Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cousin Time Part I

The day after the wedding we headed into Anchorage (again!) to spend some time with my Mom's side of the family. My cousin, Alison, was in Alaska and I hadn't seen her in almost five years so we really wanted to get together. I think we managed to get all of the 2nd cousins in one picture - except Cason - the only boy - who was safely snuggled in a Baby Bjorn during picture time. We gave him a pass this time! We met at a park for lunch.....

My Mom & her sisters - they all live in Alaska.

My cousin, Alison's two girls, Alayna & Autumn. Autumn (the younger one was showing the older one up in my Mom's golf toss game!).

Alayna was organizing a rock race. The race was between Ohio State (the 'bad' guys) and Michigan (the 'good' guys). I asked her about Oregon State and she gave me a blank stare. At least we agree on the 'bad' guys!

Ella Bella sliding...she did a spinning spread eagle face plant on her next trip down....poor kid!

The plushest swings ever! These were like recliners! We think they might be used for kids with disabilities at the elementary school - they had places for straps. All of the girls loved them!

The men headed out for a round of disc golf. Shortly after they left the weather turned from somewhat sunny to overcast and windy so all of the women huddled up by the school and drank hot chocolate & coffee.

Little Miss Autumn - she is super sweet and social! It was fun to get to meet her for the first time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The BIG Day

Friday, August 5, was the BIG day. The wedding day! It was also a crazy day. The wedding was at 7 pm so we were getting little girls ready & then entertaining them (and containing their excitement) all day. Since both Allison & I were in the wedding I didn't have my camera out nearly as much as I would have liked but here is a small glimpse of the day. My friend, Lu, came to do hair - and did side buns for both of the little girls to match the bridesmaids.

Auntie Brittney with her girls. I think she enjoyed the attention!

Do you think they could get any cuter?

We made a bit of a mistake in practice...they walked up and down the aisle multiple times (or rather ran). Ella 'got it' that she was supposed to stay up front but Allison made a run for it back down the aisle just after the wedding started. Thankfully my Dad caught her before she made it past the front row! We'll know better for next time when Allison gets to be a flower girl in February at Mr. Brent's wedding.

My Aunt Pam packed us a meal. We were very grateful. This little girl had her schedule really thrown off and were were glad we could feed her and keep her going.

Auntie Brittney and her little date. Yup, he made sure he had some time with her, too!

Have I mentioned these two were a bit wiggly? They kept Auntie Brittney's hands FULL!

Hannah had decorated the lodge with all these balls. I thought they were pretty and I took way too many pictures trying to get a decent shot!

What little girls do at weddings!

By the end of the night I finally made my way to the back of the reception hall and found these three ladies. I love these women. They make an Alaska trip worth the effort every time. I didn't get to see any of them nearly long enough - but I did see each of them in the week following and I was so thankful. God has definitely blessed me with long standing friendships - even though our time is short - we still have a fun with every moment we are together!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Donuts & Dogs

After our hike in the mountains we headed to 'town' (a.k.a. Anchorage) for the beginning of the wedding festivities with the rehearsal & rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal went smoothly, other than the wind....which thankfully was gone by the next evening! The flower girls practiced running down the aisle and all was well.

The world's cutest flower girls! All ready to go!

After much deliberation my Mom decided to rent the Hilltop Ski Chalet for the rehearsal dinner which enabled extra decorating and practice time. But that meant she had to figure out something for dinner there...she decided on Donuts and Dogs....very fitting for my little bro!

The Stamoolis clan came and grilled our gourmet dogs. They made it a family affair, all three boys came along including Kaleb, the middle one, demonstrating the best way to eat a hot dog above. They also made some very yummy caramelized onions.

And then it was time for dessert - donuts. Pretty much Keeton's favorite food, I think! Our local donut shop made a lot of donuts and Mom made these donut 'cakes.' I will note -the one that was the most eaten at the end of the night was at the table of the groom & groomsmen!

Kaleb ate his donut and didn't leave a crumb behind. Just a frosting smear or two!

The flower girls with Auntie Brittney. These girls love their Auntie Brittney. And neither is too keen on sharing her!

So, after practicing up and then filling up with hot dogs and donuts we all headed home to get ready for the big day ahead!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Break in the Mountains

We took a break from the wedding festivities to have a little adventure. It looked like there was a break in the weather up in Hatcher Pass one day so we ventured up with my cousin and his family. The break in the weather turned out to be just about everywhere except Hatcher Pass but we still had a great time. We were glad we just went that day, we never had another opportunity to go up there!

Kep & Rachel took us on a fun little hike, great for kiddos. Allison wasn't able to do much of it so she rode in a backpack. Uncle Kep even gave her a ride for a bit.

Uncle Teag had just arrived in town and joined us. He & Noah love hanging out as the 'second borns!'

