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936Pennies Adventure Roadtrip

Maybe 208 Square Feet Is All We Need – Our Second Week On The Road

September 6, 2017

Our Second Week of Life on the Road

Deception Pass, Washington. August 24 – September 1


It was not exactly our smartest parenting moment.

We had thought it a brilliant idea, only moments later to realize we had set a trap for ourselves. “Let’s let them decide.” My husband suggested from the driver seat. We were leaving Newport, Oregon, where we had settled for a few days to watch the Total Eclipse. Heading North out of town, we ran into stand still traffic, a line of eclipse chasers headed back to life and work. “We could cut east for a while, head to the Columbia River Gorge, then back to the ocean later.” Neither he nor I could decide, so we bounced the idea to the back seat. “Boys, do you want to go see some waterfalls for a few days? Or stay at the ocean?”

Zeke, our six-year-old, enthusiastically answered, “Waterfalls!” a split second before his younger brother, Ellis, yelled, “Ocean!”. Their littlest brother–he is pretty sharp for his age–but having no idea what we were discussing, his vote didn’t quite count yet. And so we had a tie. After a coin toss, we found ourselves waterfall bound, and my mama heart tore just a bit as little Ellison sniffed back tears from the seat behind me.

The little guy is so patient. For four days he eagerly explored the forest and waterfalls with us, but I knew all along that his young heart was set on salty waves and sunsets over the horizon. When we arrived back at the Pacific a few evenings later, his daddy scooped him up from the dinner table and took him to the beach to catch the sunset. He came back all smiles and pockets full of shells.

Besides not putting our decisions to a vote in the backseat, here are a few other things we have learned from our second week on the road:

“Work can wait. Life can not. This takes time to learn and relearn.”

Drape blankets over the toddler’s bed, and he might actually nap in the afternoon.

If you don’t reserve a campsite months in advance, be prepared to up and relocate every few days, landing wherever has a spot for you.

Just like at home, we will do what we make time for. Changing your location and lifestyle will not automatically lend to a slower pace of life. We must carve out and designate time for that which is most important to us, or it will not happen.

What we are eating:

Smoothies (Glad we brought our blender!)

Fantastic fish tacos at Seabolts Smokehouse

Dinner of Tilamook white cheddar, smoked salmon dip, and smoked Cajun salmon (after another trip to Seabolts Smokehouse…)

Instant pot minestrone

Egg burritos. Thanks to a friend in Idaho who introduced us to “eggs” Ellis can have. Later that day he told me, “Today was a great day.” “Why is that buddy?” I asked him. He replied, “Because of eggs that don’t hurt my tummy.”

Another crab boil in the Instant pot

Instant pot clam chowder

Gluten free pastries!

Ellis did not want to try out our new kayak on the lake, because he “had never tried that before.” Once we convinced him to get on, we couldn’t get him off the thing.

We took the boys to explore Fort Casey on Whidbey Island. Grayson grew up exploring that old military base with his own brothers. We laid in the grass as a family and watched kites glide across the sky next to the Puget Sound.

The boys made friends at the campground with:  Aaliyah, Ellie, Kaden, Ashley, and Gracie the Parrot.

Grayson ran many of the trails that he’ll be running a 50k race on in December.

The boys took their very first ferry ride! We spent the day on Orcas Island, introducing them to Moran State Park, and catching up with friends until we nearly missed our ferry back to the mainland. We were the last car they allowed on the last ferry of the night before turning people away.

Questions of the week:

Ellis:  “How do hurricanes happen?”

Zeke: “Is the ocean in the middle of the world?”

It felt good to settle in the same area for a week. Without all of the bouncing around, we had more time to devote to reading, writing, running, and simply being together. This trip is already teaching me so much about the importance of a right relationship between rest, play, and work. But I would have more time to process that during our next week, when we settled closer to Seattle, camping out in our (very gracious) friends’ yard…


936Pennies Adventure Family Giveaway RedeemThe205

Family Adventure Pack Giveaway! Capture Time And Make It Count With Family Adventures

August 16, 2016

family adventure

Besides a few other families and the occasional hiker descending from Mt. Quandary’s 14,265 foot peak, we were alone at the lake. In fact, we had spotted more mountain goats, gracefully bounding down the steep slopes, than we had seen people.

I returned from a short hike to the car, back to our spot next to the water nestled between mountain peaks. The lake was clear as the day. I set down the tackle box, then the snack bag, which the boys made an immediate beeline for. Our oldest, Zeke, took a little bit longer, as he had a rocky ridge to clamor down.

family hike

“He made it all the way up there by himself.” my husband explained, pointing to a natural seat cut into the rock face high above my head. “I just turned around, and he was way up there. Then we had a little talk”, he added with a smirk. Zeke leapt from a rock a few feet from the ground, and joined his little brothers at the snack bag.


Nut butter bar in hand, our youngest boy settled down into my lap, and we sat staring at the water together, his whole weight resting against me. I leaned in to kiss the top of his head; his hair as soft and white as the mountain goat hair we had found hanging from the bushes we’d hiked through to get here. He turned to look up at me, his eyes as deep and indigo blue as the lake.


Out here, as the marshmallow white clouds travel across the sky, they do not speak of time passing. Rather they give testimony to time captured and savored, because we’ve chose to stop and watch.

