Thursday, December 29, 2011

The ever-ellusive Christmas letter...

We used to send a Christmas letter out every year. At first, in all honesty, I thought they were incredibly ridiculous. I came from a very small family, everyone already lived through the events of the year, no one needed a note to remind them point to point. However, I married a man from a large family, one that was spread out across Texas and desiring to remain close, by means of the once-a-year Christmas letter. Year after year as letters poured in, I found the Christmas letter writing and receiving to be quite endearing.

A few years ago, as I struggled to compose the letter I came up with the idea of doing a photo montage of the year's events in place of the written details. We did the photo montage, but in the end wrote the letter too. The next year we just did photos, then nothing the following year. This year we did a photo card but no letter.

I am torn. I like the Christmas letters we receive, it is enjoyable to hear how things are going in our friends and our families lives. But sometimes after reading a letter, especially one detailing children activities or how perfect and lovely being at home with their children is, I feel guilty... maybe my kids aren't in enough, are they missing out?!?!? Or I feel terrible that I don't feel so lovey-dovey about being at home... some days are really hard.

A friend pointed out that many times people are pulling out all the good things, dwelling on the blessings of the year. I think that is a good idea, however, I still struggle to write the letter that shares all the good without a balance of the trials. I don't know that receiving the a Christmas letter detailing a life of perceived "perfection" does anything to edify or build up that stay at home mom who is striving to love a curious toddler who is into everything after not sleeping for a month with a colicky infant.

So, here is a simple overview of our life, my attempt at sharing real life here...

Elliott and I started "dating" in late 2010, and it has been a year-long joy to trade date nights with another family every week. At first it was a scheduling nightmare, trying to figure out how to fit one more thing in. We ended up having to drop out of a few things, but it has been well worth it. We didn't date for 10 years of our marriage, but now going on 12 years in a few months, I wouldn't stop if you paid me!

We are working towards "dating" our kids too. Trying to in a semi-scheduled way, spend one-on-one time with each child. Sometimes it means dad takes a kid to Red Robin for a burger (thanks to Groupons!) and a chat. Sometimes it means mom take a kid to run errands. Sometimes everyone else leaves and one of us stays home with a child to work on a project at home. We don't have a good schedule yet. We know when we have gone too many weeks without taking anyone out as the children begin to beg for their time. Elliott and I are encouraged that we are starting to learn who our kids are, what they like, who they might become.

We keep tossing around the idea of making "boy time" and "girl time" but haven't found a good regular time for it. The boys all have golf clubs now (Elliott included), so we hope that they will begin going to a driving range together, maybe work up to a putt-putt course... he he he. The girls have surprised me with how they have really taken off with knitting and crocheting, so we will either stay here and have a treat and craft, or we will take our yarn on the road and go sip coffee and vanilla steamers to do so... this is a work in progress.

We are also trying to be more consistent with reaching out to neighbors. We have been blessed with a street where there has been very little moving. I have caramels sitting on my counter that I plan to cut up and hand out to our neighbors... a little late, but better than never I suppose.

Things we love... being with the church, going to the zoo, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, swimming, taking the RV to State Parks, watching BF Men's Swim Team on YouTube (, playing outside, building with Legos (older kids), destroying things built with Legos (the two little tornados), feeding birds outside our kitchen window, going on bird walks with our Young Birders Club group.

Things we are thankful for... clean laundry every Monday and Thursday even though I sometimes get behind on folding and kids come "shopping" for clothes to wear out of the heaps and piles living in the family room; dishwashers that never stop running and paper plates for when there is a stack of dishes waiting to go in the dishwasher because I forgot to turn it on when it was full or I turned it on and a little helper found a fork I forgot and opened it to put it in and so it never actually ran; vacuum cleaners that pick up the variety of things tracked in from out of doors; Costco for carrying so many gluten-free and organic foods saving me from driving all over town to feed my family; for carrying everything else.

Hannah turned 10 and is 5 feet tall. EEK! She loves to draw, knit, crochet, bike, be with friends and accessorize (her favorite thing is scarves). She got a face painting kit for Christmas, call and make an appointment if you are hankering to have a rainbow painted on your arm or a dragon, rocket, dog, snake, fish, bear, etc. on your cheek.

