Monday, September 12, 2016

A Big Weekend

We made it thru the first week of school with flying colors and were ready for a weekend to recover! We had super weekend in the sunshine!

This was the weekend of Beaverton's City Parade, an annual event that we all enjoy attending.

 Hopeful for lots of candy! :)
 Our friends the Stenejhems joined us. I am so thankful for good friends for my kids.
 Evelyn's favorite part of the parade was seeing her beloved Mrs. Beltran, her first and second grade teacher!
 We enjoyed playing some basketball while the sun was shining. My kids can shoot, and can beat me in a game of HORSE often! 

 It's apple pick up time! The kids were great help gathering all the rotten apples that have dropped off the tree. They even got creative with a big stick so they could carry the heavy bucket of apples easier! 

Then... this happened. TWO teeth lost.. within 30 minutes!! One front tooth and a bottom tooth! He was so excited. Let the tooth losing season begin!

A great weekend, for sure!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of School 2016

It's that time again.... and as much as I miss my kids when they are gone all stinkin' day, I am always excited, hopeful and prayerful about what this year will bring for Evelyn and Matthew.

My first and fourth graders.. when did THAT happen? :)

The obligatory before school photos. Neither of them were really into it.. but they did their best to cooperate for their momma! :)

So... last year was such a tough year for Matthew. He pushed thru and really gained a huge amount of confidence and courage, and we were so proud of him. I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried how this school year would start out. We did our best to pump up first grade over the summer but also not talk about it too much. He seemed pretty resolved that he was going to have a good year. Then over the weekend he had many bouts of tears and was quite anxious about school, which made my heart just sink. We had some good conversations and spent time praying with him and this morning he was happy and ready to go. There were a few tears but he went into class like a champ. I am so proud of him!! After school the first thing he said was "Mom!! Mrs. Viegas is shy too!!". His teacher is quieter than some but is amazing, and I am so thankful they made that connection. He had a GREAT day and he has been talking about going back tomorrow with excitement!! Phew... hoping we continue on this path!

Evelyn wasn't necessary elated to be going back to school, but she also was excited to see friends and get back into a routine. Her teacher, Mr. Peterson, is AMAZING and I am so happy she is in his class, even if she isn't in class with her best friends. Sadly, while she had a great day in class and really likes her classmates and teacher, the "girl drama" aspect of school had her in tears after school. Her friends in another class didn't really include her at recess and she felt like they didn't even want to talk to her. My heart breaks for her, as she is getting old enough where this is starting to happen AND there isn't a whole lot I can do except love on her and encourage her to be different and NOT be that girl, even if others are. Praying this year is a great and that today was just an anomaly. I love her so much!!

Here we go.....

Monday, September 5, 2016

The 2T/1B Trail??

Today we decided to get one more thing checked off our summer bucket list (nothing like waiting til the LAST DAY!) and hit the 4T trail. It turned out to be a different day than we expected but we still had a great day together!

 Silliness abounds with these three!

 Let's Do This!
 The hike was lots of fun and the kids did great. We even did the longer hike, and although we all were hanging by a thread on the last (and big) climb to OHSU, we kept our smiles and sense of humor! 

We were so excited to get onto the tram, one of the highlights of this trek for the kids. Sadly when we got to the tram... IT WAS CLOSED for Labor Day!!  We weren't sure what we were going to do...but we figured out the bus schedule and hopped on the bus. It was the kids' first time on the bus and they did great, rolling with the punches. Our bus driver was great and told us where to get off to get on the train back home.
My great travelers!

The "T"rolley part of the trip was also nixed because it was on holiday schedule and the bus driver said it ran only every 30 minutes.. sigh... so we just took the train back to our starting spot and headed to Azteca for a fun lunch. 

