about concerns that the tree was rotten. We were reassured that it was safe,  but the truth is that the tree trunk was completely rotten. In the area where the tree snapped there was only the layer of bark and less than an inch of good wood; the remainder of the trunk was rotten. We can’t believe the tree didn’t fall in a wind storm this past fall or winter. We are praising God that the circumstances weren’t tragic.

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Crash! Goodbye Tree!
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Goodbye Fence!

 

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That is our children’s sandbox under those branches!

Rawls tree service was able to come that same afternoon to remove the tree from our yard! They had a team of 9 men and cleaned the entire tree up in 58 minutes! It was very impressive how quickly they worked and so nice to have it taken care of so our yard was safe again.

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                  Eli took the camera and photographed some of the damage.

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After (for now) We still need to do some yard leveling, fence fixing, etc.
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New Raincoat (it is a big large) and boots for Fall
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Eli’s Duplo Lego firetruck creation
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Trying out the food truck (Cubano Cubano) in town with Dad.
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Cause more noise is just what we need… ;o)
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Lola getting some medicine and fluids for a pancreas infection.
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At Star Park in Ferndale
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Afternoon Snack
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So happy!
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Bye Mom!
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She loves bubbles!
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Two two year olds!
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Cooking.

I was able to get a day away with my Mom, my sister Kristin and my sister’s good friend Rachel to the Seattle area for wedding dress shopping for my sister Kristin! It was so fun to get a bit of a break and it was wonderful to share in the wedding dress excitement with my sister. She is so beautiful and she is going to make a gorgeous bride! Andy held down the fort with all three kids for the first time by himself and of course he did fantastic! They had a great day at Berthusen park; where they happened upon a tractor pull and were able to watch the model airplane club flying their planes.

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Morning Snuggles with Dad
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“We’re Scouts!”
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Tractor Pull at Berthusen
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Walk at Marine Park in Blaine
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Pool Fun
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Playdoh Play time

We decided to get a trampoline for our backyard so the kids have another outlet for their energy. So far it has been a lot of fun! The box it came in has even gotten quite a bit of use!

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Peek a Boo in the trampoline box

 

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Painting the trampoline box
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Painting the trampoline box
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Painting a goatee instead of painting the trampoline box! ;o) Good thing it is washable!

We had a lovely 4th of July weekend and we hope you did as well! Eli’s 5th birthday is right around the corner and we can hardly believe it! I will be back at the end of the month to update you on how July was. Life is a lot of fun around here but it is also a lot of work with three young kids. We are doing just about as well as can be expected but we don’t get out much and we don’t have it all together! We hope to see many more of you in the coming months; thanks for being patient with us as we navigate this new season of life with three kiddos.

Thanks for following along!

May in Review

I am quite late getting my May in Review post out because life with a four year old and two two year olds doesn’t allow for much “free time”. Even now, there are many, many things that need to be taken care of; mostly cleaning, but I am taking some time to myself during nap to do something that I enjoy. (That should actually read, “I am taking some time to myself during nap over the course of multiple days“).

The month of May was a BIG one for us and a BIG one for our daughter Callie. Nearly every  single bit of the beginning of the month was spent planning for our trip to China and planning for the boys while we were away. We then traveled for two weeks to China and returned home at the end of the month, jet lagged and exhausted but so happy to be home.

With all the wonderful weather we had in April our yard was looking so beautiful prior to our departure. I snapped a few pictures of everything just before it was about to bloom. You can also see our big pine tree in some of these pictures. Little did we know it was a completely rotten throughout the trunk and highly dangerous – just waiting to crash down in our yard. About a month later it did just that. We are extremely thankful it happened at a time that no one was in our yard. I will post some pictures from that day in my June review post.