Noah turned 8 and is a Lego-building master. He also reads non-stop. He too, enjoys biking and being outside. He went to golf camp this summer and is sure he is ready for the PGA tour now. :) He puts up with me when I make him draw birds, and he is quick to identify them when we go on walks.

Grace turned 6 and is sweet and silly. She is learning to read and I can tell she is very eager to be proficient enough to read a book by herself. Grace enjoys playing with her brothers, swimming, riding bikes and crocheting. She has also continued taking pictures with her camera bought two years ago, and she captures some fun shots of "real life" around here.

Faith also turned 6 and is the taller of the twins. She, too, is learning to read and has excelled in many areas of school. Faith is a big helper and cheerfully keeps her brothers busy when I am needing to do school with the older two. Faith was the first ride her bike without training wheels, and she rides so well, she was also the first to pop the inner tubes! Faith has picked up knitting and is in the process of making a scarf for her doll.

Caleb turned 4 and continues to grow and grow and grow. He is blossoming into a young man, but he still has the residual "cling to mommy" effects from being sick so long. It has been a joy to have no reason to take him to the doctor for the entire year except for a minor procedure to get his ear tubes removed. He loves Legos, and recently has been leaving the Duplos behind in favor of making creations with "real" Legos. He got a Razor and a balance bike this Christmas, so he can sometimes be found driving up and down the hallway!

Micah is 2. I could probably end things with that. He is an energetic little guy, and fast too. You will think he is in the living room where you just saw him but you wonder about that strange sound coming from the bathroom... yep, he is giving himself a bath out of the toilet. Micah amazes us with what he knows how to do, he is the only child in our home that had ever broken a DVD in half, he knows how to turn on the TV and DVD player to watch a video, he tears apart the couch in less than 30 seconds so that he can reenact the BF Men's Swim Team, he climbs to the very top of things only to announce "Watch me, Mommy" and fling himself off of it. Sigh. I am wondering if the decision to put him and Caleb into gymnastics was a wise one...

Elliott keeps busy at What-a-burger as their IT Security guy, he is becoming more and more "Orange" every day. When people look surprised to hear that he works at a burger joint, I joke and say "Somebody has to keep the burgers safe!" He is also very involved in the Sound ministry at our church ( and has been singing in the choir. He loves taking out the RV and spending time in nature with the kids. The techie in him came out, and for our last trip, he rigged up an outdoor movie theatre, it was pretty awesome.

I try to blog, knit, crochet, sew. Mostly I clean, cook, teach, and drink coffee. I got off of Facebook because I was constantly discouraged and comparing myself to others, not to mention the sheer amount of time wasting. I also downloaded Angry Birds to my phone and quickly deleted it for the very same reason. I love being with friends, especially ones who spur me on to love and good deeds. I enjoy being outdoors and hiking, and look forward to doing more and more as the children get older. Did I already mention coffee? This summer (for our anniversary) we bought an amazing espresso-maker, I feel like I live at a coffee bar. :)

We took some big trips this year... the first airplane trip for all but Hannah (who flew two times when she was under 1yo) as we spent a week in Virginia in April to visit friends and go to a wedding. We had a wonderful time and fell in love with the area. Then, in the heat of the summer, I drove all six kids to Nebraska to visit some friends, Elliott flew in to join us for the weekend. Three of the kids ended up with double ear infections and one nearly with pneumonia. It was also the crazy hottest it had ever been in Nebraska. We had to go the Omaha Zoo twice and we still didn't see everything! That was some trip!

Our family has also faced some health challenges this year. I had a pain that began in March and resulted in my having an exploratory surgery done in May, it was another good opportunity to trust in the Lord. As my pain remains with no medical explanation, I choose to remember Paul and the thorn in his flesh which the Lord allowed to keep Paul humble. Elliott's dad had a car accident following a seizure in March, following many tests and surgery it was determined that he had an aggressive brain cancer. We have spent as much time as possible with his parents since then, and it has been encouraging to see our children loving and serving their grandparents. My mom broke a vertebrae in her back a few weeks ago. She is back up and about, albeit feeling "old" (her words).

This year has, at times, felt like a roller coaster of emotions. Through it all, the Lord has been faithful to show Himself to us, to teach us from His Word, and to conform us to His image. So, if you survived this letter of sorts, I hope you do not walk away from it thinking we have it all together. We don't. We are striving to live in such a way that brings glory to God and shines forth the light of Christ to those around us. We fail miserably sometimes (ask the kids) but we are thankful that the Lord gives us the strength to get up and try again.