It was a great "last day of summer" together! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A week to remember

"He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness,and treads on the heights of the earth... the Lord God Almighty is his name." 
~Amos 4:13

There are no words to adequately describe this past week, up in the mountains away from most comforts of home. Gently pushed out of my comfort zone several times and being forced to be brave and give up control, both as a parent and as a child of God, were truly some of the hardest moments of my life. And also some of the most beautiful. Lots of "God moments" along with much fun and laughter this week, away with Doug's uncle, cousin, brother and a gaggle of kids in a very sacred place.

To be honest, I was not looking forward to this trip. It was right at the end of summer (the week before Labor Day weekend) and I cherish that last week of summer at home, snuggling my kids and getting ready to send them back to school. Also, Anthony Lakes is up in the middle of nowhere in the Wallowa Mountains with no cell service and lots of things that I wasn't exactly sure if they were safe for the kids. And I wasn't sure of the sleeping arrangements (I like to have my own space). So, I was really not into it as much as Doug was. BUT, I knew this place was special, as Doug and the whole Morris family have made countless memories there spanning many years and many generations (Doug's dad and uncle grew up in Cove, Oregon not too far from the lakes). I wanted to go to support him, and just prayed that God would change my heart and help me to choose to be positive, and for Him to bless our time with family and keep us safe.

This is the "guard shack" at the main lake. It's where we stayed, along with Doug's Uncle Dan, cousin Bill and Bill's boys Sam and Joel. Doug's brother and his awesome family also joined us for the week, but they stayed in their camping trailer at a campsite. We all had our space and a full bathroom to share! That was my first answer to prayer! :)

Pictures just don't do this place justice. So peaceful and beautiful.  

Evelyn and I went for a walk around the lake (about 1/2 mile) and saw more of its loveliness.

That little island is called "Treasure Island" Doug's dad and brother (Uncle Dan) as well as Doug and his siblings and cousins, grew up playing out there. 

Gunsight mountain... a few days after I took this, we were at the top of it! More on that later....

Doug showing Matthew how to cast. Both kids were super excited to go fishing while we were up at the lake!

Matthew caught TWO fish his first time out! (One was too small to keep). He was thrilled!!

On Sunday (our first full day there) we took a hike up to one of the many lakes, Hoffer Lake. It is only about 1/2 mile away but it is all up hill, and a steep uphill at that. My kids did awesome and complained just a bit. We brought snacks as bribery and that helped. It was a beautiful sight when we arrived. 

From Hoffer we went on a bit further to " Huckleberry Rubber Duckie" (named by Sam and Joel), a rocky outcrop on the side of one of the mountains. This was one of those times that really made me nervous. A waterfull running down rocks that you can climb. My kids of course wanted to climb. I was nervous and hesitant, but with a little push from Doug and from his cousin Bill, I let then climb.. with help. :) I would get better as the week went on!

It's kind of a big drop...
...but I was stil smiling!
Evelyn found me a pretty wild flower. Wildflowers are all over this area and they are so pretty.
Since Bill and his boys went on hiking (we decided to head back down), we really didn't know the best way down (there are NO paved trails up here. NONE. You truly make it up as you go along.). When we reached to bottom (after having to pray, work together as a family and help each other) we saw a bunch of rocks. So we make a stone tower to remember God's provision and faithfulness (similar to those made in the Old Testament).

A fun bridge on our way back to camp.

Sam and Joel are great kids.. they played so well with our kids and all of them seemed to connect. Mornings were spent in jammes in front of the fire, laughing and talking or playing games. Precious times!

The Gresham Morris clan arrived late Sunday night. It was good to have even more cousins to hang out with!
Mitchell is missing but I love this photo!
Pretending to be asleep like Mitchell.. silly kids!
Uncle Dan. There aren't enough words to describe how amazing this man is. Evelyn is named after his mother. He has a special place in his heart for my sweet girl, and I hope the conversations they had will stick with  her.

This was a "hang out" spot for the kids.. on the steps. :)

...or they were out in the street playing! 

Our kids got to experience so many "firsts" on this trip, including working with a saw and chopping wood with their cousins.

These two photos are some of my favorite from the trip. We hiked up to "Lilypad Lake" with Bill and his boys after dinner and the kids had such a great time together.
Gunsight at sunset

Lilypad lake, like all the lakes, was beautiful!

We often let the kids go off exploring the campground and the lake with the "bigger" cousins, which was hard for me being the "worrier" that I am. I think (I hope) that the kids had more fun because I let them have a bit more freedom. 

We bought a canoe this summer, mostly in anticipation for our trip up to Anthony. We had SO much paddling around the lake, fishing and playing.

Just as their dad did when he was younger, the kids LOVED exploring Treasure Island. 

The kids became more proficient at rowing as well!

There's not a lot that is prettier than the sun going down on the lake...

Sam and Greg spent a lot of time fishing at this spot!

Matthew is a patient fisherman, and he and Doug enjoyed several trips in the canoe waiting for the fish to bite. 

More time on the lake.... who needs legos or TV? :)

So peaceful...

We brought our bikes, but didn't ride them too much. Matthew and I did spend one morning riding around the campsite and biking up to the ski lodge. He is such a active little man and we had a fun time together. 

Evelyn caught the biggest fish of the week! She was so excited!!

Gathered around dad to watch him clean Ev's fish. They thought it was pretty gross, but kept watching! 

So.. the big event of one of our last days was to hike up Gunsight mountain. Now, there are lots of mountains around to hike, but none of them have trails... you kind of make it up as you go. Not quite mountaineering, but close enough! I was super hesitant to go, not sure if Evelyn and Matthew could do it. Its a big hike... at last 1/2 day and about a 1200 foot assent. But watching Evelyn the first few days of our trip and how agile she was and how excited she was when she was climbing rocks and/or hiking, Doug's cousin Bill was confident that she could do it, and offered to take her with him if the rest of us weren't up for it. He knew my fears and insecurities of sending her up there without Doug or I, but really was great at gently encouraging me to trust, pray and let her go for it. Doug decided he actually wanted to go, then Matthew said he wanted to go at least up to Hoffer lake (the first lake you come to on the way up... we had done that hike earlier in the week). So when we started, it was all four of us along with Bill and his boys and the other cousins. 

Matthew and Evelyn were the first ones to Hoffer, all smiles and proud of not stopping on the way up!

We spent some time on the rock face near Hoffer and then the time had come to decide what we all were going to do.. continue to Gunsight or go down. Evelyn was hesistant at this point but Bill was great at encouraging her to take it one leg at a time, and that at each leg she can decide to go back down and he would take her. Matthew heard that and he, too, wanted to go for it too. So.. just like that... we all were going up!

Silly Bill at "the meadow".. one of our stops. He did great leading us up, naviating and finding the safest routes up the mountain. 

At "The Saddle".. almost to the top. My kids were total rock stars on this technically difficult trek. They scrambled, climbed, listened and really did enjoy the hike. 

At the top!! That's Anthony Lake, where we stayed... elevation 7200 feet. We were up at about 8500 feet! And, funny enough, it was the only place we had cell service..HA!
So proud of these two!

Of course, coming down can be just as if not more difficult than going up. We all had a good safely talk before descending and began our trip down. 

I don't have a lot of pictures of our way down, mostly because I really needed both my hands and needed to focus on what I was doing and keeping the kids safe. Doug and his brother Don led us down (Bill and his boys went on to climb one more peak... crazy kids!) with care and caution. It was dicey a few times, but we made it down. I think I cried when we made it to Black Lake at the bottom... knowing we all had done it and I had overcome a lot of fear and uncertainty. From there it was a short mile hike back to the guard shack. It was a day to remember for sure!!

Silly cousins!

We thoroughly enjoyed our last day on the lake, with sunshine and lots of water play!

We had a fun campfire dinner and stayed up to watch the stars together(which were AMAZING!), and ended our time with prayer and group hugs. 

It was truly one of the best weeks of our summer, if not our lives, and I am so glad we went! Anthony Lakes is a sacred place in the Morris family, as generations have enjoyed time here. We all know we need to do it again, and will make a point to get something on the calendar for next year.