Halloween 2018

(October 2018)

With Jacob being in school full time now, we didn’t have much time to do all the fun pumpkin patch activities we usually do every year. So on a Saturday before Halloween we all went to the local pumpkin patch.  The boys fed the goats and we got lost in the Corn Maze before choosing a couple pumpkins to take home.

Keeping up with tradition, the boys changed into some old Halloween costumes to carve the pumpkins in.  This year we had Darth Vader and a Storm trooper.

Then we got started

Cleaning out the insides is never a favorite…

And Jacob was being very helpful with his brother

And then quickly became the supervisor

Finally getting the last of the insides out!

Time to carve!

They told daddy they wanted a scary one and a SUPER scary one.  Once they approved daddy’s drawings, they watched him sketch it out on the pumpkin.

And I got out paint so they could decorate the smaller pumpkins we had.

And of course Penny wanted in on the fun too

Then they changed into their costumes for this year.  And immediately went into action calling for backup to help keep the dog from chewing on the pumpkins.

And these may look like some simple firefighter costumes, but I assure you they are not… here is a little backstory.  My nephew is a fire fighter in the Air Force, so they’ve always called him a fire fighter soldier, and they also wanted to be an astronaut.  Thanks to Amazon, I ordered an Air Force patch and a NASA patch and sewed them onto their fire fighter jackets.  So here are my “Fire Fighter Soldier/Astronauts” with their scary and SUPER scary pumpkins.

They took their role seriously!

My cousin is also a local fire fighter, and the boys have really enjoyed visiting him at the fire house a few times.  So to complete the costumes I called him to find out where I could get some SDFD shirts.

And extra credit points to those of you who noticed that Jacob’s pants were on backwards!

A couple days later on Halloween, I went with Jacob’s class on a field trip to Bates Nut Farm. That evening, Tante Heidi and Uncle Andy came over for a pizza dinner before we met up with neighborhood friends to go trick and treating.

So thankful for all these cute, silly neighborhood friends!

Meet Penny

(September 2018)

If you know me, you know I am a dog person.  Not really a fan of cats (except for my parents barn cat, Missy, coolest cat I’ve ever met).  When we had to put our last dog down, I was not ready to get another dog since I was 6 months pregnant with Dylan and we were starting to look around for a new house and I knew I wouldn’t have time for a dog.  Fast forward 3.5 years…even though we are still not done with the work around our house, the major things are done and even though our lives are pretty busy and it never seems like a good time to get a dog, it felt like it finally WAS a good time to get a dog.

We knew we wanted to get a Labradoodle and I had spent lots of time researching breeders and talking with other Labradoodle owners. We settled on which breeder we were going with and told them we would be ready after we came back from our trip to Oregon.  The day after we got home, the breeder called me and told me there was a litter that was due to be born on July 17th and would be ready to come home mid-Septemeber.  The litter would be the color we wanted (reds/caramels) and the size we wanted (standard) so we put a deposit down and waited.  The boys were SO excited and kept asking every day when we could go pick up the puppy and we started talking over some names.  Over the next couple of months the breeder would email us updates on the puppies and a few pictures. This is a picture of the 6 females she sent when they were 6 weeks old.

A week before the litter was ready to come home, we went to meet the puppies and choose which one would be ours.  We knew we wanted a female (I need another girl in this house!) Of the 6 females, we had our pick of 4 (one was already taken and the breeder was keeping one).  It was so much fun sitting in the middle of the puppies and playing with them and letting them crawl all over us and lick us, the boys thought it was pretty great too!  Right away we knew one would not be a good fit for us since she was a very timid and kept hiding behind me and I felt like our energy level with the two boys would be too much for her.  And there was one that seemed to be the other extreme, she was very hyper and all over the place, so that narrowed it down to two.  The puppies did not have names, they were identified by the color of their collar.  At this point we were looking at Orange and Red.  Both dogs were so sweet, lots of fun, had great personalities and really interacted well with the boys and us and it was REALLY HARD to decide.  That’s when we started looking at the size.  The mom of the litter was a full standard and the dad was a large medium.  Red was more on the smaller size and would be a medium sized dog, Orange took after her mother and would be a small standard.  We knew we wanted a bigger dog so that was how we chose Orange.  After the decision was made, they took our first family photo.