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Luke in the sandbox
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Eli building a Lego air ambulance that he purchased with allowance money he’d been saving.
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Last picture as a family of four!
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We got in the habit of using this calendar (leftover from my teaching days) when Eli needed some help remembering how long until his birthday last year. Eli liked knowing what to expect so much that we’ve continued to use it each month; now almost a year later.
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UPS Man Luke

The boys play dress up with each other often. They enjoy pretending the bunk beds are different vehicles (fire truck, UPS truck, ferry, etc). It is wonderful that they are such good friends. They have a certain fondness for the UPS man because we have Amazon Prime, so we get quite a lot of deliveries; saves me so many trips to “the big city”.

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Thursday, May 12th. All packed and ready to depart for our journey to China and Callie!

We left our home on the morning of Thursday, May 12th. It was difficult to say goodbye to the boys but we knew they’d be in good hands with my parents. We drove to Seattle, parked the car and arrived at SEATAC for our Delta flight to Shanghai. Our plane was on time and we were so excited to begin our journey. Sadly, our seats, which we had upgraded to “comfort plus” were super uncomfortable. Since we booked our tickets with less than a week’s notice we didn’t have many options for seats and we were seated at an exit in the middle of the plane. The seats must have been made differently because they felt like plywood. We even tested out a few other “economy” seats and they felt much softer (and they were much softer on the way home when we rode economy class). This led to a very uncomfortable flight since our bums were sore before we’d even taxied to the runway. When Delta emailed to see how our flight was Andy shared about the seats and they were very nice to refund us the difference we’d spent in upgrading to “comfort plus”.

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On our flight.
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So close finally….
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And then another flight to Xi’an. We were so exhausted at this point, nearly 24 hours of travel, jet lag, and a long time sitting in a very uncomfortable seat; with only one or two hours of broken sleep. We couldn’t wait to get to our hotel.

We didn’t sleep much at all on the 13 hour flight to Shanghai so when we landed we were exhausted. We then went through customs, security, etc and waited to board our flight to Xi’an. It was late in Xi’an when we arrived and our bodies were dizzy, tired, confused and totally worn out. It was great to grab our bags, meet our driver and guide and get to our hotel.

We spent Saturday and Sunday morning exploring a local park, looking around the city , finding good food options, getting a few baby supplies (diapers, wipes, etc) and preparing to meet Callie.

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At the City Wall
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At the City Wall
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At the City Wall
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A park near our hotel

Sunday afternoon it was time to meet Callie. It was tough waiting those last few hours. We checked and rechecked to make sure we had all that we needed then anxiously waited for the driver to come pick us up.

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Waiting for our ride to go meet Callie

Callie was waiting for us and had already made friends with nearly everyone else in the hotel lobby. She was friendly to us and had a ready smile. We played with her and visited with the wonderful woman who has been caring for her over the last year and a half. Then, before we knew it, it was time to leave with her to go get passport photos and head back to our hotel.

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Callie! She’d been waiting for us for quite a while so when we arrived we got down on her level and started playing!
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Finally in our arms!
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Heading to get a passport photo.

The following day we went to the Civil Affairs Office to sign paperwork; making Callie legally our daughter.

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Napping while we wait for an appointment.

Our good friends Amanda and Nehemiah came to visit us in Xi’an. They live in China (along with much of the rest of their family; two adult children are state side). We traveled with them 8 years ago when they moved to China. It was so wonderful to see them!

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Our dear friends Amanda and Nehemiah came to see us in Xi’an!

The rest of the week we spent getting to know Callie, helping her feel comfortable with us and getting out and about to enjoy some low-key sightseeing.

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Walking at the park surrounding the Small Goose Pagoda.
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At the Terra Cotta Warriors
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Squid on a Stick at Snack Street Again

At the end of our first week in China it was time for us to leave Xi’an and fly to Guangzhou. The United States Consulate is in Guangzhou and it is a required part of the adoption process to stop there before you leave China to return to the U.S. Due to Thunderstorms in Guangzhou our 7:oo pm flight was cancelled along with many flights that evening. We went to the airport with high hopes to get on another flight at 11:00pm that night. We hoped and prayed that the weather would clear up so that flight wouldn’t be cancelled; this would enable us to make our morning medical appointment in Guangzhou! While I rocked Callie to sleep Andy networked with our friend Amanda, the guide agency, and touched base with Nina at CHI. How nice it was to have internet and cell service to sort all our arrangements out! Thankfully the 11pm flight wasn’t cancelled and there was room on it for us! We were able to get to our hotel by 3:30am, get a few hours of sleep and make it to Callie’s medical appointment!

