Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lake Craziness ... I mean, Constance

It's no secret that I'm trying to madly rush through blog entries in an effort to get caught up before, i don't know, Valentine's Day maybe. however, if I throw these pictures up, say "awesome hike, Hon, " and move on to the next entry, I may have one unhappy camper on my hands. Of course, it is simply unfathomable for "unhappy" and "camper" to be included in the same sentence when it comes to my husband. So, I've decided to give this post the time and dedication it deserves;)!

Here it goes ...

Our amazing and just slightly insane friend (love ya, Doug) invited Kevin on one last, end-of-summer "high adventure" up to Lake Constance in the Olympic Mountains. I think Kevin was aware that it would be a long day and a pretty strenuous hike, but I'm not sure he realized just how crazy it would be.

They set off pretty early in the morning. I really don't even know for sure what time, because I was peacefully slumbering in bed. The drive itself was a couple of hours. Sometime during the trip Kevin started to feel very sick ... carsickness (family curse) mingled with who knows what else;). So, they made a pit stop along the side of the road for a little while and then managed to finish the last stretch.

Here they are at the initial destination. I guess the fact that they had already traveled about two hours and it was still this dark out, is sign that they left the house very early indeed. Okay, so yes, there was biking included in the trek--with 40 lb. packs strapped on!

Apparently access to the trail head washed out some years ago, so the guys actually had to bike I think about three miles (packs and all) on a rough forest service road to even arrive at the trail.

I think it was at the trail head that Doug pulled out a 7-years-past-expiration Tums or Alka Seltzer or something, which Kevin willingly ingested...still feeling nauseated from the car trip. Apparently it wasn't yet toxic. Then the fun really began. I've been told that this picture hardly does justice to how steep the trail actually was. As seem in the image above, the hike itself is only 2 miles (each way). However, it is a 3400 ft. elevation gain, and apparently you're pulling at roots and whatever you can grab to help make it up. Not that I ever questioned the difficulty level reported to me by my hubby:), but after looking around online a little, this does seem to be known as an insane hike by anyone who's really heard of it. And why did they bring 40lb. packs along--because they're both avid fisherman!! So, float tubes, waders, fins, poles, gear, etc. were a requirement on this crazy hike. Why not, right?

Favorite bit of information found ..."When you get right down to it, there are only two bad sections to this route: the first half and the second half" ( Ha! Love it.

So why do crazy people do these crazy hikes in the first place? Well, because they're crazy.

That, and the views are spectacular. Oh, yeah, and the fishing!

What's the possibility of cardiac arrest when there are fish to be caught in a secluded mountain lake?!
Good work, guys!! Ready to do it again?:)

joint b-day party

After all our summertime excitement/craziness and the start of the new school year, we decided to hold off on Joseph's actual first b-day party (he didn't know the difference anyway;) and celebrate his and Porter's at the same time.

I really don't know why, but for some reason I was meant to be the mom of boys (with the exception of my darling Mae). And I just love each and every one of them. They are all soooo different, which I find fascinating and exciting and complicating and sometimes frustrating all at the same time.

While we have yet to see what kind of personality Joseph will really have (aside from his free-spirited tendencies of running everywhere, brushing his teeth any chance he gets, dancing on the kitchen table, and doing anything and everything daring), Porter has certainly carved out his place in our family, particularly with his distinct love of reading!! The kid could forget to get out of bed for an entire day (foregoing food and pretty much anything else) for the sake of finishing the newest book in his current favorite series--Leven Thumps, Eragon, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Harry Potter--take your pick. He even forgot to get off the bus one day after school (despite his siblings and friends exiting) because he was engrossed in his reading.

Oh, Porter, how we love you and your appreciation of great stories and intriguing adventures. You are so curious and smart and thoughtful and good. You are a blessing to our family!

So, back to the actual party. The festivities started with a cheerleading routine by Miss Mae & Cousin Gracie. Then presents ...

Joseph got a ball ...
... and a good-ole-fashioned smash 'em in thing.

Porter got a book (shocking) ...

... something homemade from James (our little handyman) ...

... and a Thor movie.

Time for cake and ice cream--thanks, Grandma Loo.

Oh, the excitement of the first birthday cake.

Maybe a little too much excitement ... this was right before he started throwing the cake in every direction.Whether the baby or the adults are more excited is up for debate.

And finally, after party fun.

With the new ball.

And Grams, herself.

I almost forgot to acknowledge that Joseph's birthday also marked the one-year anniversary of a huge miracle for our family. We are so eternally grateful for our belief in miracles and the ever-apparent hand of God in our lives. Sometimes when I watch our little one-year-old running around the house, and attempting to climb ladders, I almost forget that it was through faith, prayers, and divine intervention that he arrived to our home safe and sound. Of that I am certain, and I know that it is something I must never forget.

big family vs. big city

Over Labor Day weekend, we all piled into the car yet again, crossed the border into Canada, and made our way to Vancouver B.C. for the wedding of Kevin's lovely cousin, Nicola.

The trip was quite an adventure, but it is no secret that I am behind in my blogging and I desperately need to get last year's blog book ready for printing. So, instead of a play-by-play account, I will just make a list of what happens when big family meets big city.

