Monday, November 30, 2015


We've had a wonderful holiday with family and friends in Washington!

We spent Thanksgiving and a few days with the Vawter side at a house right on the beach at the ocean.  Poor Zane had a cold, but other than that we had a great time.
Beautiful sunset at the beach
Going for a walk
staring into the sun!
The "cabin" we stayed in was the second from the right
Another beautiful sunset with Grandpa
Saturday and Sunday was spent with the Lathrop side in Graham.  Poor Brian was recovering from a hospital visit, but other that that we had a great time!  We also got to see lots of friends in Yelm at church on Sunday.

Some exciting news: we have another niece or nephew on the way!  My brother, Mathew, and Elizabeth are expecting number 3 in June!!  Keanan is hoping for a boy!
Lathrop cousins!  Keanan is horribly out-numbered! 
Zac went back home Sunday night while the kids and I fly back tomorrow.  We are spending our last two days visiting with friends in Yelm and hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa.

Happy December!  One small baby in the hay, brings us PEACE on Christmas day!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

End of Our Europe Trip

We were sitting in the Toronto Airport as I wrote most of this, waiting for our flight to Seattle to finish up our European journey.  On Monday Zac had a work meeting most of the day so I stayed at the hotel and did a bunch of reading and relaxing.  On Tuesday we left Zlin to head to our castle hotel - Zamek Zbiroh, that was near Prauge.  It was AMAZING!  Here's some pictures, some of them from a private tour that we had.  The castle has an incredible history!
Our little white rental car parked under Aslan in the castle parking lot
In our awesome room!  Complete with champagne :)
one of the meeting rooms in the castle
We were not supposed to take pictures on the castle tour - but Zac snuck some!  This is an actual sword from the Knight's Templar!  They have a connection to this castle.
I can't remember which King this is, but he owned the castle at some point and this was his folding travel chair!
view of the castle grounds from the second floor during our tour
The grand hall, with glass ceiling.  Many events, balls, and weddings held here.  Beautiful painting and lights.
The longest hall in the castle, complete with different time period knights!
Part of the old castle behind me.
In the courtyard of the main part of the castle.  
This tower is in the courtyard of the old part of the castle and is the oldest freestanding tower in the Czech Republic.
Zac looking tough with his Czech beer at the castle restaurant

We woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground as we drove to Prauge to catch our plane back to Washington to meet up with the kids and all our family for Thanksgiving.

Some insights about the Czech Republic:
- the speed limit is optional, very optional.
- the roads in the towns are SUPER narrow, frequently one car only.
- the Czech country side is very beautiful, but the cities are not so much
- they love potatoes - they make everything out of potatoes
- things are so old!  In a good way - the castle we stayed in was built in the 1200's!!!
- public places are much cleaner than in the US
- American's are kind of arrogant.  We don't bother to learn the language, but expect them to know English.  And when they come to the US we also expect them to know English.  We felt bad about this when we were there.

What a perfect trip!  We are tired, but happy and enjoying being with the kids again.  So thankful for the amazing blessings that God has showered on us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekend Adventures: From Europe!

Ahoj! (That's "hello" in Czech!)  As I write this Zac and I have just enjoyed a lovely dinner at our hotel in Zlin in the Czech Republic!  On Friday morning we left San Jose and arrived in Seattle to pass the kids through security to my mom.  They are having a wonderful weekend with cousins.  Zac and I continued on the Frankfurt, Germany.  We had a long layover there so we went into the old part of the town for some sightseeing and food.  Here's some pictures:
our airplane
in Frankfurt!
we climbed a gazillion stairs to the top of....
this!  The oldest and tallest church in Frankfurt.

We flew from Frankfurt to Prague, Czech Republic and arrived at our hotel very tired on Saturday night.  This morning after breakfast we walked across the cobblestone courtyard to see the famous Strahov Monastery library here:
Then we started driving toward Zlin, with a stop at a castle on the way!
Unfortunately, we couldn't go in.  But we walked all the way around,  and as a bonus it started snowing!  Zac says they were cleaning the tapestries ;) 
Like in a fairytale!
Did you know there are over 2000 castles and castle ruins in the Czech Republic?!   Zac has a work meeting tomorrow and then Tuesday night we are staying in a real castle!!  Many more pictures to come!  Sbohem!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekend Adventures: Staying Home (or: the calm before the craziness!)

We had a super chill time at home this past weekend.  There was lots of playing and sorting of Legos, ballet for Kyla, church, and all around laziness - it was lovely!

In addition to school this week we did some annual Thanksgiving craftiness:
Turkey hands!  They keep getting bigger (Keanan on top, Kyla on bottom)
Our Thankful leaves made into a garland
"Being cats" at a park on Friday
All the calm of the weekend was very intentional - on Friday morning we embark on an adventure!  It starts by flying from San Jose to Seattle.  In Seattle my mom will be meeting Keanan and Kyla at the airport while Zac and I continue on to Frankfurt, Germany and then ultimately Prauge, Czech Republic for a few days until we fly back to Seattle the night before Thanksgiving!  Zac has some business for work for a few hours on Monday in Zlin in the Czech Republic, so of course I am going along.  :)  We are super excited to be in Europe for the first time together and see some amazing sites.  The kids are beyond excited to stay with Grandma, Grandpa and their cousins while we are gone.  Please pray for safe travels for us!

Next week: from the Czech Republic!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Weekend Adventures: Camping in Pinnacles!

We had a great weekend camping with our friends the Salteralli's at Pinnacles National Park!  Isn't it crazy that people can go camping in November here?!  It got a bit chilly at night, but once the sun was up the temp was around 70 - perfect for hiking around the beautiful rock formations at Pinnacles.  Here's some pictures:
you may have read about the missle launch over CA in the news on Sat. night - we saw it!  
we spotted this GIANT bug at night - the Ranger called it a potato bug
they were all excellent hikers!
stopping for lunch by the reservoir - if you zoom in you can see the climber that just made it to the top of the big peak behind the water
posing in a rock
Patty and Andy
Kyla calls Maddy her sister :)
headed down into the caves!
headlamps and lanterns are required in the caves
Keanan the rock monkey
one legged climbing fool ;)
We headed home just before the rain started falling.  I think we are done camping for the year - but excited to get back to it in the Spring!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkins, Halloween, and a Race!

We had a wonderful last week of October, and it started by going to the pumpkin patch with Auntie Jess and Zane!
first train ride!
on the hay ride through the beautiful sunflowers
Zane's pumpkin!
Zane and Auntie Jess flew home on Wednesday :(  We finished the school week with a great field trip to Live Earth Farm.  The kids did some planting, learned about the farm animals, picked apples, and pressed apples into cider that we got to drink.  It was so much fun that I didn't take any pictures! :)

Our church had a big community trick or treat event on Halloween and we manned a science station making "boo bubbles" (dry ice, hot water, and dish soap)!  Everyone loved it!  Here's our costumes this year:
Mad Scientist and Cinderella!

On Sunday morning the kids and I ran in the "Down by the Bay" race.  They ran the "tot-trot" and did an awesome job - Keanan finished in the top 5 and Kyla in the top 10!  I ran the 5K and made it in 27:24!  That's over 2 minutes faster than my last 5K!
waiting for the race to start!
We spent the rest of the day playing with the leftover dry ice and exploring two of the county parks in the southern part of the county - lots of redwoods!

Next week: camping at Pinnacles!