In the car on the way home after picking out Orange, we talked over names again.  At this point the boys had narrowed it down to 2 names: Skye (from the cartoon Paw Patrol) and Penny (a name of a pup in the movie 101 Dalmatians).  So when we left I asked them which name they wanted and all of us liked Penny the best.  Then I was thinking about it, pennies are a coppery/orange color and we choose the Orange dog so it was meant to be!

The following weekend, Justin took the boys to Jacob’s soccer game and my aunt and I drove back to pick up Penny and bring her home. We all met back at our house and spent the rest of the day playing with Penny.

Penny absolutely LOVES the water! We are always filling up her water bowl because she keeps putting her front paws in it and splashing and playing with all the water, there’s nothing left to drink. Anytime we get the hose out to water the plants, she runs in the water spray and keeps “biting” water as it comes out.  And she is totally content when getting a bath.  I can’t wait to take her to the beach!

Jacob’s teacher had asked me to send a picture of Penny after we brought her home.  So I sent her these and she put them up on the big screen in the classroom and Jacob got to tell his classmates all about Penny.  It made his day!

In Dylan’s opinion “having a dog is awesome!”

These two are two little peas in a pod.

We have been pretty much home bound until she finishes all of her puppy shots. One day I dug out my old baby carrier and put her inside and went for a walk around the neighborhood with the boys.  I was only able to do that a few more times before she got too big, so then I started using the stroller. Just a couple more weeks until we can go on a real walk!

She does like riding in the car with me when I go to drop off/pick up the boys from school.  It makes for a very loud entertaining car ride when all 3 of them are in the backseat.

We often say we should have called her grumble butt, because when she is sleeping she will stretch or roll over and she lets out this loud grumble that sounds just like Chewbacca!

Before we brought Penny home we were in a good groove, with the boys new school schedule and no major home projects going on.  We were comfortable and started having time to do more fun things, we had some good babysitters so Justin and I were able to get out more often, then we got Penny….and life instantly got chaotic again!  It is a lot like having another newborn in the house and starting all over again.  But it is so worth it!  While I was growing up, we always had dogs as part of our family, and I love that the boys will too.  It is so fun seeing the boys run around with her and our trainer has taught the boys lots of fun “games” they can play with her that are teaching the boys and Penny good behavior traits.

And those razor sharp puppy teeth have put holes in lots of pajamas, t-shirts and shorts.

And when she is calm she likes to lay in front of the gate in our backyard and watch the gardeners and golfers go by.

And she knew when she would nap under the couch she was safe from the boys.  Now she is too big to fit under there, but she still lays next to the couch and sticks her head under.

If I am being honest, life with two young boys and a puppy is absolutely insane and exhausting.  But she is the perfect addition to our family and we love her and I wouldn’t change it for anything!

Around the Ranch

(July 2018)

Okay, I’m attempting to wrap up the rest of our time in Oregon, so this may be a bit of a long one…

Even though the reunion events were really just two full days, it was nice that some families came a couple days earlier, and some families stayed a couple days later.  So I feel like we got to spend time with everyone.  After the 4th pretty much everyone left, except for 2 family camps.  And as a parent of young children, the beauty of our set up was we didn’t have to entertain our kids all day long. They all got along so well and they had plenty to do to keep busy. They played in the arena, they went to the pond to catch frogs, they hiked up the hill behind the barn to find turkey feathers, they flew kites and played games and had snacks together and I felt like I could really sit down and do nothing.  Which is exactly what we did that day.  We sat in the shade and talked, we set up two marble board games and and played all afternoon, we moved the tables and chairs to the front porch and had our meals together.  It really felt like vacation!

The next day, we drove up to the fish hatchery and had a picnic lunch and explored the area.

And Jacob has really taken an interest in taking pictures with my phone. And these two that he snapped are pretty good!

Before we left we went into the small museum they have and I couldn’t resist taking the boys picture in front of the fish tank, to compare to the last time we were here two years ago when Dylan was just learning how to walk!

Making “fish faces”

Then it was back to the ranch for some more marble games before they left the next day for the rest of their camping adventure.

We still had a few days left at the ranch. We went on a few shopping trips to check out the new Tractor Supply store that just opened, and Cabelas and we found a local brewery for our lunch stop.

