Friday, January 3, 2014

2013–The Year In Pictures

January – A Month Of Loss


The year started off with the loss of an amazing woman. Jan, an amazing mother, GiGi, wife and daughter passed away January 10th. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t miss her, but knowing that she is looking down on us makes it a bit easier to bare.


This was also the month that Evie discovered her love for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins. She started out loving it in a cup, but has since moved on to sugar cones. She hasn’t quite fallen in love with the waffle cone yet, but I bet that’s next.

February – Beginning To Heal And Saying Good Bye


It was a nice winter. So nice we were able to spend some time at the Woodland Park Zoo during the coldest part of the year. As we tried to distract ourselves from our loss, little outings like this became a welcome relief.


On the 10th, we celebrated Jan’s life and held a memorial. The turn out was more than anyone could have expected. It was also the first sign that something was wrong with our second mom as well as she was too sick to make the trip up from Tacoma. Just two weeks later, she was admitted to the hospital for what appeared to be the flu that had gone well further than it should have.

March – A Trip To Oregon, More Loss And She Can See


The beginning of March was met with a weekend trip to Portland for the Salvador Molly’s – Great Balls Of Fire Challenge. With our reservations made and a hospitalized Mom’s blessings, we ventured south from Puyallup where Mom was to Portland. The 2 day trip was going to be amazing. We arrived Friday evening, checked in to the Red Lion and had a nice evening out.


Saturday morning, I received the call from Dad that it was not looking good for Mom. Cancer had come back and taken her system over. It was no longer an “if” but now had become a “how long”. Needless to say, we altered the plans for our day and just spent the day in a bit of a haze in the beautiful city of Portland.

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Just a week later, on March 10th, two months from the loss of our first mom, we lost our second. Looking back on it, I have no idea how any of us continued to function during this time. Losing both our moms within 2 months is just unthinkable, but somehow, we made it though it and did so quite well.


Evie also decided to make March her month to let us know that she officially needed glasses. She has been great about wearing them and most of the guilt about taking a blind 3 year old to Disneyland last year has left me. It was amazing to see how things like riding her bike became easier once she could see properly.

April – A Funeral, Flowers and Fun



After Mom’s memorial on the 4th, we decided to try and get out a bit more. Little weekend adventures like the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon or the Spring Fair in Monroe were great times – and really helped us forget the feelings that we needed to, even if just for a short time.



April was also the month we added a new member to our family, or two for that matter. We welcomed Cliffy the Betta and Turbo/Kubota the snail  to our family.

May – Letting Life Sink In


May was a quiet month. We didn’t plan much since we had been so busy in April. What we did manage to throw together was a few quick photo sessions, or a family portrait day as we like to call them. Days like this help cover the expenses of keeping the KrazyBird online gallery and website going.


Of course, with not much planning being involved, that meant quite a few home days. Home days mean going to the park when the weather is nice enough. Going to the park this year was a bit special for us, as it was the first time that Evie really could go on the big kid’s swings. She also started learning to swing herself!


Evie’s next adventure this year was starting her eye therapy. When she got her glasses, the specialist thought it would be a good idea to help her train her weaker eye (or the woggley one as Evie refers to it) by having her come to a weekly session followed up with exercises throughout the week. We noticed some drastic improvements in the first few months before the gains became far less noticeable.


The other part of Evie’s improving vision was that she found love for taking pictures. We gave her the little Kodak camera that we had back in April to use at the Tulip Festival, but had to find her a new one after that one dropped and broke. Thank goodness for Goodwill!

June – Summer Begins And I Went Camping


June started off with some majorly fun plans in the mix. First up, was a trip to Mukilteo Beach. We haven’t been over there much since we moved to Monroe 4 years ago, but it hasn’t changed too much. It is quite a bit busier now, but that was always the case during the nicer days of the year.


Next up, taking Evie fishing for the first time ever! We only went to Lake Tye (which after April is usually empty of anything worth catching) and had a good time. We only walked to the closest bank instead of going to the opposite side where we might have caught something, but it was still fun. The laugh that she had as she sat on the bank was priceless!


June also marks a now annual tradition of Evie’s ballet recitals. Her progress in her dance class was incredible this year. It was so good, they even let her continue on to the 5 year old class, a combo class of Jazz Dance and Ballet.


