Saturday, November 30, 2013

atcher family

It is really special to be able to photograph a family through many seasons. I'm thankful for the Atcher's and their kindness to continue to ask me to photography their sweet family! Little J is getting so big and her little face is just too adorable.
I love that in so many of these pictures one or both of them are looking at their baby girl. It's clear that she brings them much joy!

thanksgiving 2013

We just wrapped up a fun turkey-filled few days! We are thankful to be so close to family and sweet friends to celebrate the holiday with.

Wednesday night we hosted our gospel community group from church. Thursday we went to my in laws for dinner with family and friends and then Saturday (today) we went to my parents to celebrate with my mom's side of the family.

Wednesday was the only night that was photographed.
It was great to have our GCG over to share a delicious meal. I seriously have grown to love hosting these. It's stressful, yes... but there is also something really fun about having so many people that you care about gathered around your table enjoying good food and fellowship. Especially when so many of them are far from home.

I took a few pictures of random fall decorations around our house this year.
 I saw this print on instagram by @calebfaires (who is amazingly talented) Wednesday morning and since I didn't have time to order... I just made my own.
Yummy gluten free pumpkin pie on a cake stand that my Nanny just gave to me from her house. I love it.
We added both extensions into our table to try and seat all of our guests at one table... Our table was 9.5 feet long!!
The blue pitcher and bowl were my other grandmothers. It is so special to have pieces in our home that belonged to those I love. I love their simplicity and color!

For dinner with our GCG Lauryn made the turkey and I made my first ham. Everyone pitched in on the sides and it all turned out wonderful!
kids table below
And the adults (minus me)! 13 adults at one table!!
Thursday morning we woke up and took it slow. It was nice! We had a casual breakfast, stayed in our PJ's and decided to put up the Christmas tree. The girls were excited to help! Lydia really wanted to sing "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" after we put it up so we kept it out in the middle for a bit and sang and danced.
That night when we got back from the Schreiner's we turned on the lights and the girls were both mesmerized. Kes was particularly enthralled with the lights. She kept saying "look, look, tree."
I absolutely love the one on the right below. Kesid's face is so sweet!
We are very thankful for all of the wonderful blessings the Lord has granted us this year. We are so undeserving but our Heavenly Father has lavishly given us lots and lots of good gifts! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

the lawings

Samantha and Michael are sweet friends (and old semi-neighbors) who have moved away. We were delighted to have them stay for a long weekend a month or so ago... After church we ran across the street to snap a few of Sam's pregnant self! It's so fun to see friends with big bellies!! I'm a terrible friend because I am just now posting these. Sorry Sammi!
We gave them lots of practice with our kids. They passed all tests... And our girls LOVE them!
No children were harmed in these pictures (Lydia did not fall on her head although it appears that she is about to).

Can't wait until the next visit with their BABY BOY!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the dorsey family

The Dorsey's go to church with us and there are two things I want to say about them. First, Christi (wife/mom) has had health trials for many years and, as someone who has struggled and does struggle with chronic health issues, I am encouraged by her (and the whole families) faithfulness to the Lord in said trials. Second, Adam (husband/dad) often leads the singing at church but also serves in the nursery singing songs with the children. There are so many times that Lydia has started singing a song that I did not teach her and when I ask where she learned it from she OFTEN says "Mr. Adam sings it." So thankful for this family and their service/encouragement to our church. Enjoy just a few of their family photos.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

five year anniversary trip to cali

October 4th was mine and Patrick's fifth anniversary. We celebrated with an awesome trip to California; visiting Yosemite and driving down the coast. This is a big trip that we have been planning for a while. This trip was a blessing in many many ways.
Two summers ago when we flew out to Oregon for vacation we got bumped from a flight and in return got $1000 worth of free flights. This paid for all but the taxes on our flights out to L.A.. In order to cut cost and really enjoy the entire experience of being in Yosemite we decided to camp. This was fun and somewhat new to us. We had kind friends and family who let us borrow their tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, cooking gear, and pretty much everything else we needed for camping and hiking! Both of our parents were so graciously willing to watch our kids so that we would be able to do this trip. The week of us leaving things got exciting as Lydia and Kesid both got the stomach bug. AND my sis in law had her sweet baby boy meaning that my nieces were then supposed to stay with my mom and dad. We didn't want to infect new big sisters with our yuckiness so this meant I was super stressed out trying to figure out if we were going to be able to find a replacement for my mom. Thankfully my oldest sister jumped right in and served our family despite the sickness so that we could go! I am very grateful that we not only live so close to family who is able to watch our kids but also for their willingness to love on us and our children even when we are sick!
So all of these things came together (it literally took a village!) and we were off for a week's adventure with just the two of us.

