Zion, Bryce Canyon, & Other Updates.

zion_bryce_canyon_005_February 14, 2013
  • what a busy February we’ve had. the boys had a five day weekend for president’s day, so we put together a last minute trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon. So gorgeous! I just didn’t remember how beautiful they were and Greg had never been. We both agreed that it just might be the most beautiful place we’ve ever been. The snow on top of the orange cliffs with the bright blue sky…oh my.
  • I managed to strong arm the boys’ teachers into letting me volunteer a few times in the past month. I don’t know why these teachers don’t seem to want any help. But between the volunteering and women’s bible study at church and watching Midge a couple times, February has flown by.
  • Speaking of Midge, would you pray for her? The crazy social worker continues to wreak havoc on Midge’s life. When we were her foster parents and de facto parents, we pushed as hard as we could against everyone we could reach to try to convince them of Midge’s need for stability and permanency. Now there is absolutely nothing we can do about it but pray. Although everyone tells Midge’s father that he will have full custody, the social worker increased Midge’s mother’s visitations when Midge moved in with her dad. For the first two months she was adjusting to a new home, a new primary caregiver, losing her family and all familiarity, and also visiting with her mom in a new facility for three hours, three times a week, up from the two hours, twice a week that she had when she was with us. Last week, the social worker pushed for yet another one month extension in court, and has ordered Midge to visit with her mother, unsupervised now, three times a week for six hours each time. What? What is the purpose of these increased visits? If everyone is telling father that he will get full custody, why increase Midge’s visits with mother, who has been screwing up regularly for the past almost two and a half years? Being with her mother…(who, by the way, drove Midge around in a booster seat on her first visit!!! she’s two!!!)…would be the very worst thing for her. I am afraid that the social worker is trying to drag things out again so that she can give the parents joint custody, even though she won’t admit this to anyone. I am so worried about Midge’s future, as well as the instability she has to live with right now. Doesn’t anyone in the county (who’s actually able and willing to do something about it) really care about her? Please pray for her. God loves her, knows the future, and knows the intentions of everyone involved. I’m so thankful that HIS intentions are the ones which will stand in the end.
  • As for our future placements, we had to postpone the meeting with our agency that we were supposed to have two weeks ago because Jake was sick that day. I’m trying to be patient with God’s timing here. We’re now supposed to meet on Monday and will find out if the criteria we have for our future placements are feasible through our current agency. I’ll keep you posted.
  • since I cannot do anything for Midge but pray, I am trying to work on the things that actually CAN be done before we get any new kids in our house. So, priorities: home and health. Home: I have a short list of major projects I want to get done before we get any long term placements. Cleaning closets, purging craft supplies, finishing decorating projects, etc. I’m also trying to get my body to a good place so I can focus my energy on the new kiddos when they arrive.
  • And although photography growth doesn’t top my list of priorities, I’ve been shooting fully in manual mode since January. I also finally decided to try out Lightroom as a way of cataloging and doing quick edits on my photos. all the photographers seem to use lightroom, heading only in photoshop when they really need to do extensive edits. everyone says it saves time. so maybe I was a little optimistic when thinking it would save me time right away, because it doesn’t! I don’t know how to do anything in Lightroom yet, and I spend so long just trying to figure out how to get it to do what I want it to do, that it would really be faster for me to just edit in Photoshop to begin with. I’m trying to be patient and think of the long term benefit of it all. My new header above is one of only a few photos I’ve somewhat successfully edited in Lightroom. Here are a few others from our trip.
zion_bryce_canyon_009_February 14, 2013

our Zion backyard!


zion_bryce_canyon_024_February 14, 2013

Sunset out the back window.

zion_bryce_canyon_093_February 15, 2013

snow play in Zion!


zion_bryce_canyon_100_February 15, 2013

Our family…still doesn’t look right with just four of us.


zion_bryce_canyon_120_February 15, 2013

zion cliffs reflected in the Virgin River


zion_bryce_canyon_169_February 16, 2013

Our first glimpse of Bryce Canyon!


zion_bryce_canyon_171_February 16, 2013

Bryce Canyon


zion_bryce_canyon_179_February 16, 2013

The treacherous beginning of an icy Bryce Canyon hike…almost lost the boys over the first switchback’s dropoff as they ran ahead in the ice! I was nervous to go any further!

zion_bryce_canyon_182_February 16, 2013

But we kept hiking in, and went carefully back and forth down these switchbacks which were pure ice and red mud.


zion_bryce_canyon_241_February 16, 2013

The bottom of the canyon…snow play, snacks, beautiful hiking.


zion_bryce_canyon_321_February 16, 2013

Heading home.

