Thursday, December 17, 2015


August started off with some reunions for Ben.

The first one was a seminary reunion for all of the kids who attended Richland High School.  They were honoring their long time teacher Brother Nelson, who taught for almost 20 years.  That's a long time for a seminary teacher to teach at the same location.  There were lots of people there.  I didn't know Brother Nelson at all, but he stood up to say a few words at the end of the evening and he was very funny and seemed like a wonderful man.

Ben also got to hang out with some good buddies for a few hours, too.

The next day, Saturday August 1 was Ben's 20th high school reunion.  There was a family get together at the park in the early afternoon and then a tour of the high school afterwards.  It was fun for Ben to visit with classmates he hasn't seen in years and he was really excited to walk through his high school that has changed quite a bit since his time there.  We were glad to be there to support him.  We passed on the Pub Crawl later that evening. :)

Oh how we love this girl.  Just looking back at these pictures makes me miss the "sleep anywhere, anytime" phase of babyhood.

I took the kids to do some school shopping one day.  Lexi looked adorable in everything she tried on.

Mitch was excited to pick out some of his own clothes.  On this 95 degree day, it was hard to imagine it being cool enough to wear long sleeves.

Later that afternoon we met up with cousins at the river to swim and play.

Joce was either really tired or passed out from the heat. :)

There's nothing like a snuggle from a Nana.

These pair of one year olds think Aunt Bethany is the best.  And she really is.  She plays with all the kids non stop.  We love her!

Joce totally rocked the tank top.  Totally.

This month it was Leah's turn for a Daddy/Daughter date.

She was super happy with their date location of Dairy Queen.

Swimming lessons continued in full force for us.  I felt like they should have renamed the pool after our family for all the time we spent there this summer.

We finished another session the day before leaving for the beach.

I love this picture.  I love that my kids love this baby.  I love that they willingly love to spend time with her and love on her and help take care of her.  And I love that she has porcelain skin too. :) Oh, do we love this baby girl.

Monday, November 23, 2015

HOT July

July was hot, hot, HOT!  We were introduced to Tri-City summers early- by mid to late May, it was already very hot here.  June was incredibly hot and it didn't slow down in July either.  But we are sun and warmth lovers and have been in love with our central air (a first for us)!  Can I just say that central air conditioning is the most amazing technology available to mankind?  Especially when it's 110 degrees outside?

The weekend after we got home from Burley, Ben took the big kids on an overnight backpacking trip.  Ben and the kids have been looking forward to this all spring and summer.

Livy was super excited to help Ben get everything packed into the backpacks.  She can't wait for her turn to go someday, too.

All set and ready to go!  For a brief minute, Livy thought she was going too.  :(

A backpacking trip is always more fun with cousins! 

Love this picture, with the backdrop of beautiful farmland and scenery below.  (And yes, there is a lot of sagebrush in desert climate).

Tent city!  Everything you see was carried on someone's back.  This isn't your grandma's camping trip. :)

There was some whining and difficulties on the hikes, but these kids were all smiles for pictures.

Good thing Dad is always there to help when you're tired and need a hand.

Poor Lexi.  She didn't feel well once they got up to the point of hiking.  Ben said she was a trooper and kept on hiking despite feeling yucky.  But any chance she got, she laid down and took a rest.

When she knew she was getting her picture taken, she forced her best smile.

Then back to resting.  She has always been our sweet girl.

The backpacking trip was super fun for everyone.  Everyone always comes home exhausted but it's a favorite activity- one Ben wishes he could do a lot more each summer.

Jocie finally got a picture with Grandma Forsythe and the beautiful quilt she made for her.

Swimming lessons continued.  We were at the pool for 6 weeks out of the summer.  Each kid took two 2 week sessions.  And with Chloe and Mitch being gone for 2 weeks, we couldn't have everyone take both sessions at the same time.  It gave us something to look forward to for many days.

Leah is a good diver!

Lexi prefers to "penguin dive."

It was fun to see cousins at swimming lessons and really fun to have matching swim suits.  The kids were even in class with cousins a few times.

Mitch had a severe water phobia last year and was very nervous to start lessons this year.  He quickly over came those fears and did such an excellent job.  He make lack finesse but he gave it his all and worked so hard.  I was so proud of him.  He and Leah were in a class together one session as well.

Go Leah!  She is so fun to watch.

Chloe started off her first session being afraid to dive.  She did not want to do it and was even getting upset about it at home in the evenings.  We talked about it and she worked up some courage to keep trying.  By the end of her sessions, she was doing so much better.  I don't care that my kids aren't the best at everything- it would be fun sometimes, I'm sure.  What makes me happy is to see them try and improve and not give up.  I love seeing them work hard- really work, and see their efforts pay off.