There is a cute little mining cabin part way up. The kids liked running around it. Rachel loaded them up with snacks on the way up and down! Savannah is only a 3-year-old but she was able to hike most of the way up and down. I was so proud of her! Someday when she takes the lead her brothers are going to have a hard time catching up!

Kep & his boys. Both of which are awesome hikers!

Noah slipped at one point and left a long skid mark. I asked if I could take a picture of him with his skid mark. He was a little shy but let me do it anyhow!

Parker is such a mountain goat! He climbs all over the place! Allison was always trying to keep track of him. Here he was walking on rocks in the stream to send pieces of wood down river.

Ah yes, that is our girl, dressed a little goofy for hiking but that was just how the day worked out. I actually didn't have her warm enough at first, when we got to the lake at the top I added several layers. That made her look a little puffy! I don't have many pictures from the top - it was windy & drizzly so we didn't stay long.

Parker the mountain goat slipped and one of his legs landed in the lake up at the top. He had a nice little cut, too. Here he is waiting to have it doctored up before heading home.

It was a fun little adventure to break up the wedding festivities and to give Allison a chance to get outside and run around a bit. And she got to enjoy some time with some special cousins she doesn't get to see very often!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Beginning of the Festivities

The main reason for our trip to Alaska was to attend my little brother's wedding. We arrived just in time for the wedding festivities to begin. The morning after we flew in my whole family headed into Anchorage for a 'Bridesmaid's Tea.' All the women in my family & Hannah's family and her bridesmaids met up at a lovely bed & breakfast on the hillside for tea. My Mom tried to find a tea house in Anchorage but struck out. Instead she found this little place, owned and operated by an Irish (or Scottish, I can't remember!) woman. The tea was a lot of fun. Allison still talks about the 'Tea Patty' - even though she's been out to tea this time really left an impression on her.

Hannah, the beautiful bride-to-be - now my newest sister!

The 'savory' platter!

And the 'sweet' platter. My friend, Jodi, and I are convinced the men in our lives would love tea parties if they would just give them a try. How can your turn down a platter like the one above?

Ella and her sugar cubes!

Allison getting some quality time with Auntie Sarah. It had been a long time!

Eventually the girls were bored with the tea party so they settled down to watch a movie. And yes, Ella is taking pictures of the movie. She recently learned how to operate a camera and Sarah finds all sorts of crazy pictures on there now! Including about 30 of the movie Tangled...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where to Begin?

We were gone on vacation to Alaska for almost two weeks. I took a lot of pictures in those two weeks. I managed to get the best of them uploaded on Facebook and then have been avoiding our home computer. I've been working on a programming project at work and that means a lot of time at a PC. I figured it was about time I sit down and do some catch-up on the blog. When I was trying to figure out which Alaska adventure to begin with, though, I realized I still had pictures from before vacation that hadn't been put on the blog. So here are some things we did in late July..... My strawberry plants are still producing. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since the variety we planted is supposed to produce all summer. This means we're still eating strawberry waffles. We love strawberry waffles in this house!

It just so happened that our local berry farm opened their 'Spartan' blueberries for 'U-pick' on a Friday I had planned to take off with Allison. So we went blueberry picking. I was not prepared for the combat berry picking we observed. Nothing like middle-aged women in their Toyota Priuses making sure they get the best berries! Good thing we were just there for fun and to get some to eat. I had already bought and frozen many blueberries to get us through the winter! You can see my berry bucket above. These berries are seriously amazing. They are huge. And sweet. Like grapes only tastier. Not good for baking but they are a seriously yummy snack food!

Allison started out as a good picker. Then she realized what she was picking and that was the end of putting berries in her bucket, she ate them all. I had to take a picture of her bucket before we left. I did not stage this - she had 3 berries in her bucket. Just like Little Sal in Blueberries for Sal. Pretty cute!

The same day we went blueberry picking we had planned to go to Eugene to visit my friend, Melissa. But I decided we shouldn't do that. I decided this as I was laying on my back in my driveway after my bike, rack, car & garage got the best of me. It is a long story that I'm too proud to share here. I did tell the story to my friend, Melissa, however, and she zipped up to visit me instead. And she brought her cutie patootie, Jonathon along. He played in the pool. And I think Allison thought he was a pet. She liked to walk around the pool and play with him!

And we ended July with a trip to one of our favorite restaurants, Big River. We even took Allison with us. She was very lady-like for dinner and afterwards we let her play in the fountain park. I had forgotten a swimsuit so she played in her skirt. And she was in the water more than she had ever been. I guess putting a swimsuit on makes her want to stay dry. It was a beautiful evening and we are so thankful for pleasant summer evenings to play together.

.....and that is the end of our July. Up next on this blog will be all the things we did in Alaska (there are quite a few!). Hopefully I'll be up to speed before we get to August!