Summer 2011 in Review: August

Exploring the beach at Carkeek Park

August! Growing up this was always a busy month for me. My brothers and I have our birthdays this month. I opted for the slumber parties. During high school I attended church camp for a week and for most my childhood I’d spend a week at Catalina Island this month. By time school started I was wiped out! This August was not as busy as I remember during my childhood, but we didn’t lay around the house watching tv and sleeping. We got out.

My mom was visiting late July/early August for Ethan’s birthday. We made it to Carkeek Park in Seattle and took a visit to the local annual carnival here in Mountlake Terrace. Ethan loved all the rides! Mom left after a nice week visit.

We did a couple great hikes this month. Our first was to Heather Lake on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was such a beautiful hike but pretty rugged for Ethan. He did well for his first 4-mile hike. Our second great hike was at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore. It was a leisure stroll through a beautiful wooded setting.

Firefighter Autumn

Before I made my way to Alaska for business and Laura headed to Oregon to visit family, we celebrated Vartavar on Camano Island with Peace Corps and Armenian friends. We always enjoy the Armenian traditions and, more importantly, the food! We were not disappointed and we left with a full stomach.

I spent a few days in Alaska where I visited Kodiak Island and Anchorage for FEMA work. It was a productive and beautiful trip. Laura enjoyed a week with her family. The kids helped around their Grandparent’s property. They joined their cousins at the Oregon Zoo later in the week.

We ended the month with a bang. Autumn learned to crawl out of her crib. It was go time! We purchased a new bed set for Ethan, switched the kids room so the new bed set would fit in Autumn’s old room, took down Autumn’s crib, and gave her Ethan’s old mattress. Whew! That a busy last weekend of August! We finished the month and started September still getting the rooms together with nick nacks and touching up the walls with paint!

We welcome a cool crisp northwest autumn!

Read all of our August 2011 blog postings here.

Summer 2011 in Review: July

The Holt Family enjoy the Tetons

July arrived with a bang as we arrived in Yellowstone National Park on July 1. It was the kids first visit to the world’s first National Park and it didn’t disappoint our entire visit. We did all the usual tourist sites before finding a couple off the beaten path trails to find some quiet. After Yellowstone National Park we headed south to Grand Teton National Park for a few days. This was the highlight of our trip. The Tetons are such a beautiful piece of nature that the views never got old. We enjoyed a great bike ride through the valley as the Tetons towered over us. We then headed back home with an overnight stay in Boise. Our two week adventure on the road was excellent!

Ethan and his Uncle Mark

Laura’s birthday welcomed us in the middle of the month. We made awesome big ass cupcakes. A few days later Uncle Mark and a couple friends visited us for a few days. We enjoyed going downtown to cruise through the Public Market and stopped at the Experience Music Project to see the Nirvana exhibit.

After Uncle Mark’s visit we headed south to Oregon to visit Laura’s family for  a few days. We made it out to Lincoln City to visit Ethan and Autumn’s Great Grandparents. We also stopped by the Tillamook Cheese Factory for ever so awesome and tasty cheese and ice cream! Ethan fell in love with the cheese making process.

Just entered the water on the Ride the Ducks

The month ended off with a visit from Grandma Lynda and Ethan’s birthday. A highlight of her visit was going on the Ride the Ducks Tour in downtown Seattle. The kids got such a kick out of the car going into the water and turning into a boat. Ethan celebrated his 4th birthday with a cowboy themed party. He just loved turning 4 and engaging in the all the festivities, especially the prep work.

It was a busy but fulfilling month!

Read about our sweet July experiences here!

Summer 2011 in Review: June

Visiting the Zemke Ranch in Montana

It was an awesome summer for our family. Every month was action packed with wholesome goodness family fun, and a whole lot of delicious baked goods! Let’s start off with June 2011.