When we got back to the ranch, I was realizing that I was taking more pictures with my phone rather than my camera.  It obviously is more convenient than carrying around a heavy camera, and I was too busy just enjoying the moments over the last few days that I didn’t want to leave to go get my camera so I kept pulling out my phone to snap pictures.  And yes, the recent models of cell phones do have some pretty great cameras, but I also know that nothing beats the quality of a picture taken with a good camera. And while that may not matter to most, it is a passion of mine.  So back at the ranch, I got my camera and we set off for the arena to play.  The boys got these pop guns at Cabelas so Jacob was pretending to shoot the bad guys and working on his bull riding technique.

And they were being silly on the swing.

My dad and Justin were busy cutting up the logs on the hill behind the barn.  I love our mantle so much, Justin started making some shelves for our bathroom with one of the logs.  So my mom and I filled up the back of the cart with hay, loaded up the boys and drove out to the hay field to feed the cows.

After we finished, we drove up the hill to my parents neighbors house to say hi.  The boys love being out on the ranch, doing their chores and riding and driving all the equipment, I am so glad they get to have this experience.

And this one is always in his happy place with the dog.

Then we went up the hill behind the barn to see the logs that the guys cut up which turned into another hunt for turkey feathers.

And I love taking pictures back at the house from up here

And Justin made some walking sticks with all the turkey feathers the boys collected along with the big sticks they found.

We met up with my parents friends for breakfast one morning and went back to their house afterwards so the boys could play on their tractor bikes like they like we’ve done every year for the past few years.

After they took turns climbing on all the equipment and riding the tractors, we went back to the ranch.  My dad and Justin kept working on the shelves and made some new marble boards.

And this little monkey got his tree climbing fix in

And we played around in the barn after feeding the horses.  I love these silly boys of mine!

And for the reminder of our time, we played the marble game on the new boards!

And that is a wrap on this year’s Oregon adventure!

St Paul Rodeo

(July 2018)

The morning of the 4th of July, we all piled into our cars and drove to St. Paul for their big 4th of July Rodeo and Carnival.  We got there with some time to spare, so we had some fun at the carnival.

And explored the rodeo grounds on our way to our seats.

The kids all sat together, and all the boys agreed that their favorite part was the Rodeo Clown.

The adults enjoyed the show too.

When the rodeo was over we had to walk through part of the carnival to get back to our car, that is when we found the mechanical bull! Jacob said he wanted to do it, so we signed him up and he went for it.

Then Dylan said he wanted to do it, so we signed him up and he had to wait for a couple people to have their turn before his.  And the boy before him was older and was actually one of the participants in the rodeo with his number still pinned on the back of his shirt.  So the man operating the bull gave him a wild ride since he knew he could handle it.  And next in line Dylan was watching wide-eyed.  When the older boy got bucked off, the operator ran the bull as fast as it would go with no one on his back.  When he was done, he looked at Dylan and said, OK your turn…Justin put him up on the bull and he was not having it and wanted down.  Since we already paid, I asked Jacob if he wanted another turn and he said yes, so he got to go twice, and loved it!

On our way home we stopped at our favorite pizza place, Track Town Pizza in Eugene for dinner.  We pretty much took over the entire place!

When we got back to the ranch, several of the families started packing up their “camp” since they would be leaving early the next day.  The sun had started setting and the clouds were beautiful that evening.

After we got all the kiddos to bed, we did what we had been doing every night since the family started arriving, sitting around the tables lit up with camplights, with our drinks and talking and laughing until it was way too late.

It was a really fun time together as family and I look forward to what our next reunion will bring!

Herbst Family Roundup

(July 2018)

On the morning of July 3rd, we all got dressed in our reunion shirts, had breakfast and started our day together on the ranch.  My parents had some belt buckles made so I rounded up the guys to get a picture of them wearing them.

And since you can’t really see the belt buckle in these pictures, here it is. My dad’s brand of the C in the house is a a slight modification from his fathers brand.

Then Justin set up the rockets and all the kids got a turn pushing the button to blast them off.

We saddled up the horses again and rode around in the arena, we played games, and we sat around and talked and caught up with each others lives.