May your 2012 draw you closer to Christ!

Is it cheating...

... to begin using the Systematic reading plan for 2012 this week so I can build in a few buffer days?!?!?! Well, cheating or not, I did! I didn't realize that the plan was divided into morning and evening readings ( I am excited, this will be very helpful in building some much better habits for me of being in the Word of God at all times!

Today I read Genesis 1-2. I love hearing over and over again how God created the world. I love the order. I love the detail. I love that God imparted His likeness to man, that we might be conformed to His image. As I read this morning, I realized something I had never realized before... there were no poisonous plants in creation. None.

Genesis 1:29 - And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food."
Maybe that was obvious to you... and of course, I didn't get to this in my reading this morning, but when I read the above passage, it occurred to me how much the original sin changed the world. Plants that used to be good for food could now kill me. Ouch. I had never really pondered how much the original sin changed the world that God had made that was so good (Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) to one that was so accursed, not only mankind, but all the way down to the vegetation.

I am glad I "cheated" and began a little early. What is your plan to grow in the Word in 2012? 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas...

Christmas has arrived! It snuck up on me somewhere in between baking the pies and the non-stop stirring of the homemade soft caramel...  there will be some yummy sweet treats later today!

I am excited to be sharing Christmas Day with my precious church family this year! I love that Christmas fell on Sunday! It is always a blessing to be with the church, how much more so in remembrance of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Family gatherings will begin at lunch and carry on through Monday. We will share food, memories, gifts. But most of all, I am praying for opportunities to be bold with the Gospel... what sweeter gift would there be that to see someone I love come to know Christ and open the gift of eternal salvation this Christmas!

Do you know Him? The true gift. The most amazing gift. Jesus Christ - John 3:16 - God gave.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When we take a break...

I get excited. I work on all those projects that I have been ignoring for all the many weeks we have been doing school. I also schedule dates to have coffee with friends and for having friends over to play with the kids. Monday and Tuesday were crazy with friend fun. Almost too crazy.

Today, after sleeping in until the kids woke up, I worked on the upstairs room which we are converting from being my old office/craft room/catch-all room into being a guest room. It won't solely be a guest room as we have rarely enjoyed the opportunity to host anyone in our home, but it will be arranged in such a way that we will be able to! (This is a not-so-subtle hint to my out-of-town friends - Come see us!!!!!)

I organized my yarn. I weeded through clothes I had been saving from the children in hopes of one day having some cute sewing project using the kids' old clothes. I am working on hoarding less and being more realistic. The clothes went into a trash bag to be given away. I had the kids go through and organize Playmobil sets. We dusted the bookshelves and began trying to organize books. I took out some of the boxes of toys and stashed them in the guest room closet, I am thinking of keeping them out of the normal rotation. I chose things that might be good for pulling out only during school hours to keep the two littlest boys busy during room time while I am teaching the olders... plus, it means less toys out in the open for Micah to dump out at will. Win-win.

If you were to go into either my office or the upstairs room right at this very moment it would seem disastrous... but I have learned that is normal when you are in transition, especially when organizing and purging is occurring. There is laundry to fold. Nothing new there.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go to the Botanical Gardens. We will see what the weather does. Friday will be another purging and organizing day as Elliott's car will be in the shop. It will be nice to be home and able to work on more projects. Part of me is tempted to not start school until we are all finished with projects... but since there are always projects that probably isn't the best idea, though it is the most tempting...

What do you do when you take breaks from the normal routine?

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Africa, we love the Lord...

In Uganda, we love the King...

That was the opening line to a song sung by a children's choir from Uganda that our family became acquainted with 8 years ago. We all still sing it. We even try to emulate the accent of the kids.We end up sounding pretty silly.

Today at church one of our missionaries was sharing about their ministry in Uganda. It is not related at all to the children's choir, other than being from the same country. The stories that Shannon Hurley related ( made us laugh (you never really think about how blessed you are to have a toilet until you hear that someone else has to dig a thirty-foot deep hole to hover over), made us cry (when he related the struggle of a young man who was alcoholic and suicidal, yet came to a saving knowledge of the truth and has experienced a transformed life), we were challenged to step out in faith (sacrificially giving or potentially, literally, onto an airplane to Uganda in the summer of 2013).

