poulsbo, wa….the leas new home


The start of our Memorial Weekend 2013 actually started in Poulsbo, WA. We traveled to see Rob and Jaime’s new home. They were all very gracious allowing us to inundate their home for two nights and taking us around the town. We played in their backyard, found crabs at the beach, went to the aquarium, checked out a local ice cream shop, ate pizza, walked down the pier, went on a date without the kids, and of course, Jaime and I sneaked a lunch in while the guys entertained. :) We packed in as much fun as we could before heading out for camping. We had a great time. And we hope the Leas are happy in Poulsbo for a long time to come so that we have close access to them. They are only a few hours away now. Way better than 17!!!



delightful flurry

CHRISTMAS 2011, Yakima, WA

SO. MUCH. FUN. We haven’t had two weeks of solid family time in years. Actually, make that, Never. This Christmas was the perfect opportunity for our family to have some real time together. Here are a few highlights:


SLEDDING…lots of sledding


ZOO LIGHTS…Point Defiance Zoo

SEATTLE SCIENCE CENTER…worth every penny



CHRISTMAS EVE…program and pajamas

1. two treasured visits with Jes
2. a birthday party for six of the 14 grandkids (where are those pics?)
3. a visit to great-grandma and great-grandpa’s in Tacoma
4. four-wheeler rides
5. lunch and shopping with my favorite high school buddies
6. and last, but certainly not least, playing Santa to a family with eight children, whose dad lost his job two month previously. Adam even dressed up in a Santa suit for the occasion.

The whole Penning tribe pitched in so that we could not only provide Christmas dinner and presents for the children, but also, extra groceries, clothing, toys, books, gift cards for the parents, and new outfits for each child. For such a large family, it took the entire back of our Suburban and Papa Penning’s truck to carry it all. It was the sweetest and best highlight of the entire two weeks…watching our whole family work toward a common goal that reached past our differences and divisions, as we focused on something greater than ourselves….something that really matters.

As the four older girl cousins were helping me finish wrapping the gifts the day of the delivery I asked what their favorite part of planning for the family had been. Brooklynn said, “I am most excited to see the girls’ closets fill up with the clothes and things like I have.” The others chimed in saying they were sure the kids we had bought for didn’t have as much in their closets as we did and they were glad to share what they had so that someone else’s closet could be just as full. It made this mommy/auntie very proud of all our Tweens!

My other favorite moment was when Annie came in the living room with her brand new black leather church shoes and asked if she could give them to the three year old little girls (the family has twin girls). How could I refuse such a sweet and simple request. We wrapped up a couple of special things and Annie hand delivered them to the girls’ bed for them to open when they woke up. I think that will be one of Annie’s first real memories as she grows up, which makes me smile. I hope I can be more like that in my everyday living and doing.

Christmas was REALLY good this year! Christmas cards might not be sent out yet. My body may feel broken from the 17 hour drive. And my phone is lost somewhere between here and Ogden, but it was all worth it. And we’re home safe, looking anxiously into 2012. :)

new thanksgiving tradition

New Thanksgiving tradition…hiking at Zion! So much fun. And prefect hiking weather. And no weight gained due to leftovers. But I did miss the leftovers. :)

We hiked Angel’s Landing. Correction, we hiked to Scout Lookout. Adam took Danny and Nikki all the way up the chains to Angel’s Landing. Pure awesomeness.

Favorite memories:
1. Singing Christmas songs on the way there (with children who actually know the words now).
2. Snuggling in one hotel room and watching The Music Man till midnight as we fell asleep one by one.
3. Watching the kids run up the very steep trail, as I wish with all my might for the boundless energy they possess.
4. Seeing so many other families out hiking. I don’t know why this makes me so happy, but it does.
5. Gorging ourselves at Red Robin on our way back home Saturday night. The kids each got their own meal and drink! A rare treat in our family when we go out. :)
6. Watching Adam skip rocks with the kids at the river….watching Adam with the children, period!

get your dance on, halloween style


“Just Dance” was the hit of our church’s Halloween party! Too bad Jo Jo ate an entire bowl of candy (oh yes, there was much puke!)…he didn’t get to participate since he already had his share of the Halloween goods! Well Jo, there’s always next year!


one dad, seven ninos, and a new GPS


We have the Best Dad Ever!



On Father’s Day weekend, we went up Fletcher Canyon (Mt. Charleston). We hiked four miles and had a blast in the water. Dad kept dunking our heads in. And daddy finally got to use his new GPS. (he lost the old one in an airport somewhere between here and Shanghai, seriously!)


Best Father’s Day yet! June 18, 2011


santa, you are good!


I’m not sure how he did it, but Santa was able to fill stockings and drop off his gifts with all seven kids snuggled under the tree. :)


Adam was the best Daddy Santa ever. He put trains and cars and bikes together while I filled stockings and arranged everything just perfectly. Luckily, I had everything already wrapped, which allowed us to enjoy those magical Christmas Eve hours without totally stressing. It was “the best Christmas ever!”


Things I want to remember:

1. Brian was Santa’s helper…he did great helping pass out the presents.

2. We treated the kids to a matinee of Narnia complete with popcorn and soda. (thanks, great-grandma and great-grandpa Penning)

3. I finally got my Bosch…FINALLY!

4. The excitement of seven ninos as they woke up Christmas morning.

Christmas is contagious in a house with seven happy kids. I sometimes stop and close my eyes and just take it all in because I know that these moments won’t last forever.

just like old times


Lovin’ the new foster rules for our family. We can actually go out now! This date reminded me of our double date just before picking up four little strangers in Bogota, Colombia. Good to know we still have it in us. :)

Check out Jaime’s post for the full scoop.