Gone Campin’

This past weekend we went to a truly beautiful campsite. It was over 2 hours away from our house so it was our first “official” camping trip. I don’t even know how to express how amazing the weekend was. The weather was perfect, the company was perfect. There was a playground for the kids to spend some time swinging and making new friends. We hiked, we laughed, we loved. It.was.perfect.

Our bed. A Queen air mattress. Judge if you must.

Our brood’s set up.

The set up. Did I mention we had the best campsite?

Tariku helped whip up some mac and cheese for one of our lunches.

Z helped dish it out.

There was some light reading by the fire.

Saturday Zach and the kiddos decided they wanted to do some major fishing. So first, he had to give some casting lessons.

The fishermen/woman.

I dislike fishing (bor-ing) so I thought I should probably bring my chair and books. I read a little, dozed a little. mmmm. Bliss.

Not sure I could love this picture more. Tariku was further to the left, he didn’t fit in the frame.

The catch of the day. No joke.

Doozie was over it after a handful of minutes. She became my little buddy who would wake me up if someone got a nibble on their line.

Oh, and she sucked on a blue sucker. That matched her eyes.

This guy was the next to quit fishing. Dang he’s cute.

After getting back to the site and a snack we decided it was time for a hike.

We found some cool looking berries and other plants.

We I took a lot of pictures of the kids.

Trysten turned the camera on us (side note: how camper-ish do I look right now? Yup, all about the socks and shoes.)

Whenever we go on walks Tomas is constantly evaluating sticks. He takes forever to pick out the perfect stick. I asked him about it this weekend. Apparently he would do that in Ethiopia. He’d pick the perfect stick to put on his back to help him carry 2 jugs of water. At 4 years old.

On our way back we found this perfect log.

We tried to get them to jump off at the same time with no luck. So I had to show them how to do it.

Their attempt.

Zach’s turn.

The twins.

Binyam loves him some pop. Loves it.

Saturday night was one of the best nights of my life. I can’t even explain why. We spoiled the kids with as many chips, s’mores and pop they could handle. Oh my. So. Fun. Zach was, in a word, manly. So hot.

I developed a love of knives. Zach realized he kind of liked my newfound love of knives. He also liked my new tattoo.

They were loving it.

His favorite way to prepare beans.

My dinner. Veggie burgers, fresh tomatoes, onions. mmmmm.

S’mores. I was in so much bliss I didn’t even notice…

What can I say? Like mother, like son.

If you don’t already, you need to do this with your family. We put away the cell phones, all of the other distractions. We just spent time with each other. The kids literally cried when I told them it was time to go. Can’t wait to do it again.

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This is how much I love the man behind the camera.

My boys. I love them so much. So, so much.

I became a leeeeetle obsessed with the gray background.

There are no words for the amount of love I have in my heart for this guy.

The girls

I’m really in love with this picture. Because you can tell we are waiting on something. On our man who completes the picture in every single way.

Me as matriarch

The people I love more than life itself squeezed into one little picture. Blessed.

Family Pics 2011

Today we set out for parts unknown to try to capture good pictures of the family. I look forward to this time of year every year because I actually really enjoy photography. Also, I really love our family. Those two things makes these few hours a lot of fun. Zach actually does much of the picture taking. My responsibilities typically include choosing clothes, location, overall look, etc. This is one reason Zach and I make a pretty remarkable team. And our kids? Fuggettaboutit. Way too cute.

Our babes…

Circus

Saturday Papa Frank bought us tickets to the 200th anniversary of Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers Circus. It was Tomas and Binyam’s first time at the circus, which is always fun.

Tariku was literally on the edge of his seat the entire time.

Trysten was just waking up from his nap. He still plays with his hair when he’s tired…even during the Star Spangled Banner.

Dailah, who is facially expressive as it is, did not disappoint.

Tomas (no picture) smiled in awe, looked from adult to adult with eyes so big. He loved it.

Binyam, as mentioned previously, was over it almost just as soon as it started. Mimi Terre saved the day with some snuggles and hand ear muffs. It didn’t appear that he minded the treatment in the least.

Circus was good. I’m over the animals, can we just lose those all together please? The feats of strength, the flexibility and balance? Loved it.

Happy Birthday Binyam!

On August 31st our Binyam turned 5. Since I took kind of a self imposed hiatus from electronics lately (you notice?) I have just one picture from his day. Horrible.

But for breakfast he wanted donuts. So donuts he got. Chocolate, with chocolate milk to drink.

For lunch he wanted cereal. Chocolate puffs. So more chocolate he got.

For dinner he wanted (or his older siblings told him he wanted…tough to say) Casey’s pizza. Sausage and pepperoni for the kids. Cheese for the adults.

Aunt Kait called on Skype to sing our birthday boy a sweet sweet song.

Just thinking about this boy brings tears to my eyes.

He is sweet, he is funny, he is tough and loving. He is strong and smart and beautiful and full of life and joy.

The last few weeks while his older siblings were at school Binyam and I have been hanging out a lot. His language development has flourished, his confidence in his verbal abilities has gotten much stronger. It has been so fun to see him make huge strides in such a short amount of time.

Binyam gets over stimulated really easily. At his birthday he was virtually in a comatose state, the same could be said at the circus we went to a few days ago. I think so much of it has to do with his ability to feel. This guy runs around as if he isn’t wearing any skin. I love that about him, but it also makes it quite clear that he is vulnerable all of the time. Which is super hard as a parent.

Binyam starts school tomorrow. I’m going to miss all of our time together. But I’m thrilled for him. He’ll be in an environment that is ripe for learning, that knows exactly which needs of Binyam’s need met. I’m so excited for him.

Truly though, I learn so much from this little guy. If I can re-train myself to treat each moment with as much love and joy as he does, my life will be as big of a testament to love as his is. And that’s saying something huge.

Love you, Binyam-ay.