summer 2014 camping!

We finally got out the camping gear and headed out for a weekend of fun!
We didn’t go far from home, but sure did find a good spot. The camp ground was clean, tons of families, campfires were welcomed, and it was on the river.
After arriving on Friday lunch time we set up camp, and sat down to chill! My favorite thing about camping. You have no reason to do much of anything other than chill and have fun!

Romeo the watch dog

Romeo the watch dog

Toska

Toska

For friday night dinner we made hobo packets in the fire and then had our favorite dessert…Banana with marshmallows and chocolate! We also wrapped them in foil and tossed them in the fire. Super yumminess!

dessert banana boats..YUM!

dessert banana boats..YUM!

On Saturday we went on the trail to the lookout and found what turned out to be one the highlights of this weekend…..the river! Once we walked the 2k {mind you this is my first time walking more than around the house I’ve done in almost 2 weeks….I hurt my toe a bad one and have been on the couch 😦 } When Romeo and Toska caught a whiff of the river water and gray mud/clay river bank, they went NUTS!!!!! We laughed so hard watching them run, play, chase the crashing wake of boats, drink river water, bark and just go CRAZY!!!!

Dirty DOG!

Dirty DOG!

White or Black???

White or Black???

River fun

River fun

River fun

River fun

doggy fun!

doggy fun!

We weren’t sure how we were ever going to get Romeo clean. ( We did hose him off at the camp, but he is headed to the dog wash tomorrow!) We ended up tossing Toska in the dish washing sink and cleaning her at camp! IT was cold but she didn’t seem to mind 🙂

Dinner on Saturday was made fun thanks to our great friends..…they came had dinner, roasted marshmallows, and we rented to funkiest cool pedal bike things. We all took turns and sure did have fun cruising all over camp!

way cool pedal bikes

way cool pedal bikes


The girls got a bit silly around the camp fire after the sugar rush of dessert!!!!
campfire craziness!!!

campfire craziness!!!

I’m so glad my family likes to camp. I just love it and it really brings back so many fun memories of my childhood.
Hoping we go again soon…..

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

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Dance

Summer 2014 has been fun so far….Gator started the fun with a trip to Olympia, Washington (suburb of Seattle) to attend Northwest Dance Intensive.  She had the most amazing opportunity to dance with some of the greatest teachers, including Paloma Herrera from American Ballet Theater.

Paloma!

Paloma!

The intensive was 3 weeks, and to say I missed her is an understatement!

Here are a few picture of the performance the night of pick-up. (this was after a full day of classes!!! (Dedication, determination, and strength.)

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

warm up barre with Philip Beamish

dance

dance

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dance

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At the end of the night the students were presented with awards. The guest teacher who presented them is from Italy and speaks very little english…..it was quite the laugh, listening to him announce each girls name. First and last!!!

awards with Vincenzo Lapertosa

awards with Vincenzo Lapertosa

When you put 3 girls in a dorm room together for weeks they become great friends!

friends!

friends!

What a wonderful, learning, challenging, and fun time Gator had. We were are so proud and excited for her.

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Portland, OR–part 3

Eighteen years.

Fun times, sad times, great times, rough times but all times together!

Guitar Man and I got married young (I have now spent half of my life married!) and have grown up together.  We have lived in 3 different states and now another country.  We have 2 absolutely wonderful children and 2 furry friends.  Life is good! God is Good!

We have spent many an Anniversary just hanging out, a few taking care of little kids, and some enjoying a nice dinner out.

This year was so far the best!  We had our children with us, we were on vacation, and we got to see extended family.  GM had never even meet my Uncle before today.

Special is what I’m calling it.

Special is what my Guitar Man is.  He loves me and loves me well.  I am blessed.

God has blessed us and this past year is just another reminder of Him and His awesome love for us.

To be in Portland this year was special.  After being out at our families house all afternoon we headed back into Portland and dropped the kids at the hotel…Deschutes was calling our names!  Yes, we went back for anniversary dinner!  Thanks to our hotel for the courtesy shuttle!

18 year selfie!

18 year selfie!

I’m so thankful for our time in Portland.  We needed a get-away and this was perfect!

One last pic of the fan!

The Fam

The Fam

Grace and Peace,

Sunflower

Portland, OR–part 2

Sunday, March 23, 2014 a special day…The 18th wedding Anniversary for Guitar Man and I!

We had planned this family getaway as a fun for all vacation and also a special treat for us!

We set out Sunday morning to do a bit of shopping for Gator and for me!  Of course you can probably guess it was fabric for me and dance stuff for her!

We found this little local breakfast shop called The Pig’nPancake.  It was so funky, had all kinds of pigs, and offered gluten free pancakes, toast and a few other items!  Once again we were shocked and excited!  Buddy was super happy when we was able to order 6 gf pancakes.  He ate them all and was one stuffed boy 🙂

After b-fast we found the fabric store and it was massive!!!!!! I almost felt confused and I was defiantly overwhelmed! 🙂

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

Fabric Depot

If you need any kind of fabric…check them out @ Fabric Depot  You will love it!