Weekend Away.

It’s a beautiful crisp fall day. I’m fighting the weekly battle of being cranky on the days Midge is gone for her full day visits. It’s a little easier to fight today, because our annual family girls’ weekend is in a few hours. My to do list was long, but is finished (enough) and I am packed. I almost forgot my underwear and my flip flops, but how important are undergarments and footwear when you’re going to spend a few days with your tribe of women, especially a few days on the old family ranch of childhood memories? I know that as I drive, the tension will melt away and I will be ready to let go for a few days.

Most recently, we toured the local canyon’s garden for a mini-getaway with the girls:


In 2011, we spent the weekend at Aunt Kris’s beautiful home in Laguna Beach.

In 2010, I spent the weekend after my abdominal surgery recuperating at Cousin Lisa’s artistic home in the cute little college town of Claremont.

2009 was an unexpected oasis in the middle of the desert of Twenty-Nine Palms…some of my favorite photos are from that trip.

We spent the previous girls’ weekend at Amy’s new downtown San Diego condo.

Just looking at these photos makes me smile a little bit. Thank God for family and weekends away.


San Diego Getaway: Comic-Con!

For the past few years, my sister Amy and her husband Rob have told us all the tales of craziness they see in San Diego during Comic-Con (the world’s biggest deal for comic book/t.v. show/sci-fi movie geeks!) So last year, we called dibs on their guest bedroom for this year’s Comic-Con.

The boys and I went down for two days of people watching and hang out time with Amy and family. Kate was especially happy to have the boys there, whom she collectively called “Ty-ty.” I hear she was looking for them when we left. Midge missed them while they were gone, too, asking Greg one day after naptime, “Brudders here? Mishyou.” You miss them? Greg asked her. “Love ’em,” she told him. Awwww.

But we were busy trying to wander the streets of downtown San Diego. It was a little bit crowded.

But we pushed our way through to get all our freebies (aluminum water bottles! hats! sunglasses! movie passes!) and to see the displays from all the different shows and movies. The boys walked through the Grimm forest, worried that something would jump out at them.

We were dressed for the occasion. I mean, if you have a great excuse to wear costumes, why wouldn’t you? I just don’t understand the un-costumed people at all.

There were plenty of freaks we recognized…

…and plenty that we didn’t. Including many women who took this as a chance to dress themselves in questionable attire. I did not take their pictures.

The batmobiles were out in force…

…and we spent much of our time walking around, trying to get poor Kate to be happy. It was one of those days.

I thought one of the coolest things was how San Diego was transformed, with posters on every building, pedi-cab, and street corner.

The History Channel took up a block of parking lot with free sausages and games for the kids with prizes. I think it was my boys’ favorite spot. Jake was thrilled about the sunglasses he kept winning; I had to cut him off at three. Tyler won some, too, as well as a scoop necked women’s shirt from the history channel that drooped on him and showed his whole chest, but he insisted on wearing anyway.

I guess it’s no wonder that the boys were too excited to sleep that night.

Hanging around Amy, Rob & Kate’s place is a bit more relaxing than braving the crowds. Kate has some great bed-head. And the boys don’t mind their Wii at all.

The boys and I walked outside seeking a place they could be loud at 6:45 in the morning. Found it.

Later we tried out Aunt Krissy’s Comic-Con hats, which would have been easier to wear if there were no breeze.

We encountered more creatures…

…and did more people watching…

…which includes a lot of, “what’s that guy supposed to be?”

And where else can you find a free giveaway of zombie feet (that look disgustingly real) made of bread?

What a great getaway! Thanks, Amy, Rob & Kate!


What fun we had when the cousins were here! It’s always so refreshing to catch up in person with my brother and sister-in-law, and the kids were so excited to see each other again. Andrew has gotten so old! Here are the three boys together.

We spent the first morning at a local horse jumping arena, watching the horses jump and the kids horse around.

I love that picture! I don’t know why that horse was always cocking his head to the side, but the kids got a kick out of it. Here’s Jane, getting so grown up.