Laying on a hot sidewalk after swimming reminds me of my childhood. 

Livy, Jocie and I spent lots of time pool side, watching all the swimmers.  Livy enjoyed playing with any available siblings that weren't swimming.  Jocie took a lot of naps in the shade.

The weekend of July 16-18, Ben, Joce and I headed to Seattle for some fun!  Soon after we moved to Tri-Cities, tickets for my most favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan, went on sale for his newest tour.  I looked as his schedule and saw that he was performing in Seattle in July.  I laughed out loud, as I had just told Ben a few months earlier that if Jim ever came to Seattle, we were buying tickets.  Ironic that he decided to come just after we moved away from Seattle.  Luckily, Seattle is not a far drive and even better we have lots of wonderful friends there to visit as well.  I texted a few friends to see if they'd be interested in going to Jim as well and they were.  Back in early March, July seemed so far away.  But it came and I was so excited for a weekend get away to our home away from home.  Ben's parents were so wonderful to watch our other kids.

We left Thursday after work.  Traveling with one kid, who sleeps most of the time, was life changing.  We stopped for dinner an hour into the trip (bring on the Big Miner Burger!) and then plugged along to Seattle.

The sun was setting as we came to Snoqualmie Pass.  It was green and beautiful and brought back a rush of emotions and memories that I was not quite prepared for.  I love our new home, but Seattle will forever hold a most special place in my heart and soul.  It was good to be back.

We checked in to our hotel pretty late- close to 10:00.  But Jocie, on her 3rd month birthday, was all smiles. She slept like a champ too.  It was kind of strange staying in a hotel in Auburn when we just lived here in our home less than 6 months ago.  I felt like we'd been away forever but never having left, all wrapped up together.

The next day, our morning was relaxing and we weren't in a hurry.  We lounged in bed, I exercised and we watched a show while leisurely getting ready.  We spent the early afternoon visiting Ben's former boss who is currently retired. 

Just before 4:00, we dropped Jocie off with her babysitter for the night.  It was with our most favorite Auburn resident- Grandma Cynde!  Joce was in good hands for the evening and it put my mama heart at ease leaving her with family while we spent a night out on the town.

We met up with our dear friends the McInelly's and the Winkler's for our big Jim Gaffigan date.  We ate a quick dinner, then were on our way downtown to McCall Hall. 

In our seats, ready for Jim!

My most favorite date.

Jim was hilarious.  Hilariously hilarious.  I laughed so much and so hard that my face and cheeks hurt.  I love some good, clean comedy and Jim always delivers.  It was my first time seeing him live and it was so much fun.

We took a selfie in front of his tour bus after the show!

Cynde texted me this picture of Jocie halfway through the evening.  She took her for a walk around the neighborhood and she was being a perfect angel.  Cynde had fun showing her off to neighborhood friends.  She was a good girl all night.

We wandered around Seattle Center after the show for a bit.  The Space Needle looked awesome and snapping this picture of it, as I have done time and time before, made me miss my beautiful Seattle home once again.

We got ice cream on our way home and the laughs for the evening continued.  Jim was hilarious- our company was practically just as funny.  I love and miss having wonderful friends close by.

We swung by and picked up Jocie from Cynde's house around 10:00 or so.  She was fast asleep for the night- I hated to wake her but wanted to relieve our wonderful Cynde from her duties.  We went to McInelly's after to visit for awhile longer before all calling it a night.

The next morning, we met up with a larger group of friends at our favorite Auburn breakfast place: Sunbreak Cafe.  I was so glad that so many of our closest friends were able to make it.  I sure missed seeing those that couldn't come.
Jocie got passed around and loved on by many.  The food was great and the company was even better.  Friends are the best!

After breakfast, our day was still young.  Most people might have an elaborate and fancy checklist of places to visit while in Seattle.  After seeing friends and eating good food, our checklist consisted of going to Costco Business!  Ikea was also on my short list, but we didn't make it there.  Before hitting up Costco Business, we drove by our old house.  I wasn't sure I wanted to (that I'd be able to) but we did.  It was a very strange feeling driving by the home that we were so in love with and thought we'd be in for years to come.  It was strange seeing someone else's car in the driveway, another man outside working in the yard.  There was very little, although a few small changes on the outside.  I was very curious to see what changes they had made on the inside but maybe I didn't really want to know.  I did stop by and visit our former next-door neighbor, who had just had a baby.  It was fun to see a familiar face and feel at home again, for just a few minutes.  Driving down our former street and away from Auburn was sad for me.  I must have commented to Ben 50 times that weekend how fun and sad it was to be back.  I was pretty emotional off and on.  Just getting off a local exit that we used to take all the time, or passing by the local Wal-mart had me emotional.  The memories we accumulated here over the past 11 1/2 years all seemed to come back in 24 hours and it was a bit overwhelming at times. 