After shopping for me and my girl we went out to Washougal, WA and enjoyed what turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip….family time at my Aunt Lynn and Uncle J’s house!  My cousin Katie arranged for us to go out and see them and have lunch, hang out, ride quads, and just chill.  It was so relaxing, fun and super exciting for the kids.  My Uncle J has done so much to his property and made it such a fun outdoor place.  He has a few quads and we rode them all over. Down to the river, through the neighborhood, along the trails, etc.  The river was beautiful, the little waterfalls coming down the mountain were so pretty.  Buddy, Gator and I have never been on quads and we sure learned, learned fast, and ENJOYED!!!!  Both of the kids actually drove and Buddy even did it by himself!  I was so proud of him. 🙂

2nd cousins playing

2nd cousins playing

cousins at the fire pit

cousins at the fire pit

Uncle J and Gator

Uncle J and Gator

GM and Buddy

GM and Buddy

Gator and GM

Gator and GM

The girls!

The girls!

The girls!

The girls!

Buddy

Buddy

So many of you knowI’m not a gun girl.  It’s not that I hate them, or that I don’t think people should have them, it’s more like stupid people own them and do stupid things with them.  I just stay away from them.  My dear husband has owned them and I have NEVER even touched his guns.  I just look once and say great, now lock it good and tuck it away!  Something crazy happened though….My Uncle is special and I have loved him dearly for my entire life.  A super long time ago, before he was blessed with his awesome daughter, I was his girl!  I really can’t explain it, I just know he holds a special spot in my heart….so yes….you guessed it…he got me to hold one of his guns!  This is for you Mom…I’m a gun hlod’n crazy southerner for sure!!!! For the record, it’s an AR-15. (and yes I had to ask Matthew just now what kind of gun it was…see I’m really not a gun girl! I did it for you Uncle J and well…cause it was our Anniversary and Matthew LOVED seeing me with a gun!!!!!)

A FRIST

A FRIST

A FRIST

A FRIST

We had fun out at the house hanging and enjoying family.  We were all a bit sad to leave. ( Next time I will get even more pictures….I’m not sure why I don’t have one of all of us….or even of my cousin!  Goofy me…sorry…next time!)

 

The Fam

The Fam

Part 3…..next!

Grace and Peace,

Sunflower

Portland, OR –part 1

It’s the time of the year when things are just starting to bloom and the kids are ready past ready to be done with school!

Spring Break!!!!!
Since it was spring break & Guitar Man and I’s 18th wedding anniversary we took a family vacation! Our first in many years!!!
IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!!!
We headed down on Friday morning and had a somewhat long drive.

At a Starbucks stop I saw these great purple and blue flowers…..I was so excited to snap a shot of them. It wasn’t until I came close that I saw they were spray painted! 🙂

paint flowers

paint flowers

The traffic was thick and things seemed to be moving at a SLOW pace. When we arrived at our hotel The Rivers Edge we settled in our room and then went on the search for FOOD!
Along our walk to dinner:

blooming!

blooming!

new buds and tracks

new buds and tracks

being kids!

being kids!

being kids!

We found a cool place called Little Big Burger. It was a simple burger place, with fries that are drizzled with olive oil after being fried. They were yummy! 🙂 We enjoyed the catsup that was served with the fries….funny name and great flavor!

little big burger catsup

little big burger catsup

Saturday morning we woke with BIG plans to have fun, see the downtown, and eat!
We set out to catch the streetcar and ride into town. It was a fun ride and the cars are really neat.

(waiting for our ride!)

looking for a ride!

looking for a ride!

We made our way to the famous Saturday Market What a market it is! Tons of vendors selling all different kinds of handmade things, and it backs up to the river! It was a sunshine filled day and the market was busy. I was able to find 3 pieces of art from Karla Dornacher that are going to look wonderful on my mantle. 🙂
After the market we were off to the music store! Yup…Guitar Man said it was a “must see” when in Portland! (store #1…he had 2 “must see” shops!)

GM having fun!

GM having fun!

The kids at the store!

HEY!

HEY!

smiling in the music store

smiling in the music store

After the music store it was off to find a good cuppa coffee for GM. We had a recommendation from the guy at the store so we went and found Stumptown Coffee What a cool place it was!
Guitar Man had coffee, Sunflower had tea, and Gator had a hot cocoa…and Buddy…He had a treat!