And Andrew and Kate are getting big, too!

Playing with Uncle Rob’s iPad games,

And going to beach night!

These two romped around their haphazardly dug hole, happy to oblige over and over when I asked them to jump for a picture.

On the other hand, these two were serious and organized, working together very methodically to build a precise hole with ledges to hold their “sandballs.”

They would only jump for me in a certain direction, so as not to damage their handiwork.

Saturday morning we headed to San Diego!

Playing ball in the Petco “Park at the Park.”

Great city views (see the new library being constructed in the background?)

The gang’s (almost) all here for the Padres game!

Sarah and Jane.

Playing at the pool the next day…some kind of game where you drop small objects and then search for them and shout a nonsense word.

Mostly the vacation just consisted of us having fun being together…at my parents’ house, at the pool, in San Diego, on the patio…

…on the deck overlooking the city…

…and plenty of game playing (especially Bang!) at home and in the game room of the San Diego condos.

On Sunday morning, Greg and I and Lee and Sarah got to take a Segue-way tour of downtown! Our parents gave it to us for Christmas, and it was such fun! It’s a little intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, it’s fun! I don’t have a close up picture of it, but here’s a picture looking down on us as we rode by the building.

What a wonderful week we had!

Joshua Tree in Photos

Can you tell how the boys felt about our RV rental? It's our first time.

Nothing sweeter. (We only let them "roam" the RV once we were into the desert.)

Those rocks just call your name...here's Greg as soon as we pulled into our campsite.

And a few minutes later, all three "boys" were atop the rocks across the road!

Desert nature. Good weather...hot but breezy on days 1 & 2, cooler with sprinkles on day 3.

The whole gang...friends from church met up with us there. Lots of kids to play with means lots of time for adults to relax and have real conversations!

Wildlife...chuckwallas here and there on the rocks.

A desert tortoise on one hike...and we saw a jackrabbit the size of a small dog bound away!

Evening. Nothing is better than pure joy on a child's face.

Spooky kids...a little too young for ghost stories, but plenty old enough for flashlight fun!

Morning. Beauty. Perfect for gathering around a fire to roast lil' smokies for breakfast.

Breakfast together in the outdoors is one of the best things about camping. You can't help but be in awe of God and his beautiful creation here.

Nature. Like the angels got tired of carrying rocks around the world and just dumped them right here for us to enjoy.

Lots of little rock climbs, but this was the big one. We went to the spot shown with a black arrow, almost at the top. With all six kiddos. Probably not the safest idea. But incredibly fun!

Rock climbing is a bit harder with a little girl strapped to my back! She did so great the whole vacation.

We didn't believe Tyler for a minute when he said he saw a baby snake. Jake must have climbed right over it moments before, and our friend thinks it's a rattler. Oh boy. God was watching out for us on this one! Good eye, Tyler!

What a beautiful little Easter getaway for us, celebrated in God's creation!


Laguna Escape.

Just a few words today to go with my photos from my little getaway last week at Aunt Krissy’s house in Laguna.

Starting with a gorgeous little quiet respite on the porch on the chilly (for us) day.

Krissy’s is the right house to go to for artful, peaceful, interesting vignettes here and there.

A quiet dinner with Kris and Stan, followed by some HGTV with Kris and an introduction to the strangest new (to me) show called Oddities.

That night and the next morning, I devoured this book. A good, quick read. I recommend it. Of course, having total quiet and no interruptions always helps the book reading experience. And good morning coffee made by someone else and enjoyed in a clean, peaceful home. That, too.

Then on to the craft of choice…stenciling some shirts from the second-hand stores for the kiddos.

And a few iron ons, too.

My cousin Michele came for a few hours to relax, too. We always joke that we’ll see each other again when Beach Nights begin. It’s a little too true for my liking. We always have fun chatting. So nice to have family as friends. They are the best kind.

My gracious hosts in the back and our friend Hilde in the front. Don’t you think everyone should have a Norwegian hula dancing yoga teaching traveling massage therapist like Hilde as a friend? I do. Thank you, Aunt Krissy, for treating me to the massage.

Sometimes my mind won’t keep still during a massage, so I used this time for prayer. To refocus. To hear from God about how He wants me to move forward from today. It was such a wonderful hour.

