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Our annual Idaho vacation nearly always includes a camping trip, and this time we did it at the very end of our week away.  Nate and Kerry were able to join us and Nate even found out about a campground none of us had ever visited before.  It was a wonderful way to end our time together.


Our campground was very shady with a great hill for exploring, a stream across the road, and plenty of treasures to find for our campground scavenger hunt and our Genesis 1 group devotional time.


Campfire meals included hobo pies and Dutch oven green chili chicken.  Yum!!  One morning we traveled to the nearby town of Lava to go down the water slides, swim in the pool, and eat pizza for lunch.  Nathan loved the smaller water slides, and Katya got over her fear finally and went for it too.  Nate, Kerry, Dad, and Than were brave enough to go on the big long slide, but mom and I didn’t take that plunge.


And of course, what would camping be without S’mores?!!  Thanks especially are due to mom for planning all the food, packing most of the gear, and keeping the campsite organized, and dad for hauling the trailer up there, splitting wood, and giving everyone places to sleep.


We enjoyed talking around the campfire, playing with glow sticks, hiking around the area, discussing favorite Bible verses, looking at the stars, and playing several games.

This is my favorite picture from the whole week.  Love this tribe!!


Idaho-4th of July

Idaho-4th of July

What would 4th of July look like in any place besides Idaho?  I don’t even know how it is celebrated in Denver, it has been that long!

After not doing attending the usual festivities last year because of our trip to Yellowstone, it was nice to return to the classic events this year.  Especially nice was the joy of celebrating them with my brother’s fiancee.  She is a great sport, delightful to be with, and so kind to my kids.  We’ve all fallen in love, so we’re really glad Nate fell in love first!!

The 3rd of July featured our home fireworks show, and the 4th was full with the parade, watermelon and iced tea with family friends, grilled salmon for dinner, and the big city fireworks show viewed from a hill in the park.

Now, on to the pics–not much explanation needed here, but I’ll provide a few captions just in case.


Ahh, the joy of smoke bombs.  Nathan is old enough to light them on his own, and Katya has fun dancing through the colored smoke.


It is fun to watch my son as he joins more and more in the annual home fireworks extravaganza.


Sparklers are kind of like light sabers, right?!!


Katya is still very afraid of the loud booms, but sparklers are OK.


The boys, playing with fire to the delight of the driveway crowd.


The parade, over 100 units long, plenty of candy thrown but also plenty of sitting in the sun…


And the happy couple, showing off their stylish shades while watching the floats go by.


Katya, posing after the parade with one of her favorite floats which we just happened to see parked around the corner from mom and dad’s house.


As if fireworks weren’t enough, we also had to have fun with dry ice.


(Soon-to-be) Aunt Kerry blows dry ice bubbles.


Yep, loud noises and explosions are part of this holiday.  (And as a more serious side note, I am always reminded of how grateful I am to live in a country where my children don’t live in fear of actual bombs and gunfire.  Such an undeserved grace extended by God to us.)


And the crew, waiting for the fireworks to start.

Idaho-Playing Around

Idaho-Playing Around

Hooray for our annual summer trip to Idaho.  There are always fun things going on when grandma and grandpa are around!

Katya was the official fish feeder, taking her duties very seriously twice a day.  She also got to add some new goldfish to the pond, hopefully to rebuild the school after a neighborhood cat interfered!!

One of our fun days was spent at a local amusement park of sorts.  Unlike the big city parks with tons of lines, big crowds, and lots of scary rides, this one was nearly empty.  There were only a few things to do, but we got to do everything as much as we liked.  Katya was the only driver on the little kid go-cart course!


We all had fun driving the bigger go-carts and did that a few times.  We also spent some time in the batting cages–even grandma and mommy did a pretty good job!


This huge spinning see-saw provided fun for everyone.  I think Nathan was the best at catching and ringing the bell way up in the air!


We also had a picnic there, squirted each other with the bumper boats, and even managed to squeeze in 9 holes of mini golf.

The next day was full of nautical adventure.  First we headed to the Snake River for a delightful canoe ride.  Nathan is actually getting to be a pretty good paddler!


Katya still doesn’t help much with the rowing, but she is in charge of spotting birds and dangling things in the water.


We paddled to an island in the middle of the river and it was fun to see how far out everyone could wade on the shallow side.