Family is family. You can’t choose your family. No family is perfect. And it does take an effort to stay connected in the busyness of life, regardless if you live in the same city or several states away.  I have learned over the years that we have been blessed with a wonderful family.  Leading up to this family roundup, when I would tell people that we were all going up to Oregon to spend a few days together, I did get some positive responses, but also had many people look at me funny and say “Ugh, that sounds awful” or “I couldn’t stand to be with my family that long” and a few others along those lines.  That makes me sad.  I have many fun memories with my family growing up and I am so thankful that we continue to make the effort to come together and be a part of each others lives.  And a big reason why we are so close is because of my grandparents.  Being that they were part of the greatest generation, they really valued family, faith and hard work.  They have passed those values down in the generations of our family.  They were present in our lives, always brought the family together to celebrate holidays, special occasions and we took many family vacations together.  Now they are both gone, and our family continues to make an effort to get together, to connect and catch up.  Unfortunately, this year there were a few that could not make it due to work/school commitments, and they were missed.  But 37 of us made a pretty good group!

And I know that Oma and Opa were smiling down on us and celebrating along side us. And I thank them for starting this big silly family.

Oma and Opa’s 4 kids

And with their spouses

The Christensen Family

And there were several of us taking pictures of all the great grandkids on Rene’s (Oma) Roost.

And when I saw the one that my Aunt took, my eyes filled with tears and it was another confirmation that Oma and Opa were with us looking over their great grandkids.

And for being good for the family photos I rewarded the kids with popsicles.

In the late afternoon we did a big potluck dinner, and had cake to celebrate the littlest family member, Austin, turning 3 years old.  Eating birthday cake and chatting with cousins.

I wonder what they were talking about?

After our tummies were full, some of my parents friends arrived, one who is a Cowboy Poet.  He provided us with some after dinner entertainment that was very much enjoyed by all.

And before the day came to an end, we had a big water balloon fight! The kids were tired, happy and completely soaked from head to toe, so then it turned into bedtime.

It was a long fun day and it didn’t end there, I’ll be back with more!

Oregon 2018

(June/July 2018)

This year my parents hosted a family reunion at their ranch in Oregon on July 3rd-4th.  So we planned our two week trip up there to overlap with the reunion dates.  The first few days after we arrived, we were busy with shopping at Costal to stock up on new shirts, boots, belts, gloves and other ranch necessities.  The girls made the rounds to Costco and the grocery store to stock up on groceries.  The guys were busy setting up the different swings and bucking bull in the area for the kids to play on.

Dylan was busy breaking in the pile of pea gravel that was delivered for the kids to play with.

And Jacob would not let us forget to make a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. So we made that a priority first thing one morning before heading to the Hobby Store to get some rocket engines and other fun things.

We rode around on the horses.

We put up 4th of July decorations all around the ranch.

Did a little bit of target practice.

Then little by little more and more family started arriving over the next few days.

The pea gravel pile was popular in the mornings.

The kiddos got a turn riding the horses.

We spent time visiting.

And eating (or painting faces with) popsicles.

And grandpa took the kids for a ride in the hay fields through the herd of cows.

Pretty soon everyone had arrived and the ranch was an official campsite!

Time to get this party started!

This is THREE!

(May 2018)

Dylan’s birthday celebrations pretty much lasted a week!  The weekend before his birthday on Cinco De Mayo, we had a birthday party.  Dylan loves to jump and play in bounce houses, so we knew we had to get one for his party.  The best part is they deliver it early in the day, so we have it for the boys to play in for a few hours before the party even starts.

This is my kid who really has an interest in Superheros.  His favorite by far is Hulk, then Batman, then Spiderman. So Superheros was the theme of the party and we all wore our Superhero shirts.

His cake had Hulk smashing through a brick wall on top

Now when you ask him how old he is, he holds up 3 fingers and says “I’m this number.”  You have to ask him what that number is, then he will say “Three!”

We also had a Batman pinata, which is always a hit with the kids.

And Nonie supplied the Spiderman balloon

Another favorite is always the cake!

And after cake, we opened the gate out to the golf course to let the kids run free. And while the kids were playing and burning off their sugar high, the moms settled down at the edge of the sandtrap to chat.

And we stayed there until it got dark.  It was a really fun day for the kids and parents too!

That week at school, Dylan’s class had a dance party to celebrate his birthday and he got a birthday crown from his teachers.  The morning of his birthday, he put on his crown and asked for waffles for breakfast.

Later that morning we met some friends at the park to ride bikes and play.  When Dylan started telling me “my body is growling” that led to lunch at one of Dylan’s favorite places In-N-Out!

