Monday, December 31, 2012


And just like that another year is over. Obviously it's hard to believe it went by so fast but at the same time it's amazing how much 'living' you cram into one year.
It's been unbelievably busy. Too busy. But how do you change that? Is that just the stage of life we're at right now?
Bob works lots of long hours and unfortunately also travels a lot. BUT, that being said he also has a job which always presents him with new opportunities, new challenges, and a company that is thriving and growing in a very unstable economy. When many people that we know are losing their jobs, or having their benefits cut, pay rates dropping or remaining stagnant, his company is growing and expanding and for the most part, treating him well. Not something to take for granted.
I've been busy just trying to keep up and maintain a small portion of sanity. Watching my 'extra children' during the day and running our 4 kids around is definitely a full time job. It's been really really hard this year with Bob being gone as much as he has. Despite the obvious issue of missing him, it's the little day to day things where it hits you. Stuff breaking down, having to have 4 different kids in 4 different places at the same definitely learn to multi-task and prioritize.
Ashley is extremely busy. She has to work hard academically to keep up with her course load and  remains very busy with work, FFA activities, sports and an overactive social life. Maybe sometimes too busy. It's hard to find a balance. We don't live on a farm where the kids can go out and do chores and we don't want them sitting behind a computer or TV for hours every day so we allow the extra stuff. FFA has been a great experience and the more we learn about it the more we feel that she is learning things through that which will benefit her the rest of her life! She played on the JV school volleyball team this year and decided to drop school basketball so that she could play club volleyball. She also has been blessed to have a job which allows her to pretty much work whenever she is able. Some weeks that's only a couple of hours, other weeks it is more. And of course she has several months where she is raising sheep for fairs.
Brandi is a perfectionist who does her homework on Fridays after school rather than wait until Sunday nights! She has also been known to ask to retake a test when she gets an A- rather than an A.  She played on her regular basketball team this fall and she started school sports this year which was rather stressful for her. Having to 'try out' to make a team and sit and wait to see if you get 'cut' did horrible things to her blood pressure. And as much as we tried to reassure her she would make it, it doesn't really matter until the coach calls your name! She played on the school volleyball team and also decided she wanted to try out for club volleyball. Club volleyball is not exactly a cheap undertaking so both girls agreed that part of the club fees would be their Christmas present!
Kendra & Tyler both continue to go to school up in Paterson which is an amazing school! They are both loving school right now. Kendra is opening up and becoming much more social. She is also really loving being on a basketball team. Apparently many of the boys in her class have a 'crush' on her and have taken to wearing cologne to school which according to her teacher makes for some very interesting aromatic days:) I have started a collection of 'love notes' she comes home with which I'm sure some day will make for very interesting blackmail material!
Tyler appears to be a bit of a brainiac. It's hard to tell in Kindergarten how academic they will actually be, but his sisters are constantly accusing him of being a nerd and are beginning to get a little concerned that he may join the math club rather than be on the football team.
We have been blessed this year. Tyler has not had any hospitalizations since a brief couple hour visit back in May. We are very hopeful that his asthma may be something he is outgrowing!! Ashley appears to have recovered well from her long drawn out bout with mono. She still seems to tire easily and have a bit of a weaker immune system but that could also be because she's extremely active and busy and doesn't like to go to bed at a decent hour. But for the most part everyone else has stayed healthy.
I could be extremely realistic and complain about a traveling husband, hormonal teenage girls, sassy 8 year olds and whiny 5 year olds, naughty dogs, noisy sheep and smelly turtles, a house requiring more and more maintenance, a yard fighting a battle with weeds...but today I chose to focus on the other reality. And that is a family that God has blessed with an abundance of love for each other, the ability to work and learn and play, and live a life that is overflowing with blessings.
Someday, hopefully we will have a calm quiet and peaceful existence and apparently when that happens we will desperately miss these years of somewhat controlled chaos!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus!

For only the 2nd time in the 13 years that we have lived down here, we decided to stay home for Christmas this year. It seems like the older the kids get the crazier and busier life has become and the kids really just wanted to spend a relaxing Christmas at home. We had some reservations about missing out on the family stuff up north but in the end decided to just go ahead and stay home. We did miss our families but at the same time it was such a nice relaxing Christmas. It was 'picture perfect' Got up in the morning and opened presents, then went to a great church service, came home and had a delicious meal and topped it all off by taking the four wheelers out in the gorgeous fresh snow!

Obviously Ashley was less than thrilled to have a camera out so early in the morning:)

Tyler and Kendra both THRILLED with their new DS's for the long bus rides and days in the gym

Ashley was so excited about the Christmas gift she made us in her welding class that she made us open it a couple weeks early. I can see why. It's gorgeous!

