Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer Road Trip ~1st stop Medford~

We aren't a family who normally drives too far for vacation, but we decided to try out a road trip this summer and it was great!  We loaded up the car, full of snacks, books, movies and every other thing that could possibly entertain the children, and headed south on I-5 ~ destination San Francisco!
Our dear friends, the Williams', live in Medford, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time together.  Kyle was able to work, visiting clients in Southern Oregon, while the kids and I had a blast with our friends!

This was the scene shortly after we arrived...they were SO happy to see one another.  I love these little ones and am so very thankful for our time together.

Unfortunately, southern Oregon was experiencing horrific forest fires, so we weren't able to go outside.  It was so sad, because the weather is always sunny and there is so much to do outside.  And as you can tell from the pictures above, our kiddos had a ton of energy and could have used the outdoor room to run!  Instead we decided to take them bowling...but first:
The kids had spilled a bag of candy in the entry way, so I opened up the closet to get the vacuum out. 
And this is what I saw:
oh. my. word.
It was a giant bug, which at first I thought was a cockroach but thankfully it wasn't.  Also it wasn't moving, so I figured we had a few seconds to devise a plan of action.  Meanwhile, the kids are freaking out (think lots of squealing and screaming), Ali is about ready to have a heart attack and I'm not at all certain that I have the guts to trap this beast.  I wonder if there is a neighbor we could call...then one of the children shouts, "we need a daddy to come help us!"  And I just knew I had to show them that a mama could handle a big, disgusting bug too.  We got a cup, I plopped it on top of the bug and slid it out with a lid on top.  We put it outside on the table, just so Kyle and Jeff could see it and be proud of us.  Sadly, I don't think they were nearly as impressed with us as we were with ourselves.  Carter said I was awesome, so really what else did I need.  Crisis averted.

Bowling here we come:
love them. 
so much.

Carter was up

these two have such a special friendship...wish so much they lived closer.

the whole gang!
Luke (4), Carter (7), Emilia (7), Kennedy (5) and Drew (1)
I can't begin to express our gratitude for this time together and for the Williams' wonderful hospitality.  We had a wonderful dinner, a beautiful breakfast, hours to talk and play and just quality time to be together.  It is visit that we will certainly treasure.  Ali is one of my very dearest friends ~ she lives her life full of faith and love and she is beautiful inside and out.  She is a fabulous mother, a supportive wife, a generous friend and woman of God.  We could talk for hours and still never run out of things to say (we were up well past 2:00 AM and could have found another dozen topics to discuss, I am sure).  And we always have so much fun together.  I know that I am a better person because I have her in my life!  What a blessing she is!


This is how bad the air quality was from the smoke.  We were just south of Medford, on our way to California, and the smoke was so thick we had to slow down to about 30 mph on the freeway.  It was crazy!

bye bye training wheels!

Our fearless little one wanted so badly to take off her training wheels and ride like the big kids.  (Being the youngest on our street can be hard sometimes!)  She started off with riding in the grass at  the park, which gave her a sense of safety, although I think it was much harder to pedal that way, and then quickly graduated to riding all over the place!  I had such a hard time watching her, because she'd just go so fast, without any fear to slow her down!  She had a few tumbles, but nothing too major...bloodied knees and skinned up hands, but the falls didn't slow her down much.

She's off and riding and having a ball! 
We are so proud of you, Kennedy!  Even if that fearless nature scares me to death, I love that you are willing to try and to pick yourself up after a fall.  I pray that you hold on to that determination and adventurous spirit, for it will serve you well.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry!

Each summer we go berry picking and we have so much fun doing it.  Usually we head out to Sauvie's Island with friends and spend the day picking all types of berries.  We weren't able to fit that in this summer, but we did have a fun afternoon out at a local farm picking blue berries.  And Kyle was able to join us, so that was even better!  This farm was small and cute and worked entirely on the honor system, which I loved.  There was a little box to place our money once we were done and that was that.  There were also animals for the kids to look at and lovely grounds to explore.  Such a fun way to spend a few hours, we'll definitely be going back again next year!
We were headed out on vacation the next day, so we wanted to pick a few pounds for each of our hostesses as a little gift.  The kids were picking machines and manged to collect over six pounds of blueberries...and then we left them at home! It was a nice thought and we had a ton of fun and we were able to enjoy the berries when we returned home from our trip.
Ready to get picking!

