Crater Lake

Unfortunately, we didn’t leave Lassen National Park until late afternoon. I was mistaken on how long it was going to take us to get to Crater Lake, our next stop. We didn’t pull in to Crater Lake until 9 pm. It was (obviously) dark. It was freezing cold. It had just stopped raining, so everything was wet. And what was worse, my husband had flown home after we left Yosemite, so we had to set up camp without him (for the first time), in the dark and wet and cold. The kids were big helps, but let me tell you that when that tent was up and the sleeping bags were spread, we were a very happy bunch to crawl into our sleeping bags. We also learned to appreciate that we have good sleeping bags, because of the cold. In spite of all of that, or maybe because of all of it, we slept like tops.

The next morning was still cold, but we got up early, tore things down, ate in a hurry, and headed out to see what Crater Lake looked like (and to pick up our Junior Ranger Books at the Ranger Station.) We were not disappointed.

Photography at Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

Zippy (age 13) at Crater Lake

Baby Talking to a Squirrel at Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

G'tums Feeding a Squirrel

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

You should meet the squirrels (Golden-Mantle Squirrel) at Crater Lake. They are the biggest beggars ever. They will eat out of everybody’s hands. They even stand on their hind legs to get your attention. And it works!

Crater Lake

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by JD Boy.

What a beautiful place! We surely enjoyed ourselves.

And of course, before heading out, we stopped and got the kids’ Junior Ranger Badges and had their National Park Passports stamped. The Ranger there thoroughly embarrassed them.  He hollered for everybody in the gift store to please give him their attention, and then he waited until everybody did and then he introduced the kids as the newest Crater Lake Junior Rangers and everybody applauded and the kids turned red and I grinned.

Crater Lake National Park Passport

Photo Credit: The above picture was taken by Zippy

Lassen National Park

For us, the visit to Lassen took on a life of its own. First off, after spending a few days at Yosemite, my husband needed to fly home to work. So we dropped him off at the Sacramento airport, and a rather brave me started the long drive home that was to include more stops.

We stayed in Redding, California, that night, where we had made sure that we had reserved a hotel that had laundry facilities, because we were a bit desperate for clean clothes at this point. (I had packed lightly for everybody with the calculation that we would do laundry twice during our trip and we had already missed our first chance to do laundry before heading in to Yosemite.)

So fairly late at night, looking like a bunch of, well, of campers, we pulled up to the Red Lion. You should have seen the face of the nicely dressed gentleman at the front desk when I went to check in. He politely (and a bit stiffly) asked me how I was, and I said “I’m just looking forward to a shower. I just came from Yosemite.” I knew exactly what he was thinking.

Then we pulled around, and the older kids and I drug all of our stuff into the room, showered, discovered that they had herb tea packets in the room that we found to be quite tasty and relaxing and then turned out the lights and fell asleep.

Early the next morning, I got up and pulled together all the dirty laundry and then headed out of the room to find the laundry facility. After walking up and down every hall of a hotel that was quite a maze, I returned to the room and phoned the front desk to ask where the laundry facility was. I got the pleasant reply, “I’m sorry we don’t have laundry facilities.” What? We double checked before we reserved the room.

Immediately, I woke the kids up and said, we’ve got to go find a laundromat. Now mind you, you can’t get four kids out of a hotel with a moment’s notice—well, if you can, please send me the directions. Eventually, we had everything together and we were buckled into the car, and I had the address of the nearest laundromat and we were off for the next adventure. But horror of horrors, the laundromat’s wash machines were all broken So we all plugged our noses and grinned at each other and headed out to Lassen.

Okay, none of that had to do with Lassen, but it’s the part that I remember about it. It was going to be nearly four more days before we got home, because we were going to a little camp meeting for the weekend, and I didn’t know when we were going to find laundry facilities. And just so you know, we didn’t. Fortunately, my husband drove down and met us at the camp meeting, so he brought some clean clothes for us.

Lassen National Park was quite pretty. I wished we could have camped there, as all the campgrounds were close to very picturesque little lakes. (And we hadn’t got to do laundry anyway. We did however find a Trader Joes in Redding, so we had restocked our food supplies and we were all happy about that.)

Lassen Peak

However, as you can see Lassen Peak (the peak in the background) is rather lunar looking. We had to do a hike for the kids to get their Junior Ranger Badges, so we chose to hike out to the sulfur pots. I’m just going to say that by the time we were done with that hike, none of us wanted to hear about Junior Ranger Badge requirements. It was only about a two hour hike, but part of it was steep, and Baby decided that she was too tired to walk. Remember, my husband wasn’t with us, so Zippy and I took turns carrying her. Then the camera broke for some reason, so we lugged that heavy ole thing for no reason. Needless to say, Zippy and I were exhausted by what was supposed to be short hike, and just so you know, the sulfur pots stunk. But eventually, much later than we had planned, the kids were awarded their Junior Ranger Badges and we were on our way to our next destination.