I had planned on doing a ham for Christmas dinner but Bob decided we should do prime rib. Now, I'm not a very good cook and I'm also very thrifty (thrifty just sounds so much better than 'cheap) so I have never done prime rib before. My opinion has always been that a prime rib was waaaaay too much money to pay for a piece of meat I would end up ruining anyway.
As luck would have it, as I was in the grocery store looking for a prime rib I happened to run into Nate denHoed who's a great cook and he gave me instructions as to how to prepare it. It was amazing. We are looking forward to having an excuse to make it again! And it was very simple. Poured a bottle of port wine on it and packed it in coarse salt. mouth is watering just thinking about it again!

The snow started falling about mid morning. It really was a picture perfect Christmas day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our baby turns 6!!

Happy Birthday to our favorite little man!!  Tyler Joel Groeneveld turned 6 years old on December 7, 2012. Unbelievable. We kind of talked you into a small simple family birthday while promising a bigger party next year! Whenever one of the kids has a birthday they get to choose what's for dinner that night. The choices vary greatly. You chose to get pizza hut pepperoni pizza and cinna stix.

Sienna came to play that day, you were so happy she was there to help us celebrate!

You had birthday cupcakes that day to share with all the kids.

You are very into video games right now. We don't really want to encourage that too much so instead of getting you that kind of stuff we decided to try out some legos. We had a great time that night putting together your new police station.

We should have known, your favorite gifts were the dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur lego. You love to watch documentaries on TV and have more strange facts floating around in your head than most adults. You are absolutely LOVING school this would go every day if they would only let you. It is so important to you to learn learn and learn and learn some more. One day school started late because of snow and icy roads. Kendra was talking about how you would miss morning recess and you became quite upset. Not at the idea of missing morning recess but at the thought that you probably wouldn't have enough time for MATH!!
I hope you continue to love to learn and explore! Right now you can't decide if you want to be a doctor or a 'fighting player'  Either way, I'm sure you will excel at whatever it is you end up doing!
We love you T-Bear!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The tale of two naughty dogs

Sami & Harley. Just a couple of dogs.  We have a buried wire around our property and both the dogs wear shock collars. They have a large automatic feeder, a heated water supply and an acre and a half to run. So when we left home for just about two weeks we thought they would be just fine. They were definitely outside dogs. With Ashley's allergies and Tyler's asthma we had never had any desire to turn two big hyper long haired dogs into house dogs. We arranged for the neighbor to check on them daily just to make sure there were no issues. After being gone for 12 nights we pulled into the driveway late Sunday night and the first thing we noticed, there were no dogs running out to greet us. Our hearts sank. They never ever leave the yard. But we headed off to bed and figured they would be back in the morning. I was up once or twice during the night, checked outside, no dogs. Next morning the kids rushed to the door but, still no dogs. Everyone was a little glum that morning when they headed off to school. Later that morning the neighbor came over and was very upset to have to tell me that he hadn't seen the dogs since Wednesday. So that means they had been gone for 6 days already. I figured that after being gone for that long the chances of them coming back were slim to none. I made several phone calls that day to sheriffs, vets, animal shelters, neighbors, posted an 'alert' on facebook, but not surprisingly heard nothing.  That night I went and made the rounds, picking up kids from the bus and sports events and had to tell them each as I picked them up that, 'no, the dogs haven't come back yet and they've actually been gone since last week Wednesday'  You know that saying 'you don't miss what you have until its gone'? Well that was kind of like this. When the dogs were here, they didn't get as much attention as they should have. They annoyed me more than slightly on more than one occasion. But now that they were gone, it was crazy how upset everybody was. There was a huge empty hole!
Brandi was at a basketball game when I went to pick her up so I informed her as soon as I saw her "Brandi I haven't found the dogs" Instead of getting upset like all the other kids had gotten she replied, "I know, but I think I know where they are! They're at Genesis' house!"  SAY WHAT?? To make a long story even longer, Brandi was in the hallway at school that day when Lolli ( a friend of mine and a teacher) asked Brandi if we had found the dogs yet. As they were talking about it a nearby girl overheard the conversation and began to ask Brandi questions regarding the dogs she was missing. Turns out they had two dogs matching that description who had showed up at their house the previous Wednesday! Of course I was all excited to hear this but Brandi didn't know Genesis last name or where she lived. Right about that time the school principle happened to be walking by and she too had heard of our missing dogs & inquired as to if we had found them or not. When we told her about some girl named Genesis who might know where they were she took us to her office, looked up Genesis on the school database and made some phone calls for us. Turns out Genesis' family lived pretty much straight North of us but on the other side of the freeway! We drove over there and sure enough....there were our two very naughty golden retrievers. I wish I would have taken my camera along to capture the pictures of the dogs and Kendra & Tyler rolling around on the ground together. I'm not sure who was happier to see who! If the dogs decided to wonder off I'm sure glad they happened upon a nice family who decided they were lovable dogs and decided to hang onto them and keep them safe until their 'family' came looking! Turns out they had been looking for the owners as hard as we had been looking for the dogs! Instead of being punished for running off, those dogs have become extremely pampered and spoiled. After all, they weren't the ones who ran off, WE did! After being left home alone for that long they probably figured we had deserted them. So now, as adamantly opposed to dogs in the house as we've always been......guess who gets to come in the house every night? They are only allowed in the front foyer. We put the baby gates up to make sure the stay up there and aren't allowed to run around the house....or at least that's what we tell people.
And Sami is getting a little old so we had to put some nice soft blankets down so her joints don't bother her....

