Daily Reads


Two years old

I wish he would loosen up and have fun sometimes

Today our Sam turns two. What a couple of years it has been! This child has brought so much love and joy into our lives. It hurts my heart that you're growing up so fast, Sammy, but oh how we have treasured every moment with you.
You love everything on wheels - trucks, cars, motorcycles - and you love Mickey Mouse, so we had a little bit of both to celebrate your birthday. You loved it! You were so thrilled with your Mickey Mouse cake, and the Mickey toys, and especially with your "motorcycle" (big wheel) and helmet. What a gift for me to get to put together this little celebration and see your reaction! It made my heart burst seeing your happiness, Sam! 
We celebrated with family at Gigi and Papa's house last weekend, and then again at home over the weekend
 playing cars and stickers - two of his favorite things
 Evie loved the balloons! She carried them around very carefully without popping them! Made us laugh.

Happy, happy birthday precious boy! You're such a blessing to us!
We love you more than you will ever know. xoxo


Montana - Glacier Country

 Avalanche Creek Glacier Park or, as Michael calls it, "our river"

We're back from our trip to Montana, and since we've been home I've been acting like a teenager,  alternately floating along on the dreamy memories of our trip, and moping like my life is over because the trip is behind us. Maybe I'm reacting this way because I was a teenager when I lived in Montana? Have I regressed to my adolescence? 

  Mission Mountains and barn, Flathead Valley

I think I'm just having a hard time getting over this one because Montana, as I've mentioned before, is my sacred place. For many reasons - so many of my formative years were spent there, my memories of it are almost all very happy, the peace and quiet and the landscape and the people are just a good fit for my personality and my taste, oh and it's GORGEOUS - it feels like my home.  It takes forever for me to move on after a good trip under any circumstances, but this one has been really hard. It was a dream come true to share Montana with my boys. One morning at breakfast Michael actually turned to me and asked out of the blue, "Can I grow up here?" and I almost cried because it makes me so happy that he loves it as much as I love it. I've always hoped that Montana would be part of Michael and Samuel's life, and this trip seemed like the beginning of that.

It was everything I expect summer in Montana to be - crisp and cool at night, hot and sunny during the day, buzzing with life (read: mosquitoes and biting flies), shimmering with crystal clear rivers and dazzling stars, covered with the dome of that big open sky, and smelling as fresh as if the Lord just put the finishing touches on the pine trees. Of course it wasn't a perfect trip. (Do they exist? I'll spend the rest of my life trying to find out.) There were short nights, grouchy mornings, testy arguments, getting on each others' nerves in the car, etc. But there were such good times, too. I love that we showed our boys a part of our country that is so different from where we live. (I'll never forget Samuel walking barefoot in the grass and excitedly saying, "No ants! No ants!") And, as far as traveling with kids goes, Montana is as perfect a place as I can imagine. To say that it is casual and outdoorsy is a total understatement. The boys spent most of the time dirty, barefoot, playing with rocks, sticks, dirt, water, and whatever else they could get their hands on. I'm proud to say that the boys spent almost all of their waking time outside playing and exploring. We couldn't have kept them inside if we wanted to. 

 bear patrol and howling like a wolf / sunset from the porch
breakfast at Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish / wildflower picking at the cabin
We flew in and out of Spokane, which means that we had a pretty (but long) drive to get in and out of Montana. We stayed in a cabin up a long gravel road on the edge of Whitefish, where we were warned not to go outside without bear mace because a bear had been hanging around the property. We never did see that bear (Michael kept lookout the whole time we were there) but it was a beautiful place to spend a few days. We spent two days on the west side of Glacier Park (not nearly enough time!) and found a few things that were just right for young kids:

- We walked the Trail of the Cedars - beautiful, shady, flat, with the gorgeous Avalanche Creek Gorge at the halfway point, and plenty to explore along the way. This was a perfect "hike" for the boys. They loved it.

- Picnic and playing at Avalanche Creek, just across the road from the trailhead for the Trail of the Cedars. Both days we went to Glacier, we packed a cooler with snacks and lunch. We liked this spot so much, we ate lunch here both days. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and the boys were so happy playing with the rocks and water, they never wanted to leave. It was a really special spot for us.

 Huckleberry Nature Trail

- On day two, in the name of kid-friendly hiking and wildflowers, we drove up the west side of the park to the Huckleberry Nature Trail. This one was a little bit out of the way, but it was a fun hike, and good for the kids too (Sammy rode in the pack for this one as there was quite a bit of climbing, but Michael handled it like a champ!) I only wish we had brought some sort of bear protection with us - there were multiple bear warnings at the trailhead, and it was obvious to us as we walked the trail that this was prime bear territory. Tim and I were pretty terrified as we began the hike, and we thought about turning back, but we made a big racket (Michael chattered and sang happily the whole way) and we never did see any bears (so thankful for that). The views were beautiful and it was such a peaceful, pretty trail - when we weren't scared for our lives. Ha!