We landed in L.A. got our rental car and headed to In N Out Burger! This was my first time in California (other than the airport for lay overs) and first time experiencing the famous In N Out! Both met my expectations!
We stopped at a crazy downtown Walmart and got some food for our trip and then drove all day to Yosemite and set up camp. Our camp site was in Crane Flat which is about 40 min from the Valley.

Our first night we didn't make a fire because we were already pretty tired when we got to our campsite and just wanted to go to bed. We were expecting the temperature to get down to 40-45 but were surprised to find out that it actually dropped to 28-30. We were cold!! I woke up many times with frozen feet! The next morning we took our time getting ready and made some breakfast before heading down to explore the Valley.

We stopped on the way into the Valley to see some beautiful sites.
El Capitan was really the first part of the Valley that we saw and it was so huge and beautiful.
Next we stopped at the swinging bridge. We really liked this spot. You had a beautiful view of the stone and hills while being in this great field. There was a creek with somewhat of a beach that we came back to the next day to read and get some sun. (Also spotted a lady bathing in the water... it was tempting to follow but instead just put my head in the freezing cold water to freshen up my hair)
When we got the valley we asked about some trails to hike and decided to do the Columbia Rock hike. It was around 2 miles round trip but tough because it was pretty much straight up stairs the first mile and then straight down the next. I was huffing and puffing the whole time and very worried that if I was like this on a 2 mile hike how in the world was I going to hike half dome? Patrick was patient and we finally made it! It was a beautiful view. We had lunch here. It was great because we could see half dome, the valley and things like glacier point.
We headed back to our campsite to make dinner an relax by the fire before hitting the sack (literally).
The next morning we got a little earlier start and found out we had been picked from the lottery to hike half dome! This was exciting and meant that we could do more exploring and not as long of a hike. We drove up to Glacier Point but on the way we stopped at one of our favorite views. This is below called Tunnel View. It's BEAUTIFUL!
And then we arrived at Glacier Point and it was, again, BEAUTIFUL! So many views to take in in just 4 days is overwhelming. I think we did a decent job though of soaking in the moments and reveled in God's wondrous creation!
After sitting and enjoying the great view and talking to family on the phone for a while we started the Panorama Trail. It was a great trail because for so much of the hike you were walking along the side of the mountain and therefore had amazing views of the surrounding sights.
We stopped down at Illilouette Fall to have lunch and read some of our book. (During our trip we read N.D. Wilson's "Death by Living" aloud to one another) I love when we read like this. It allows for good conversations about what we are reading and it's just nice to have that time spent thinking on the same things.
 After the hike we headed back down to our favorite Tunnel View.
 Another night at the campsite before waking up bright and early for our half dome hike.
We woke up at 4:30 and got down to the trail head parking around 5:30. It was still dark so we waited a little while in the car until we noticed more people walking to the trail head. We strapped on our headlamps and started out for half dome.