After a quick lunch at our favorite local Mexican fast food, we continued the maritime theme with a visit to the pirate exhibit at the local museum.  It was very well presented, full of interesting facts and artifacts both real and recreated.  There was also some information about how this pirate ship was unearthed and the items in it recovered from their long sojourn under the sea.


No trip to Idaho would feel right without several visits to Reed’s Dairy, of course–still the best ice cream ever.


And still lots of fun to see the cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and donkey.  This trip we also got to see miniature horses owned by one of the doctors mom works with.  They were really pretty!


We also enjoyed playing games, spending time talking, and doing craft projects–check out Katya’s cool Sharpie-tie-dye hat.  (Nathan made one too, as did grandma and mom.)


There is nothing quite like going “home” again.

Sweet Bloom

Sweet Bloom

Summer is relaxed…

less scheduled…

full of fun, flowers, friends, and coffee fluff.

What?!!  Coffee fluff?!!  What is that?!!  Look and see…


We have good friends who own Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters.  Now, if you like coffee, you better order some from them QUICK and then read this post again.  If you don’t like coffee, you better go there and have them make you a cup and then you probably will like coffee, at least when they make it.  I’m not a coffee person, but listen to this…  (And yes, it is true.)

“As you prepare your cup of Sweet Bloom coffee, take a moment to smell the intense fragrance from the dry grounds. And as the first drops of water infuse with the coffee to form a bloom, inhale deeply again – you will discover a diverse range of sweet aromas from caramel to floral perfume. These aromatics are a window to the flavors you will find in the cup. Our coffees are chosen and carefully roasted to surprise and delight you. Each time you take a sip of Sweet Bloom Coffee, we trust you will sense and taste the level of craft, hard work and heart that went into producing coffee of this quality. Please enjoy.”


Anyway, commercial aside, after a morning at the coffee shop having great conversations with my cousin and her friend, Andy sent us home with a bag of the chaff that is left behind after the coffee beans are roasted.  Look what magic ensued…


Fragrant fairy dust, sparkling across our backyard, providing the backdrop for an hour or more of fun while the grown ups kept right on conversing.  Hooray, summer and Sweet Bloom!


School to Summer

School to Summer

How are we already almost a month into summer?  As of this post, the kids have been home for 3 weeks.  I guess I better put in these end-of-school pics before they are completely obsolete!


The last week of school is “Spirit Week,” and each day has a special theme (a nice closing for kids who wear uniforms the rest of the time.)  I only remembered to take pictures on Wild West Day, but you can use your imagination to put these same kids in pajamas, superhero cloaks, or silly hats.  The final day of school was field day, held indoors because of our incredibly rainy May.

The day after school was out, we celebrated with a picnic and hike at Staunton Rocks State Park.  Nathan was our nature trail guide, keeping us well informed at each stop.


Following the hike (and the rained-out picnic in the car) we drove around, exploring the countryside while listening to Adventures in Odyssey.  It was a relaxed and fun way to launch our summer as a family.


Now, onward to lots of backyard barbecues, evenings with friends, trips to area attractions, craft projects, water play, and whatever else summer brings.

Spring Break-The People

Spring Break-The People

Road trip adventures and tourist destinations are great, but the best part of our spring break trip was the people we got to see.  We met some memorable new people along the way and had fun recording names and a brief note about each of them in my travel book.  Our tow truck driver, the mime, a hard working security guard, a stone carver–so many interesting people, each with their own life and story.  (Speaking of which, what’s the story on these crazies?!!)


Most important, however, was the time we were able to spend with family.  My grandparents were, as always, welcoming hosts and it was a joy to be together again, sharing conversations and adventures and meals and even a jigsaw puzzle or two.


Than took the kids on an adventure trip one day so I could have some dedicated time with my grandparents, giving us a chance to do some gardening, visit the grocery store (a favorite pastime for the two cooks in the house) and talk about life.


We were also grateful for a well hosted family dinner at my aunt’s house, providing a chance time to catch up with aunts, an uncle, and cousins.  Another cousin came to visit for lunch one day, two cousins came for dinner one evening, and much to the kids’ delight we got to see their second cousin three times during the five days we were there.  I am so grateful for all the St. Louis Shaws who adjusted their schedules to be with us.


God gave us safety, rescue, new experiences, good memories, and rich times as a family of four and an extended family of over 15, with lots of other combinations in between.  I am so very grateful.