Here surrounded by rock and respite is not where time stands still. As a parent, I have surrendered to the fact that we cannot stop time. Rather, here is where time finds its rightful place. Here is where time becomes bigger.

In the rush and hustle and routine and often chaos of our day-to-day, time shrinks. It becomes small and insignificant, slipping through our hands. And one day we stop only to realize that a week has passed. Perhaps a month. A year. An entire childhood. And where did the time go?

adventure pack

This is precisely why we take these family adventures. Why they have become an essential fiber woven into our family, holding us that much more tightly together. These adventures were the heartbeat behind our decision to move to the mountains.

But the thing is, you don’t have to have access to the mountains, the ocean, or the forest to take family adventures. Family in itself is an adventure. But wherever we live, and whether or not we as parents have a passion for the outdoors, we owe it to our kids to give them that chance. They deserve the opportunity to fall head over heels in love with the artistry created by the One who crafted them.

at the lake

Whether it’s a nature hike deep within the Rocky Mountains, or an after-school stroll along the river that runs through town, there is adventure to be found. And we must encourage that thirst for beauty and discovery in their hearts.

It hit me as I sat and inhaled the scent of my boy’s hair mingling with the aroma of pine. Out here, children lose all sense of time. There is no schedule or agenda; only rocks, sticks, wildflowers, and mystery. And here, as we watch them, fully captivated only by what’s in front of them, we find permission to redefine time also. Time no longer slips away, it lingers. It appreciates. It savors. It chisels itself as memories on our souls. It is no longer menace nor taunter nor burden, but gift.


All the time as parents we hear it; we feel it, that time is fleeting. But my family is discovering that these adventures are one of the greatest tools we have to slow time down, and to focus on what–and who– is truly important to us in life. When we make time for these adventures, we show our kids a whole new set of priorities. As we wander, we inspire wonder. As we hike and run and stroll and climb and appreciate and respect and watch in awe—we hand them the keys for slowing time and making it matter.


Giveaway Has Now Ended. Thank You To All Who Participated!

Adventure Motherhood Parenting

When I Decided To Let My Kids Do Dangerous Things

March 9, 2016


The garage door across the street begins to slowly crawl upwards, revealing two sets of feet. They walk towards each other, and as the door opens fully, I see them embrace. It’s difficult to tell with the helmet around his head, but he looks young. She looks older, and nervous.

He climbs onto the motorcycle, and I continue to push the baby forward in the stroller, but my other two boys stop me. They stand ten feet behind me, transfixed on the scene across the street. My eldest does not divert his gaze as he tells me, “Mom, we need to see how fast he goes.” I stop, and I too become engrossed, but for a different reason. He pushes the bike backwards with his feet, slowly away from the house and onto the street. She steps forward hesitantly, blowing him a kiss and then hugging herself as she backs into the garage, her eyes still on him as he speeds away.


I am overwhelmed by the emotions that flood over me as I observe her watching her son. I picture my own boy on that motorcycle, his safety completely out of my control. And then I see myself at ten years old, walking into my home after a week with my grandparents to find my mom and dad in casts and stitches, road rash painted across them from the motorcycle accident that almost took them from us. I push the thought out of my mind as I take my boys’ hands and we cross the street.

An hour earlier on the playground I was climbing high on the ropes when my boy told me, “Mom, you can’t do that. It’s dangerous.” I smiled down at him, and told him he could climb too. “It’s ok to do dangerous things sometimes, if you’re very carful.” I tell him. Of course, this is before I witness the woman across the street watching her boy ride off on his motorcycle. She may be braver than I will ever be.


For months now as we have prepared for our move to the mountains, I have prayed countless prayers for my boys’ safety. We moved here for adventure; to give them all the opportunity we can to chase the beauty of God’s creation, to push themselves to new limits, to discover new strength, to learn how to watch out for each other, and to realize how small they are, and how large this world is. All the while, I knew that my very reasons for wanting to bring them here are also the very reasons I am most afraid of.

All of these things that we long for them to experience require an element of danger. And it has been a very real struggle of mine to trust that God will protect my boys as they venture out into His dangerously beautiful earth. But if I shelter them from all of the danger, I will be simultaneously keeping them from many of the most beautiful places on earth. I will be inhibiting them from experiencing awe and wonder. I will be holding them back from knowing and worshiping God in a very intimate way. And that would be something I would always regret.


For now while they are four and two and not even one, we will hold hands while we teach them about snakes and lions and unpredictable weather and not going too close to the edge. But I know that the day will come when it will become my turn to stand by and watch. And I will need to trust that what we have taught them will ring true in their hearts as they go about their adventures—the adventures we intentionally made a part of them by bringing them here.


Today my boy scaled the rope gym at the playground, and as he did so, I stared off at the 14,000 foot mountain peak behind him, knowing that one day that summit will become his playground. The thought makes my heart burst with both fear and pride. Fear for the day when his safety will be completely out of my control, and pride in knowing that climbing those heights will become so much a part of who he is.

Because the years spanning from now until then will be full of encouraging the wild in his heart, not stifling it. They will be marked by intentional teaching about how to be safe amongst the wild beauty of this planet, all while giving him and his brothers every opportunity to experience that beauty in its fullness, and coming to know the One who created it, and who created them with an innate need to explore their world, even when it holds a bit of danger.