Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Squatters' Rights on a Cold Mountain

The truth is, we really don't have any business living in this house. We've lived here for six months and Dave and I still have daily anxiety that someone is going to call us, tell us there has been a terrible mistake and we have to leave.

We get to live here because:

1) I'm very lucky (we've already talked about this).

2) My husband is very smart and well versed in foreclosure real estate.

3) We aren't afraid of buying a house sight unseen at an auction. (This part is untrue. I am terrified of buying a house sight unseen at an auction. My husband is made up of stronger stuff. I've never been closer to a full blown panic attack as I was that day.)

4) We weren't deterred by an overgrown jungle lawn, hoarding squatters, and truckloads of junk to be hauled off. You're welcome, Deseret Industries.

5) We aren't morally opposed to bribing squatters to leave.

Ever since I read Gone with the Wind I wanted a house with a name. Now I have that though it might not be the one I would have chosen. Chris Bennett named it Cold Mountain. It stuck.

This is the view from our front yard. That's Mount Si.
 Our backyard patio. Another view of Mount Si.

Our backyard in the fall. See that fence at the back of the property? It opens up to.....

...this. Yep. Just when you think Cold Mountain couldn't get any better. That's the Snoqualmie River in our backyard. For weeks the kids ran around screaming "We have a river!"

Jerry was up last week. He tried his luck fishing in our river.

This is how Cold Mountain got its name.
 We are so lucky to live in a place this wonderful. We are grateful for it every day.  

Cold Mountain is open to all visitors!

Bikes, Braces, and Blurting

Last week wasn't our best week.

Nat got in a bit of trouble at school. Her green bucket was changed to yellow (thankfully not all the way to red) when she had trouble paying attention during carpet time. That trouble was compounded when she "forgot" to deliver a note to us about the incident....for two weeks. This is the apology to her teacher.

There are a lot of great things about this letter but I think my favorite line is "I'm sorry...for not paying the least bit of attention."

On Tuesday we went on a short bike ride before bed. A race between Tiff and her dad ended badly when Tiff crashed and flew over the handlebars. She sustained a skinned knee, a scraped face, and, we found out later, a fractured tooth.

It's never a great time to crash one's bike but the day before one gets braces on her teeth seems like an extra bad time. She was a trooper.

Here she is the day of her braces and the day after the bike crash.

She only allowed me to post the above picture if I promised to post this one from today. Isn't she lovely?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You May Rely On It

Natalie got a Magic 8 Ball for Christmas. The girl is in love with it. She doesn't make a lot of decisions without it. She packs it around with her pretty much everywhere she goes. Once I even found it in her bed. The funny thing is, she really believes that it speaks the truth and that it is all knowing.

The other day she was dancing around holding her crotch. I asked her if she had to go the bathroom. Of course she didn't. The dancing didn't stop. I told her to go to the bathroom. She finally left the room for about four seconds and then walked back in and said, "I went and I didn't even have to go."

I told her that there was no way she could have gone that fast. She insisted that, in fact, she had gone. So I pulled out an awesome parenting tool. "Let's ask the Magic 8 Ball", I said. She started to panic a little because the Magic 8 Ball doesn't lie. I held it up while she protested and said, "Magic 8 Ball, is Natalie lying about going to the bathroom?" To her horror, it answered back, "You may rely on it."

She looked up at me and said, "Bekah! I'm not relying to you!"

It is becoming increasingly more apparent that she is the most organized member of our family. She loves to look at planners. She was thrilled to get a calendar for her birthday and a watch for Valentine's Day. Every night we have to do an hourly run down of what we are going to do tomorrow. Every morning we have to review to make sure no plans have changed. One of her favorite things is to fold laundry with me. The girl loves order. A few Saturdays ago she decided to outline steps that would help us streamline our Sunday mornings.

When I woke her up for church the next morning she rubbed her eyes, rolled over, and said "Step one. Wake up."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Side of the Ocean

Here is another post with a couple of random pictures from a vacation last summer.

Dave's sister Allison has a sweet hookup with a beach house in Oceanside, California. Last summer we stayed there with Allison's family, Cindy's family, Todd's family, and Scott's family. It was a fabulous week. The ocean was literally a walk out the back door of the beach house.

We went on a lot of bike rides and long walks, played in the sand, read books (well, Steve and I read books), and met Ashley's fiance for the first time. On Sunday we drove to San Diego and went to the Mormon Battalion Historical Site.

The guys spent hours body surfing in the waves.
The kids made sand castles with sand castle expert, Uncle John.
Burying Emily in the sand.

La Vida Lopez

I live in a house with too many cameras and too many cords so here goes another blog post that starts with "Last summer....".

