It’s weird how life changes when your kids grow older.  
Among many things, the size of your family, that was once quite constant and steady, starts to ebb and flow.  For so many years we have headed to Southern California for the 4th of July with all five kids firmly in tow, basking in the glory of all the good people we share this tradition with.  Then Max went ahead and grew up, and had volleyball conflicts that took us in and out, and then Elle went ahead and graduated, and then Grace headed over to China…we were counting our lucky stars to at least have three kids this year.
What is the world coming to I ask?  Where did all those little faces go, holding our hands to cross the streets and bouncing like silver balls in a pinball machine to and fro?  Now they are calm and serene…at least some of the time.  They crack jokes and three of them can drive a car for crying out loud!

I like it…all this growing up stuff.
And I hate it at the same time.
As we gathered these sweet three girls of ours together to celebrate the beauty of our nation, my heart overspilled with so much gratitude for all the freedoms we enjoy.  And for this family of mine.  And such a deep swell of love spread right directly over the sea to Asia where the other two are residing.  
I like to think they felt it warmly nestle in their hearts.
Here’s the few days we spent in Southern California mostly just in pictures, with a spike of craziness when Claire got stung by a stingray.
It was our first road trip with Bo in tow, and we had to wait for her to get a haircut of all things before we could pull out of town.

Dave was pleased as punch about that, HA!  But that girl was GOOD in that car for all those hours I tell you!

The kids were pretty delighted to get to have her around…I was a little stressed about the bathroom situation but she did so awesome.

We arrived to California just in time for an early firework show that filled up the sky with magical colors.

And it was on to beautiful scenes of these kids all reunited and joyful for the sea breeze playing with their hair and the cooler temperatures and the giddiness of reuniting after being apart for so long.

One of my favorite parts of the get-away was “church on the beach.”  Rather than overwhelming the local church with all our masses, we had our own little meeting on the beach.  We had each family with a missionary out (five of us) tell a little about what that missionary is doing to stretch and grow, doing the “seemingly impossible” (Dave read the quote from my Grandma back in this post back HERE).  We also talked a little how we can do things that stretch us each day, as we always have God’s help if we will remember to ask.

 The moms:

That first day Lucy wasn’t about to get all sandy on that sandy beach.  She claimed she only liked Bear Lake sand.  And she read a whole book.

But the next day sweet Kiley (great friend), somehow got her all hyped up to go to her own “island” of towels that she made her on the beach.

 Oh man she was happy!

 Lucy even ventured out to hang in the sand for a while.

…and did a little jig.

That Kiley is a miracle-worker I tell you!

New book, new day…

Happened to run into one of my best high school friends and his wife who we love.  They lived in China right before we did so it was so fun to catch up a little bit!

 We soaked in that gorgeous golden hour…

…until suddenly Claire ran out of the water with blood gushing out of her foot.

She had been stung by a sting ray.

And it was really bad.

Dave carried her into our hotel room and soaked it in the tub, and not to be gross, but that tub filled right up with blood.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve seen that much blood before!

Apparently you’re supposed to soak something like that in hot, hot water, and we did, forever.

But eventually we decided Dave better take her to the emergency room to get stitched up.

It was deep.

She got four stitches.

She told me she had just told all the kids earlier that day that she had never had stitches (although she’s had four broken bones).  I guess it was her time!

 Didn’t slow her down on the beach the next day 🙂  (the 4th)

 I like him.

Then it was time to clean up for the traditional firework festivities.


  1. Looks like a fun trip! Minus Claire needing stitches. I love that Lucy said she only likes Bear Lake sand. What a special love she must have for the Bear Lake family reunions. I am feeling the same way with my kids all growing and leaving home. I'll have one left in the fall.
    Lisa in WA

  2. You are an inspiration as a mother. I enjoy reading about your family, your adventures and your pure love for your family & God. Thank you for this blog.

  3. I just love seeing your beautiful pictures. Is that the Hotel Del Coronado? We were there last year and pretty sure that is the same place. If so, absolutely gorgeous building.

  4. I love Clair's swim suit! Who makes it! Sorry to hear about her foot! I can't even begin to imagine. I know how you feel when it comes to less children we are down to 4 of the six and I am not liking it one bit.

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