The food is always beautiful, too. Crab salad a la Krissy.

On the way home I explored the canyon in springtime. Although my footwear was inappropriate, I took in a little bit more beauty and silence before heading through the canyon towards home.

Then an hour of browsing at the local quilt shop, an hour of wandering the library, a forgotten love of a place, and then home for dinner with my family before they headed out for tennis lessons.

And back to real life. It comes quickly and hard. I am thankful for moments like these, and vow to seek them out more often during rough times in life.  And to notice the everyday beauty at home more often.

Ladies’ Escape: Laguna Beach

Six years ago, we began a treasured tradition with the women on my mom’s side of the family…girls’ weekend away. In March of 2005, we celebrated my grandmother’s 93rd birthday with a weekend in La Jolla. We set the bar high: great food (even in our little hotel rooms!), lots of laughter, entirely too much jockeying for “I want to tell my story” time (we are a family of talkers!), shopping in San Diego, eating out in interesting restaurants (we’re also a family of eaters!), and spending an entire weekend reconnecting with the women of our tribe. So good.

For Grandma’s 94th birthday in 2006, we celebrated with a weekend in Pasadena, including more great food, conversation, and a Pasadena Design Home tour, among other things. The next year we waited until fall for our getaway, and we were in Laguna Beach at my Aunt Krissy’s house to celebrate my mom’s birthday this time. At 95, Grandma had not been doing well, but she was back to her old self that weekend. Gourmet food in house and out, shopping, games, and laughter…that last weekend together turned out to be an even bigger blessing, because Grandma passed away peacefully in her home that week. We are so blessed to have had her in our lives all of those years, and to have celebrated family with her on her last weekend of life. The next year, we knew that Grandma would like the idea of us keeping up our girls’ weekends, so we spent the weekend in my sister Amy’s new condo in downtown San Diego. Such great memories, shown here. Then in October of 2009 we spent a beautiful weekend in Twenty-nine Palms, CA. It’s an unlikely destination that might actually have been my favorite place of all of our weekends together. Check out the pictures here and you’ll see why. Then last year we stayed at my cousin Lisa’s beautiful and artistic house in Claremont, a great artsy town that I’d never explored before. I only posted a couple of pictures here.

And I’ll make up for that lack of photos I posted last year with the plethora of photos from this year. Last weekend’s retreat at Aunt Krissy’s in Laguna Beach was quiet and relaxing. In fact, we didn’t even go into town or out to eat once! Our only excursion was to visit some model homes nearby, as we all share a love for great home design. And really, what reason could we have for leaving such a wonderful respite? We were well stocked with Trader Joe’s tastiness and even had a masseuse visit on Sunday morning before we headed back to reality. Thanks ladies, for another great memory.

We started the weekend on Friday night with dinner at the house and a game that Mom brought…I love my cousin Michele and sister Amy high-fiving in this photo! Competition runs in this family’s blood.

Cousin Lisa couldn’t make it this weekend because she was home making more of this gorgeous pottery for her upcoming sale.

We spent the first evening staying up late playing, with a little bit of crafting. I brought my Project Life weekly scrapbook and a sewing project. Even Michele, who claims not to be a crafter, made a million gorgeous bows to put on her Christmas presents this year.

The next morning I slept in. Well, I woke up at 5:30 and thought, “At home, I’d have another half hour or so until I need to wake up. Here, I could sleep another three!” I didn’t. But I think I made it past 8:00, which is a long time record. Amy and Mom made us these delicious bagels topped with cream cheese, lime marinated red onions, salmon, and fresh tomatoes. So good.

My niece, Baby K, is the newest Berg girl, and a sweet addition to our weekend. At least for those of us who didn’t have to sleep with her at night!

You stay away from that booze, Baby K!

And try not to get stepped on.

It doesn’t seem fair to take photos of homes that we’re only in for girls’ weekend, and then neglect to photograph Aunt Krissy’s beautiful place.

She always has interesting vignettes here and there, like this carved gourd and other objects of art.

After breakfast we just lazed about enjoying each other’s company, and eating more, until it was time to make lunch. Yes, that’s the way we roll in our family.

We were all thrilled to try Trader Joe’s new mache lettuce, which scared those of us who prefer our greens not so bitter. What a pleasant surprise! Apparently it is more nutritious than spinach, and totally mild in flavor. Think: butter lettuce with vitamins. I am buying this the next time I shop.