Stumptown Coffee

Stumptown Coffee

Buddy treat

Buddy treat

Next was music store number 2, and then lunch!
We had seen this place and wondered if it was going to be gluten free friendly, and had received a recommendation from a family member, so we went to check it out. It was gf friendly in that they offered a full menu and also had GF beer on tap. Which is something we have never seen, or even knew was available. The lunch portions are HUGE and we really enjoyed our massive sandwich on the BEST gf bread EVER! If you are ever in Portland you MUST eat at Deschutes 🙂 It was in one of the old buildings downtown and the main eating area had these cool wood carved entrance beams.

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Deschutes, Portland, OR

Now that we were all stuffed to the max….it was time to find a good book and rest! haha….It was time to find a good book and just up 1 block is the worlds largest book store Powells Books! A quote from the website: “Powell’s City of Books is a book lover’s paradise, the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland, Oregon, and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books. Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.”

Powell's Books

Powell’s Books

Now we had a few bags of goodies, including books for the kids, it was time to head back to the room and chill for a few.

The sun was shining and the temps were fantastic…Gator and I enjoyed time out on our balcony to read and chill, while the boys read a few of the new books and had some time to relax!

We really didn’t need dinner since we ate a late lunch and we had leftovers…so we went out for a bike ride along the river behind the hotel.

floating houses on the Willamette River

floating houses on the Willamette River

Gator

Gator

Willamette River &Mount St. Helens

Willamette River &Mount St. Helens

Gator in a tree!

Gator in a tree!

We finally crashed and called it a night…after watching a little cable TV. (something we ditched since we never watch it at home!) Oh the luxury of staying at a hotel…no cooking, cleaning, laundry, taxi cabbing….oh the list goes on!!!! Day one in Portland was AWESOME!!!!!

Part 2 up next……

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

naming……

I’m not sure how it started or even why, But naming things is something I seem to do a lot of. I name my “favorite” pen, my “funky” bag, I give a million nicknames to my kids and dogs, heck I even give new names to people!

But what’s in a name? Do you name things thinking about what that name means? Do you even names things!!!

While at church a few weeks back our Pastor was talking about names, and mentioned how he and his beautiful wife named their first child a name they thought was special, different and unique. As he started talking to friends and co-workers at church, they were naming children for Biblical reasons, and meanings, and he soon felt odd and like he had done something wrong in choosing a name for their son. That is not the case at all, he and his wife did not, and the little guy they have is super and his name fits him quite well!

Naming my car has always been a thing for me. When I started this blog I talked about this truck. I LOVED Big Blue. It was my American vehicle. It was my tie to home. It was a beast and I loved it!

Big Blue

Big Blue

Today I am naming yet another car.

2013 Ford Flex

2013 Ford Flex

I’m so excited to have this new ride. My new ride is nice, fancy, has navigation 🙂 and is super smooth. I can still take lots of kids, it seats 7, and it has so many other features I never had I’m not sure what to do with them!

I digress…Naming….

It’s color is kodiak brown metallic. I’m liking it 🙂 It looks black sometimes but in the right lighting and up close you can see it is brown.

So it’s name…The Bear? How about Kodiak? Kodiak Bear?
Let me know you favorite!
I can’t pick….something I’m not use it, since I like to name things!

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

P.S. God has blessed Guitar Man with a wonderful job that can afford us fun things like this new ride. I am so thankful GM works so hard every day to provide for this family. 🙂 Love you GM!

Seattle, WA and Robben Ford

One of Guitar Mans favorite guitar players was playing at the Triple Door Seattle back in February and we decided to make a night of it! Off to Seattle we went with the kids and intentions of having a fun family time. It was WONDERFUL! Seattle is such a neat place and is very walker friendly. We drooped off my truck at the Toyota dealer in downtown Seattle for a few repairs and got a ride over to our hotel. I found a great place with a great rate online and couldn’t wait to cheack it out. The hotel was an original to the downtown area with a prime location and with current renovations it looked like a nice place to stay. We were pleastly surprised by the size of the room and the staff was wonderful. We were all hungry and couldn’t wait to eat at one of our family favorites from back home, Chipotle. We made the walk a few blocks and enjoyed our yummy, yummy lunch! Then it was time to check out the Pike Place Market and original Starbucks.

Original Starbucks

Original Starbucks

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

fish market

fish market

fish market

LARGE lobster tail!

Ouch!

Ouch!

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fresh!

fresh!

fresh!

fresh!

tulips

tulips

Later in the evening Guitar Man an I headed out for our concert. We left the kids in the room and even let them call in room service from the hotel restaurant! They were super excited and happy to hang out and watch movies together.
GM and I went down to the Triple Door for dinner and the Robben Ford concert.

Robben Ford

Robben Ford

R. Ford and Band

R. Ford and Band

What a great night we had! The Triple Door served up some super yummy food and the music was FANTASTIC! Oh, and to be out with my love was so much fun!!! ❤

A few other pictures….
Super fun umbrella shop with a great name!

fav!

fav!

local awesome hat shop!

local awesome hat shop!