We had quite a lot of free time in Guangzhou and our hotel was located directly on a subway line; which was fantastic for easy transportation. It was hot and humid but we were able to enjoy a few outings; our favorite was the Safari Park.

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In Guangzhou at the Safari Park
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Safari Park

Our hotel was in a great location with many malls surrounding it. The hotel was actually in the same building as a mall, and there was a huge mall on either side of it. This provided us with a TON of restaurant options and access to anything we needed without ever leaving the indoors! You could just go to the basement and use the underpass to walk to the neighboring mall or subway. This was nice because it was so warm outside and also really convenient when you have a small child to take care of.

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Andy and Callie in a giant mall neighboring our hotel in Guangzhou.
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At the pool
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She loves to draw and color
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Drawing and coloring

After our medical appointment and consulate appointment later in the week it was time for us to pick up Callie’s passport and drive several hours to Hong Kong. It was from Hong Kong that we’d catch our Delta flight home to Seattle. We didn’t have any time for tourism in Hong Kong; we stayed a hotel near the airport and then caught our plane the next morning. Our flight home went fine, but flying with a two year old for 12+ hours isn’t what I’d call enjoyable. Knowing we’d be home with our entire family together was so motivating and we all made it through just fine!

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In Hong Kong; awaiting our flight back to Seattle
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All three of our kids – together!!
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Dog pile on Mom!
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Enjoying ice cream with the neighbors after the ice cream truck made a visit. (Callie was napping – so she missed out).

That is a brief review on our May 2016. My June recap will be out soon!

Home

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We are home and it feels so good.

We actually flew home from Hong Kong just over a week ago on May 27th. After arriving in Seattle we drove home to a warm welcome from my parents and our boys. It was so good to embrace them and to see them after being away for just over two weeks. We missed the boys terribly and it was difficult for all of us to be away from one another that long.

This week we’ve kept life simple and stayed home every day. We’ve taken a few walks around the neighborhood and visited the local park once. We have been enjoying playing in the backyard and getting used to one another.

Eli, Luke and Callie are all doing incredibly well adjusting to their new normal. We are continually impressed with each of them.

Eli is a fantastic big brother. He is eager to play with both of his siblings and to lend a hand to either of them when they need it. He comforts them if they are sad and he shares in their joy. He has also been a great help to me; he even prepared snack for himself and Luke while I was busy and later told me, “I wanted to make snack because I knew you were helping Callie and that it would make you happy.”

Luke is now in a completely new role! He has always been the younger brother and now he is a big brother, though only by a few months. He has had a few rough days stemming from this transition and being away from Andy and I for so long, but overall he is also doing very well. For the most part he and Callie play just like toddlers do, alongside each other instead of with each other, but they are getting along well. We’ve had to remind him to give gentle hugs and kisses since he likes to practically pick her up off her feet when he gives her a hug.

Callie is doing fantastic. She is happy and has a wonderful personality. She loves to play with us and her favorite place to be is outside (ours too!). We have been holding her a lot and keeping her close so that she feels safe in her new surroundings. Each day she is getting more and more comfortable and venturing just a little further from us. She is learning so much every day and adjusting very well. We are so thankful that she is now a part of our family and we feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be her parents; what a gift!

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Mowing the Lawn

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Swinging at the park was a hit! She loved it!
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She was given this purple tutu and it is a favorite. She wants to slip it on over whatever she is wearing for the day. 
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Riding in the car. Eli loves to push her around in the car. Their favorite thing to do is to drive by the raspberry bushes for a snack. 
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With Daddy