*Mae throws up in the car at the curbside of the lovely downtown Hyatt Regency.
*Car is too big for the underground parking at our hotel.
*We are practically the only family present.
*Outdoor "heated" hotel pool (purpose for which we booked this hotel in he first place) is heated to the extent of a melting ice-cube and completely shaded by surrounding bldgs.
*Dueck children "sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked and walked" (okay, so they actually did not sing even a tiny bit while walking, but we did in fact walk A LOT--as in everywhere!).
*To avoid overwhelming the local population at all the cute little bistros, we make many many trips to the McDonald's right across from our hotel.
*Canadian McDonald's (or big-city ones??) have special menus for those of us who can't stand McDonald's in the first place (thank you thai chicken sandwich, I think I might have died if I had to eat cheeseburgers all weekend).
*There is barely enough room to fit a stroller (let alone five kids and a stroller) through the walking spaces in the McDonald's--or anywhere else for that matter.
*Grandma Loo (& friend Glenn) stays with all the kids in the hotel for an evening, while we attend a wedding dinner and reception. They are highly bribed with on-demand movies (the
kids, not grandma & Glenn).
*I almost crash into innocent bystanders along the high-traffic Stanley Park biking path, as I attempt to pull one five-year-old and a sleeping baby in a large biking trailer--in my defence, I have not ridden a bike since I was 9.
*Kevin goes out for a relaxing jaunt around Stanley Park--returns approx. 15 miles later, can barely walk the rest of the day;).
*We try not to confuse the room service receptionist with our massive order.
*Just before heading home, we suit up and venture over to this great-looking, outdoor "heated" pool that we were anticipating visiting before leaving.
*The definition of "heated" in canadianese is different than that of Nanciish.
*The lifeguards are very serious about preventing fun (I mean, saving lives).
*The unspoken rule of one adult for every child does not compute with a family of 7.
*45 minutes after arriving at the pool--just after getting the last of our sunblock applied--we decide it's time to say goodbye to the big city and mozy on home.

Okay, so now that I've had my fun, it's time for some pictures.

Here we are in Stanley Park (2nd day in Vancouver) for Nicola and Ryan's "beach front" wedding ceremony. It was very nice and I'm so thankful to my mom & Glenn for also making the trip to the big B.C. to watch the little ones during the ceremony. Darling Aunt Vicki and Mom & Dad Dueck visiting before the ceremony.
James doing a stellar job participating in the ceremony

(I know it's hard to see, but I promise, it's him). The happy couple and beautiful view.
The evening of the wedding, we headed out with Kevin's folks for a wedding dinner/reception on Grouse Mountain. It was a beautiful place. The gondola ride and everything that followed was very nice.

The view from the gondola. The view on the way back (with everything lit up) was probably even more impressive. The next day we walked down to a cute condo that Aunt Vicki was renting for the weekend, and met up with a bunch of the fam for lunch at Granville Island.

Always someone to have fun with when there's 7 people around! Little sillies.

The great part was that Granville Island was just a short water taxi ride away. Yep, that's it in the background.
We ate and looked around at shops and saw a little street show, but the favorite activity was probably feeding the pigeons.

Getting a better view for the street show. Don't think Brooks even knows he's missing it.

what a fun weekend!

Despite the narrow walkways, freezing pools, and vomit clean-up breaks, we had a fantastic weekend. It was great to get away as a family and explore somewhere new! And what a pleasure to visit with family who we often to not get to see.

Thanks for getting married, Nicola!:)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

joe's first haircut;)

When Joseph was born, I really did not have intentions of calling him "joe." Not that I had a clue what nickname we were going to use, but I figured something perfect would surface. Well, he's now 16 mos (about 12 mos in this post, since I'm just a tad bit behind:) and still nothing. Not really anyway. I noticed the other day, though, that his big brother (porter) had taken to calling him Joe. In a really cute way too. Like old college roommates shooting the breeze (what an odd figure or speech??). So, in honor of Porter, I am giving "Joe" a try.

Moving on, our cute little Joe;) got his first haircut at the end of the summer. As made clear in a previous post, the adorable child was seriously in need of a cut. And as mentioned in said post, we have an amazing hair stylist in the family who loves us so much she's willing to make home visits.

Nothing like bribing a one-year-old to hold still with a sticky lollipop (only problem is, all the hair sticks to it).

Notice the mohawk is now much shorter, thanks to an initial snip with auntie's cool purple scissors.

Oh, yeah. still loving the lollipop.
And still. Man, doesn't look like he's going to give that thing up.

Oh, the mean mom stole it away. But isn't he cute!

back to school

Aww, back to school pictures: sun-toasted skin, newly trimmed hair, unstained clothing, and lunchboxes with not a tear ... and then the first week of school happens.

Mr. 3rd grade Mr. 4th grade
Miss Kindergarten herself.

Oh, so exciting!

Brooks doesn't start school until next year, but the kids had to pull him into the picture just for fun.

Let the fun begin! Just nobody blink, because then it will already be next year and we'll be that much closer to middle school:(.