Target has buggy escalators!!!

Target has buggy escalators!!!

Our friend we gave a few scraps out our hotel window!. :)

Our friend we gave a few scraps to out our hotel window!. 🙂

B-fast at Pike Place

B-fast at Pike Place

cloudy ferris wheel

cloudy ferris wheel

All-in-all we had a great trip and loved Seattle!

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Family and Friends in Seattle!

What an amazing Saturday we had…..Our family met with My Aunt Lynn, cousin Katie and her 2 baby girls for a fun lunch and cupcake dessert in Redmond, WA (Sub of Seattle).

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It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen my extended family and to see them now and with the little ones I was one happy girl!
After a fun afternoon of visiting with family we were able to see these friends!
What a FUN time we had together! It had been just over a year since we had seen friends from GA and it was like yesterday when we got together. 🙂
Blackstons!!!!

Blackstons!!!!


A super packed Saturday in Seattle but one of the best we’ve had!!!
Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Camping in BC

This past weekend was a long holiday weekend, honoring Victoria Day, and our family was invited to go camping with The Howe family. The weather was perfect and the scenery was breath-taking. I was so overwhelmed by God’s beauty. He has created some of the most amazing and beautiful places.

Our camping experience was unique in that you can only access the camping area by canoe or kayak. You have to head out across Pitt River Lake and up a canal about 1 hour to find Widgeon Provincial Park and camp area. It was a very nice day on Saturday, the sun was shining and the temperature was about 15*. We were able to fit all of our camping gear and the four of us in one canoe. Miracles do happen!!!

Once we reached Widgeon we set up camp. Guitar Man and Buddy were excited to have the opportunity to use the hammock tents we had purchased a Christmas ago.

GM in his Hennessy Hammock

GM in his Hennessy Hammock


Gator in the girl tent!

Gator in the girl tent!

This was the view up the river and down the river at Widgeon.

view from our tent

view from our tent


After we set up camp and had some grub….

Lunch time for the Howe fam!

Lunch time for the Howe fam!

Then it was time to hike to Widgeon Falls. It was a light hike and the views along the way were fab!

small creek down the side of the trail

small creek down the side of the trail


blue-green water in the river

blue-green water in the river


view at our "snack" stop!

view at our “snack” stop!


group hiking photo

group hiking photo

Once we had gone about 45 min or so we reached Widgeon Falls!




The Wingo Fam!

The Wingo Fam!


Sunflower and sweet Gator!

Sunflower and sweet Gator!

I can not begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see these falls. They are breathtaking. When you sit on the rocks you can hear AND feel the power of the water. It was just amazing! We all had a wonderful rest and time of quite to enjoy the falls. The kids had fun building rock statues and climbing around.

Our walk back to camp…..

HUGE tree stump

HUGE tree stump


GM and the boys walking back to camp

GM and the bus walking back to camp

Although we only stayed for one night it was fabulous! We are blessed with great friends and are thankful they invited us to go camping. 🙂

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower

Victoria Island

Family came to visit and we could not have been more excited! The first thing we did was head over to Victoria Island. We didn’t know exactly what we were going to do, but knew everyone loves VI and we needed to see it!!! Once we got off the ferry we drove right into downtown Victoria. The buildings are old and amazing! I was loving it 🙂

First order of business was to find a hotel. Just past the Empress (famous place to have Afternoon Tea) we saw Hotel Grand Pacific we pulled in and checked for a couple rooms. The building was so neat and they had the cutest pond out front with ducks galore!

Gator and "the ducks"

They offered us a great rate and we were up in our rooms in no time. We looked in the local guide for a good seafood restaurant we could have dinner at. We found Nautical Nellies. What a place!!! It was wonderful. We all enjoyed our dinners, which all included some type of seafood. The best part was it was only a short walk from our hotel and a beautiful walk at that….

in front of hotel

On our walk home it was dark and the lights of the buildings were so neat. The greatest of them being the Parliament Building which was next door to our hotel.

The next day we drove a few miles out of town to Goldstream Provincial Park. This park is well known for the salmon that swim up river and spawn. We thought we would get the opportunity to see the salmon spawning but…..that was not the case…well not so much at least. We were a little late and the salmon were almost all dead. Not good for pictures. 😦 The park did have some of the most amazing rain forest. I took a ton of pictures!

Totem Pole looking tree

After the park we went back into downtown and spent the afternoon walking around looking in shops and eating a wonderful sushi lunch.

China Town


Silly fam!


Buddy's Building!

Occupy Victoria!!! haha

After a full day of fun it was back to the ferry for the ride home. What a great place Victoria is! I can’t wait to visit this spring and stay for a few days 🙂

Gator at the Ferry Station

Thank you G-pa and Uncle Steven for coming to visit. We enjoyed getting to see Victoria with you! 🙂

Grace and Peace,
Sunflower