When we were in WA we had a super fun time as always. The weather was GORGEOUS the entire time! I am always overwhelmed by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I feel like I just can't soak it in fast enough when I am there. It was great to see my family and see the kids enjoy being with their cousins. Our time consisted of fun at the beach, swimming in the backyard, going to the Children's Museum, Jungle Playland, swimming at the lake, slumber parties, bonfires with s'mores, hiking in the woods, holding little cousin Kaiya, Target runs, Red Robin, swimming at the pool, playing school (because that's what you do in the summer), reading stories with Opa, fireworks, parades, horseback riding, running in a track meet, visiting with Great Grandma DeGroot, at least 10 games of Settlers, and lots and lots and lots of laughing! We made some great memories and it was never a dull moment when you went anywhere with 8 kids!
Personally it is always such a refreshing time for me. I love spending late nights talking with my mom and being spoiled by her. I love the endless chatting I get to have with my sisters and enjoyed all the Diet Cokes we enjoyed together! I love all the great meals my mom makes and the yummy goodies always available. Going in June is always a bonus as it is the peak of fruit season. Every meal we had a huge bowl of assorted fresh fruit and I thought we would turn into strawberries after all the fruit we ate! My favorites were the fresh strawberry pie, fresh blueberry muffins, and strawberry shortcake. We already miss all the yummy fruit!
Another special experience was being there for my niece Kaiya's dedication. My sister asked if I would sing for it and it was fun to be a part of this special occasion!
Most of all, I was blessed to spend time with my Dad. A few weeks before we were to leave for WA (God's plan for us to already have had a trip planned was amazing, wasn't it?), we received news that my Dad's cancer had returned. He was diagnosed 6 years ago with Stage 4 colon cancer and had already beat it several times. Over a year ago he suffered a stroke and by God' grace and strength was able to make almost a full comeback from that. To hear the news that his cancer was back was particularly difficult for all of us. I was anxious to go out and spend time with him. I was able to be there for his first treatment. I will never forget praying with him the morning he left for the cancer center. It was difficult for both of us, but we placed the treatment in God's capable hands and continue to trust Him for healing and strength in the coming months. It was hard to see my dad so rundown and sick, but I was thankful that we still were able to create some great memories together and enjoy each other's company. I spent a lot of time working in his yard as he has not had the energy to do that. It seemed like the one thing I could do to help him and encourage him in his battle. It was fun one day when some of his siblings and spouses came to help us. We had a fun yard work party and it was very rewarding for all of us. If you would like to keep up on his health situation he has a Caring Bridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/ottorouw. We would appreciate your prayers for all of us in the coming months!
As you can see we had a great vacation! Ryan was unable to join us this time as he is very busy getting ready for a week long SERVE project at our church starting this Saturday. We missed him a ton, but were very happy to Skype together quite a bit. The kids definitely haven't left his side since we've been home. I must say that it was WONDERFUL to come home to a clean house and a fridge full of food! Ryan is so incredibly helpful and I appreciate all that he does for us! We celebrated our 11th anniversary on the 6th and I am so thankful for the wonderful father and husband God has given me. It's been a fun ride thus far and I am excited to see what else God has planned for us!
Hope you enjoyed the pictures...I decided to put them in a slide show as there were just too many!