But who are we kidding...sometimes we 'forget' to put the gates when Ashley needs help 'studying'

 Or when it's a really cold night and Tyler & Kenny need some company in front of the fireplace....

Notice its just Harley though, Sami is very well behaved and knows exactly where she's supposed to lay down and stay...Harley on the other hand will 'crawl' out of the foyer and 'army crawl' her way to wherever she feels she has the right to be. 
I can not believe it. We have become those people. The ones who let their dogs come into the house....sure its only at night but involves daily vacuuming and weekly wash down of the walls in the front foyer but shucks....they're just so cute. We have become 'those people'  sigh......

Friday, December 14, 2012


Joel & Raquel very conveniently scheduled their wedding for the Saturday right after US thanksgiving! That worked great for us. We spent our week at the beach on vacation, then headed up to Lynden for Thanksgiving with the family. Then the wedding on Saturday night. We left the kids with Oma & Opa Saturday night and stayed at the reception lodge for the night along with John & Audrey and another couple.
What a great time!
Joel & Raquel
My two handsome nephews..

My beautiful nieces

The redneck wedding party

It was a very rustic/country wedding. Loved it!

The wedding was held in a very small country church

The reception was at the Fraser River Lodge. A beautiful place that was unbelievably decorated!!

'Rupert' sat at his place of honor...front and center at the head table

We stayed the night in one of their beautiful guest rooms! Bob was up bright and early the next morning dismantling all the incredible decorations, which included hauling these logs back down the stairs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Family Time

The week before thanksgiving we pulled the kids out of school, (yep bad bad parents that's us) and headed over to the beach for awhile. We're not exactly tropical paradise type vacation people but a week at rainy long beach washington was very very relaxing. We got there quite late on a wednesday night and stayed until the following Wednesday when we headed up to Lynden to spend thanksgiving with the family. You would think a full 7 nights would be plenty long but it's really not. By about day 4 you start to adjust to your new routine and it's really hard to give that up to go back to reality! Because we went directly up to Lynden from there we were gone from home for just about 2 weeks!

Our view from our patio

We had a wide range of weather. Everytime we go to the coast in the fall/winter we always manage to have a few really nice sunny days and a few really rainy stormy days. This year I would say we definitely had more rainy stormy days than sunshine. Thankfully the pool was nice and warm so we got in lots of swim time even on the rainy days. It was actually a lot of fun swimming in a windy stormy downpour!

We made sure we took advantage of the few sunny days to get in some quality beach time! Again, not exactly tropical location, that water was downright cold but you still just had to get your feet wet. And of course the temperature didn't seem to bother Kenny one bit!

Bob is such a chick magnet. This little girl decided he was fun to play with so she stuck around...and stuck around....and stuck around,...

One of the few beaches you can drive right out to the water on. 

We headed down to Seaside Oregon for a day, where you have to stop at the aquarium and feed the obnoxious seals,

And color some pictures.....

And feel the starfish...

And ride the carousel.....

And try on hats at the crazy hat store!

We finished out our day in Seaside by eating at Pig n a Pancake. Someplace where we've been going since Ashley & Brandi were 2 and 6 years old! Unfortunately, this time nobody enjoyed it very much. Bob had watched a documentary on TV the night before about all the germs and bacteria you find in restaurants....showing what exactly is growing on those salt & pepper shakers and how much 'bathroom bacteria' are on the menus. So the whole time we're there he's freaking out every time the kids touched anything, they kept running to the bathroom to wash their hands AGAIN...after that we decided it was just easier to pick up groceries and eat in. Easier for them...not so much for mom.

Ashley tried to get a little driving practice in while we were down there. Here Bob was making her drive over the Astoria bridge which is a very long very high bridge. She was just a tad nervous because the day before a semi had flipped over right on the top due to the high winds and the bridge was closed for an entire day. They wouldn't allow tow trucks up there to upright the semi because the winds were so strong they were afraid the tow trucks would blow over as well.

I think the bridge is over 3 miles long, it gets quite steep as you head up to the peak of it.

One rainy afternoon we headed to the bowling alley in Astoria. We have come to the conclusion that we are a tad 'bowl challenged'

But we look good in the shoes!

Brandi taking on the ping pong master! Just Bob frequently reminds me, I was the nerd who was on the pingpong/fooseball committee. Obviously he's just jealous because I can kick his butt at ping pong every. single. time.

Kendra &Tyler chillin, watching a movie in the 'commons room'

Ashley & Kendra trying out the elipticals in the gym.

It was a great relaxing week. We always look forward to going and like to start planning the next one as soon as possible. It's getting harder and harder to do though because Bob is busy so much of the summer that we can't go then. And the older the kids get, the more difficult it is to pull them out of school. Sadly enough, it's not the academics that worry them. If they are involved in any school sport at the time they simply can't miss practices or games!