There weren't a ton of plants, but plenty for the four of us to pick from.  We were the only people there, and it was such a relaxing spot.
"look, Mama!  I found a good one!"

my sweet boy
of course I wanted to take a few pictures with the unique backgrounds but no one was super cooperative.  I managed to get a few, with forced smiles, of course!

How cute is this? 
Such a charming little farm!

camping ~ Phelan style

Really, in all honesty, this post should be titled "Camping, Mama style!"  I firming believe that I am the only member of my family who wouldn't enjoy a good ol' fashion camping trip.  I just don't love camping (dirt, public bathrooms, etc.), so I came up with a creative alternative.  We camped in our own backyard.  Genius.
The kids loved it! 
We set up our tent, had a fire and roasted marshmallows and slept the night away under the stars.  (And I can now add another not-so-favorite thing about camping to the list...the ground was really hard.  And as my previous post stated, I am getting old...And it really hurt to sleep on the ground all night long...Even on an air mattress.  Oy vey!)
The kids were so excited to set up the tent!  And I must say it's so much easier to do in grass as opposed to dirt!

Building a fire with supplies from our recycling bin

Ready for our outdoor movie night and fire!

We watched "Wreck It Ralph" and pretended that we were roughing it.

The kids wanted to "camp" for two nights, so the first night Kyle camped with them on his own.  I had worked the night before and had been up for 24+ hours...I good nights sleep in my own bed made for a much happier mommy.

Day #2 of our camping adventure ~ we really played the part ~ the kids were dirty, we BBQ-ed hot dogs and roasted s'mores.  No movie tonight, just good ol' outdoor fun!

Our next door neighbors joined us for s'mores ~ it's serious business getting those marshmallows just right.

Night #2 had us all sleeping in the tent.  We were up many times throughout the night and I woke up feeling less rested than when I went to bed.  But the kids had a ball and I really did love our little camping adventure.  Maybe we'll dare to go to an actual camp ground next year!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Yes, my birthday was two months ago and I am just now getting around to posting about it.  Time has a way of zooming past!
35 was a great birthday and I pray that this year will be a good one, too.  I can honestly admit that I feel a little older...night shifts seem a little harder, I've found a few grey hairs (and I keep finding more!), and I don't bounce back or recover quite as quickly as I used to.  But those are just minor inconveniences and they are certainly over shadowed by the positive things that come with a little age.  I am so fortunate to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I don't worry nearly as much about what other people think (something that I've always struggled with), and I know in my heart that I am living my life the best way that I know how.   That's not to say that there isn't room for improvement ~ there are always lots of things that I'd love to do better, but I am content.  My list of blessings certainly outnumber any list of complaints.  And for that I am grateful!
I celebrated my birthday over the weekend and had a lot of fun.  My sister in law, Stacy, was in town for the weekend, so we had the pleasure of her company, along with my mom and in-laws, for a birthday dinner celebration, which was a ton of fun.
Kennedy and Auntie Stace, posing with Caroline, of course.
a beautiful evening to enjoy drinks and appetizers outside

a delicious ice cream cake from Baskin & Robbins, my very favorite!
It's always so great to have my mom here for my birthday, because she makes such an effort to make me feel special.  The kids were pretty excited too!

My actual birthday feel on a Sunday, so after church we came home and opened presents.  I was spoiled this year, for sure!

my most precious gifts!
all tied up!
Later that afternoon, Kyle and I headed out to Maryhill Winery in the gorge with our friends, Heather and Patrick, for a Counting Crows concert.  It was sunny and hot and we had SO MUCH FUN!
The venue was gorgeous, we enjoyed yummy wine and got our groove on.

all loaded up ~ chairs, food, coolers, etc.
We were set for the night!

Heather and me
the scenery was gorgeous!

