Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day Weekend - Camping in the Sierra's

We had a wonderful, and warm weekend camping at Summerdale campground just 30 min south of Yosemite Valley.   This is the closest campground to the south entrance to Yosemite without actually being in the park - and there were a gazillion people in the park this weekend!!

We left Friday night after a surprise visit and dinner with Captain Greg Ireland, who had a layover in San Jose!  Our plan Saturday morning was to head into Yosemite, but cars were backed up for miles waiting just to enter the gate.  Instead we did some jeeping up into the hills and found a manned fire lookout on Signal Peak!  The watchman was really nice and let us check out the tower and eat our lunch there.  Amazing views!
Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background
We found the watch tower!
Saturday afternoon was spent swimming in the creek at our campground.  It was COLD, but Zac and the kids didn't care.  They had the most fun playing in the waterfall!
Kyla going under the falls!
Keanan going under the falls!
On Sunday we got up a little earlier and made it into Yosemite!  There were so many people so we just spent a short time at Bridalveil Falls and starring up at El Capitan.  AMAZING!
Yosemite Valley behind us!
In the mist of Bridalveil Falls
Bridalveil Falls
El Capitan
Laying around in the valley meadow
Temps reached 105 on the way home so we had to stop for a swim to cool off.  The house was still over 90 when we got home at 8pm!!  We're in for a warm week!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weekend Adventures: Maiden's Visit

This Saturday Kyla performed in her 3rd year of "The Maiden's Visit" ballet!  This year was especially fun because two of her closest friends were in it with her.  Kyla was a pixie, a bat, and the front legs of Olaf the Ox!  Everyone did a wonderful job and it was a beautiful show!
Kyla the bat, Rebeca the jr. fairy, Daniela the pixie!
Kyla and Daniela - the front and back legs of Olaf!
My 3 ballerinas after the show
With moms - we worked hard as stage crew too!
On Sunday after church we went for a hike at Castle Rock State Park.  Great views and neat rock formations.

In other news: Zac and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary this last week!  I think we get better every year ;)

Next weekend: Father's Day Camping!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weekend Adventures: Keanan's Birthday!

Since Keanan's birthday was on a Saturday this year, it was the perfect day for a birthday party!  Keanan chose to have his party at Planet Granite and had 8 friends join him and Kyla for a morning of rock climbing fun.  After climbing everyone came to our house for pizza lunch and blackberry cobbler (Keanan doesn't like cake).  I had to take Kyla to ballet rehearsal, so Zac, Keanan, and a few of the boys went to play laser tag!  We ended the day with birthday spaghetti dinner joined by the Urdaneta's.  We are very proud that Keanan raised over $100 for Compassion International for his birthday!
Playing with his new Lego watch that Kyla gave him
9 candles in the cobbler!
Sunday morning was spent at church followed by a church BBQ, and then the kids and I had a restful day celebrating Pentecost / Shavuoth - complete with challah, some Torah reading, and fun videos from with Bible Project with drinking hot chocolate!

Zac caught an Uber to the airport right after first service at church and is now in Washington.  Zac's Uncle Paul is dying and on life support.  He has very advanced lung cancer.  Please pray for his sons - Alan, Jacob, and Issac as they rush to say goodbye to their dad.  Please also pray for Zac's dad as he says goodbye to his brother, and the rest of the Vawter family as we grieve Uncle Paul.  Please especially pray, by some miracle, that he came to really know Jesus in these last days.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday Keanan!

Nine years ago today God blessed us with this sweet boy:
Today he is a little taller, a little smarter, a little sillier, but still a sweet boy:
Happy Birthday Keanan!  We love you and are so proud of the young man you are becoming.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend we celebrated 3 years in California!  It feels like we have been here longer than that, in a good way.  God's plans are perfect.

To celebrate this and Memorial Day, we did some good all American camping!  We spent 3 nights at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mtns.  with our friends the Hoffman's.  It was a great weekend, the trees were beautiful, weather great, food and company wonderful.  The only bad thing was the mosquitoes.  The kids and Zac really got eaten up, but only his left leg.  ;)
Keanan worked hard on a fort across the creek
all the kids fit!
On Sunday we went on a 5 mile hike to a lookout point where we could see the ocean.  It was beautiful, and the kids did great.
View from the top - where the ocean meets the sky
we made it!
We had to rest our feet in the creek after the long hike.  Zac even went for a swim!
After coming home today and getting all clean we decided to finish Memorial Day with a roller coaster ride!  Kyla is now tall enough to ride the big coasters at Great America, so tonight she did the grizzly for the first time and loved it!

