Summertime

Since I neglected to put up a single post this entire summer (until today – 3 Alaska posts plus this one might be a new record, ha!) I thought I would show a glimpse into what we have been up to.

While we were spending 2 weeks in Alaska, the best Mimi (and Gramps, but we all know Mimi did 99% of the work!) ever watched our precious kiddos.  She made memories, loved on our kiddos, was patient, did special things with them, and made our time away a joy for us.  It took about a month for them to stop calling me “Mimi” but I am ok with that!  We are so incredibly blessed to have parents who will watch our kiddos for such long periods of time so that we can get away.  We know not everyone has this blessing and don’t take it for granted. We are blessed and so are our kiddos! 
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Tea party at Mimi’s housetea party

Gramps and Mimi braved the rain for the local parade with the kiddos on July 4th!
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And took them to see fireworks!
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Emma picked some flowers for us while we were away (and informed us that she is getting married)!
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Before we left for Alaska, Justin’s baseball team won the championship!
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After we got back from Alaska, me and the kiddos dressed like cows for free Chick-fil-A food.
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On hot days we swim at our next door neighbor’s house.
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While the big kiddos were away at the grandparents Emma was my buddy … and she also beat me at “I Spy.”
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I missed my big kid helpers, but at least Emma is cute!  We have been busy freezing zukes, making pickles from cukes, freezing green peppers, making BLT’s with garden fresh tomatoes, and eating lots of fresh food from the garden!
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I was happy to have my big kids back home!
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Emma and Callie love to climb this little tree.
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Sydney takes a morning walk or bike ride across the street every morning to visit her horse friends, Cody and Angie. Our kind neighbor lets them pet the horses, help clean them, brush them, give them treats, ride them, and spend as much time as they want climbing on the fence to visit them!
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Brian’s brother, Derek, and his fiance, Joy, came for a visit to play some doubles tennis and to ask Callie and Emma to be their flower girls.  We had a blast and the little girlies are absolutely thrilled (and eagerly anticipating March)!
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Emma got bike lessons from Daddy … kiddos #5 on a 2 wheeler.
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Emma turned 4!
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She got new pig pj’s from Mimi … a big deal when you are girlie #4 and new pj’s are rare!
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And last but not least, we started school!
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Although we don’t start Classical Conversations until the Monday after Labor Day, we are gradually getting back into a routine around here.  Because of that, don’t be too surprised if another couple of months goes by without a post!  I need to learn the art of short and sweet posts.  I am hoping to get up a school post showing our schoolroom, some favorite supplies, and what we are using this year for school.  However, that post will not be short and sweet so who knows when and if it will happen!

Alaska – Part 3

This last post will have pics from the week that we were on land in Big Lake, Alaska.  We relaxed, kayaked, went hiking, enjoyed some scenic drives, rented 4 wheelers, and relaxed some more!  I didn’t take as many pictures that week, and sometimes only one of us took a camera along on a hike so I don’t have those pictures yet. 

Our view from the deck was lovely!
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Dinner together
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Another hike with amazing views.
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Hatcher’s Pass Scenic Drive
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Denali drive to see Mt. McKinley
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We got some nice views before the clouds moved in (we were told that only about 15% of people get to see McKinley because of how often it develops storm systems with clouds that cover it from view).
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Almost completely covered
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By the time we got to the last lookout, McKinley was hiding.
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We rented 4 wheelers for a day and had a guide take us through the mountains. A highlight for sure!
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My hot driver (until it was time for the girls to drive!)
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Some of the trails we were on.
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We drove through a bit of mud.
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Compared to the river we crossed, these areas were nothing!
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Brian and I won the award for who got the most wet!
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When we were almost finished with our riding (and safe from any wildlife), our guide taught us girls how to shoot his gun.
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We saw this rainbow on the way back to our house … a beautiful way to end the day.
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Alaska – Part 2

Next up is Skagway, and then our scenic tours into Glacier Bay and College Fjords (with a few other random pics from on the cruise ship thrown in)!

Skagway was such a quaint little town.

