Happy New Year – Big Sky style

Our family tradition is to head to our condo in Big Sky after Christmas to ring in the new year. We arrived Wednesday night and have been having all kinds of fun ever since.

Errol and Valon shredded the hill on Thursday. (Sadly, they didn’t take any selfies for me to share. Why don’t boys do that? At least Valon took this beautiful photo.)

Isis, the boys and I spent the morning playing in the snow – sledding, moving loads of snow with diggers and sipping hot cocoa. 

We also built legos…

… and, when the boys got home, played Valon’s new game “Bears vs. Babies.” Yes, the name sounds terrible. But it’s a ridiculously fun game by the Seattle maker of “Exploding Kittens,” which is another family fave.

Then, yesterday, Isis and I went up to earn our shredding stickers.

(Yes, there were some selfies.)

Someone took Isis’s poles, probably by mistake, while we were having lunch. So we shared my poles for our final run.

Errol brought Danny up to practice on the magic carpet for a bit, so we got to watch him in action, too.

Then we headed back to find our friends had arrived – yay! Enjoyed dinner and more “Bears vs. Babies.” And today and tomorrow will bring more playing in the snow, more games, more laughing, more love.

Such a great way to wrap up a totally awesome year.

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Wonderfulness

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It’s been awhile. Almost a year and a half. Holy cow time is flying by.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Christmastime! And we have been busy little bees, just like everyone else.

The kids just started their winter break after three AMAZING Christmas programs that couldn’t have kicked off the season better.

Both Valon and Isis play band instruments. Valon plays the bass clarinet, and Isis plays the trombone. They had their concert in early December. Don’t they look snazzy?

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Daniel had a very sweet Christmas program where he played the VIP part of Joseph. He was very brave and played his part perfectly up on the big stage with all of us parents watching. I was so proud of him.

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And, yesterday, Valon and Isis had their big school production. Since they go to a Catholic school and the program is always about the coming of Christ, it’s always one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. Once again I found myself in tears at the end of the concert as the entire student body – and many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – sang Silent Night while a small procession of students walked through the gym and formed the Nativity. My Valon led the procession as the Angel Gabriel. It was just perfect. And now I’m starting to cry again.

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Ok, time to back up. Way back. Exactly one year ago.

The day before the kids started their winter break last year, I worked my last day at the hospital foundation, where I had spent about 7 years writing stories of giving and receiving. I loved my job, I really did. But my husband and I had decided it was time for me to stop working outside of our home because, with four kids, we had kind of a lot going on. It was a dream come true for me, something I had always wished for.

Of course, I had all sorts of plans when I stopped working. In addition to enjoying more quality time with my children every single day, I was going to write my blog more, start working on other writing projects, start exercising again, catch up on family photo books and baby books, etc. In actuality, I have been enjoying more quality time with the kids. Period. Running them here and there, fitting in naps, cooking and cleaning up, and then cooking and cleaning up more, laundry every day. Let’s just say there’s not a ton of free time. And that’s okay because I’m getting what I wanted most from being home.

I still think I may be able to fit some of these things into the schedule at some point. It’s just been a very busy year. This summer we moved into a new house that we’d spent about a year building. We loved the location and the floor plan, but we didn’t have any idea just how much we’d love our new home. It’s just perfect for us, and we don’t plan to move ever again.

After getting settled in our new house and enjoying some summer fun, it was time to go back to school. This year Valon is an 8th grader and enjoying his last year at the beloved school he’s grown up in. He is the student body Secretary, and proving to be a talented leader. He enjoys running cross country and participating in track events and is kind of a stud at both. He stopped playing basketball this year, which broke my heart a little bit. A lot, actually. But he wants to focus more on other sports… and, of course, keep up with his hefty school workload.

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Isis is in the 6th grade, so it’s her first year in middle school. Like Valon, she’s an honor roll student and just a really great person. She started running cross country this year, and she’s really good too. And she continues to be a basketball star; it’s so fun watching her play. Errol coaches her traveling basketball team and does such a great job with the girls. Isis’s current passion is the Harry Potter series, and we celebrate each book she finishes by watching the movie. (Okay, we all kind of love Harry Potter.)

