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Gravel RAKED.

Pavers HAULED and Hammered.

Yep, we’ve been thinking about ROCKS! It’s only natural, after hand laying an entire patio in our backyard.  You see, we have these really large trees across our back yard that makes growing grass difficult.  {Well, this is  our excuse, but really we are just terrible yard keepers.} After Anthony and Justin EXCAVATED our entire yard by learning some mad bobcat driving skills via YouTube, Anthony’s dad and I trudged back and forth with gravel and pavers. Allie and Jack helped carry the load too! {Super cute workers btw}  Anthony hammered in each and every one.  Whew! Next topic: grass for the side yards. I’ll save that for the next blog.

Vaca! Another rock formation caught our eye this summer named Crater Lake. Wowzers–why is this our first time seeing this amazing natural wonder?  Anthony photographed  some views of it while I prevented Max from descending the sharp cliff above it.  Jack and Allie practiced being park rangers and spotted many fun trees and rock formations.  Close by we drove through the  Wildlife Safari.  Lions and tigers and bears.. .or rather, Cranes {Jack}, monkeys {Allie}, and lions {Maddox}–Roar! A camel ride and feeding birds are favorite memories they’ll treasure.

Cleft.  Metaphorically speaking, Jack’s had a rocky summer.  We tested his hearing again and discovered he has moderate hearing loss in one ear and mild in the other. So, we are headed off to surgery for some new ear tubes in a few weeks. He also attended speech therapy three times a week.  While beneficial, it was often a rocky time, persuading a very shy {at times a bit stubborn} three year old to focus for 50 minutes at a time, with strangers.  Sometimes I wish we could just let him say “hamGurber” and “aweSHome” because he IS three.  But alas, the school years loom ahead, and we shall press on!

Fun. Rock solid fun also filled these swiftly passing summer weeks. I’m trying to freeze frame to my memory each kid in their current phase.  They are growing all too fast for me!  Allie– jumping off her first diving board, painstakingly making the perfect fort for her and Jack, experiencing lots of ‘firsts’ {piano recital, vball camp, sleepovers} and spending long hours honing her drawing skills at our kitchen table.  Jack–holding his breathe under water with his bright goggles strapped to his chubby head, telling me tales of his imaginary dog, Ginger {while sipping chocolate milk at Starbucks}, and  Hulk Smashing every action figure.  Max jumping off random dangerous objects, saying “I dunno know” as one word, shuffling forward in a toddler gallop, and  praising Jesus with me in church.  Our speech journeys into PDX bonded us together as we discovered new fountains, parks, riding the Tram, and a fun day at the Children’s Museum.  Jack and Allie have read lots of books and camped out in a tent in Allie’s room for nights on end {while Max protested sleeping alone:)}.  Allie’s return to school in the fall {2nd grade!} may be a bit hard for poor Jack!

Friendship. Thanks to Jack’s cleft, our blog connected us to a wonderful new friendship. Vi and Tony have a cleft baby too, so we are now sharing our journey together.  What a gift to find such a ‘random’ friendship to not only help carry the load of sharing tips, worries and joys, but partaking in tasty meals {PDX food carts!}, rich faith, and fun times together!  We are so thankful for our tried and true friendships as well. We visited Salem family and friends, had fun play dates, walked with some for Smile Oregon,  and experienced generous air conditioning {we bartered Anthony’s good cooking skillz for this:)}, our friends and family are the BEST!

Church.  On Christ, the most solid rock of all, we stand.  As we search to connect with  a new church body, I have found that clinging to Him is what I must do.  As I peel off the layers  of ‘must show up,’ ‘must serve,’ and the ease of ministering in church ministries with those we love, I have felt a bit naked. A bit insecure. Without that connection,  I am left with my relationship to God alone; I must be a seeker of the Holy Spirit. What does HE want to teach me, whom does HE want me to minister to?  Intentional living.  While eagerly  looking forward to  being part of a church family again {awkward conversations in new places do get old!}, I’m appreciating the lessons learned along this part of the journey.

The last week of summer shines brightly before us. A whole week OFF.

        Time to build some SAND CASTLES,

{eat some SMORES}

                       bond with FRIENDS,

and skip some ROCKS!

James 3:17, 18
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is won in peace by those who make peace.

Happy End of Summer, friends!

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Spring breeds new growth everywhere we turn! Over Easter we visited Whidbey Island and Anthony’s wonderful parents. A few sunny days (and the hot date we squeezed in) made it pretty much the perfect weekend. Driving by some newly birthed spring calves, the kids and I ooo’d and awe’d over them. Anthony said “Yum, look at those baby steaks!” Perspective. I think our kids decided to join in the season and sprout as well. This is a quite a positive element considering they each have a bit of a vertical challenge!

Allie Girl, {a spring filly}, lanky legs race around, conquers new feats on her birthday roller blades. At first wobbly, arms spread wide, flailing for balance…now more smooth and comfortingly cautious.  God truly granted us this cautious, wise beyond her years girly girl, before blessing us with THE boys.  About to wrap up her first year in school, she has blossomed into a studious student who loves learning as much as all the playmates she’s developed friendships with at school. Her first few baby teeth have disappeared as we get to become seasoned tooth fairies. I am loving all the jump rope rhymes and hand clapping rhythms being 7 brings…a whiff of childhoods gone by.

Jackie Boy, {budding conversationalist}, recent newbie gum chewer, chatters my ear off as we travel about our days. Full sentences compose most of his vocabulary now, no minor miracle. We work on the randomly mispronounced words and add in our articles “a, and, the.”  Teacher Linda and Teacher Emily are the wonderful women he looks forward to speaking with each week, as they take him closer and closer to normal speech patterns. A recent cleft check revealed failed ear tubes, but the hearing test showed close to normal responses. We shall wait out this season to see if new tubes will be necessary. Big brother now defines Jack’s everyday as he lets Max invade his action figure world and helps alert us to the mishaps Max tries to get himself into.

Maddox, {adrenaline junky}, sippy cup tucked firmly beneath his arm, truly needs his life saved every. day. From climbing, jumping, ingesting, experimenting…this boy has it out for himself.  Max seemed to sprout from mini-baby to full on toddler overnight. Throwing balls (and other objects) far, sliding down the stairs quick as lightening, he has no problem keeping up with his older siblings. The only thing lagging behind now is his teeth…molars begging to erupt…but taking their sweet time. Doing the Hokey Pokey and playing with his little cars are favorite daytime moments for Max. From unique sound effects (aaaa–daaaaa being his trademark word), twinkling eyes, and crazy stunts, this guy keeps us all laughing (me sometimes crying) and on our toes. We treasure the few times a day he allows a warm snuggle or offers up a puckering kiss.

New growth also aptly describes the parents of these sweet kids. I’ve gotten to trot around a few races with Auntie Lolo (Laura)–growing endurance! Anthony has graduated to having his very own car. Initially I felt this was painful as I would miss the time as a family driving EVERYWHERE together. Then I saw the light. Two cars = awesomeness. There are growing pains as we strive to live out what it means to walk in obedience to God. To put Jesus first every day, to edify the body, to transform to look more  like Him than ourselves, to walk by faith, to share Him with others. Growth sometimes has aches, but yields lessons learned, maturity, and joy.

                Here’s to more sun than rain as we near lazy summer days!

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