On a final note: today is also Clover's birthday!  Happy 1st birthday bunny!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Adventures: Gilroy Gardens, Birthday Fun, and a Banquet

We are all back to good health, praise the Lord!  To celebrate summer (it's been close to 90 here), Keanan's upcoming birthday, and the kids starting 3rd/4th grade - we went to Gilroy Gardens on Friday with the Salteralli's!  Lots of fun riding roller coasters and eating ice cream :)
Saturday afternoon was spent celebrating our friend birthday!  Water balloon fights, Jeep rides (Zac took the top and doors off), pizza, a design challenge, and pie filled the night.  I think one of my favorite parts was singing "happy birthday" in English, Spanish, and Mandarin to represent all of the families there.
On Sunday we had a great morning at church and then Zac and I got to attend the Help One Child banquet in Palo Alto.  Our church partners with Help One Child (foster care support ministry) through the Safe Families program - helping families in crisis before they get to the point where the kids are placed in foster care.  Such an amazing ministry!  I even got to speak a little bit at the banquet about our church's experience.  Bonus: it was a date night!  The kids had a great time hanging out with Ms. Lauren.

We are off camping next weekend!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A 5K Run, Cultural Night, Mother's Day and the Flu!

Beware!  The Vawter's have the flu!  It started with Keanan on Thursday night, hit Kyla and I on Saturday afternoon, and as I type this Zac is about to puke.  Of course we had a lot going on this weekend that has been all messed up.

Saturday morning was the Run for Life fundraiser for Real Options.  Since Keanan was still recovering, he sat out and cheered Zac, Kyla and I on.  Kyla did amazing and ran all 3.1 miles!
After the race!
We got home from the race and then Kyla had ballet rehearsal.  It was in the car on the way home that she puked.  Then I started to feel it.  We were so bummed because our homeschool groups cultural fair was Saturday evening!  We had spent all week studying Denmark, making a display board, and baking Danish dream cake.  Our friends came to pick up our stuff, and this is what Kyla and I did for the rest of the evening:
Friends set up our display at the Cultural Night
Our Danish Kringe (thanks, Trader Joes) and Danish dream cake
We did not make it to church for Mother's Day and have been lying around the house.  Please pray for healing!

Monday, May 8, 2017

End of School and Visitors

On Friday the kids officially finished the school year!  Kyla is done with 2nd grade, and Keanan is down with 3rd.  They worked so hard this last year learning about countries and cultures and I am really proud of them!  To wrap up the year the kids take the CAT (California Achievment Test).  We did the online version this year and got the scores back right away.  I was shocked!  Keanan is reading at a high school level, and Kyla at a junior high level!  Keanan is at a junior high level in math, and Kyla is upper elementary!  Each was also about 2 grade levels above in language.  I think it's safe to say that homeschooling is working for us at the moment!  We have a week "off" this week as we get ready for our BACH Cultural Night and present about Denmark, then next week the kids start "Creation to Greeks" with Kyla in 3rd grade and Keanan in 4th.
A fun treat of the weekend is a visit with our friends the Dahl's!  Richard is a buddy from college and is here with his wife Kate and sweet little girl Adelyn.  They are on Young Life staff and finishing their training and fundraising to be Area Directors in Scotland!  We have a fun day planned at Happy Hollow today before they head to the central valley tomorrow.

Another praise of the weekend was Compassion Sunday.  I had the opportunity to talk during church services about our recent trip to Nicaragua to visit two of our kids and encourage others to sponsor children.  10 child packets were taken from the sponsorship table!  Please pray that everyone follows through and sends in the registration form for those kids in need.  God is good!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekend Adventures: First Camping Trip of the Year!

We had a wonderful camping trip in Marin county, north of SF, at Samuel Taylor state park.  There were tons of redwoods, and creeks, and GREEN!  We brought the kids bikes for the first time and they had a blast riding around the campground.
Camping in the shadow of the giants
rode bikes down to the creek
hiking through the beautiful redwoods
About an hour from the campground was Point Reyes where we climbed 308 steps to the lighthouse.  While we were standing at the lighthouse we saw 3 whales swimming up from Mexico on their way to Alaska!
The California coast
Silly Kyla at the visitors center

Climbing down to the lighthouse.  The climb up was brutal!
We made it!  Super windy
Whales!!  A mom and 2 babies!
We also stopped by at an old building down a really cool tree tunnel for lunch.  This building turned out to be the last Morse code receiving radio station in the world!
tree tunnel
it was their first time typing on a real typewritter!
On the way back to the campground we had to stop at the Cowgirl Creamery for some amazing cheese and ice cream.
so much goodness!
I really wanted to pet the cow, it said no.
The only bad part of the trip is that we had to drive through San Francisco to get to and from the area, but it's always neat to go across the golden gate bridge.