This morning, Shannon taught from Hebrews 12:1-3. More than once, in his very energetic and passionate style, Shannon encouraged us to RUN the race set before us. He taught us about our needed preparation - setting aside every encumbrance or weight (what is slowing me down...) as well as getting rid of the sin that so easily entangles us (and it is sad how easily I am entangled). Shannon encouraged us that we need to start the race, once prepared, and be focused on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, encouraged by those who have gone before us, but refusing to look up and be distracted by the temptations of this world. The race is not a sprint, it is more like a cross-country, all-terrain marathon, it will not be easy, but we cannot give up.

I have been pondering all afternoon... how can I run? What weights do I need to cast aside? What sin is acting like a yoke, dragging me down? How can I do a better job of building relationships purposefully with the intention of showering them with the good news of the Gospel? Am I prepared to be called into service of the Lord "in season and out of season", in H.E.B. or Costco? Does the light of Christ show to those around me? What would my children say?

I am thankful that the Lord gave Shannon a heart for the people of Uganda. I am thankful that the Lord caused our pastor to cross paths with him and go to Uganda to help with a pastor's conference. I am thankful that Shannon and his family chose to spend this weekend with our church, encouraging and building us up, challenging and convicting the saints to RUN!

Oh, that I might have such a heart to see the lost in my neighborhood and pursue them with the Gospel. Oh, that I might even more, recognize the spiritual needs of my children, instead of being consumed by their physical needs or the care of my home. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your Word going out, being proclaimed boldly and without apology!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where there are no oxen...

This afternoon, after lunch and before evening church, I went over to my mom's house to clean. She lives alone and my brother and his family are coming for a Christmas visit this week. As I was working on her home, I was laughing because there was no really visible dirt anywhere to direct the cleaning effort. I was wiping down counters that were not sticky or greasy, dusting things than seemed relatively dustless, and vacuuming a clean-looking carpet. While I was dusting the guest bathtubs (they had gathered some small dust bunnies for lack of use) I realized how different the cleaning is at my home.

Around my house, we have a cleaning schedule and we joke that "We clean the toilets every Wednesday whether they need it or not!" But with eight people running through the house every day,  there is rarely a time that we have cleaned and it not be needed desperately. Most the time, instead of following our "ideal" schedule, we follow the sticky spots on the floor, or the strange smear of unidentifiable food matter on the wall, or the stairs which look like I haven't swept them in weeks when I really just swept them two days ago.

During my bathtub "dusting" this afternoon, the sentiment in Proverbs 14:4 was greatly illustrated to me,
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
But abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

When I was a new mom I had a sweet friend who would share this verse with me every time she could tell I was getting overburdened by my lack of being able to keep up with the tasks of running a home, or when she could feel my frustration mount after finally completing a chore only to watch it be destroyed moments later by a curious toddler. As this friend would encourage me, I would shake my head, I just couldn't see the abundant crop on the other side of my messy manger. Now I am thankful for my dear friend who shared the truth of God's Word with me in those early mommy days when I struggled to keep things together with my one little. Which became two littles. Then four littles. Then five littles, and six. More and more oxen, more and more manger cleaning.

Today as I worked at my mom's house, I realized the quiet there was almost deafening, so different from my never silent home. I thought about the giggles. I remembered the quarreling. I considered how my sweet children made me birthday cards with napkins and crayons, took peppermint candies and made a smiley face on a pecan pie to make it special for my birthday cake. I looked back at how welcoming the children had been to a little neighbor who comes down to play, even being willing to turn off a much anticipated movie to include and reach out to this child. It has taken awhile, but I am starting to see the abundance of the crop, fruit still maturing on the vine.

I smiled when I left my mom's house, fresh vacuum lines in the carpet, and returned to my home. The hallway needs sweeping, I narrowly escaped a Lego-induced puncture wound to the foot, closed my eyes to the three games laying scattered on the living room floor, and trying to ignore the baskets of clean and folded laundry already crumpled up by a child digging through to look for a set of pajamas. We have been abundantly blessed with a great number of oxen, and I am thankful for the encouragement of the Scriptures.