After lunch we visited some model homes nearby, looking for ideas. The biggest thing I learned is that someday I simply must create an entire wall of windows in my family room. And if I adopt enough kids, I can get a couch like this one, too.

And in the backyard, I’ll plant greenery along the back wall to give the illusion of a little escape, when really it’s just a suburban tract home.

What else should we do when we get home? Cook and eat, of course. It’s so pleasant to cook with other women, and without children underfoot. If I could embrace it morally, I could get into the idea of having sister wives. Except for the sharing of my husband bit. Not sure about that.

Then there was some late night crafting. Well, I thought it was late night crafting. I held out as long as I could until I was so totally exhausted and I knew it just had to be late enough for me to respectably go to bed. So I checked the time. “What the heck? No way!” I exclaimed aloud. Amy, another exhausted mother, thought to herself, “Wow! It must be even later than I thought! It must be 11:00 or something!” It was 8:45. Yes, that is the life of the tired mom. Feeling like you’ve lived it up into the wee hours of the morning. Even when it’s before 9:00.

Next morning, I just couldn’t stay in bed past six, so I wandered upstairs in the quiet house to relax on Krissy’s fainting couch. I was joined, one at a time, by the other ladies. Each time we squeezed one more into the little nook. What a pleasant way to wake up.

Then we had Uncle Stan’s ricotta cheese pancakes for breakfast. So fluffy, light, and delicious.

Time to pack up, but we couldn’t leave without our massages. Our friend Hilde did the honors. She also teaches hula and yoga. What a multi-talented woman!

The ladies together again. Next year, La Jolla at cousin Debby’s house.

Oahu, Hawaii :: days 3-5


There’s nothing better than waking up to this view outside your window.


We spent Tuesday at Wet n Wild, a waterpark nearby. I was initially against this idea, as we have a waterpark right near our house in California. But the thing is, we never quite made it to that waterpark this year, so we decided to give this one a try. It was definitely one of the boys’ highlights, and Greg and I had great fun, too.


When we got home, Herman, the host of the beach house who grew up here, wanted to hike around the point to see the big waves and invited us along. We loved having a local couple on site to ask questions and to show us some local secret spots like this one.

Back home again. I spent the next hour or so with my book (A Thousand Splendid Suns…fabulous.) and my feet up with a view, while the boys pestered Herman to teach them about coconuts. Herman promptly climbed the palm tree in the yard and pulled out a hatchet to husk some coconuts for them.


After dinner we walked back to the point to watch the sunset. We were well rewarded, and we also got our only family photo of the trip.


The next morning Greg was going to visit the USS Arizona memorial while I entertained the boys for a bit.



This morning Tyler was uncharacteristically cranky and complaining, so we bought a thermometer and found his temp to hover between 100 and 104 for the rest of the day. Poor boy! We spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach house. Tyler lying on the patio chair in the shade, Jake drawing various weapons and jets, and taking a short dip in the ocean. It was frustrating to be so tied down, as we wanted to explore a nearby cave, but at least we had a great place to be stranded, and it wasn’t a day when we had much planned.

Thankfully, Tyler was better by Thursday, our last day in Hawaii. We checked out of our house and traveled inland to go to the world’s largest hedge maze at the Dole plantation. It did not disappoint! Such fun. Another highlight for the whole family. Jake even lost his first tooth while we were in the maze!


We continued down the hill to the North Shore to visit Turtle beach, where we were lucky enough to see several sea turtles!


And perhaps the best meal of the trip…Giovanni’s Garlic Shrimp Truck in Haleiwa. SO GOOD. In fact, the boys are begging for shrimp for dinner tonight. I’m going to try to make a version of their garlic shrimp with lemon butter sauce. Yum.


And we ended the trip in a hotel in Waikiki, preparing for our 7 a.m. flight home. We were glad we chose to spend the rest of the trip in a less traveled spot. I didn’t even end up taking any pictures in Waikiki, except one of Jake putting his tooth under the hotel pillow for the tooth fairy!

Now we are home. Jake began feeling sick on the flight home, and spent all of Saturday like this. Today he’s better and now I’m fighting it. Greg thinks he got a mild case yesterday, and I expect Midge to come down with it just in time for my birthday on Tuesday. We shall see. But it does feel good to be home and settling back in, and gearing up for the beginning of school and our new routine.