Last summer my whole family came up and spent a week together in a cabin on Lopez Island in the San Juans. We went on bike rides, played on the beach, collected shells, made a raft and a house out of driftwood, played games, and went sailing. It was Max's birthday and Rachel pulled off an elaborate pirate themed birthday party that ended with the kids digging up a real buried treasure box for of booty.

Where the pictures of all of those fun things are, I'm not quite sure. But I did stumble across these gems.

This was named the RTH (The Rue/Tiffany Hill). Can you guess who might have named it that? They rode bikes together from sun up to sun down.

Ben, Owen, and me on the deck of the cabin. We had the most beautiful view of the Sound. Behind us is the lawn where we played hours of "Robot Ball", a baseball derivative invented by dad and Ben that didn't allow players to bend their knees. Robot Ball would turn out to be captivating and one of the highlights of the trip.
Tiffany and me on the sailboat.

And Mista.

Dad giving sailing a go with his first mate.

I love this picture. Every kid looks miserable, starving (One day soon I'm going to remember that kids need to be fed), and freezing; except Luke. That guy couldn't be happier. So funny!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ode to Summer on a January Night

I am not going to win the prize of timely and consistent blogger anytime soon so please forgive the post about summer. I'm sitting in North Bend in January bracing for the biggest snow storm in 25 years. Snow here is a beautiful sight, but right now I'm reliving a really great summer.

So here's a recap:

Rachel and Hennie went on a trip to the Oregon Coast. They decided to keep heading up the coast and drop in to visit. I was sitting in a meeting when I got a text from Rachel asking if they could stay with us that night. I absolutely couldn't contain my excitement. Sure I was happy to see Rachel and Hennie, but they were bringing two of my favorite boys!

We went to the locks and the botanical gardens.

We ended the day properly and made a stop at Dick's. It's where the cool hang out.

Shortly after (or maybe during), Joy and Jerry came to visit and watch the girls when Dave and I went back to work. We took a quick trip around part of the Cascade Loop. It was a beautiful day and we covered a lot of ground.

Joy and me.

Joy and Jerry at Ross Lake.

Dave and Jerry by the Skagit River. I think...

Jerry and me.

Dave, Joy, and Jerry.

Hannah and James (AKA Bobby James if the girls had their say) came to visit. I really wanted to show her one my favorite places, Mount Rainier.

Here is Bobby James in front of the mountain. He had a tough week where he got a little too confident in his ability to climb steps. Hence the road rash on his nose.

Here we are at Paradise. Snow in the middle of summer.

I think the reflection of Dave, Hannah, and James in my glasses is pretty cool.

The color in that river is breathtaking.

I can't wait for summer 2012!

Vegas Vows - 11-11-11

Ashley and I bonded during her first year at BYU when I lived in Heber. I adore the girl and so does her Uncle Dave, so on 11-11-11, we headed to Las Vegas to attend her wedding. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony.

All the Westra siblings came.

When they are all together it's like they finally realize that they outnumber their parents and then all the jokes start, some more appropriate than others, and neither Joy nor Jerry can stop them. In fact, Jerry spent a good portion of the trip analyzing their genetics and blaming most of their antics on his wife's side of the family. The truth is, both of them really want to share the credit because they raised nine really great kids. It was so fun to have everyone together.
Here are some of the cutest grandkids around.

I sure like this guy.

Justin literally had this football in his hand the entire weekend. My favorite moment was when we were all gathered in the very crowded lobby of the temple and he threw a long pass across the room to an unsuspecting patron/receiver.

A lovely bride.

Have you every seen a church gym transform into something this amazing?

Little Jack.

I learned that there is a long standing tradition in this family of harrassing newly married couples. Only Jerry could say for sure which side of the family this genetic trait can be traced to. I heard horror stories of brothers calling Todd and Sharolyn's room every ten minutes all night on their wedding night. And something about one of Scott's friends handcuffing himself to Jenn on their wedding night. I was starting to understand why Dave treated our wedding night destination as top secret miltary intelligence.

So the uncles started early trying to figure out where Scotty and Ashley were staying. They were badgering the bridesmaids, setting up traps, holding meetings in the hall, anything to get this information. Ashley, being the bright girl that she is, held strong and didn't fall for any of it. All the uncles left the reception defeated. So imagine our surprise when Dave and I pulled in to our hotel and saw this.

There are 155,000 rooms in the 113 hotels in Las Vegas. I looked it up. Vegas is all about odds, but really, what are the odds that they were staying in our very hotel? We left them alone and made sure that the uncles did too. Ashley heard we were staying there and invited us to breakfast with them on the day we left. We were very lucky to get to spend some time with them before we all went our separate ways. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Congratulations Scotty and Ashley! We love you!