June 18, 2015

Room to Breathe

The last few months have been so packed with activity it's been hard to find time to have any peace.  Now that school is out we've had a little room to breathe and that space is welcomed.

In February Paul and I traveled to Iceland to celebrate our 15 year wedding anniversary.  It was a remarkable once in a lifetime travel experience.  Here are pictures of some of our adventures. 
 We got off the plane, hopped on a bus, and went to the Blue Lagoon.  We first walked on the lava trail before heading into the spa and swim area.

 This was a wonderful way to start our first day in Iceland.  We stayed in the hot pool for hours, rubbed mud all over, and rested inside looking at the view.  It was refreshing after a long flight.

 We took a day trip out of Reykjavik and visited the place where the first parliament started.  We also walked from one tectonic plate to another, Eurasian and North America.
 This was the super jeep we road in all day.  It was so tall it had stairs that would come down for us to climb into the car.
Paul is getting ready to go out in a snow storm on a snowmobile. Just the drive out to this location was an adventure.  There was no road, the snow piled up and more than a couple times we looked at each other saying, "what are we doing?".  It ended up being worth it.

 We spent another day outside of the city and went glacier hiking.  This was our favorite activity on the trip.  We were on the ice for hours just appreciating the experience and the blue skies we were gifted that day.

While on the ice we were able to ice climb.  It was pretty challenging for me and I have a new appreciation for the activity.  Paul excelled at it and could have spent a lot more time doing it.

 On the drive back to Reykjavik the sun hit this waterfall beautifully and treated us with a rainbow the whole visit.  There was a small cafe as the base where we all warmed up with a cup of espresso.  The clouds cleared just enough in the background to see the volcano that erupted years ago that caused air traffic to stop for awhile.

 We spent some of our days just roaming around the city and enjoying uninterrupted conversations.  Reykjavik is a charming city with lovely cafes, good food and wonderful people.

 Some of the best fish and chips in the whole world.

 We would visit local bakeries and taste Icelandic treats.  We rented a small apartment that was in walking distance of great eateries.

 Paul tried a local shark meat that is buried underground for a certain length of time...so gross but good for him for trying it.

 Just kicking up our feet and enjoying space from the kids.  So nice!!!!

 We had a couple weeks to recover at home before we were off again on another trip.  This time with the whole family.  We traveled to California and then took a road trip from there to Arizona.

Asher had a suitcase for the first time and he was so proud to pull it himself.  He was determined even when it was difficult.

While visiting my parents an ice cream truck drove by.  I realized we don't have those living where we do so my dad ran after the truck and bought all the kids a cold treat.

We had a couple wonderful days at the beach.  I adore how simple the beach is and how much we always enjoy it.

 One day we visited a nature reserve I used to work at when I was a Park Ranger.  I took the kids on a nature hike so they could see what California used to look like.  A friend of mine I worked with while I was a Park Ranger passed away this year and going there with the family was special way to honor her.  She would have loved that we were all there enjoying the oak woodlands, sage scrub and each other.

Visiting with my brother's family is always a crazy experience.  It is a rarity to get all the cousins at one table sitting.
We miss outdoor pools!!!!  I wish we had this in Olympia.

 We went to Medieval Times with Yomo and Numo.  The kids still rave about this.
 The museum of torture.  Very dark but also educational.
 The big kids loved all the fighting and horses.  Haven liked trash talking the other teams.  Asher did really well and was entertained the whole time.

Happy Easter!

The day after Easter we drove to Sedona.  I find such peace in red rock areas.  The moment we arrived was heavenly.
Our first day there we picked a mesa to climb.  This was the first hike Asher decided to do by himself.  It was a 500ft elevation gain and he did great.
Up we go...stopping to take in the scenery.

Once on top of the mesa there were vistas galore.

One day we picked a hike that was inside a red rock canyon and the trail crossed a river back and forth the entire time.  It was a unique river walk.

 Paul couldn't resist this surfing opportunity.

We stopped at this red rock pool for awhile.  It was peaceful and the kids enjoyed playing in the water.

We said goodbye to the canyon and headed into town for some desserts for the kids.  Everyday we tried to get them goodies from a shop in town.

 The big kids tried some cactus dishes, rattlesnake and buffalo while we were there.

 One evening we traveled outside of town and went to a cowboy bbq.  The kids learned to lasso, shoot guns, ate cowboy food and listened to cowboy music for the first time.

We took a day to drive to the Grand Canyon.  Everyone had smiles on their faces and couldn't stop taking pictures that day.

 We hiked along the perimeter for awhile.  Asher could only get out some of the time because the drop off made us too nervous.

 One marvelous thing about hiking among the rock formations is the kids could walk ahead and explore for a long time and we could normally find them.  The possibilities of exploring seemed endless.

 We went to a 100 year old cattle ranch and took the kids horse back riding.

 Asher smiled as soon as he got on the horse and kept the smile on his face the whole time.  He enjoyed feeding other animals while we waited for the big kids to finish their long ride.

Good bye Sedona.  It was a fabulous trip.

My grandpa always loved hearing about my travels.  I would call him on every trip and he would get the biggest kick out of.  I remember calling him from Mongolia and he laughed the first minute of the conversation in disbelief he could talk to me so far away.  He passed away in May and we flew down to California again.  It was a busy time with family, reflecting on my grandpa, and having fun.  I know this post is long but he would have loved hearing stories of my life from the last few months.  Here are a few more pictures of our visit to California for the funeral.  I love you Hoho.

 Haven's cousin from the northwest.  It was funny to visit in California when we live less than 2 hours from each other.

Baby Logan was there and the big kids loved spending time with him.  Our flight arrived on my mom's birthday and it was fun to celebrate with her.

 Just hanging out at Grandma's in the sunshine.  It hadn't warmed up yet in Washington and Asher got so excited everyday to not have sleeves covering his entire arm.  We were able to visit a local festival filled with kiddy rides.  Asher spent two hours going on rides and he loved them.

Here are a few snapshots of our everyday life over the last few months.
 Haven just finished the 6th grade.  She excelled in school this year with straight As almost the entire year.  She participated in a girls group to help with social issues, participated in school sports and joined a book club/competition.  I can't believe she turns 13 soon.

 For Mother's Day we spent time doing simple things.  I'm fortunate to have such wonderful children.
Xavier has really grown this year.  He finished the 7th grade and participated in school sports all year.  He played basketball, soccer and track.  He excelled in track and came in first or second in every race he participated in.  I still get emotional watching his track meets remembering how before his heart surgery he couldn't run at all.  I'm speechless at how healthy he is today.  He continues to spend time tinkering with electronics and rewire or rebuild things to work differently.

 Asher started preschool in in April and it has been a good change.  He takes field trips, has a music teacher, a gymnastics teacher, takes trips to the local library and more.  One of his favorite things to do right now when he gets home is find someone who will jump on the trampoline with him.

 We are trying to see Logan and Lauren as much as we can.  She starts nursing school soon and Logan is growing so fast.

 Sage just finished the 6th grade.  He's playing soccer and liked participating in robotics this year.  Him and Asher love playing together.

We are embracing summer and have a lot planned.  Hopefully I'll get around to posting again.