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!

SD Fair

(June 2018)

Do you hear that noise??? Nope neither do I, it is still, it is quiet….Both boys are in school right now and I am FINALLY taking some time to get caught up here! So here goes.

Growing up I have memories of going to the fair in my hometown every year.  I was also part of a dance team that performed at the fair, so most of the pictures are of me and friends in our dance costumes, eating cotton candy and riding on the rides.  We’ve gone to the fair several times over the years and it is getting more and more fun as the boys get older.  This year our window of time to go was pretty limited, since the boys had 2 weeks of Vacation Bible School, then we were leaving for Oregon and the fair would be over by the time we got back.  Unless we went on a weekend, which I can’t stand doing those kind of things during “peak” times.  So on a Friday, Justin was able to leave work early, and I ran to Costco to get the fair package tickets before picking up the boys from Vacation Bible School and we met at home and drove to the fair.

We wandered through the exhibits, the theme this year was “How Sweet It Is”.  It was all about how candy is made. We visited the cows, goats, sheep, llamas, chickens and other farm animals. And of course we spent lots of time in the Family Fun Zone where the boys (and mom and dad) enjoyed the rides.

Dylan’s favorite by far was the bumper cars.  Not sure if it was because he had control of the car or because this was the one time that it actually OK or encouraged that he keep “bumping” into his brother.

And Jacob’s favorite was the Bungee Jump.

Of course when he was done, Dylan wanted a turn.

Ontop of the sweets, we also ate fried food.

And on our way out we stopped in the arena to watch the monster trucks race around.  When the show was finished, one of the trucks was giving rides.  So daddy and Jacob hoped on the Monster Truck, which became Jacob’s other favorite thing about the fair.

It was a fun impromptu family date and I am so glad we made it work!

Sand and Sun

(August 2017)

I always say and I’m sure I’ve said it here a few times…It is worth every penny to live where we live.  We have beautiful weather, lots of fun things to do/explore, great schools, and of course the beach.  During the week, when we don’t have school or some other activity to do, one of our favorite things to do is pack up and go to the beach!

When I first looked at these pictures, after we got home, it hit me how much Jacob has grown, he looks like such a big boy.

This summer I got the boys some beach shovels, and they kept busy, digging to China.

Jacob loved digging a hole and watching it fill up when the waves came in.

Dylan loves being chased by the waves

I mean, look at that face…

Now if only I can figure out how to keep all the sand out of my car…

Second Stop – Las Vegas

(July 2017)

Instead of driving straight home after our adventure to Lake Mead, we went to visit our friends in Las Vegas.  We spent the next few days exploring some of the kid friendly activities they have on the strip.  First stop was the Las Vegas sign.  You can click here to see my post about a trip we took to Las Vegas when I was pregnant with Jacob, which includes a baby bump picture with the Las Vegas sign. 

We spent that day at the Shark Reef and Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.  Lots of cool things to see there!

Which included crocodiles…

And giant fish…

And of course sharks!

Another day we explored Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage.  They had beautiful tigers and lions

And the dolphins were really fun to watch!

One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is just walk around the casinos/hotels and look at all the shops and decor.  We did that for a bit and the boys were trying to find their way to the pool party 🙂

Afterwards our friends took us to one of their favorite places to eat. It was a fun restaurant with lots of games to keep the boys entertained and the food was fantastic!

We spent our late afternoons and evenings at the pool and enjoyed our time with our friends.  It was definitely a different kind of Las Vegas experience, and we learned that Vegas can be fun with kids!

First Stop – Lake Mead

(July 2017)

Most people would typically stay away from the hot desert areas in the middle of July when the temps are over 100…but when Justin’s cousin planned a family trip to their house in Meadview at Lake Mead we packed up the car and went!  To tell you the truth, I was really kind of dreading the heat, I wasn’t sure how the boys were going to do. But I was SO excited because it had been years since I’ve done any kind of boating.  That was such a big part of my childhood and I was excited for my boys to experience it too!

With plenty of activities, books, iPad, food and games we set off on our 6 hour car ride.  And the boys did great! We even got a simultaneous nap!

The last part of our drive looked a lot like this, for miles and miles and miles. Lots of beautiful desert scenery.

When we arrived, it felt so good to get out of the car and move around. The mountains that you see off the patio from the house is the start of the Grand Canyon.

We had two full days on the Lake which we pretty much spent in the water the entire time to stay cool.

Jacob and his cousins had fun riding the tube!

In the late afternoon the water around the beach area would warm up and was no longer refreshing, so we took a boat ride farther down the lake where the water was deeper and moving and we turned off the boat and just floated around.

Dylan was a trooper and knew that the boat rides were the perfect opportunity to catch a little nap.

And while little brother was napping, big brother was busy learning how to drive the boat!

One of the things I can remember my parents saying about our times on the lake/river was how nice it was to “unplug”. There were no TV’s, phones or work distractions.  All we had was books, games and each other to talk to.  These days I feel that is more important than ever. It was so fun to spend time with family that we don’t get to see very often, we were a group of 12 adults, 2 teenagers, 4 kids and 4 dogs and I really wish that we had taken a group photo. At least we got one of our family.

After a few days at the Lake, our trip didn’t end there, I’ll be back soon with the rest.

Strawberry Picking

Strawberries have always been a big favorite of mine.  The good ones, the ones that are packed with that yummy sweet flavor.  During the season we always make a weekly trip to the closest fruit stand to buy fresh strawberries.  And I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to go to the Strawberry fields in Carlsbad and this year (since I’m playing catch up…it was really last year, June 2017) we finally went.

 

The boys each got their own bucket and we set off into the field.  I let them choose which rows to go down and gave them a few tips about which strawberries to choose (avoid the under-ripe green ones and the over-ripe mushy ones) and showed them how to twist the strawberry to break it at the stem instead of pulling them off.  They quickly got the hang of it and like everything else, it became a competition on who could find the best strawberries.

It was a beautiful day and there were very few people there.  So we just took our time and walked around.

And whenever we find a hill, it must be climbed.

At the end of our time there, the bottom of the boys shorts and all our shoes were red from them falling, sitting and walking on the mushed up strawberries on the ground. But we were happy with all the yummy strawberries we had and will absolutely go back again!

Cowboys and Horses

It has kind of become a tradition once a year with my parents that we do a little photo shoot. It is definitely challenging with the kiddos who don’t sit still, let alone try to get them to look at the camera and smile, AND at the same time.  But we lucked out this year and got some good ones, thanks to daddy entertaining the boys while standing behind the camera.

And yes, food is another bribery technique.  However, it doesn’t always mean that the food won’t show up in the picture.  In this case we give you Grandma, Grandpa, Jane, Jacob, Dylan and a lovely pretzel in Dylan’s hand. But look at those smiles!

More pretzels…

And it wouldn’t be a cowboy photo shoot without a horse

It is going to be fun to put all these pictures side by side as the years go on.  We actually did not do much riding around with the horses this year, so on our last full day we saddled them up and rode around the arena. 

And Dylan grew into the vest and chaps that my parents got in Texas when Jacob was two years old.

Then it was time to go home.  We had a longish layover in Portland, so we made the best of it.

We did a lot of walking around, and riding the moving walkways back and forth.  And there’s a history behind the carpet at the Portland Airport, and I know lots of people who take pictures of their feet/shoes on the carpet to post on social media… Instead, I give you my overtired two year old rolling around on the carpet while waiting to board our plane.

Then, God heard my prayers again and Dylan slept the entire flight from Portland to San Diego!

That is a wrap on our 2017 Oregon vacation. It was such a fun trip and I can’t wait for next year!

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