Finally, we finished out June with a first for me… My first REAL camping trip. Sure, I camped out when Dad raced, but we were 10 feet from a motorhome most of the time, so that really didn’t count. There was one time when I was like 6 when John and Chuck were in Cadets that I went on an overnighter, but I was so small, I really don’t remember it.


Anyways, we ventured out to Camano Island State Park for our first trip. Far enough away to feel like we were camping, but not so far we couldn’t get home quickly if there was a problem.


Setup was a breeze as Ara had the tent basically up before I got back from registering our site. We busted out the stove we grabbed at Big 5 on our way out there since we forgot the others at the farm, set up our table and kicked back for a great weekend.


The beach was the best part of the adventure. Evie found shells, crabs and all sorts of craziness out there. We watched the crabbing boats driving around and pulling pots, some full, some not so full. The weekend ended about 2 hours earlier than we hoped as the rain came in a bit sooner than we thought and we packed up and hit Denny’s on the way home for breakfast. Overall, I couldn’t have had a better time.



July – Brithdays, Fireworks And The Rainforest

Ara’s birthday was first up this month. Coming on a Wednesday, it was tough to plan much. Of course, the camping trip the weekend before was really the ‘trip’ for this birthday, so I guess the dinner out and seeing Brave with Evie was a good plan. Of course the Big And Rich tickets that I snagged for her didn’t go unappreciated either. Then it was time to get ready for the 4th!


We spent the 4th of July in Monroe this year. Friends of friends from church were hosting a ‘block party’ style 4th at their house up on the hill. We decided that it would be more fun to keep it local this year than try and match the fun that we had last year with Amy, Brandon and Jozy in Bellevue. It was a good choice. The company was great, the fireworks were plentiful and it took us less time to get home than it did to get out of the parking garage last year!


Next up was Evie’s 2 part birthday extravaganza. Part one, the Jetty in Everett with all her friends. We did this one on the day before her birthday so there wasn’t a conflict with anyone’s schedule. It was a great time and everyone had a blast. The weather was beyond perfect.


Part two of the celebration weekend came on Sunday when we took Evie down south to Kent for a photo day with friends. Ara snagged a few shots of the kiddo on her birthday just to keep a nice little tradition we had going.


It was then time for lunch out at the Rainforest Café for her actual birthday. Part of me wonders if taking her to Disneyland wouldn’t have been cheaper, but whatever works, right? She loved the atmosphere, but not enough that she’s been asking to go back. Lesson learned… Keep it simple next time.

August – Rained Out And Rocking Out


Our second camping trip of the year! After how much we learned on the first one, we had purchased the additional stuff we were missing and all set for a great weekend at Lake Easton State Park. According to the info online, there were great places to fish, nice beach by the lake and a ton of trails to hike.


The lake didn’t disappoint a bit. The campsite was gorgeous – especially for how close together they were. We felt secluded and tucked away. A quick trip down the road in the truck got us to the lake which was just amazing to look at. Unfortunately, the rangers said that the only fishing that could be done would be from a boat – and even that was terrible since the dam went in. Bummer… Maybe next time…


After a nice long day of driving, setup and checking out the area, we decided to call it a night.


Evie went into the tent early and fell asleep watching a movie on the tablet.  As we sat outside I noticed a few flashes of what I thought was lightning, but new never heard any thunder, so Ara thought it was just flashlights shining off the trees. Ara climbed in to the tent shortly after that and I joined her a while later.

I checked my twitter page and saw a weather warning from KIRO TV. I checked the weather page which showed SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS and FLASH FLOOD warnings for the Lake Easton area. We decided that it might be better to pack it in rather than face possible death by thunderstorm so we packed the kid in the car, busted down camp in 10 minutes and got out of there – in the middle of the worst downpour I think I’ve ever been in.


After about 5 hours of driving, through 12” of water on I-90, we made it home. The lightning storm that God provided us with that night was stunning. It was one of the scariest drives I’ve ever done, but it was worth it to see the beauty of that storm. It also made for a birthday that I won’t soon forget.


