Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oregon Coast 2010

Another great year at the beach. It's kind of like de ju vu every year and we never get tired of it. We LOVE the beach!

We stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory this year on the way to the beach. The kids and I have never been there and although there isn't a ton to do and it's super crowded, my kids and husband are cheese lovers (free samples!) and I would never pass up ice cream, especially Tillamook ice cream.

Outside the factory, ready to go in.

My kids love cows, real or fake. (I do too.... if it weren't for cows, I would not be able to enjoy ice cream in the mass quantities that I do).

The best part of the factory- the ice cream at the end!

Lex loved it

And so did Leah!
We hauled the babies around at the beach all week by carrying them in our backpacks. They both loved them.

The backpacks were great for setting in the sand too. Leah did not like being stuck in the backpack when it was not moving...

One of the best part of the beach- playing in the sand and water with cousins! Matching swimsuits is pretty fun, too!

Lexi was very happy at the beach.

She especially loved eating the sand.

By the fistful!

Leah, on the other hand, did NOT love the beach the first 2 days. I hate to admit, but it was miserable taking her down because she would just cry and cry and cry. She was a full time job. The only time she wasn't crying down on the beach was when someone would take her for a walk. Thank goodness all of our "walk Leah" volunteers. Nana took a shift multiple times.

Aunt Bethany also took many shifts and she and Leah became good friends fast. Leah loved her and there aren't many people Leah goes to besides mom without crying. We may be asking Bethany to move in with us...

This is what the first few days on the beach looked like with Leah....

The three little boys found all sorts of fun (and mischief) to do in the beach house. Riding across the room on the ottoman was just one of them.

Not being a water person (especially with ice cold ocean water and 60 degree weather), I spent a majority of my beach time with these two little ladies. Although we wanted to send Leah out to sea on her own private boat at times due to her crankiness, it was so fun to be with them.

Cousins are so much fun! The 5 oldest kids had a blast together. Down by the water, none of them seem to care about the cold water or wind.

For Family Home Evening on Monday night, Nana had the kids help assemble hygiene kits to send to countries that need them. What a great learning opportunity for the kids. They all pitched in willingly and had a great time.

Here they are with the assembled kits, ready to be shipped off!

The babies and I got a break from the beach (and the crying) when Ben took the kids crabbing one day and clamming the next. The kids loved being on the crabbing boat.

Maybe I don't belong in my own family... not a water lover, do not care for sea food... yet my kids and husband love both. What a fun experience for them.

While the daddies took the big kids out to crab and clam, the moms stayed home and took care of these 5 busy babies. Here is baby row- the babies spent a lot of time in these high chairs eating and making big messes on the floor.

If they weren't eating or napping, they crawled and walked all over the house finding all sorts of fun. Leah's twin cousins (yep, two sets of twins on the Andros side!) loved pushing her around in this little basket.
Here's a great shot of Leah with her best buddy, Bethany. Leah was so happy with her.

With just two days left at the beach, we decided to try taking Leah back down to the beach. I will be honest- I did not have high hopes for it.

Thankfully, she was like a completely different baby. As soon as I set her down in the sand, she was grinning like crazy and took off.

She crawled all over that beach and did not cry once. (Whew!)

She was also quite fascinated with eating the sand and made a huge mess. But she was happy, so I didn't care. She could have eaten 10 cups of sand and I wouldn't have stopped her, so long as she was happy.

This picture portrays Leah the last 2 days at the beach: ecstatic- and not a care in the world. (It also portrays how ecstatic (and relieved) we were that she was finally happy on the sand!)

She loved it so much that she would be crawling around and would periodically bow down and put her face in the sand. I think it was her way of praying to the sand gods. Amen to whatever cured her! It was so fun to watch her enjoying herself.

Our first beach baby- boy I wished I looked this cute in a swim suit!

One night we had our traditional bonfire on the beach and roasted hot dogs and smores.

Traditional names and pictures in the sand. Chloe wrote her own this year.

Another fantastic year at the beach! Until next year...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lucky 7

7 years ago we "tied the knot."
1 apartment, 1 house, same job and 4 kids later, that knot is still tied tight.

Sometimes when the knot feels like it might come unraveled with the chaos of every day life, I hang on by leaning on a great man. We look to each other and then look outward and keep on going.

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Engagement pictures 2003:

(That is all natural curls... my hair will not go this curly anymore, thanks to three pregnancies).

Wedding photos, August 22, 2003:

Present day, August 22, 2010

Lucky girl, I am. Lucky (fantastic) 7 years. And we're still looking outward together in the same direction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Idaho Vacation

Wow! What a fantastic summer we've had. The kids and I were only home for 4 days in July. The rest was spent traveling and vacationing with family.

Our first July trip involved 1,746 miles driven and roughly 29 hours in the car (not all consecutive). Our kids are troopers for putting up with all of that car time, but we love spending time with family and we will always make an effort to see them no matter where we live and how far away it is.

I wish I can say the kids did this all of the time in the car (SLEEP!) but they didn't. But they sure tried and we sure loved it when they did.

We have to treat the babies like birds in a cage- put blankets over their carseats to teach "lights out." They are getting old enough that they are starting to have a harder time falling asleep, especially when they can see the big kids in the back seat. Covering them up helps shield them from any distractions that would prevent them from falling asleep or staying asleep. They did fantastic though, considering how much time they spent in those car sleepers.