My manger will likely not be on the cover of Southern Living magazine anytime soon. I am trying to learn how to overlook the mess and love on the mess-maker. And, if you call and want to come over for a coffee, even on short notice, I will do my best to clean a spot for you on the couch. (This will be achieved by tossing my washed, yet unfolded, laundry onto my bed, or shoving all the things which have not been put away properly into an empty laundry basket and stashing it in my closet.) When you come over we can chat about keeping our mangers clean, if you want to, but I would prefer to encourage one another about how to better love our husbands and children. Will that be a Cinnamon Roll Latte or a Mocha?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Font returned...

... 'twas too hard to read...

Bummer. It was pretty.

Can't decide...

... on a theme for my blog...
... on a font for my blog...
... on a topic for a post...

... so, I changed the background of my blog...
... and I changed the font of my blog...
... and I wrote this post...

I like the background, though it may not last long... I would love something super girly but am sensitive to the fact that this is a chronicle of my family, and half of us aren't girls...

I love the font... this is my little online journal and I only wish my handwriting looked this awesome... but seriously, if it is too difficult to read just tell me and I will put it back to something more computer-reading friendly... I just think it looks more personal this way...  I feel like everything these days is moving to be less personal, more detached... and I don't like that... at all...

There is much to share about life these days... and in a couple of days we will be on a break from school and I am hoping for a chance to un-draft some of the many half-developed posts I have begun over the last few months.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Some pictures...

A funny little conversation...

Because of a 2am fever, Micah and I were sitting on the living room couch together after the rest of the crew headed to church and Caleb remained sleeping. He was playing with a new fire truck toy he had gotten the day before. 

Micah: (pointing to his fire truck) This is the ladder.
Mom: What do you do with a ladder?
Micah: Climb.
Mom: Do you climb up or down?
Micah: Climb up.
Mom: What do you do after you climb up?
Micah: (in a very serious tone) Obey.

Changing the menu...

When you already live with a major food allergy like we do (nearly 6 years ago we found out our family is all Celiac), one might think that adding another would be "no big deal". Lately we have had many in our family with regular, non-viral, gastric distress. It is painful, and in the case of the toddler, messy.

So, we are trying to figure out if this is a lactose (milk sugar) problem or a casein (milk protein) problem. Either one seems mentally overwhelming and emotionally draining. The thought of having to go back through all the different products that we had accumulated that were safe for a GF diet and determine whether or not they will be safe for this new adventure is exhausting. I think I can get rid of cheese, it is an add-on in most cases, but no more nachoes (my quick "emergency" meal)... it will be the milk for baking and the butter, and the cream for coffee and scones that will be the most difficult to say good bye to...

I am thankful that I have friends who are already pioneering this area so I won't be back to square one like I was when we lost gluten... I really find that to be a generous gift from the Lord. As I planned my menu this week, I considered the fact that we would need to try to pull these foods from our diet... I am wishing that we had made that decision before I stocked up on cheese at Costco this past week...

When I remember that God is working all things together for my good, that I might be more conformed to His image, I can see the good in this trial. It will be the motivation I have been lacking to take the next step in eating healthier. Being on the diet alone will eliminate some of the foods that tempt me most into eating too many indulgent treats. And it will also draw me closer to Him as I know my tendency to be emotionally driven to food. This will be a good reminder that my Strong Tower is the Lord, not heavy whipping cream in my french press coffee, or ice cream with chocolate chips.

So, around here we will be changing the menu... slowly but surely...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cultivating thankfulness...

Recently I have been bogged down by my life. Schooling four children and chasing two others (even with help a few days a week) has found me struggling lately. I can't see the floor through the piles of laundry, nor the counter beneath the dishes, and let us not talk about the spots on the hallway tile...

Then, as I was looking at a blog a friend shared with me (about a Lego lapbook), I came across an unrelated post (unrelated to the Lego thing, that is) which was very convicting. The author had effectively taken every one of my struggles from the past couple of weeks, said them and then remembered something to be thankful for about that. Ouch. I had been forgetting the second part.

So, here is my attempt at remembering to cultivate thankfulness...

