Thursday, January 26, 2017

back to school (september 2016)

Next up for September ... back to school!!

Unfortunately, Porter woke up and headed out so early for seminary that I didn't get a picture of him:(

Mae joined James in middle school this year.

And Joseph joined Brooks at elementary school as a new kindergartner. 

Getting a good picture of him was a bit tricky;). 

And for school pictures ...


Brooks-4th Grade

Mae-6th Grade
Poor girl. The day of her school pictures, she got all fixed up and they ran out of time to actually take her picture. Then at the end of another random day, they unexpectedly called her out of class and snapped this little beauty;). Needless to say, it is not her favorite picture, but I really kinda love it! 

James--8th Grade (love the awesome smile;)!!

Porter--9th Grade (first year of high school:/).

Love these kids:). Can't believe they're growing up so fast, though!!

joe 6th b-day (september 2016)

We started off the month with this super fun kid's 6th b-day! How is it possible that he could already be so old, you ask? I have NO idea!! The good news is that he's still our sweet, affectionate, silly, fun-loving youngest child. He's a constant reminder to all of us of the beauty of innocence and we are so grateful to have him in our family. 

McDonald's lunch date 
(his favorite place to eat out;). 

Family B-day party.

We were happy to have Auntie Jill, G-ma Loo, and the cousins over!!

James and Jill chillin' together:-). 

Mae was amazing and planned a fun Pokemon Party for her little bro. 

Complete with pokemon labeled food: Squirtle Spit, Charmeleon Chips, etc. ... 

Pin the tail on Pikachu ...

And some charades-type game (can't remember what she called it) where we had to act out a certain Pokemon and try to make the right sound. Definitely amusing since many of us really don't know anything about Pokemon characters. 
Joseph thought it was awesome!!

She had also prepared a saran wrap ball for us to have fun with. Never heard of one? Basically lots of candy/prizes folded into layers and layers of saran wrap. Everyone gets a quick turn to unwrap (and claim the bounty) as it's passed around the circle. 

Then we enjoyed some presents!

Angry Birds game, Captain America costume ... 

Ninja weapons, Star Wars pillow book ...

New Star Wars back-pack/lunch box for kindergarten, and the crazy Pie Face game!!

We were all pretty excited about Pie Face!

We were also pretty excited about this awesome Pokemon Ball cake that Mae and Gracie made--
Joe's a lucky boy!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Joe. Thanks so much for being a part of our family:-).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

august 2016 misc.

And to finish out August we have ... 

Kevin does a bit of sightseeing in Hope, B.C. (Canada)--home of Rambo: First Blood;)

(Beautiful green geysers and some pretty impressive caves.) 

(The massive caves were part of an old railway system.)

Mae re-decorates her room--here's a sampling ... 

Great times with the family at Fircrest Fun Days!!

(These were a hit.)

James taking good care of his little brother!

Not sure what to label this one--cousin fun, twin time, synchronized baby pool poses, floating water balloons. Hmm, tricky. 

sprucing up the backyard!--new bark, gravel, etc. 

(Oh, and a new coat of stain on the deck, which this guys helped to prep for!)

And, back-to-school thrift store shopping!!

Moving on!

high adventure (august 2016)

For their 4th annual High Adventure, Kevin and the boys ventured out to the Seven Lakes Basin Loop in the Olympic Mountains for the boys first-ever 50-miler (literally a National Rain Forest!--but, fortunately, no rain this week!). They were sad to be without cousin Porter Draney, but were happy that Doug and Ben Stucki and Ryan Barnhurst were able to come along. 

As always, the trip took a lot of advance planning; including figuring out how to pack bear canisters large enough to hold all their food, but small/light enough not to take up an entire pack. Soon enough, though, departure day arrived and off they all went!

Ready to get started.

At the trailhead. 

Time to enjoy some beautiful sights like this ... 

And this ... 

And this ... 

But first, they had to hit the trails!

And get hiking!

Lots and lots and lots of hiking. Really.

Sometimes they stopped hiking long enough to snap a quick picture; like this one. 

Or this one of the entire group.

Or all of these. 

Or these along the river. 

And I can't forget these great shots with the mountain range in the background.  This is called the "High Divide."  A high point along the ridge with breath-taking views on all sides/360 degrees. 

Definitely worth the stop!!

Of course sometimes there was no energy left for pictures. 

These guys were seriously working hard. 

One very cool part of the trip was definitely the wildlife. 

They enjoyed plenty of deer/elk.

Some fluttery butterfly friends (one landed on Kevin's hat). 

Not really "wild", but a group of pack mules briefly passed them by.

They also had glimpses of tree frogs, mountain goats (during a water break--they came in and starting poking around in our packs!!), coyotes, and furry owls (that made the craziest loud whines during the night!). 

Of course, the coolest animal spotting was definitely the black bears.  The first one crossed our path only 15 minutes at the start of our week-long hike! 

Probably the least favorite sight on the trail was this spooky pile of bones. Or at least it was a bit spooky to the solo female backpacker who was second thinking the hike altogether when our group came along, and kindly invited her to join with them--which she did for part of the trip.  I guess that's where the word "hitch-HIKER" really comes from.

The plant life on this loop was also pretty spectacular. 

I won't comment on it all, but here is a sampling ... 

Of course it is the 7-Lakes Basin, so there were plenty of lakes along the trail as well.

And I think these guys enjoyed taking in every last one and fished as many as possible.

As well as the little ponds.  This one spilled right off of Hoh Lake. 

And gorgeous views of the lakes from higher up the mountain.

This lake "Heart Lake" was especially unique by it's obvious heart shape. 

And it wasn't just lakes that covered this beautiful hike, there were a variety of water features (Sol Duc Falls). 

Like this and other waterfalls. 

And streams in all sorts of hidden spots. 

Sometimes these guys got to hang out by the lakes.

And throw in a line.  Brook trout seemed to be most prevalent.

That's if they weren't too tired from all the hiking;).  So glad we brought these mini camp chairs--so comfortable!

Kevin had some glitches in his meal planning and prep (let's just say he went vegetarian for one of the hardest weeks of hiking in his life), but overall they ate pretty well and found lots of wild blueberries along the trail.  

I'm sure they were happy to have some downtime around camp!  You can see some bear bags they had to hang one of the nights with their food.  They also had these rustic out-houses along the way that weren't too private.

Especially if they could spend it in a hammock, or by the campfire, or posing stoically with buddies.

The evenings out there were beautiful!

Really beautiful.

And I don't think that's an exaggeration.  This was the same night, a bit later, that we beheld a marvelous meteor shower--absolutely incredible!

They were also a great time for enjoying a warm fire--I hear one night they even had s'mores thanks to a fellow camper and his son who had packed in all the supplies. 

For their last full day, they got to enjoy this beautiful river. 

Where they cooled off (seriously cooled off, in fact, since the water was glacier water), messed around a bit ...

built and/or found a cairn or two ...

And skipped some rocks.

All before winding down for the night. 

With one last campfire (where Porter nearly blew his hand off). 

And a five-star riverfront lodging!  Under a clear starry night.

And after a full five days and 50+ miles of hiking, these guys were finally at the end of their adventure. 

As always, they were happy to finish off with a nice greasy meal of burgers, fries, and shakes. 

Trip stats!!

Great work, guys!! Not sure you could top this one;).