Celebrating the Resurrection

Celebrating the Resurrection

Holy Week often seems more hurried than holy, even though each year I wish that it would somehow magically be different.  However, God is faithful to remind us of His great love and sacrifice, the gifts that make possible all of the joyful and necessary activities that fill our days.  Here are some Easter highlights….

The unexpected treat of decorating Easter eggs with our neighbor, invited in my my children when they were delivering hot cross buns.


Bits and pieces of four different generations from both sides of our families, gathered at our house to share the afternoon.


Cousins who get along well and enjoy each other thoroughly.  (No, Katya doesn’t have glasses yet, that is just a dress up pair that she was enjoying for the day!)


A front-and-backyard Easter egg hunt that kept both kids and adults entertained.  Nathan even had the kindness to run some eggs across the street for the little girl who lives there!


The delight of fun treats, large and small, hidden in eggs and given from loving family members.


Not photographed but still important moments to reflect, serve, and rejoice at our church’s prayer walk, Good Friday meal, and stirring Easter service.

And my favorite, 21 people gathered together because of the miracle of God’s saving love for us.  As we read in 1 Peter 1: 3-4 “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…”


He is risen!

Seven (for a Month!)

Seven (for a Month!)

Not only is Katya seven now, she has been for a whole month!  Here is my report about seven-year-olds, based on an extensive survey with a sample size of one…

Seven-year-olds are excited about thoughtfully chosen presents from family, near and far.


Seven-year-olds want a family trip to the zoo, especially when their birthdays coincide with a day off from school.


Seven-year-olds ride carousels and get their brothers to come along.


Seven-year-olds are delighted with boxes that come in the mail–the gifts are great, and the box is still fun too.


Seven-year-olds appreciate special outings like girl-grandmother shopping and lunch.


Seven-year-olds are gleefully surprised when their dads and brothers fill their rooms with 84 balloons.  (Sometimes they are also afraid when lots of those balloons pop loudly and without warning, but they are also grateful for dads who step in and make it fun again.)


Seven-year-olds might request a raspberry Napoleon instead of birthday cake, to go along with their dinner meal of homemade pizza.


Seven-year-olds like coloring on the table, blowing out candles, and being the center of attention.


Seven-year-olds are creative, full of energy, and a marvelous part of any family.  Seven-year-olds are dearly loved!


If you know a seven-year-old, be grateful.  I sure am!

My Valentines

My Valentines

Since Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, we got to celebrate extra this year!  I suppose technically we’ve been celebrating for almost a month now, since it was several weeks ago that Than surprised me with a night away at a beautiful spot in Estes Park.  It was fun to have our special time together, and I was glad we still had the 14th to be with the kids as well.

The tradition at school is that everyone can dress up in fancy clothes instead of wearing uniforms.  This is particularly popular with a certain daughter of mine…


Both kids also enjoyed handing out Valentines to their classmates and came home with a wide variety of cards and treats from all their friends.

Since the actual Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, and since we didn’t get out to see our neighbors at Christmas, we took the morning to go around with plates of Valentine’s treats.  I just love making cookie plates!!  It was a nice time to visit with the people we live near.


Also that morning, my family surprised me with some thoughtfully chosen little gifts (my favorite kind, small little “this and that” things, purchased from my favorite store!) and some hand written Valentines.  Than is so good at helping the kids with that kind of thing, and I felt loved.

After we finished our home celebrations, we headed out for an adventure.  Since many of our favorite attractions were unusually crowded, our trip to the zoo morphed into a trip to the museum of nature and science, then turned into a trip to the botanic gardens, and finally ended up being a trip to the museum of miniatures, dolls, and toys.  It was fun for everyone to explore someplace new, and nice to find a spot that wasn’t crawling with hundreds of other people!

We ended the day with a special family dinner at home.  I am one happy Valentine!

Christmas with Family

Christmas with Family

We were so glad to have my parents and brother with us for Christmas, and enjoyed celebrating with the Baylor families a week later.  Here are some pics…

Making gingerbread houses on Christmas Eve:


Hooray for Christmas presents:



After Christmas dinner was finished, there was another coloring tablecloth!




A little Christmas concert (yes, Nathan played too, but that picture didn’t turn out!):


Our Christmas Day crowd:


Not pictured–tromping through a beautiful snowstorm on Christmas Night before returning to the house for games

Some of the cousins, heading outside to play on New Year’s Day: