August Highlights

With just a couple weeks left of summer, we scrambled to fit everything in we could while packing what we needed for the next year abroad.  We spent as much time with family in sunny Chelan as possible, knowing the cold of British winter to come.

We’ve hardly had Tyler home this summer – the start of what’s to be now that he’s getting older.

The little boys had fun with their cousins playing some type of farm game they made up.  After raiding grandma’s garden, they’d make concoctions to sell us.  I’m pretty sure everything was inedible, but they were sure creative and convincing.






Doesn’t this cute girl just ooze personality!  She can sure keep up with the big kids.


Cade was our resident fire builder.





Cade’s practicing his swing – he loves to go out golfing with Lynn lately.



Celebrating Crystal’s birthday with all her sweet girls.


The kid’s know what time the “Lady of the Lake” rides by – a large ferry that makes the best waves to jump.  Lynn loves taking them for a crazy, wild ride.  Not sure why they don’t have their life jackets on in this one – usually mandatory!

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Loving these lazy days of summer.




Sunset is my favorite time of the day here.  The lake is calm and serene.  It’s been so smoky from the fires, though.


It’s the perfect time to fit in one last wakeboard and coast on the paddle board.




The little ones got brave enough to join their older siblings jumping off the dock with no life jackets and swimming.



It’s been a while since Grandma and Grandpa Smith have joined us up at the lake and we were grateful Lynn’s sister and girls visiting from Utah could join us for a few days.



Jace has been dying to reunite with his “bestest buddy and cousin” all year!  These two were inseparable and so fun to watch.


Parasailing is always a blast, even if I hate heights. The panoramic views up so high are actually calming and worth it. Tyler and Cade rode tandem.  I was hoping they’d get dunked a little further, but the driver was too nice.

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It wouldn’t be summer without a sno-cone run. They now have the “Big Kahuna” size which fit with the weekly theme of “Go big or go home!”




Cade kept the little fishing boat running all week with rides for his cousins and brothers.  They caught quite a few fish too.


It’s always a good time around a campfire.  Lynn loves scaring the little ones with ghost stories and grandpa shares childhood memories.




Tyler’s rocking the infant glasses.


For the first time ever, we finally got the majority of my local cousin’s kids together for a picnic in the park.  It’s hard not to feel like I’m looking at their parents at that age!  They are all fantastic soccer players and we had a fun little game together after dinner.


Another birthday celebration – Lynn’s 42


Cade picked out a new suit while school shopping.



The major task of packing the family for another year, getting the house in order and a million other details to pull this extended move off was a bit overwhelming.  Thanks to grandma and grandpa for taking the boys while I tried not to go insane.



Using space bags was a life saver, I just hope they don’t get unsealed along the way or there’s no putting them back together!


Tyler and Cade wanted one more stop at the Rootbeer Store since it’s in scarce supply in England.


Saying goodbye to Lily was another heartbreak for the kids.  She’ll be providing companionship to a senior in college who loves and trains dogs until we return.


It’s hard to believe the summer has come to an end already  Coming home for this time was exactly what we needed, but saying goodbye a second time was harder than the first, especially since we won’t be coming home all year (except for Lynn).  But we’re ready for new experiences and memories to be made across the pond.  And then we’re staying put for a long time!

February at home and in Mexico

It’s hard to believe we’re half-way through our time here.  We decided to head back home to Redmond for a few weeks with Lynn having meetings there and wanting to see family and friends.  It was our first time flying British Air and it was very comfortable.  The boys did great watching way too many movies and didn’t sleep a wink.  It was strange leaving at 9 am and arriving the same day at 11 am.  Within a couple of hours, Nathan and Jace were out for the night without anything we could do to wake them.  Adjusting to new time zones is a killer for kids. Good thing they don’t have much of a schedule to stick to right now.

Of course the first order of business for the boys was reuniting with their dog, Lily.  She jumped up so high in excitement when she saw us and ran out to our car ready to go home.  We’ve been so fortunate to have such sweet friends taking good care of her.  She’s been spoiled.  The boys couldn’t stop loving her and were so happy she hadn’t forgotten them.



Tyler used his new iPod touch to film the reunion and didn’t realize until the next day that it got lost in all the excitement.  After hours of retracing his steps and searching high and low, he never found it.  Thirty days were all it lasted.  Not a happy mom. Grandpa J. came over right away to big hugs from the boys.  We’ve lived near both our parents for the past 15 years so it’s been hard being so far away.  Grandma J. was in Texas awaiting the arrival of Diane’s baby.  Little did we know baby Cora would arrive 9 days after her due date   She’s my 18th niece and it’s killing me not being able to see her.  She’s precious!