We hit Costco Business pretty hard- when you don't know when you will next be there, you have to get while you can.

Our next stop was the outlet malls in North Bend.  We did a bit of shopping with this sweet girl (who is the best baby).  It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day and I couldn't help but take a picture of Mt. Si with Joce in the foreground.  The beauty here was always one of our favorite things about Seattle and seeing it all again in the beautiful shade of summer was marvelous.

Saturday was Ben's work party back in Tri-Cities.  We were bummed to miss it, but Ben's dad and sisters went in our place.  Papa texted us this picture of Olivia at the picnic- one ice cream sandwich for each hand.  That's MY girl!

Summer and ice cream really do go hand in hand.

When our shopping was complete, we hit the road to head home. Our short weekend away was emotional, but so much fun.  I got "home" sick for Seattle and our life and friends there for a bit.  But coming back home to Tri-Cities and our wonderful new life here picked my spirits up.  Seeing our other 5 kids was a perk too.  They had a great weekend with Nana and Papa.  Until next time Seattle!

We hit the splash park with cousins one day to beat the heat.  The kids had a great time and kept cool while the moms melted in the shade. 

The kids beat the heat inside in the AC by playing games and making human pyramids.  My favorite part of motherhood is watching my kids happily play together.

Livy got sick the latter part of July.  She ran a fever for a few days.  It's very rare for her to fall asleep in my arms- that was fun and sweet.  The not fun part was that she didn't stay asleep for long and wasn't interested in napping in her own bed after a few cat naps. 

Once her pain meds kicked in and her fever went down, she became all smiles for a few hours.  As she grabbed fists full of animal crackers, she asked "I more?"  She was soaking wet due to jumping into our kiddie pool fully clothed.

Our kiddie pool in the backyard got lots of use.  Lexi got a little over heated one day in the sun while out swimming.  Her face with a little heat exhaustion reminded me of my older sister who got heat stroke/heat exhaustion often as a kid in the summer.  But Lexi is always all smiles.

And Jocie just grew and grew in July.  I must have snapped 100 pictures of her sleeping this summer. She slept in our room the whole summer and I got to see this sweet sleeping face all the time.  Baby smiles and sleeping babies have to be among the sweetest images on earth. 

Nap time each day means I can get stuff done without feeling split between chores/must do's and a sweet baby.  But I still feel torn because I'd rather look at this sweet, peaceful, sleeping face than chores anyway.

By July, Joce was finally big enough for all of her summer clothes.  And boy did she have a lot of cute stuff.

This day I was busy doing something.  J needed me but I was hurrying to finish whatever I was doing.  When I was done and came to get her, she had sweetly fallen asleep, tired of waiting.

She was so tired that even when she fell over she stayed fast asleep.

She loved her outfit from Grandma Blakeslee!

After being here in Pasco 6 months, we officially closed on our one acre lot.  Owning a good chunk of flat, useable land has always been one of our dreams. 

A house to go on that lot is our next step.  We have been working on a custom floor plan since March and hope to break ground on it by September.

It's THIS wide!

The kids loved going with me to a farmer's market one afternoon to buy corn on the cob for dinner.  We found some good looking cucumbers too and Livy just had to sample it.  Try before you buy!

Baby's first corn!  She liked it but didn't finish it.  Corn on the cob is a lot of work for small mouths.

We spent many an afternoon/evening down at the mighty Columbia River with our kayaks.  It's a short drive and our favorite park, Leslie Groves, has a perfect kayak launch and swimming area where everyone is entertained for hours.
I spent 99% of the time on shore with Jocie and keeping an eye on our swimming kids, but I did venture out in the kayak with Livy one evening. 

Father and son

Aunt Bethany is the best!  She and a kayak were the perfect combo for keeping two 1 year olds happy.
Uncle Nick brought his paddle boards one night to mix it up.  The kids just love being in the water.

We watched many beautiful sun sets at our swimming hole.

Boys in the Boat!

A beautiful sun setting on the Andros clan.  Summer is beautiful and the water, warmth and sun are its magical powers.