The following week, he had his 3 year old check up.  He passed his vision and hearing tests.  He is growing like a weed and is now 3 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 34 lbs 10 oz. And here is his 3 year old picture with the giraffe and woolly mammoth.

Time needs to slow down…

This is FIVE!

(January 2018)

The night before his birthday Jacob kept reminding me all night long that we needed to decorate his door for his birthday.  I kept telling him that if he helped me do it, it wouldn’t be a surprise, which is what it is supposed to be.  But this kid doesn’t forget anything, he remembers that we decorated his door last year and wants to be sure it will happen again this year.  After we finally got the boys to sleep, we decorated his door.  And he was a happy boy when he woke up.

For breakfast that morning, he requested waffles with a scoop of ice cream ontop.

And this year Jacob decided he wanted to go to Legoland for his birthday.  So on his actual birthday we just had a small pizza and cake party with some of his close friends.

We had planned to go to Legoland the following Tuesday, and a few days prior when we were preparing to go, we looked at their website to find out some information and realized that during the “off season” they are closed on Tuesdays. So then we pushed it to a couple days later, and when that day came, it was pouring down rain…so we planed to go the following week and due to some construction commitments and sickness, we had to postpone it again. The following week, we FINALLY made it to Legoland!

He’s so excited to be 5 years old!

We had so much fun riding the rides (Dylan had his first official roller coaster experience on the Coastersaurus!)

And it doesn’t seem like Jacob is enjoying this roller coaster in the picture, but he really loved it so much he went on it 3 times in a row!

All the LEGO creations were pretty amazing too!

And before we left, we had to get one more group picture so the boys could show off their swords.

Legoland was a blast!  Especially for my 5 year old LEGO master.

And here is his yearly picture with his elephant and giraffe.

The Mantle

I know I keep saying I’m going to blog about all the renovations/projects we did, are doing and will be doing on our house…and I really want to, someday.  But in the meantime, I am going to talk about our fireplace mantle.

When we bought our house the fireplace was a boring beige brick.

When we did our initial renovation of the main house we covered up the brick with plaster to create a blank canvas and left it until things settled down a bit after our move to finish up.

A year went by and we had the time and figured out what we wanted to do with our fireplace. We made a trip to Whitewater Rock Supply with my dad and picked out some stone for the hearth.

Then with the help of friends and the boys, we installed the stone to cover the fireplace. And that is how it looked for another year.

I had asked for a mantle by Christmas 2016 to hang our stockings on.  After looking around, we found a really cool reclaimed wood place that had what we wanted.  But yikes!! It was really pricey.  So we did some research online to come up with some other ideas to explore, etc…Needless to say, I didn’t get it by Christmas 2016.  But I did hang our stockings up with tape.

One day Justin said, what if we made one from one of the logs on your parents property.  That way we could kind of customize it and it would make a good story to tell!  I was on board with that idea, but didn’t think it would actually happen.  One day while we were on our trip to Oregon in June 2017, my dad got on his tractor and Justin grabbed the chainsaw and recruited me, my mom and the boys.  We all walked up the hill behind the barn and picked out a section of one of the giant trees that fell down a few years ago.

Justin cut the log and my dad carried it back down the hill with the tractor.

The following day, Justin spent the entire day shaping the log with the chainsaw and smoothing it out with the planer and now we had this really cool mantle!

The boys approve!

I love that they have a wishbone in this picture, since this mantle was a big wish of mine, I doubt it was what they were wishing for though…

Then we had to leave it at the ranch until my parents drove back down to California in the fall. But that was fine with me, because fall comes before Christmas, which means I got it up in time for Christmas 2017.

And it is the best Christmas present I’ve ever received and totally worth the wait!

Christmas 2017

(December 2017)

Since Christmas Eve was on a Sunday, our church held services in the morning as well as the evening.  We had family coming that afternoon for Christmas Eve, so it worked out perfect for us to go to the morning service.

Afterwards our family came together and we had our German feast, exchanged presents and enjoyed our time together.  This was the only time I did bring out my camera to take some family pictures.

So blessed to have such a great family!

And on Christmas morning, the boys were completely spoiled with so many presents.  But I think the winner was the firefighter costumes.

And that is a wrap on Christmas, until next year!