We have so much fun with Heather and Patrick and this night was no different.  They were so sweet to help us celebrate my birthday and even brought special bday treats.

Oh, Counting I love you!  It really was such a special and perfect way to celebrate my birthday.  Not only did Kyle and I get to spend some quality time together, but we had a blast with great friends AND got to enjoy good music at an amazing outdoor venue.  I could not have asked for more...

Heather and I danced the night away!!!

summertime reunion

One of our dear frineds from college, Matt, and his family came to Portland this summer for a wedding.  They live all the way in North Carolina, so we don't get to see them often.  They had rented a house and organized a night where we could all get together for dinner.  Unfortunately Kyle was out of town, but the kids and I had a fabulous time!
The kids were plugged in while the adults were able to catch up ~ I'm amazed at home much they've all grown!

Ethan, Carter, Lillian, Kennedy and Emory

Matt is such a great guy and a dear friend, it was fabulous to be able to catch up.  His wife, Mary Scot, is wonderul too, she so easily fits into our group and it feels like we've been friends forever.
It really was so much fun to get together!

The whole crew!
Carter did a great job taking pictures, nice work, buddy!
Such a great way to spend an evening.  I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends!

birthdays, birthdays and more birthdays

Summer is a super busy birthday season for us...besides Kennedy's and mine, the kids have a lot of friends who also celebrate summer birthdays.  In the span of two weeks, we attended five different parties, plus a few more throughout the summer.  I wasn't able to get pictures every time, but these fun parties are definitely worth remembering!
Brevin shares a birthday with Kennedy, so Shannon and I always make sure that we plan different days for the celebrations.  Brevin's was a Star Wars themed bash held at Blue Lake Park ~ and it was so much fun!  The boys had a blast.  Unfortunately, we were headed up to Seattle that afternoon, so we weren't able to stay at play for as long as we would have liked.

All the Jedis ready for their training missions...they made their own light sabers and Shannon's mom made them all robes.  It was so cute to watch them all have so much fun!

Attacking the Dark Star pinata!

Emery and Kennedy enjoyed a little girl time together!
Next up was Ainsley's Rapunzel party
The girls donned princess dresses and had so much fun playing in the back yard.  It was a perfect day for an outdoor party and Heather had lots of cute stuff for the girls to do and fun games to play.
They started by painting a canvas with their initial on it

lots of time to play...

A super fun game where partners wrapped each other up with streamers...

Lauren and Kenned did great ~ it was hilarious to watch! 

The whole party

and the birthday girl.
Happy 5th birthday, Ainsley!
The following day was Emery's princess party at the park

Kennedy was thrilled to start off by crafting crowns and wands

There was a princess castle bounce house and a fun pinata.
Emery is such a sweet girl and we love her very much!
Happy 4th birthday, Em!
Unfortunately we were out of town and missed Andrew's 8th birthday celebration. I felt terrible about missing his party and wanted to do something special just for him.  Carter suggested Chuck E Cheese, and I knew Andrew really liked going there, so we had a fun afternoon together celebrating Andrew!
on our way
Andrew is one of the sweetest boys I know ~ he has a heart of gold and is such a dear.  I love him to pieces.  A cute story from the day - Kathy had given Andrew a little money to buy tokens.  I insisted he didn't need it, and that he could bring it back home,  I was happy to buy him as many tokens as they needed.  I could tell he was conflicted ~ his mama told him to use it, and I was telling him to save it!  Bless his heart, he snuck over to the token machine instead of asking me for more.  AND he shared with Carter and Kennedy.  Such a good and thoughtful friend! 
The boys had fun playing a ton of games and collecting an insane amount of tickets (which still only afforded them penny items from the prize case!).
Dancing with Chuck E for tickets ~ it's serious business!
Kennedy's friend from preschool, Cohen, celebrated his fifth birthday, along with his brother Henry, at the Firstenburg pool.  It was such a fun party and a great way to spend the afternoon.  The Butlers were sweet enough to include families, so Carter got to come too!

Kennedy was thrilled to be swimming with her friends from preschool!

Carter had a blast, too!