Oahu, Hawaii :: days 1 & 2


It always takes a few days to recover and clean up from a vacation, especially when everyone is fighting sickness. So while we’re muddling through the laundry and meal-making without anything in the fridge, I’m escaping back to our house on the sand via photos. We rented a little beach house in a remote area, and I spent the first morning photographing the beach beginning to color with the sunrise.



We were all up early because of the time change, so as soon as everyone rose, we ventured out into our backyard for a look around.




We hadn’t gone shopping for food yet, so we decided to try out the local hangout for macadamia nut pancakes. I like mine with bananas. It’s making my mouth water right now just thinking about it.







After breakfast we made a quick grocery store run before heading out to boxcar racing! What fun (and what good exercise, especially in the Hawaiian sun!) The boys were in heaven. This was one of their favorite Hawaii activities. You push these wooden cars up a ramp and gravity carries them down around the race course. We had the place to ourselves for quite a while, and it lived up to the boys high hopes that they’d had for weeks.


I was disappointed that the local farmer’s market happened the morning our plane arrived, but I lucked out to find a tiny market in the parking lot outside the boxcar racing place! I’d been dreaming of papayas and pineapples for months.


On our way home we stopped for lunch at a nearby resort that was totally deserted except for us. We enjoyed a Hawaiian lunch (hamburger steak with rice, kudzu ribs) and a great view on our first day in Hawaii.


When we got home it was time to check out the beach. There were a lot of rocks directly in front of the house, but a tiny ways to the left was a great swimming spot. I’m not sure if it was lucky or unlucky that we were getting an uncharacteristically huge swell for this time of year. You can’t tell from the photos, but the waves were big and powerful and it was quite a while before I was able to relax and enjoy the warm, clear water and laugh with the three “boys.”


On day two we fought the traffic to Hanauma Bay, where it took us three times as long to get the boys geared up to snorkel as we actually spent snorkeling. The boys refused entirely, and threw wonderful fits about it. Disgusted with our family, we left early and headed up to hike in a rainforest, where Jake continued his complaining with gusto. I was walking through the gorgeous scene below when I decided never to bring my children on vacation with me again.

With the promise of shave ice, Jake abandoned his complaining when we reached Manoa Falls, and enjoyed jumping in the mud puddles on the way down. I am not including the photo of Greg and the boys at the falls, because Greg’s face shows his mood at that point a little too clearly.

This hike was the highlight of my trip. The photos can’t capture the feel of the rainforest, where we felt like we were LOST on a tropical island. Later we found out that they did shoot a few scenes from the t.v. show here.

We weren’t sure we were going to go to a luau, with our time being limited and the cost being so high, even with discounts. But we ended up going on Monday night and we’re so glad we did. We spent a few hours exploring the grounds, making leis and Hawaiian headbands, throwing spears, riding in an outrigger canoe, and other Hawaiian activities before the show. The whole night was a big success for all four of us.

Days 3-5 coming soon…



Where We’ve Been.

Editing baby pictures. Getting ready for the church camping trip. Going camping. Coming home and trying to recover from camping while preparing for the big half birthday beach party in the span of two days. Tonight’s the big night, then we head to San Diego for the day tomorrow. Rest? What is that? We’ll do that on Friday. Then we’ll get ready for VBS next week and two extra kiddos staying over! The day after VBS, we head to Hawaii and we start school a few days after we return. How is it that all the summer activities seem to creep into the same month? Bring it on, last days of summer.

Today I will show you a perfect camping trip. Perfect weather, company, pace of activities, lake, hiking, worship, friends.





For all these things, we give thanks.

San Elijo State Beach Camping.







Having fun editing my weekend camping trip photos when I should be working on something more important. Scratch that. Preserving these memories in a creative and tangible way is important to me, perhaps even more so than cleaning up the pile at the bottom of the stairs, which will only reappear again tomorrow.

Camping is such an intense experience, cooperating with the weather and the family members and the sand and the sun and the lack of sleep and the serious play and creating strong memories. Camping at the beach is even more intense, in the best possible way. The boys love camping. I love camping. Note to self. We learned that camping is more fun when the kids are over three. Camping is also more fun when you are with family and friends. The weather was perfect and the number of children’s meltdowns was surprisingly low. I call that a success.