The first 2 or 3 miles were pretty tiring because of all the stairs. We went right by Vernal Fall (1st set of pictures below) and Nevada Fall (2nd set of pictures below).
This was so tough! I started out thinking it was 13 miles. It ended up being 16.5 miles!
When you get above the tree line you feel like you on the top of the world. We were unbelievably tired at this point.
I may have mentioned that we had the best lunch spots! The two pictures below are where we stopped to have lunch. This was right before we had reached the sub dome. I was extremely exhausted. I felt as if I had no energy. We had not taken our time getting up to this point because we were concerned of it getting dark on us by the time we got back down. We didn't know exactly how long it would take so we hurried the whole way up. Well we didn't need to hurry quite so much :) Anyway... because of my exhaustion we sat down to eat. As we were sitting there I started saying I didn't think I could make it up the cables. It looked too hard and frightening. Patrick was kind and said that was fine... we didn't have to do it. His fear of heights was influencing him a little too! We decided that hiking this far was an accomplishment in and of itself.. no need to risk our lives to do the cables.
After lunch we got a second wind and a few passer by'ers encouraged us that we could do it and that it was well worth it! So we did it! Picture on left is on sub dome... you see those little specks on the rock behind us... those are people on the cables. On the Right is me looking back down the rock to Patrick (he was the man! and went behind me so that he could catch me if I slipped!)
WE MADE IT!!! Here we are on TOP of Half Dome. It kind of felt like you made it to the moon! HA
It was amazing up there! You could see so much it was unbelievable.
We sat and took it all in, called our parents and kids and walked all around up there before heading back down
 Doing the decent was maybe scarier for me that going up. Going up you are leaning into the rock pulling your self up... Going down just didn't feel as secure... My footing slipped a few times but I was able to get my grip and keep going. The pictures below are us on our decent. We stopped at one of the boards these have periodically to help you keep your footing and allow for some security while breaking to catch your breath. The pictures don't really portray how steep this is.
Right after taking those pictures looking down I took this picture looking up. It kind of gives you a better aspect of how steep this is.
WHEW!! We made it down off the cables and started down more rocks.
The hike down was faster but still very hard because of the toll it took on your knees. Your legs are exhausted from that hike and then to have your weight pounding on your knees is rough.
We took a short break to drip our hot feet in the cool mountain stream (Nevada Fall). We often stuck our heads in the water to freshen up. 4 days without a shower is a long time :)
We finally got down to the car and were exhausted. We wen to the village restaurant which was terrible. It was one of our most expensive meals and the worst. This is coming from two hunger hikers so you know it had to be bad... anyway it was humorous to see the way we were limping and walking. I looked like an 80 year old woman. That night we slept well!
The next day we left Yosemite and it was the same day the government decided to shut down... perfect timing for us in that it didn't wreck any of our plans for the trip. We got our hikes done just in time :)

Next we headed to the coast. We found discounted tickets on craigslist and spent the afternoon at the Aquarium. It was really pretty and I didn't take any pictures with my DSLR.. only iphone. That night we ate dinner at a great local mom and pop type place called Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant; it was delicious. That night we stayed in Monetery Bay at a cheap motel.

The next morning we started driving down highway 1 and took a side road in Carmel where in the middle of a neighborhood we found this...
With stairs leading down to this...
It was gorgeous with the mist coming up off the water. We took a walk along the little path and then found a bench with the perfect view to read our book.
We spent the rest of the day driving from Carmel down the 1 to Big Sur. We stopped often to walk along these little paths. It was so nice having the whole day to just see Big Sur. It was breath taking. It's so pretty how the water runs straight into these massive hillsides and cliffs.
We had lunch right along the road on another one of these paths that had another perfectly bench with a great view.
That night we ate a wonderful meal at the Big Sur Village Pub (thanks to our friend Ally who is from CA and gave us all the great local restaurants to go to). After dinner we went up to another restaurant called Nepenthe to enjoy the amazing view of Big Sur at sunset. This restaurant is known for having some of the best views in the world. It also has a really great atmosphere with outdoor seating and fire pit.
The colors were perfect.
That night we camped at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
We got up and drove further along the 1 with more amazing scenery.
We were supposed to stay the next night at a camp ground in Moro Bay but decided it was too far from our next destination (Venice Beach) we didn't want to spend the next day (our last day in CA) driving very far so we drove a little further this day until we got to Santa Barbara. On the way down we saw the Hearst Castle (only from the road) and saw the famous San Simeon Elephant Seals. They were hilarious and stinky.
That night since we skipped our campsite to drive further down the coast we were homeless. Instead of kicking it CA style an sleeping on the side of the rd or on the beach we had a very nice hotel thanks to Patrick's brother!! Very thankful :)

The next morning we drove to Venice Beach. Again, we stopped along the way and read out on the beach and took a nap in sand, watched surfers along the coast at some iconic spots.
Our last day and night were spent at Venice Beach. Venice was a little weirder than I had imagined. We walked along the boardwalk for a little while but then quickly tired of the strange scenes and decided to do more reading on the beach. It was a nice relaxing last day! We took a bus that night to Santa Monica and watched Gravity in theater.
This was a very fun and special trip for us! It was a great way to celebrate the first 5 years of our marriage. Patrick was sweet and gave me random notes along the way...5 total, one for each year of marriage telling me sweet encouragements of why he loved me or how he saw the Lord's work in my life. I am so thankful for Patrick and his love for me. What a gift the Lord has given me already in our 5 years of many. Praying for many many many more!