When I look at the counter and see the precariously stacked piles of dirty dishes,
     I am thankful that we have an abundance to eat.
As I gaze upon the mounds of freshly washed shirts and pants we affectionately call Mount Laundry,
     I remember to be grateful for warm clothes as the days grow colder.
When I look at muddy tracks down the hall, trip over toys or step on a Lego,
     I am thankful for healthy children who are happily playing together.
As my heart sinks to think about the dust bunnies hiding behind the couch or under beds,
     I remember how blessed I am to have a well appointed and comfortable home.

This week I am making it my goal to remember the second part. I am reminded now of the children's song, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done..." Why had I stopped doing that? I am looking forward to the things I will find to be thankful for.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A little hike...

Our family spent Wednesday through Sunday of Thanksgiving week camping at Garner State Park in our travel trailer. Friday after Thanksgiving some friends joined us to tent camp for the weekend. The weather was beautiful, mostly in the 60's during the day, cooler at night. The kids rode bikes until they popped the tires, we drew and painted, photographed birds, hiked, played football, sat by the fire, roasted marshmallows, made s'mores, and watched movies outdoor. It was lovely.

Saturday morning was slow going, a big storm had blown through on Friday night and everyone seemed to be taking a while to get things together. We had decided we all wanted to go hike to see a little cave they have called "The Crystal Cave". By the time we were on our way, Elliott ended up staying behind with Caleb and Micah.

So, with Elliott staying back in the RV with Micah and Caleb and Curious George on DVD, the rest of us set off. In total there were 5 adults, 11 children (one being a baby strapped to a momma's back), and 2 dogs. We started on the Crystal Cave hike and very quickly found we were going up a pretty steep cliff. Comments were occasionally heard like, "is that a baby on the hike?"... that probably should have been our first clue to turn back.

Alas, we carried on, the kids were all very excited to see this cave filled with crystals! We had to take a few breaks to catch our breath, but all in all, it was a nice and challenging hike. We made it to the cave, right after about fifty other people, so we waited our turn and then went in to explore. It was funny to watch the kids be so excited about a little caving expedition. We took a snack break and then plotted our return hike.

Since the hike we came up was pretty steep, and the map of trails had shown a less challenging hike that looped into the one we were on, we decided to take that loop back instead of hike down such a steep path. We started hiking, everyone refreshed from the snack and break. We soon got to the sign for the other trail, but there was some confusion. The sign had no arrow showing which direction you should take and we met a couple who said they had circled the same spot multiple times trying to get back down. We decided to take the route that looks like it was a nice, gentle descent.

So we hiked. And hiked. The hike was moving much faster without the steep inclines of the first half of the hike. There were little painted yellow footprints to let you know you were on an official path. This was encouraging. We were sure we would be back to the main road soon. So we kept hiking.
Then we came to a cross road that was not labeled. After some investigating we decided on a route as we spotted some more yellow feet. We got to a spot where the trees opened up and you could see "Old Baldy" very clearly and we paused to take some family photos. The views were breathtaking. But everyone was getting a little tired and looking forward to the hike ending... maybe around that next bend...
We kept hiking. We were not running into any one on the trails. We kept seeing yellow painted footprints... white dots... red dots... We started coming to areas with steep drop offs, the dogs were needing to be carried, the kids helped down. Then we ran into a couple coming towards us on the hike, so we asked if they knew were we were. They said we were a third of a mile from the end of the trail. What rejoicing there was!

Renewed with the fresh hope of finding our way safely out everyone picked up the pace a little. In a few moments we would get to the spot where we could see the end of the trail. There was only one problem. The end of the trail was at the bottom of a cliff. We looked around for the painted foot prints and dots... they went straight down. We had been hiking for over 2 hours. The dogs were tired, the kids were tired, the parents were all quietly wondering if one of the group was going to slip off the cliff.

Once we all realized we were indeed going to have to make this descent, we laughed. At some of the more treacherous parts of the climb where we were having to help guide each other over sharp drops, we took the opportunity to take photos of the drama. At the bottom of the slope, once we were finally at the bottom, there was a sign - DANGER: Very Steep, Falling Rocks. Yep, and we hiked it.

When we figured it out, looking at the trail map and trying to decipher where we went wrong, we calculated that we likely hiked 3.5-4 miles... with 11 children, 5 parents and 2 dogs. We all slept really well that night. It was awesome, at least, it was awesome once we all survived and got back to camp. Just a little hike...