It was a whirlwind of jet lag and reuniting with loved ones and re-exploring familiar territory.  Somehow the house seemed gigantic.  The little boys ran all throughout the house in amazement, remembering all their old toys and special things.  We’ve missed the beautiful greenery of the northwest.  Driving for the first time in 3 months felt so weird but liberating.  I couldn’t wait to shop at all the stores I’ve missed.  It didn’t take long to fill my cart high at Costco with all our favorite items.  You can’t really buy anything in bulk in England and it was so wonderful to fill the fridge and pantry for a full week or two!  Going to brunch and lunches with dear friends was so fun to catch up and see everyone.  It’s been a little lonely and I’ve truly missed the amazing friends I have here.


My dad took the boys to the annual boat show in Seattle to check out the latest stuff.  They always enjoy their outings with him.  He took them over to Century Link field where the Seahawks had just played.  They loved being right down there on the field.  Unfortunately, when they tried loading up to go home, the car wouldn’t start.  All the electrical power was out on a car less than 6 months old.  They were stranded downtown until I came to get them.  Poor grandpa had to wait for the tow truck.  Not a good ending to a great day.


Sunday was extra special because Cade was ordained a Deacon at church.  We’re so grateful for family nearby that came to be a part of it.  Jace was especially excited to see his best buddy cousin, Grant.  We had a big lunch and enjoyed reconnecting.

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We timed it right being home for the Superbowl.  What an exciting game–the boys and Lily were so proud of the Seahawks!


Jace was able to go to his former preschool for a few days and loved seeing all his friends and favorite teachers.  He joined the Chinese New Year march in the freezing cold. IMG_9183

Tyler spent a lot of time with his friends and Cade loved having loads of neighbor boys to play football in the park with daily.  Nathan dumped out all his Legos and had fun with friends too, especially seeing the Lego movie a few times!


We spent the next couple weeks going to all the places we’ve missed.  Mod Pizza, Yogurtland, Taco Time, Pomegranate Bistro, and Daniel’s broiler – because it’s not easy to find a good steak in England. IMG_9264 IMG_9268

Lynn and I were able to slip away for some sun down in Puerto Vallarta for a week.  This was our 8th President’s Club trip with Tableau and I didn’t think we’d be able to make it this time.  We lucked out getting a great nanny to help out – who the boys fell in love with because she built massive blanket forts and had Nerf gun wars in the dark.  I don’t think they missed us a bit!

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We stayed at a favorite resort of ours, the Grand Velas, which pampered us with delicious all-inclusive food and fantastic service.  It was heavenly.  Reconnecting with so many amazing people was great – this group is really something special.  It’s been incredible to see such growth from our first club trip of eight to around 200 this time

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Some highlights were boating out to the Marieta Islands to see the spectacular volcanic islands and wildlife; snorkeling around the islands and through caves to see turtles, eels, manta ray and lots of tropical fish; watching baby whales jump alongside their moms; and my most favorite activity of  all–sitting in the sun reading or falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean.




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While we were basking in the sun, it snowed back at home.  The boys and Lily loved playing in it for a day before it melted.  Thankfully it was gone by the time we arrived!


We returned home re-energized and finally got to see my mom.  We were scheduled to head back to England the next day, but at the last minute, I decided to extend our stay another week.  We just didn’t get our fill and Lynn was flying out to Singapore for the week anyway, so I figured we may as well be at home than alone in the apartment.  Poor guy flew all the way to London on our scheduled flight, only to fly out to Singapore 8 hours later.

This gave us a chance to hit the ski slopes!  Cade and Tyler have been watching all the Olympic coverage and wanting to ski all winter.  Thanks to grandma for watching the little ones, we drove up to Stevens pass and had an awesome day together.  The boys had a little private lesson to brush up on their skills while I skied some of the harder runs.  The visibility was so  horrible and I ended up flying off a huge jump I didn’t see and bit it pretty hard.  At least no one witnessed it, but I was sore for days!  They didn’t want to leave, but I was worried the pass would close again with all the fresh snow of the day.

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It was time to say goodbye again, which seemed a little harder this time around.  It’s a bizarre feeling to be living in two completely different settings and feeling the pull of both.  We have been blessed to love where we’re at when we’re there.  At least when our European adventures are over we will look forward to returning home to the place we love!


Jace enjoying his kid’s meal