I edited these photos using Totally Rad Actions, as well as Jodie Lee’s Shabby Photo Frames I and Carina Gardner’s ESS Frames v2 from jessicasprague.com. I always save the original photo before adding all the funky touches because I’m sure that someday far from now I will look at these edits and wonder what in the world I was thinking! But the funky touches are such fun.



Beach Camping, Wind, & Hail, Oh My!

Last week we weren’t sure that our family beach campout was going to happen due to the rain in the forecast. But Friday at lunchtime, my dad told me that he was heading down to the campground and I decided to get a sitter for Midge to cover the hour and half before Greg got home. And with that, the boys and I went camping! I threw everything in the car in the hour between lunch and when Jake got home from school, and off we went.

What do you know, the weather was beautiful! Gorgeous clouds, blue sky, and our campsite had a perfect tree for climbing and fort making.

The “treehouse” became more and more elaborate as the hours and days continued. In fact, I heard that when Tyler got up early with Uncle Rick on Saturday and he was splitting palettes of wood for the fire, he turned to put the ax away and when he turned back Tyler had already taken the pieces that he just split over to the fort to build with!

On Friday night, as expected, the wind and rain swept in right about bedtime. My dad had helped me secure our rain fly on the tent so we were snug and dry. When the wind whipped up, the boys went crazy with excitement! Rain, wind, and yes, even hail pelted the roof of the tent while Jake screamed over and over, “This is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!” My mom told the boys stories to get them calmed down and they slept the whole night with rain splittering on the roof of our tent.

It rained all night, but we woke up to clear blue sky over the expanse of the ocean. I love camping. What could be better than hot chocolate in a tree fort with an ocean view?

Greg and Midge arrived at 8:00 a.m. (the night was too cold for her to camp) and she spent the day crawling around in her sleeper jammies through the dirt, as well as being passed around from relative to relative. By the afternoon it had really warmed up, and we gave my sister Amy a “Meet the Baby Shower” in the most beautiful (although not very conventional) shower location around. The pelicans were very obliging in flying by all day for my photographing pleasure.

Down below, my “boys” played on the near deserted beach. I think the rain had scared everyone else away.

By evening, worn out by a day of outdoor play, Jake was beat and went home with Greg and Midge at bedtime, leaving just Tyler and I to camp on Saturday night. The cousins and aunts and uncles all gathered around the fire to talk and laugh. Such a relaxing way to spend an evening. Unlike an evening spent in front of the t.v., an evening of conversation around a campfire really does unwind slowly and blissfully. One cousin plinks away on the ukelele, another organizes banana boats filled with chocolate and marshmallows to roast over the fire. The shushing waves flowing in and out all night. And we wake up to freshly made salsa and sausage breakfast burritoes after a night of snuggling in the sleeping bags.

What a grateful heart I had on Sunday morning as we drove home. I’m thankful for parents who help without even being asked when it’s time to take someone to the bathroom or entertain a boy or pack up a tent. Thankful for good weather. For God’s creation. For a family who enjoys being together. For a weekend away from the regular routine. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts.

A Different Kind of San Diego Weekend.

Our baby niece is here! One weekend I’m visiting Amy & Rob and enjoying the quiet, the sleeping in, the wandering the city. The next weekend I’m part of the night time pit crew.

My weekend started out like this:

And ended like this:

But sandwiched right in the middle was a lot of baby loving.

Of course, her “K” outfit looked adorable on her, even the crazy pants. One thing about newborn pants is that it doesn’t matter how well they fit because really, they’re not rolling over or crawling around or doing anything to make the pants come off. So my improvised sewing skills and I are safe.

We did take several walks so that Rob could enjoy his stroller and I could tutor him in using the baby wrap. Downtown…

…the marina lit by the biggest moon in a million years or something…

…and a beautiful new walking bridge to take us from one side to another.

There was also some photo shooting. And what does it say about me that this one was one of my favorites? I must be a terrible person.

There are more beautiful photos that I won’t share until after the birth announcements go out. I even had a few moments here and there like this:

The condo isn’t quite as clean or quiet, but the company is good. A fresh orange, a challenging book, and a baby asleep in that bassinet. San Diego, you are still good to me.