a few of the vistas we passed on our way out of town - these photos are so inadequate it hurts to post them!
from top: a pretty lot near our cabin in Whitefish (Glacier mountains in the distance), my favorite orange BNSF train on its way through Whitefish, and a view of Flathead lake (from the west side looking east toward the Swan and Mission ranges)

After spending two and a half days in Whitefish and Glacier (not nearly enough time - what was I thinking with that plan?!?), we packed up the car and headed south through the Flathead Valley. It was a beautiful drive past fields and barns and stunning mountains, the shimmering Flathead Lake, and dozens of cute little cherry orchards on the surrounding hills. I found myself daydreaming about running one of those little cherry farms by the lake - it's hard to imagine a more lovely setting (at least, in the summer time.) We picked up lunch at Tagliare in Missoula, and had a picnic in the park so the boys could run. By four that afternoon we were stocking up on groceries in Livingston and headed to the house we had rented in Pray, a teeny town on the Yellowstone River in the heart of the Paradise Valley....


The boys (and an Evie!)

Life has changed a bit since my last post about the boys. Michael turned four, Sam made some invisible leap from toddler to little boy, and we welcomed our pup Evie into the family. Things got really chaotic really fast, but we are so happy to have this little critter! Samuel is unfazed - he is neither afraid of Evie, nor excited about her. He likes her, but he pretty much acts like she has always been here. Michael, on the other hand loves Evie and wants to play with her and hold her and run with her all the time. And the feeling is mutual. Evie is thrilled to chase, lick, be held by, bark at, roll over for, and follow the boys all the time. She is so good-natured and so playful, I sometimes can't believe how well she has fit in with our family. I feel like God hand-picked this girl just for us. There have been messes and chewed up toys (and a disgusting mouse murder just a few feet away from Samuel), but mostly she is pure sweetness in a furry little Muppet-dog body. We call her Evie Girl, and we couldn't love her more.

Michael - 4 years and 1 month

Latest skills: drawing his favorite characters, writing simple words without help, zipping up his jacket, helping me wrangle Evie and sometimes Sam, buckling his own car seat

Loves: playing chase with Evie, wrestling with Dad, playing with friends, playing outside, playing Baymax, pretending, building forts, reading, writing books (with help), having undivided attention, learning about science, movies

Best way to make him laugh: get Evie to chase him, watching Evie run around really fast, trip over something and fall

Doesn't love: 4 year old shots, being bugged by Sam, unwanted attention

Habits we're trying to break: being bossy when playing with other kids, venting frustration by yelling, taking forever to eat 

Words: "You look beautiful, Mom!" 
"My body is made up of cells. That's where my energy comes from."
Tim told him a riddle (What falls down and never gets back up?), Michael answered correctly (rain), then thought about it for a minute, and said it wasn't right because rain does go back up when it evaportates.

His spirit: passionate, a dreamer, has strong opinions about almost everything, very sure of himself, persistent, adventurous, thoughtful

Aspirations: currently doing chores and saving up to buy a Baymax action figure, begs often to return to the Shedd aquarium in Chicago so he can play in the life-sized submarine again, wants to dig up dinosaur bones in Montana this summer

Samuel - 1 year and 9 months

Latest skills: singing ABCs, counting to 13, jumping off of furniture and his truck, feeding Evie, dragging the little red chair around the kitchen to access whatever he pleases on the counters

Loves: doing things himself, being tickled, sitting in our laps to read, playing with Mikey, cantaloupe (cannamope), most foods, playing in the yard, Gigi and Papa, hugs, toys with wheels, going to Bible class

Best way to make him laugh: tickle him

Doesn't love: the vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, sitting still in church, sitting still for movies or TV shows

Habits we're trying to break: still throwing food and drinks on the floor, disobeying Mom and Dad

Words: "I do it!" (wants to do everything himself)
"My turn!"
"Ready? One, two, fee, four, five, six!" (preparing to jump off of something)
"Look, Mom, look!" 
"Thank God Daddy and Mikey and Daddy." (saying what he's thankful for before prayers)

His spirit: thankful and appreciative (almost always says thank you, often thanks us for doing things for Michael too), concerned about others (always says "bless you" when someone sneezes, asks if we're okay when we cough, etc.), friendly, strong-willed

Aspirations: to do everything Mikey does, to do everything himself


Michael turned four

Somehow, my baby turned four (almost a month ago!!). I didn't get weepy or long for the baby days or any of that. 
I was able to just enjoy this awesome stage that is four-year-old Mikey. Everything is exciting. Everything is an adventure. It's pretty great.
 Balloons are a good way to start the day :)
Enjoying his breakfast and decorating his own cupcakes. (He requested that I let him do the cupcakes.)

In true form he dreamed up an elaborate Wall-E themed pizza party with his friends, so the weekend before his birthday we did our best to make it happen. We played some robot games, ate outside in the sun, enjoyed cake and ice cream, and opened presents (Michael was just barely able to wait for that part. Barely.). It turned out cute and really fun, and Mikey loved it.
 Happy birthday, Michael! It's a joy and blessing to watch you grow. We love you!!!

(Michael at three (party), two (birthday week), onejust born, and birth story. Ok, now I'm a little weepy.)