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Daniel is in pre-K. It’s not preschool. If you call it preschool, he will correct you. He likes school and his “classmates.” And, like his big brother and sister, he is a good student. He’s very proud of the crafts he brings home. In fact, he’s planning to do all sorts of crafts during Christmas break. He’s smart and funny and adventurous and sweet – you should see my drawer of Lego creations that he built, just for me. He just started skiing so we’re going to have a great time watching him progress this season. Errol is coaching him, too. Our kids are so lucky to have the best dad in the world.

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And now for Patrick. Well, his job is to make sure none of us falls asleep and misses this great life. He keeps us on our toes, every minute of every day. He’s got a twinkle in his eye and all kinds of spirit and spunk. He’s busy and kind of naughty, with a tantrum loaded and ready for any given moment (don’t tell Santa). But we are so thankful that God gave him to us.

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Patrick spends most of his time with me, starting around 5 or 530am each day. He’s the worst sleeper of all our children and always gets up really early. He likes to do whatever you are doing at the moment, and his favorite game is bothering Daniel. He is the exact definition of “pesky little brother.” But he’s so much fun!

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Unfortunately, he has bad ears like his brothers and sister and suffers with ear infections. About a week ago, he had a second set of ear tubes put in and his adenoids removed. He’s doing well and, hopefully, he will have a healthier winter now.

Good health is what we are most thankful for. Our children and our families all seem to be pretty healthy, and that is probably our best gift this Christmas. We are just so blessed.

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And, a moment later…

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That’s our Patrick. 🙂

 

Thank God for him, for all of them

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As I was gazing at my birthday boy this morning, falling in love with him all over again, I found myself feeling so thankful that he was given to me. And then I found myself wondering how I was so lucky to get him, someone who is so special and perfect.

I have made many mistakes in my life, so how is it possible that I have been trusted to love him and teach him and love him some more and help him grow into a wonderful person who will make a difference in our world in his own special way?

I wonder this about all four of my children, who have been my teachers since the day they were born and show me how to be better on a daily basis.

Ah, the mysteries of life. Maybe it just boils down to the simple fact that I’m the luckiest mama in the whole wide universe.

Happy birthday to my darling Patrick. It’s going to be so fun celebrating you!

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“Look at all my presents!”

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“Time to go to Miss Pat’s…”

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“…but first I want to visit the daisies.”

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“Ok, now I’m ready to ROCK this birthday.”

 

Oh, Glacier

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Is there any place that doesn’t pale in comparison to your beauty?

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Thank goodness…

…for city parks. They bring smiles and fun every place we venture to.

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Love Deer Lake

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Leg two of Holiday Road took us to the Bob and Char Byrne family cabin at Deer Lake, a wonderful place that I haven’t been to in many moons.

We had some fun paddleboarding…

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and canoeing…

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and boating…

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and just havin good times…

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The best part was soaking up more time with our Spokane loveys, like the Byrne sisters…

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and singing “Oh Danny Boy” with the Dannys…

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and hangin with sports celebs, like Dylan Foss…

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That’s right, the Tune Squad went undefeated in Hoopfest ’16 and won the championship in their bracket.

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Way to represent, Montana!

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Jim and Colleen’s girls (who I sadly didn’t get and pictures of) represented as well. Their team won the championship in the co-ed bracket.

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Gotta go now, Spokane. See you next time. Xoox

Go Champions and Tune Squad!

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Leg one of our summer Holiday Road adventure was to Hoopfest ’16 in Spokane. We were called the Champions and lookin to dominate in the family division.

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Our nephew Dylan’s team, the Tune Squad, was lookin to dominate in the high school boys bracket.

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The Champions played really well but, alas, did not take the gold. The Tune Squad is still in it, and they may very well bring home a trophy (or at least a sweet t-shirt).

We still had a ton of fun – sunshine, smiles, Ben & Jerry’s, Hawaiian shave ice, love sweet love…

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Thanks again to cousins Terry and Dave for letting us crash at your lovely pool palace in Camelot.

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See you next time Hoopfest. Now onto Leg Two…

(We’ll let you know how it turned out for the Tune Squad after the afternoon games wrap up.)

“We are the Champions, my friends. And we’ll keep on fighting til the end…”

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