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Waiting for the others to finish shopping.
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Me and my love.
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My hot breakfast date.
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Glacier Bay National Park
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Warming up with coffee before heading back out
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Dad and Mom Herr
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Krista, me, and Kendra (my 2 sis in laws … excited to add another sis in law to the family in March ‘15!)
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We had amazing views.
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My hot lunch date.
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College Fjords
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Beautiful views every way you turned.
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Crazy thing is that it was almost 8 p.m. in these pics.
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Almost 11 p.m. and still light out!
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Formal night group shot
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Alaska – Part 1

This post is long overdue, but that is just the way it goes!  Being away for 2 weeks made our summer fly by even faster than it usually does, so there wasn’t much time for blogging. 
We had the amazing privilege of visiting Alaska for 2 weeks back in June/July with the adults in Brian’s family.  His parents are incredibly generous and are the ones who made this trip happen.  We spent a week on a cruise (with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, as well as scenic tours to Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjords) and then a week on land in a beautiful cabin on Big Lake.  Just a warning, this post (and the ones to follow) will be a little long because narrowing down 700+ pics to a few blog posts is tough.  Alaska is a gorgeous state!

Pulling out in Vancouver (As a side note, we barely made our connecting flight in Toronto because a passenger, who is afraid to fly, had a panic attack right before we took off. The airline had to remove her from the plane and then also remove her luggage before we could takeoff. As another side note, only Dad Herr would crack a joke to some folks in Toronto about staging a panic attack to delay the plane from taking off until we all made it there and then have them respond “actually, that women in Philly is a part of our group!” Thankfully they had a sense of humor and laughed.)
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Ketchikan
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Juneau
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Walking to find our hiking trail
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Brothers
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Hiking with a view like this is glorious.
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Our trail was buried in snow! We pressed on (after a vote, ha).
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This one was for our kids.
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At the end of our 7.5 mile hike we had a gorgeous view.

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We moved a little faster on the 7.5 miles back out (partially because certain members of our hike were a little unprepared to hike 15 miles with absolutely zero food in their backpacks!)
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At port in Juneau
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Summertime

Long time, no post!  Ever since we finished up school back in May I fell into “summer mode” and the blog appears to have done the same.  My summer “to-do” list is always longer than what I actually get to, but this year it was a blessing to cross off many of those random things that we wanted to get done.  We had numerous outdoor jobs that we wanted to get done including some yard work, mulching, and re-finishing the deck.  The big kids were a huge help with the deck (especially the many, many spindles).  It looks so much better than before!
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There are always things to do inside as well so we have been keeping plenty busy with random projects.  And as usual, small projects usually end up taking longer and are more involved than planned.  However, I’m grateful for a hubby who can do things himself!  Brian recently spent a weekend adding a central vac port to the garage which is a huge blessing to have primarily for cleaning out the van and car.  We also decided to rip off the carpet on the long step that goes down into the family room so that I can stain/paint it like I did with our other steps.  That project is still in the works since the wood underneath had a large crack in it.  Being the organizer that I am, summer always motivates me to re-organize things like the school room, closets, cabinets, drawers, and anything else that needs organized, so in my spare time I have been going through things.

Summer is also the perfect time to potty train.  Having now potty trained 5 kids, I am happy to be done with that season!  Aug 2013 (deck and Em potty) 003
In May we went to the Poconos for a long weekend with the Mellinger gang.  We were blessed to have perfect weather all 4 days and had a wonderful time.

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The cousins (minus Juliet) … these kiddos had a blast playing together.  It is crazy to think that by the end of the year there will be 2 more cousins (both of my married brothers have preggo wives) to add to the gang!  It is close to impossible to keep the cousins picture up to date in this family.

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Enjoying the water in early May … crazy kiddos!  Surprisingly, the water was actually fairly nice considering it was the first weekend in May, but like I said we had gorgeous weather in the upper 70’s.

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Callie and Lily enjoying some licorice outside.  These buddies played outside on the driveway with rocks for many, many hours.

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We took the older kiddos on a couple of hikes and to Boulder Field.

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In June we enjoyed a week out at Deep Creek Lake with the Herr gang!  We had a few rainy/cooler days, but on the nice days we were able to enjoy the lake and go for a hike.
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Both Hailey and Sydney took ballet this year and they both thoroughly enjoyed their recital.  Hailey was a feather (they danced to the feather song from Forrest Gump) and Sydney was a superhero ballerina (they danced to the Superman theme song)!
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The older kiddos all got to spend some time at both sets of grandparents this summer.  Those times are always a highlight for them, and we got to experience life with only little ones while they were away.  I always forget what those days were like until I experience them again.  I am always very grateful to get my big kids back home again and so are the little girlies!

Well, that about sums up the past few months for  us.  Hopefully I will be able to be a bit more regular with posting as we head into another school year.  To those who actually still follow and read my sporadic updates, thanks!