Next on our trip, and the main point of our trip, was Yosemite. What an amazing park to visit! We were there during the wildfires, so we were not able to visit Tuolumne Meadows, which, of course, means that we will need to go back. (And I can’t wait!) We were able to visit most of the park though and we saw some beautiful sights. We enjoyed visiting when most kids were back to school, because the park wasn’t as full, however, we hope to make it back sometime when the waterfalls are at their peak.

One thing that impressed me about Yosemite is that it is so big. I don’t mean big, I mean gargantuan. When we drove to Mariposa Grove, it seemed like it took a couple of hours to get there. It kept going and going.  The views though are what are so impressive. I don’t know how else to describe them other than that the views are big. They are so impressive.

Now for some photos.

Mariposa Grove

Big Root Ball - Mariposa Grove


Grizzly Giant is a Sequoia that is between 1900 and 2400 years old and, as is obvious, has survived many forest fires.

Half Dome and other sightings from Glacier Point

A Happy Little Girl

Half Dome at Sunset 1

Half Dome at Sunset 2

Four Mile Loop Trail

A Tree in the Forest

Valley Floor Loop Trail

Taking a Walk in Yosemite Valley

Resting After a Hike

El Capitan

El Capitan

The kids also earned their Junior Ranger Badges at Yosemite. Even Baby got a badge.

Really there aren’t words to describe how beautiful Yosemite is. I think people who live and work there must be better people just for the view that they inhale every day. It just does something for your soul.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” ~John Muir

Oregon Coast

To get in the mood for school this year, we took the first week of September and did some amazing sight seeing. I have finally uploaded the pictures to my computer, so this week I will share about the different places that we were able to visit. Enjoy!

Well, the first day we spent driving, and we have no pictures to show for that, I s’pose, we should have taken some tail light pictures, but we just enjoyed (for the most part) each other’s company and the fun of feeding a family of six in the car. (Did I say messy?)

The second day, we spent a bunch of time playing at the beach—playing in the sand, running in the waves, watching the birds (and the other people) and, of course, taking pictures.

Kids Waiting for the Waves at the Oregon Coast

My honey and I walking the Oregon Coast

Most Photographed Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast


We visited the Sea Lion Caves. That’s where the above picture was taken. I’m sad to say that we were a bit disappointed in them. I was bummed, because I had visited them as a child, and had such strong memories of the place, but it turned out to be smaller than when I was kid and not as interesting either.

After that, we spent the rest of the day, driving, driving and driving some more.

We ran into a snag that night. I had packed with the intention that, we would do laundry twice during the trip. That night was supposed to be my first chance, but the wash machine didn’t work at our hotel. Oh, no. Well, a little planning, and I thought we’d make it okay through our next few days of camping, as long as the toddler didn’t have any accidents and  nobody fell into anymore water. (Everybody under the age of 20 had to have a complete change after playing at the beach.) But that was only the beginning of our laundry woes.

Forget the laundry woes, the trip kept getting better from there.

An Important Day — A baptism

Recently our second child decided that he would like to give his heart to Jesus in a public way. It was a very special day for not only him, but for me too. It is my hope and prayer that all of my children will give their hearts to Jesus as children, as teens, as young adults, as elderly people — their whole lives. Baptisms are always so special, but there is something extra special when they are your own children.

(Sorry, it was so bright, that it was difficult getting decent pictures, but I still treasure them, so I’m sharing.)



Being greeted by family and friends after baptism

Being greeted by grandpa and sis after baptism

Poetry for Everybody

I attended a seminar at my state homeschool convention this last summer by Andrew Pudewa. I went away from that seminar with all kinds of ideas about how to teach my children to be good writers. Now to carry all of it out.

One of the things, that I was interested in was his thoughts on poetry. I’ve read in different homeschool books about the value of poetry memorization, but we’ve never done much of it. I purchased A Garden of Verses a long time ago, and we read out of it several times, but the kids weren’t much excited with memorizing any of it. I will say that we have been memorizing hymns, so it’s not that I feel negligent in this area, since most hymns are poems set to music. It’s just that I thought it would be a good exercise. Pudewa proposes that it helps children to develop better writing skills and better vocabulary since often times poetry makes use of obscure vocabulary to make the rhyme or rhythm work out. Another thing that Pudewa said is that boys, in particular, oftentimes don’t like poetry because the verses are so flowery. Yep, that rung true with me. My boys aren’t into doing anything that would be the slightest bit girly. So I bought Pudewa’s collection of poems, Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization, since he promised that it had poetry that would appeal to boys. Well, I have to say, he was right. My boys are having a blast learning this poetry. They don’t even know that it has anything to do with school, because they think it’s so fun.

