Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Blue Ridge Mountain High

Overlooking Tallulah Gorge
Every year, as I sit down to recap our mountain weekend with the Francos, I look back to previous years for comparison (and memories). One thing is consistent: each year claims to be the best yet. This year was no exception!
Foiled by our attempt to rent last year's house again, we wound up away from the water and up in the hills - and it was stunning. Kleinhaus was not only fun to say, but an absolute blast for our group, at least once a wine opener was procured. Nearly brand-new, it had a fantastic layout for our families, incomparable fire pit and a screened-in porch with breathtaking views (and excellent couches for napping, just in case anyone happened to stay up too late the night before).
Writing and illustrating stories in the morning.
The house was also well located for nearby hikes, charming places to eat, and even a farm for pumpkins (and a corn maze!) on the way home.

Suspension bridge over Tallulah Gorge - not Danny's favorite spot.
As I looked back over the years, I noticed that the kids are as much sticklers for tradition as the Euchre-playing parents. References to writing stories can be found in each recap, as well as lots of fresh air and outdoor games, not to mention glow sticks and s'mores. The five kids have grown quite a bit over the past six years, but they remain as compatible as ever. We are blessed!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Soccer Saturdays

Since age three, Danny has played soccer every fall and spring. But it wasn't really until we had two soccer players that I felt we could consider our Saturdays devoted to the sport. Now in her second year, and still very gung-ho about it, I think it's safe to say that Laura is in it for the long haul - and so are our Saturday mornings.
Thankfully, both kids still play for the Y, which means they each only practice once a week, and the practices and games are mercifully close to our home. It's proving to be a great way for the kids to maintain contact with friends from the neighborhood and swim team, too. (This is assuming people remain friends with us despite Laura mowing over their daughters in order to take the ball and score...)
  Here's to many more weekends on the pitch!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

First Day of Fourth Grade and KINDERGARTEN!

After a summer that went by at warp speed, it was suddenly time for CKS to resume - and for Laura to begin her career there! Leading up to the first day of school, she was very positive. When I woke her up, however, she wasn't so sure and shed some tears. Fortunately, by the time we left she pulled herself together, and it was smooth sailing from there.
Danny was a very encouraging big brother, which definitely helped. As a student ambassador for a new 4th grade student, he had his own responsibilities, but he did his part to support Laura. While he has waxed poetic about his grade and teacher (so far), Laura has been a bit less forthcoming. Sometimes she gives it a thumbs up, sometimes she claims it's boring and they just sit there. I guess we'll just have to see! Her Pre-K experience will be a tough act to follow, but I suspect she'll have more good days than bad. I also think it's a good sign that this was her initial response to learning that today is Saturday: "Oh, man, that means it'll be BORING."
Heading off to her class for the first day!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Back to Cali, August 2016

Although Seattle and San Diego aren't exactly close, we decided to take advantage of already being on the West Coast by flying down to San Diego for a few days. While we didn't manage to do everything we traditionally do on our summer visits, we packed in quite a bit during those days!

We went to the beach a LOT, thanks to Danny's newfound love of the ocean. He made for a great companion for Clare, which helped in the absence of the cousins.
 I reunited with my oldie but goodie friends (sans Espe, who was moving).
 We enjoyed the wonders of the Hotel Del Coronado on our annual day with Parlin.
 We spent a terrific day at Disneyland with Jen and her girls.

 More beach!!
One of our beach visits was to Laguna Beach, which Clare requested after seeing on Pinterest several months ago. It turned out to be a great outing for we girls while Danny and Grampy had a guy's day that included kayaking, sushi and watching "Jurassic World."

The week FLEW by, but it was great knowing we really took advantage of our time there. And after 16 days on the road, it was time to head home. Until next year!

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Golden Anniversary and Vacation

My loving parents decided that the best way to celebrate a major milestone in their lives was with the gift of time together as a family. This was definitely a gift for all of us, too! We spent a week in the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington in a stunning home on Lake Kachess, all 11 of we Morlans/Needhams/Seymours. What a crew! Sadly, never got a picture of all of us, but we did get some photos that capture the week.

 Lake Kachess, so beautiful and quiet.
 On the "easy and beautiful" hike to Franklin Falls.
The highlight of our mountain home: the deck. Pictures could never do justice to its incredible sweeping views of the mountains and lake - and the fly-bys we witnessed from the Navy jets!
 Lunch in the charming town of Roslyn, WA.

 Salmon La Sac!!
Nicki, Clare and Danny braved the rope swing into the pond by the house. It took Clare a while to work up the nerve to do it, but she knew she'd never forgive herself for not trying!
With Laura back at the house with Grammy and Grampy, we ventured on a more strenuous hike to Mirror Lake, which turned out to be just gorgeous. This was "bonus" scenery just beyond the lake, and really took our breath away.
We rented a boat on Lake Cle Elum one day, as well as a jet ski, which EVERYONE enjoyed, including the happy couple (below)!

 Laura absolutely LOVED the hammock.
The Fab Five enjoyed s'mores a few of the nights.
All in all, a beautiful setting for the very special occasion of 50 years together!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Seymour Clan Hits the OBX

This summer our usual travel schedule is varying a bit. For the first time in 13 years, we are not headed to Buffalo this summer, and I must admit I'm a bit sad about that. However, the trip we had in its place was pretty awesome, so I really can't complain. With Karen spearheading the effort, we had a combined Seymour Family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We rented a terrific house that was a just a few minutes' walk to the beach, had its own pool, and was also a short walk into town for restaurants, shopping and more. I confess that I had been dreading the long drive (10.5 hours), but I readily admit that it was well worth it!
An early morning stroll to check out the beach.
The vacation was so great that, in the grand scheme of things, we didn't take that many photos. Not a one of our entire group, which is a definite oversight. Nor do we have any photos of jet-skiing, which Tim, Clare, Danny, Karen, Brian and I all participated in and loved. Hopefully our memories will suffice!

While she visited the beach plenty, the pool is generally where Laura preferred to be. Meanwhile, this was the trip that convinced Danny of the awesomeness of the ocean - something Clare and Tim have always known!

Incredibly, the pool came equipped with two gators!
Lunch while the boys golfed.

Danny was VERY fond of Baby Ryan!

I got to exercise my cake hobby for Ryan's 1st birthday - quite an honor!

Laura in action.
Overall, it was a terrific week with family time, relaxation, and fun in the sun - and one that I suspect will be repeated, which is really the highest praise of all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Swim Team 2016

Swim team this summer was quite an affair for our family. After I was semi-coerced into taking the role of team manager, Danny decided he might as well join his sisters and swim on the team. Suffice to say, we all spent a lot of time at the pool. (Although perhaps not quite as much time as I spent on the computer answering emails.) And while practice may not have been his favorite, Danny really enjoyed the swim meets, and the camaraderie of boys to play hoops with during lifeguard breaks, which has made our leisure visits to the pool a lot more fun for him. In short, although it was a lot of work AND may have taken a bit of an emotional toll on me, I'd say it was overall a winning proposition.

 Danny and Laura both enjoyed having the Millers on the team with them, too!
And of course, the concessions were always a hit.
Clare, as always, thrived on the atmosphere and socializing with her friends. Next year she'll be eligible to be a junior coach, a job I suspect she will embrace enthusiastically. She has already started honing her coaching skills on Danny, and has apparently done it well because he has declared he'll return next year! Laura has decided the same, too, but there was really never any question about that. Which means I guess I will, too...