Long Time Gone! – Olympic National Park – August 2014

It’s been too long, and many things have happened. First, my old implementation of Gallery2 is no longer supported in WordPress, so I’m going to try use a new photo/media manager. If you can’t see the pics, please let me know. I’ll probably try a few until I find the right one.

We went to Kalaloch in August. We had a great time camping, visiting Ruby Beach, the Hoh rain forest, and a few other sites.The campground is very tight quarters, but a really pretty place. It was my first time there, and a revisit for the Penning crew. We hiked the Hoh River trail and explored some great places. We even saw a monster elk, munching away at grass near the trail.

Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, lots of fun!

poulsbo, wa….the leas new home

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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!!!

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delightful flurry

CHRISTMAS 2011, Yakima, WA

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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:

GINGERBREAD HOUSES…from scratch

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SLEDDING…lots of sledding

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ZOO LIGHTS…Point Defiance Zoo

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SEATTLE SCIENCE CENTER…worth every penny

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CHRISTMAS EVE…program and pajamas

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And………
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. :)

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double dipping

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In February, we took a fun little excursion to Ventura, CA for a baby blessing. It was nice enough to swim that weekend. Well, at least for the kids. :) It was the Littles’ first time visiting the ocean. And Marisa and I were so excited for our kids to spend some time together. There are 11 children between the two of us now. It was awesome to watch the kids get along so well. We got to eat at Tito’s…even though a car had just backed into the restaurant…we were the last order to be taken before the Health District shut them down for the night. We also visited the Los Angeles Temple Visitor’s Center. It is recently reopened, and completely worth the trip. Very Cool!

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What’s even better is that a couple of weeks later, the Brown family came to stay a couple of days with us. Again, it was nice enough to swim! The kids had a blast. Annie still asks where Lyndie is. :) I felt so spoiled in February…twice in one month? Whoever would have thought it possible between our busy schedules.

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Marisa and I have been friends for a decade now, and I am so grateful to her for the influence and friend that she is in my life.

girls trip 2011

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YEAR FIVE: Cannon Beach, OR

MY GIRLS: Amy and Jessica

HOTEL: Surf Sands Resort

ACTIVITIES: scrapbooking, massages, eating, shopping, storm watching, talking

FAVORITE MEMORIES:

1. Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

2. Driving through a flood, literally, to get to the Seaside scrapbook store

3. Watching the waves from our balcony

4. Talking, talking, talking

5. Diet coke and peanut M&M’s….of course

6. Listening to the constant sound of rain

7. Sitting in the hottub

8. Getting a massage

9. Hugging Truxton!

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NEXT STOP: Colorado Vacay with the families….summer 2012

someday, hawaii. someday

Adam and I should be on a 10 day Hawaiian Cruise right now. We were slated to leave on Friday December 3rd, and we had planned to snorkel, snuggle, and sip deliciousness together…by ourselves…uninterrupted. But alas, three more children happened a couple of months back for which we are grateful. And yes, of course, we chose the children over the cruise. But not without a little hesitation on my part…just a little! :)

All is not lost, however. We were able to salvage half of our deposit, which is transferable to a cruise at a future date. I suppose we could have gotten respite care for the three littles, but we didn’t feel that was fair to them. Plus, it makes much more work for me in the end. I just hope my babysitters (aka, best sisters ever) will still be willing to take the kids when we do go since there are three more now. Maybe I’ll need to hire a service or something.

nine feet under

While in Washington this summer, my sweet friend, Ginger, invited us swimming at her mom’s house. Oh, the memories. I spent much time there when I was a teenager. It was wonderful to see G’s mom and sisters and daughters. Ginger is one of the kindest people I know. It is one of her greatest qualities.

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While we were there, all four ninos conquered their lingering fear of the “deep end,” once and for all. The deep end at this pool was a whopping nine feet! It was each nino’s first time on a real diving board, which was so fun to watch. Another thing I take for granted because I grew up with one in my backyard. There was no stopping them after the very first jump.

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Another dear friend from high school, Jenny, joined us. Jenny and I have experienced so much together…even traveling across Europe. Man, I miss those days. We had so much fun together growing up and maturing into adulthood together. She is one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since we were nine.

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I love peeking into both of my friends’ lives whenever I visit Yakima. I love them dearly. I just wish we lived closer so our children could really get to know each other. I also wish that I had more time to see them when I am in town. I never feel like I have enough time there…but we try to make the most of it.

Gone are the days of AAU basketball and sleepovers and Friday nights on the north hill of the football stadium. We have all traded up for great husbands, and gardens, and staying home with our beautiful children. I wouldn’t trade any of that.

To my friends–I love still having you both in my life. I smile when I think of each of you, and all the memories we possess. True treasures!

good little backpackers

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Labor Day Weekend 2010 found us at Zion National Park on our very first backpacking trip–with the ninos. We have waited two years to be able to go, and the two littles are finally big enough to fit into backpacking packs. Each nino carried his or her own water, clothes, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Each of them also helped to carry parts of the two tents, food, and cooking items. Actually, my pack was the lightest it has ever been due to this help. I am thinking this is totally the way to go! :)

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Adam and I slipped out of our tent the next morning for a quiet sunrise together:

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So we only went a whopping four miles round trip. But for the kids’ first time out, it was a huge success. We have The Grand Canyon’s North Rim on our October docket. We are going to try for five miles this time.

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to yosemite and beyond

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Need I say anything??? Totally AMAZING!

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We are so glad we took this side trip on our way home from vacation. We have wanted to visit Yosemite for years. Our day trip drive-thru confirmed that we must go back and explore this American Gem for our next family vacation! The little speck of a rock in between our heads below is Half Dome. It was much more majestic in person.

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On the way home we thought we would take the long way (not on purpose–teehee). We ended up in the middle of Nowhere Cali/Nevada. We climbed some amazing passes and found some amazing views, but we were a bit worried about our gas and bathroom needs. The roads were pretty windy for a few hours, and we were all feeling a little queezy. The craziest part of the drive was when we came to a one-lane road on the windy pass. That’s how narrow and curvy the roads were.

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Good thing I have such amiable children, and an adventurous husband. They kept my annoyance at bay. :)