Here is a video of G’tums saying the first four poems in the book, with a little bonus at the end. Hope you enjoy!

Excuse the poor color of the video.

Point Defiance Zoo

For G’tums birthday, (which was more than a little while ago,) he wanted to go to the zoo. So we took a day and visited the Point Defiance Zoo.

We have two zoos that are within an hour of us, and we usually like to visit the Woodland Park Zoo, but we decided that for a change we would visit the Point Defiance Zoo. Personally, I like the Woodland Park Zoo better. There are just a lot more and interesting animals to see at the Woodland Park Zoo. However, the Point Defiance Zoo has a few exhibits that Woodland Park doesn’t have. The Point Defiance Zoo has a fun aquarium to visit, with lots of tanks to peer into as well as touching tanks where the kids can touch sea stars and more. The Point Defiance Zoo also has the best wolf exhibit. While Woodland Park does have wolves, I have never once been able to see them there. They are always hiding. At Point Defiance, there are lots of wolves in the wolf exhibit, and you are just pretty much guaranteed to see some wolves. So there is my comparison of the two zoos, if you are in the Puget Sound area and trying to choose a zoo to visit.

Here are a few pictures from our day.

There were tiger cubs that were rollicking around when we there. And even though I wouldn’t want to meet them without a piece of glass between me and them, they sure were the cutest things ever.


Tiger Cubs Playing

Here is one of the many beautiful wolves that we saw. That was definitely my favorite part of the zoo. (And I’m a little proud of this picture, because even though the copyright has my husband’s name on it, I took it. He’s the real photographer around here, but whenever I get a winner, I’m proud of it!!)


As my dad always says, “The best part of going to the zoo is watching the people.” So here are some people pictures.

My beautiful daughter and me.

Mom and Daughter at the Zoo

A rather fussy little girl getting a free ride on the shoulders of her handsome daddy.

Dad & a fussy girl

My very own monkeys climbing on the playground equipment in the zoo.

Practicing his monkey skills at the Point Defiance Zoo

PointDefiance (7)

On top of the jungle gym - Point Defiance Zoo

What a fun day! And definitely it was a happy birthday for the birthday boy of the day.

A Day at the Park

Everybody loves a day at the park. Even I do, even though my kids don’t think I go nearly often enough. Recently we spent a day at a new park, just because my husband wanted to take pictures there. He got some great shots too, so that means that I definitely have to blog about it. Sorry I can’t blog about every trip to a park, but then again, that would get a little too boring, even though my kids don’t think we go to one nearly enough.

Here is a view of Seattle from the park. Now you know why my husband wanted to go there.

Seattle from Gasworks Park

Then, of course, he couldn’t resist taking pictures of the kids enjoying themselves. So here you go—a day at the park in pictures.

A Day at Gasworks Park 1

A Day at Gasworks Park 2

A Day at Gasworks Park 3

A Day at Gasworks Park 4

A Day at Gasworks Park 5

A Day at Gasworks Park 6

A Day at Gasworks Park 7

A Day at Gasworks Park 8

A Day at Gasworks Park 7

A Day at Gasworks Park 9

A Day at Gasworks Park 10

A Day at Gasworks Park 11

A Day at Gasworks Park 12

And a couple more views from the park.

A Day at Gasworks Park 12

A Day at Gasworks Park 13

Oregon Caves National Monument

We took a trip to Oregon Caves National Monument and brushed up on some of our geology. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the bats, but we were able to have a very interesting tour through the cave, and the kids were able to earn another Junior Ranger Badge.

A view into the cave.

Oregon Caves

A view of some of the stalactites.


This is called flowstone. It’s kind of pretty. You can tell how it got it’s name.


The next picture, even though it is out of focus, was very interesting to me. If you look closely, you can see graffiti on the rocks. These are the signatures of some of the early explorers of the cave. One of the interesting things about this graffiti is that a new layer of rock has formed over the top of the graffiti. What’s neat about that is that there are dates in some of the signatures, so the geologists have been able to measure the thickness of rock that has formed over the graffiti and then look at the date and therefore calculate the rate that the rocks in that cave are forming.

100+ year old graffiti

Here are the kids saying their Junior Ranger Pledge. (This is their least favorite part of doing the Junior Ranger programs, because a lot of the rangers ask them to promise to eat their broccoli or to tell their mother how beautiful she is or to give the ranger a chocolate cake or some unrelated thing like that and .)

Junior Rangers at Oregon Caves