The next weekend, we did something we haven’t had many chances to do since getting married – go to a concert. It was time to use those Big And Rich tickets that Ara got for her birthday. We arrived a bit early for the show, but the seats were good and it was so nice to be out with just the two of us.


The show was everything I had hoped and more. I was so impressed with these country rockers that I would totally go see them again.



The Evergreen State Fair was next up on the list. Scones, rides, fried everything and then some was waiting for us across the street. Ok, so it’s a bit further than that, but not much.


We happened to choose the perfect night to go. The weather was nice, but not so nice that the place was packed. A bit of drizzle earlier on scared off a ton of people, but being so close to home we didn’t have to worry about that. Evie continued her spinning enjoyment by falling in love with the Tea Cup ride there, just like at Disneyland. She didn’t want the night to end even after riding that about a half dozen times.


The other ride, which fortunately she was just a touch to small for this year, that she wanted to ride more than anything was the Ferris Wheel. Now I am not a fan of Ferris Wheels to begin with, but cheap ‘Captain Funtastic’ ferris wheels scare me even more. All I see is that thing busting loose from it’s mounts and rolling down Hwy 2 to Sultan. Needless to say, I didn’t get on it this year, but I don’t think I will be as lucky next year.

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The last major event of August was the fact that we, as a family, joined our first church together. In August, we joined Mars Hill in Everett. It was a strange process as the really only wanted us to be members so we could qualify to lead a community group, but it felt really good to have a church family to call ours. I wish it would have gone a bit more of the traditional route, but at least it is done and we are happy to be a part of such a great church family.


On a more personal side of events – there were two this year in August and September that I was able to participate in: EngdgtSEA 2013 and the HTC Elevate Members Meeting in Seattle. They were both amazing times where I was able to meet quite a few great people and play with some really great technology.


September – Clean Up, Ice Cream And Letters?


I should have done a before and after shot on this one, but this is the garage at the farm. It was disgusting – and not part of it isn’t. We removed about 6 lawn sized garbage bags of trash from just this side of the garage. The good news is that it only took a day to do it. The bad news… There’s about two times this much left in the rest of the garage.


We also took the time to take a fall drive over the Mountain Loop Highway. This scenic bypass is gorgeous in the fall and is quite the fun day. This was one of our quick stop offs along the way to see the Skykomish River along the road. Simply gorgeous scenery all along the way.


Evie’s torn between loving her mint chocolate chip ice cream at Baskin Robbins and her chocolate sundaes from Dairy Queen. It must be hard having so many choices to make in life. For the moment, she’s happy with either one though.


Evie started school this year. No, not real-real school, but a home schooling preschool set up. I couldn’t be more proud of her and Ara for getting going so well on this. She’s learning letters, numbers and colors. She is getting so big, so quickly. Of course, as I am typing this, she is crashed out on the couch taking a nap, so she is still small enough to need those once in a while.

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Finally, Evie’s next favorite activity – going fast! She loves to run, ride and do anything she can fast! I think she gets this from her BaBa and Grampers, but we will see what kind of car she picks out when that time comes.

October – CG, Split Jumps, Pumpkins And Halloween


In whirlwind fashion, we launched our Mars Hill Community Group on the 7th. It was one of the biggest challenges we have faced as a couple, but it has made us stronger. I’m so proud to have been chosen to lead a group, but at the same time, I still have worries that I’m not doing it ‘right’. Oh well, prayer and patience is probably the only way to know for sure, and that will take time to figure out.


Evie is off to the big toys at the parks now. Most of them she can do herself, without even needing us anymore. Pretty soon she is going to be able to scoot across the monkey bars all alone and not have any need for us.


Livi is still on the list of Evie’s best friends. They are like two peas in a pod when they are together. Of course, Evie loves to adapt so she can flex over to Jorja or Talon or even Noey if she needs to on a moment’s notice. She really does have an amazing group of friends right now.


We also made a few trips through downtown Snohomish this year. We never really spent much time there, but have gone and fallen in love with a few areas there. Pizza Brava has $1 slice nights on Tuesdays… The Cathouse Pizza place has the most amazing full size pizzas… Be Bops and Lollipops has some of the most adorable clothing… And of course the antique shops are always fun to windows shop at.