We kicked off June with a visit from Laura’s sister Shari and her family. We visited Carkeek Park and enjoyed an evening BBQ. The following week Ethan spent a few days with his Grandma and Grandpa in Oregon. While he was away Laura, Autumn and I did a wonderful hike up to Barclay Lake in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was a beautiful family hike. When Ethan returned from Oregon, he  completed his first year of preschool with an outstanding celebration for all the kids. We enjoyed some DQ Blizzards in his honor. The following week we headed east to visit our friends Phil and Jessica and son Evan. We did a great hike in Cowiche Canyon near Yakima. Ethan finished up his first season of soccer. It wasn’t a competitive season but rather was spent on skill development. It was perfect for him.

Summer Vacation: Autumn stays warm.

The last week of June was the start of our Summer Family Vacation to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. We first stopped in Spokane, WA to visit Laura’s alma mater, Whitworth College. We next spent a few days at Glacier National Park where we camped, hiked, did a boat ride, and enjoyed the views. We then continued east to Billings, MT where Laura’s cousin Scottie and his family live in the area. We enjoyed the simple life where Ethan and his cousin rode horses and we got a tour of a wildland fire station. You can read about the entire vacation here on our site.

Indeed, it was a great month…and start to our vacation. I’m going to keep this pretty simple and just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Read about all of our June experiences here!

 

Good Day to You!

Backyard Camping

Mid-year family update? Why? Unheard of! Blasphemy. I know, I know. Usually we do this around Christmas time, but honestly, the past few years we’ve just emailed a photo with a quick “Happy Holidays” or “Have a wonderful holiday season”. Then you wouldn’t hear from us until the next holidays. We thought we’d mix it up this year with a mid-year update on how the family is doing and, hopefully, spark a few replies from you to see how you’re doing. This time of year is so much more relaxing that it seems like I have more time to write and reflect then during the holiday season.

We’re all doing very well and excited to be outside as much as possible. These past few weeks we’ve seen hopes of summer as the temperature has reached the mid-60s (shorts and tanktop weather!) and sometimes 70 (we’re going swimming!!!). Truly the winter and spring seasons were long this year so we’re really excited to get some sun. Our evenings and weekends are filled with bike rides, hiking, gardening, swinging, and whatever else keeps us active and alive in the outdoors. Actually, the BBQs are really the best part of the warm evenings!

Mr. Bubbles
Mr. Bubbles

Ethan finished his first year of preschool today. When he first started last September he was apprehensive about going. He has grown to love his preschool and teachers. He learned to enjoy learning his letters and bringing something that represented the letter of the week. He made lots of new friends whom we’re pretty sure taught him how to shoot guns. We’re going to have to watch the crowd he hangs with a bit more closely. ; )  On July 30th he’s turning 4. We’re still in the birthday party planning stages but think we’re going to do some sort of race car theme. He just loves speeding around the speedway in our house. He doing a great job at being a big brother. He is learning to play and share with Autumn, though there is always the occasional wrestling smackdown. We understand this will happen for many years.

Autumn the drumming ballerina
Autumn the Drumming Ballerina

Autumn is rockin’! From the get go she has followed the beat of a different drummer. Whether it’s sleeping, eating, sleeping, walking, talking, sleeping, she just goes at her own pace. We’re kind of hoping she nails the sleeping thing soon. That would actually be awesome! She is a walking yapping machine all day long. Such a busy little girl. She says the most adorable “Good bye” every time one of us leaves the house. She has found her place to be outside playing. Outside is where she loves to explore, play in the dirt, watch the leaves blow in the wind, and swing. She also loves, loves, loves her baths. As soon as you say, “Time for a bath” she is cruising down the hall trying to get her clothes off just to be the first one in. She is developing like a champ and is just an all around awesome little girl.

Laura and Autumn
Laura and Autumn goofing around

Laura continues to inspire and provide the best opportunities for our children. As many of you know being a parent is a very busy and rewarding job. She has done a great job to get the kids out to a park, zoo, or meet friends a couple times a week. She isn’t teaching a classroom of children like she use to do before Ethan was born, but she is teaching the two most important children in our life. Her creativity shines when teaching Ethan his ABCs, singing songs to Autumn, or providing the framework for the kids to explore and learn in a safe environment. There is no doubt of the importance to be at home with your children at such a young age and we’re happy she’s been able to be there every step of the way to guide, teach, and love our kids. Occasionally, she bakes some delicious cookies and cakes to give them the energy to carry on. The kids never complain about Mom’s baking. She also continues her love of reading, now at 28 books this year. I mention this because of the importance of reading, not just to your kids, but around your kids. This wonderful activity has rubbed off on both kids.