We headed first to McCall, Idaho to meet up with my family for 6 days in a rented house. What a beautiful place. We had such a fun time.

The highlight of the trip for the kids was the "Plasma Cars" we bought on our way to McCall. We stopped at a Costco in Clarkston, WA and found these on clearance for $20. We already have one at home that the big kids fight over constantly, so we knew we had to buy another one. We picked one up for my sister's little boy and it was the best $20 we both have ever spent. (And that is a steal of a deal for a Plasma car... we regret not buying more).

The kids would go out to the empty garage every morning and play while the adults got ready for the day. Between the 2 plasma cars and my nephew's balance bike, all 3 big kids were thoroughly entertained for hours on end. Carter officially dubbed the plasma cars as "helicopters."

The garage was a great place to hang out. Makes me wish my garage was completely empty...

Great Grandma Dewsnup, or "Gramma D" as we call her (or Gramma Dean, as Mitchell misinterpreted it to be) came up as well. This was her first time meeting my twins and they all became fast friends. She is an amazing 89 year old woman and took great care of my babies all week. She would feed them meals when I was busy, got down on the floor and played with them, and took care of them while we ran errands or were doing things babies could not do. We love Gramma D!

Lots of fun cousin time- Leah loved spending time with Carter!

This trip was Leah and Lexi's first time swimming! We went to a hot spring and it was the perfect place to let the babies try their hand in a pool with warm water.

Look at my white and delightsome babies! People say our Seattle weather makes us all so white... I think our little family of 6 would be fair skinned no matter where we live!

Boy did these little girls love the water. Here's Leah with Papa.


They splashed and splashed and kept trying to stick their faces in the water. We had to keep a close eye on them.

I am not a water lover, but my husband and kids are. I think my children are half fish- they could spend an entire day in the water with no complaints. We had to take the babies out when every square inch of them was pruney, and had to drag Chloe and Mitch out kicking and screaming.

Right across from our rental house was a huge grazing field with cows. My big kids were fascinated by the cows and made daily walks to "visit" them.

Mitchell quickly caught on to the "Idaho way" of doing things...

And these two little best buds had a blast together.

They spent almost every minute together and had a great time. Yes, we even dressed them alike on a few days. It's ok- I'm in twin mode already and it's just so darn cute. As long as they are young enough not to care, my sister and I will continue to do it.

We took a little hike one day that overlooked Payette Lake. It was beautiful.

Most of the hike was drivable (not really a hike, I know) until the last little bit so we just kept the babies in their car seats. They miss out on a lot of pictures being stuck in those seats because for short activities it's much easier to keep them contained in there rather than dragging out a stroller. So here is Ben with proof that the babies were really on this vacation, atop Payette Lake.

We were so glad Aunt Catherine made it on this trip- the kids all adore her. We really hope she never gets married so she can continue to spoil our kids with all her love and attention. Just kidding Cath...

My kids' favorite part of McCall was swimming in Payette Lake. It was very cold, but my children have no cold sensors in their entire bodies when it comes to water. They swam for about 2 hours solid and had to be begged to get out.

I stayed ashore and watched the babies.

Leah, who started crawling on this trip, was hard to contain.

She would not stay on the beach blanket.

Lexi was content to sit on Gramma D's lap all afternoon.

After our too short stay at McCall, Ben flew home and the kids and I drove back to my parent's house for 10 days.

We met up with the rest of the Blakeslee cousins and had a blast.

Here are all 8 of the Blakeslee grandkids. I am mother to half of them.

Sweet babies hanging out at the park while all the big kids got to play.

Chloe and Mitch's highlight in Burley was getting to ride my parent's neighbor's horses. This is the first time Chloe has been brave enough to ride a horse (these neighbors have offered before) and she was very proud of herself for doing it. (So was I).

It was Mitch's first time too and he did not hesitate at all to get on and had no apprehension whatsoever.

They had a lot of fun on those horses. Next on our list after a swing set, pool and trampoline: a horse. I think it could share a kennel with Daisy in the back yard...

After a few days in Burley, Mitch and the babies and I headed to Logan, UT to stay with my sister and her family for a few days. Chloe went to Pocatello, ID to stay with my brother and his family while we were away. Mitch and Carter had a great time together and have created some hilarious memories for my me and my sister of tearing apart more than one craft store... We forgot about the "never take two 2 year old's to a craft store" rule. Oops.

Back to Burley to finish out our stay by doing more swimming!

Papa got creative and set up a tent for he and the kids to sleep in one night in the backyard. Before going to sleep, he set up his laptop and used extension cords so they could watch a move in the tent. I'm sure it's exactly what the pioneers used to do.

Mitch pulled out a new "look" on vacation. We call it his "eye thing" and he'll do it upon request, but also does it at random times. He is definitely going through the terrible two's, so a little comic relief is always welcome.

At the end of our 2 and 1/2 week vacation in Idaho, my mom drove home with me to Seattle to help with the kids. I am not quite brave enough to drive that far with 4 kids by myself. She was a great help and wonderful company. We love Idaho and can't wait until the next time we can go back.