We started visiting pumpkin farms this year – and I mean a few of them. We hit Swan’s Trail, Bob’s and our usual one in Arlington that supports children’s literacy. We had a great time at all of them, but especially Swan’s Trail in Snohomish. They had games, rides and even a duck race!

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Finally, there are the split jumps. Evie learned them in class. It’s probably her favorite activity on the planet to do right now. She climbs on anything she can and jumps as high as she can off it. Then she kicks both legs out and brings them back in before she lands. That my friends, is how you do a split jump.

November – The Armory, Christmas Trees And Turkey


Our church moved in to its permanent home in November. The old Washington National Guard Armory in Everett is the new home to Mars Hill Church. We were blessed to become the first members of the church at that location. Hopefully with God’s blessings, we will continue to help it grow.


Is there anything better than checking out the mall at Christmas time – like before it’s Christmas time? Yep, we loved sneaking in and trying all the cool accessories on so we knew exactly what we wanted. Ok, but seriously, the glasses are a good look right?


Evie discovered the bookstore this year. She’s always loved the library, but this was a place with books – and toys! She wanted to spend money she didn’t have here just like her Mama! Love those two… And yes, that is a how to use your Windows Phone book that she picked out off the shelf and no, I didn’t help.


We actually decorated early this year, and to make that fact more amazing, it wasn’t even my idea… Ara got bit by the Christmas bug a bit earlier than usual and we were set up early this year –and I loved every minute of it.


Finally, for the first time ever, we hosted everyone for Thanksgiving in our apartment. It was cramped, tight and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Everyone came and it was great. Ara made the most amazing meal and everyone left full and happy. I’ll just say, I hope we can do it again next year.

December – Christmas And A New Year


We did a few different Christmas activities this year as part of our advent calendar plan. The first was the Country Village Santa Fly In day… I’d show you photos of that one, but frankly, it didn’t happen. They must have let Santa go a bit early or something because he slid in before anyone was even ready for him. Too bad, because we all stood out in 12 degree weather to see it. Instead, you can look at a Evie-Cicle standing by a light up snowman though!


These images are from the Bellevue Botanical Gardens light display. It was truly amazing to see. Apparently from what some others were saying, this was only about half of what was usually up due to some construction on the grounds. I really can’t wait to see what next year brings! Enjoy the images below though!







Evie’s Build A Bear trip this year resulted in Kitty coming home with us. She is adorable and soft, just like Floppy, Ditz and Penguin before her.


We actually had snow in early December in Monroe. It was only around for a morning, but it was downright amazing. Evie had so much fun and Mama got so cold, but it was worth it to see the photos. Hopefully the winter of 2014 will yield a bit more of the white stuff so we can all enjoy it together.


Our Christmas this year was met with a bit of sadness at the loss of our little traditions, while being exciting as we got to start some new ones of our own.


We attended the Christmas Eve service at Mars Hill. It was a great celebration of the birth of Christ. I almost wish they had just broadcast the Bellevue one, but maybe this will be something to build off of in the future?


Our little tree probably saw its last Christmas as our primary tree. Next year it will probably be in a bedroom, or off in the dining area or something. Lord willing, we will be in a place big enough to have a few trees in it.


The hit of the holiday for Evie was her Frozen Tiny Dolls. She loved the movie in the theater and frankly, so did we. We actually really would like to see it again before it goes away, but we will have to see if that happens or not. Either way, the DVD is ours when that one comes out.


Next up was a little post-Christmas trip up north to take Chuckanut Drive home. It’s a gorgeous drive and Fairhaven has always been somewhere we wanted to spend a bit more time. This trip we found a fantastic place to have lunch. We also found a killer donut shop, a cupcakery that won Cupcake Wars (Evie’s favorite show) and Village Books – the largest bookstore around by far! It was a great day.


The Santa Gnome outside The Avenue Deli… Great sandwiches, decent coffee.


The view from Chuckanut Drive…. Priceless!


NEW YEAR’S EVE - Welcome 2014!

New Year’s Eve this year was another local event. We spent the evening with our dear friends the Scheffer’s and our community groups. It was an amazing night start to finish. Even with Evie being sick, the night was a total success!




That’s what we did in 2013… I hope 2014 is just as fun and brings us even more adventures! Until then…

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