Ethan and Dad
Ethan and Dad hiking

I’m enjoying my life as a husband and father. New experiences have always been a driving force in developing Laura and my relationship. We continue that today as we find new opportunities for us and the kids to explore and learn a bit about ourselves and the world at large. The kids provide me opportunities to look at life in ways I hadn’t thought of. They challenge me to understand and teach them “How Things Work” and if I don’t know the answer, I continue to fine tune my storytelling skills. My FEMA job is going well and I truly do look forward to work every single day. I’ve traveled to Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Alabama, and Illinois this past year with a busy summer planned.

Speaking about traveling, the Holt family will be hitting the road this summer for two weeks! We’re visiting some of America’s most beautiful national parks: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier. We’ll also camp in northeastern Oregon at Wallowa Lake. It will be filled with 9 days of camping, a few nights in hotels (with a swimming pool for the kids, of course), and a couple nights with Laura’s cousin Scottie and his family. We’ve been teaching Ethan about the places we’re going to visit by reading books and watching National Geographic DVDs about the parks. He’s pretty excited about the trip and is already prepared with his hiking backpack, binoculars, compass, and magnifying glass. A month or so ago, we did a trial run to see if Autumn will sleep in the tent. Success! The entire family had a great night of backyard camping. I believe we’re ready to hit the road!

I’ve been super busy lately with updating our family website at www.brettandlaura.com. If you haven’t visited lately then stop on by. I continue to challenge myself to make the website appealing, functional, and relevant. Along with Laura’s awesome scrapbooks, we see the website as a way to capture, reflect, archive, and share our life with others and provide the kids a written and photographic history of their lives. I’ve added some nice mapping and photo sharing features to help highlight where we visit.

One feature I want to highlight is the ability to subscribe by email to our postings. We post about our family activities and photos every week or two. You may use a RSS feed (e.g., Google Reader) to receive the posts but I know many of you just stick to good ‘ol email. You’ll find a place subscribe to posts via email on the bottom right side of the site where is says “Follow Us”.

Have a terrific summer everyone!

November in Review: Why We Do What We Do

I don't like that

What am I talking about when I type, “Why we do what we do”. This short post is about why we continue to maintain a website and write what we write….oh and about November 2010.

Our website has been public since spring 2004. At the time, we set it up to share photos and stories with friends and family while we lived in Armenia. The site was basic, but met our needs. After returning home from Armenia, I updated it to reflect our life after Peace Corps. It captured our transition to Oregon and addition of Ethan to our family. Admittedly, I didn’t update the website as much as I’d like during Ethan’s first couple years. With the birth of Autumn this past March, and an update in WordPress capabilities, I decided to get my act together and truly focus on updating our website.

Today, our focus with every post is to provide a written record of our life so our children can look back and learn about themselves, parents, and family. It’s really that simple. I’m trying to capture those big events as well as small, somewhat insignificant, ones too. I want them to understand the “present” of every post. I hope they can read these posts and piece together how they were raised. Perhaps, they will learn a bit more why they are the way they are. Most of all, I hope they are entertained and find that life was good and fulfilling.

20101125_0400So what are the highlights for November 2010 that Ethan and Autumn will read about at some point later in life? My brother Mark made it up to visit the family and meet Autumn. He and Ethan had a great time going on adventures throughout house. Later in the month, our first snow of the season arrived to the Seattle area. It caused chaos in the Seattle area, but we stayed home those couple days while the roads cleared. We then spent Thanksgiving in McMinnville, Oregon where we enjoyed time with Laura’s family, and made a much too quick visit to Eugene to see friends. Most important, Laura and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary in style: dinner at a local pizza parlor in Lafayette, Oregon.