And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Monday, July 25, 2016

We're Not in Oki Anymore

Linda Sassen has been part of our family for as long as I can remember.  Her and my mom were best of friends growing up and Linda's son Nick was best friends with Chase.  She has a special place in my heart and any opportunity to go see her is one that I will take!  So when my parents condo in Long Beach, WA became available I took it!

The day we went also happened to be the start of the sand castle competition.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect and we were all excited to go!  The condo itself was great and spacious and the pool was heated to a blissful 89 degrees; bathtub water!  The kids could have swam the duration of the time in Long Beach and they were more than displeased when I told them we had other items on our agenda.  





While the beaches of Long Beach resembled nothing of Okinawa they were still beautiful in their own right.  The sand castle competition didn't really get started until the weekend either and since we went on a Thursday there wasn't too much to see.  The kids still had a blast playing in the sand and we all loved watching the beautiful kites soar overhead.  The kids didn't dare touch the murky brownish blue water.  The color and large waves were nothing like the aqua colored Oki ocean they are used to.









We had so much fun walking around the beachy town with Linda and getting in the full Long Beach experience.  We rounded out the trip with some delicious clam chowder and salt water taffy.  Completing our perfect west coast beach experience!!  We love Linda so much and are so grateful for her hospitality and friendship!!!  


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stateside Independence

Despite being in a military installation, being in Japan for the 4th of July just doesn't have the same zip and zest.  Now that we are stateside I knew I wanted to show my kids what a true 4th of July celebration looked like.  Complete with BBQ, fireworks, family, and friends.  Growing up, Happy Valley park had the best firework show around and the fact that it was only 5 minutes away made it that much more enticing.

We started off the day with a BBQ with family and friends.  I made some of TJs ribs, we grilled hamburgers, and accompanied the meal with fruit, chips, potato salad, and corn.  Does it get any more American than that?!  The kids had a blast playing and I enjoyed celebrating with family for the first time in 3 years!!  






After dinner and once the sun went down (which is so so late compared to what we were used to in Oki).  We went over to a friends house who lived right by the park.  There was some  great little fireworks they shot off in the street and Dominik loved doing sparklers.  Well he loved it until he burned himself...and then not so much.  We all enjoyed the big fireworks shot off in the park and the patriotic music that played in the background added the perfect touch.  





I'm so grateful for this beautiful country that we live in.  Living overseas I really began to understand how lucky we are and how much America is the promised land that was desecrated by Heavenly Father to be a land of peace and prosperity.  I'm grateful for those that serve selflessly to defend our freedoms.  And most of all I'm grateful that this year we are home to celebrate with family and friends!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fun Family Hike

Growing up I never liked to hike.  I think at one point I even told my dad that unless there was a Nordstroms at the top of the hike I wasn't interested.  I was such a brat ;)  well now I have kids and out in nature is one of the few places where they can be wild and free and I don't have to worry about them breaking stuff.  My dad picked a hike up on Mt. Hood that was up to a lake and round trip was only 4 miles.  Definitely my kind of a hike!

The trail ended up being perfect.  Through wooded areas with a plentiful amount of sticks and rocks to entertain the kids.  There was little to no complaining and the view at the top was breath taking.  Times like these I wonder why everyone doesn't want to live in the Pacific NorthWest.  I love my family; I love getting outdoors; and I love great days like these!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

3 countries, 4 states, 20 hours on a Plane, 30 hours in a car

Wow...I'm exhausted even writing that title.  I do have to say first and foremost that my kids are TA-ROOPERS!!!!  We flew back from Okinawa on what was a 24 hour travel experience between layovers, time on the plane, and then the drive from Seattle to Portland.  We left on a Saturday morning though, and arrived at my parents house on Saturday afternoon...however, we were all so tired.  My parents were only home for a mere 8 hours though before they hopped on a plane and headed towards Grenada to see Chase and Curtis.  With the house being empty and Ty and Brandi also being gone on their cruise, the boys and I decided to leave a few days later for Montana in order to see the beautiful wedding of my cousin Paige. 

The wedding was on Flathead lake which is where I spent most of my summers and winters as a child.  The place holds such special memories for me so I had so much fun taking Dominik and Parker there and on a trip down memory lane.  We also were able to tag along with family and boy do I have one heck of an awesome extended family.  We are all able to just pick up where we left off a year ago and not skip a beat in the fun!!  

We arrived on Wednesday to Polson, MT so we were able to do quite a bit of sightseeing before the actual wedding prep needed to be done.  We went over to St. Ignatius and checked out Mission Dam, McDonald Lake, the Amish General Store (always the kids favorite with super cheap and about to expire candy), Rods Harvest Foods, the Malt Shop, and then back to the hotel for a swim.  Pretty much swimming is what got me through all the travels.  I would always find myself saying "if you can do this...than when we get back you can swim." I pretty much leveraged swimming for just about anything I could.  

After all the sightseeing the wedding prep began.  There were so many hands to help and everything was made lightwork.  Erica planned such an incredible wedding and had negotiated borrowing her good friends lake house that could not have been more spectacular.  Paige was so beautiful in her dress and Jeremy was just glowing with pride as he stood beside her.  The wedding was simple and elegant and had the perfect flow as guests were ushered from appetizers on the lake front, to dinner, dessert, and then dancing back on the patio.  The night was a bit chilly with a few light sprinkles, but with the beautiful decorations, and the fun company, the night could not have been more perfect!!

The next day was the temple sealing up in Cardston, Canada.  The temple was about 3.5-4 hours away from Flathead and through Glacier National Park.  SO PRETTY!!!!  The boys have the DVD player in the car, so despite the long car rides they barely made a peep.  The boys have never been to Canada before and I love any chance I get to whip out our passports.  I was able to drive up with my Grandma and Cameron as well so the trip went by relatively quickly.  

The temple sealing was so lovely and the weather could not have been better.  The sun was shining and absolutely perfect for pictures.  I loves seeing Paige so happy; she definitely deserves it!!  The drive back seemed to take a bit longer as my patience for the car began to wane.  The boys continued to do great though and I welcomed the time I was able to spend with my grandma.  

Once we were back in Flathead the boys were able to swim yet again and then off to bed for us.  We attended church in the morning in my dad's old hometown ward and then set off again for yet another car ride.  We were so blessed to be able to attend such a beautiful wedding and spend such quality time with our amazing family.  I just love vacations like these!!