Sunday, August 11, 2013

Arlington 3on3 Basketball Tournament

Arlington has a pretty good-size outdoor, 3on3 basketball tournament held on one of the tarmacs of the Arlington Airport. I (Matthew) made a team up for the Saturday-only bracket. It was basically adult recreation level basketball in our bracket, so not real stiff competition, but enough to make you work for it. Our team went 4-0 in our double-elimination bracket and won the Championship game. It was a lot of fun, tiring and the sun got the best of me by the end of the day. Kristina and the kids were able to video 2 of the 4 games, so I put together a little video of a bunch of my highlight clips, it's educational and awesome! Enjoy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Heather Lake

We have tried to do a bunch of hikes this summer.  When we first moved here, people told us that everyone spends all their time outdoors during the summer (mostly because of the excess of rain during the rest of the year).  I didn't understand that because I grew up in the south when you definitely spent alot of time indoors during the summer because of the heat and humidity.  I understand the Washingtonian mentality much better this year!  I have found myself looking forward to the warm days of 80 degree heat and planning hikes for those days specifically.

Heather Lake is an alpine lake.  It is probably one of the longest hikes we have done as a family and definitely the longest climb the kids have done.  It is switchbacks up on a rocky trail up to the lake.  The kind of rocky trail that you have to be aware of where you are stepping constantly.  Xavien lost his shoe a couple times in between rocks.  :)  The lake is beautiful with some snow on one side and a ton of bugs.  We had a nice picnic lunch and then made the hike back down.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Family Day

Day 4 of our vacation was spent with extended family.  Both Matthew and my grandmother's live about 30 minutes apart around the San Fransisco area.  We were able to enjoy wonderful visits with both grandmothers and then visited my sister-in-law and her family for a 4 of July barbeque.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lake Tahoe

About 9 years ago we visited Lake Tahoe for a few days.  I have awesome memories of that trip!
This year we met up with some friends for a short hike and lunch.  While driving around the Tahoe area I was reminded of all the things that I love about the Tahoe area...I am already planning our next trip out there.  Hopefully the next time we visit Lake Tahoe we will be able to stay a few days and do more things.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Day 2 took us through the Redwoods!  We stopped at two different groves and did hikes.  The only things the hikes had in common were trees and bugs!

The first stop was at Stout Grove.  The hike was 1 mile and completely filled with mosquitoes.  The mosquitoes really liked Xavien and he was not pleased during the hike.  The grove is off a river so it is possible that the humidity and water gave us mosquitoes.  We haven't really encountered mosquitoes since we moved west so it didn't occur to me to pack any bug repellant.  So even though we made the kids brave the bugs we did get to see some awesome trees!

The next hike was at Lady Bird Johnson Grove.  This one was really high in elevation so no mosquitoes but the path was littered with caterpillars or centipedes.  You couldn't take a step without hitting one of these guys!  Ivie nicknamed the place "Caterpillar Town" which I thought was really cute.   This was a self guided hike with numbers at various points of interest.  My kids have always liked that type of hike because they race to see who can find the next number.

The last stop one this day was at the Chandelier Drive-thru Tree.  There are about three trees (I think) in the Redwood forest that you can drive your car through.  The tree is absolutely huge!  I did a really lousy job and didn't get the best picture but in my defense it is hard to snap shots with multiple cameras and especially on Matthew's phone.  I'm just not used to using it.

The Redwoods were my favorite thing we saw this trip.  I immediately felt more at home in the forest.  No one complained about windy roads because everyone was in awe of these amazing trees!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Crater Lake

We got back from vacation about a week ago.  We drove down to California to see Matthew and my grandma's and stopped at lots of place along the way.  The first day we went to Crater Lake Oregon.  I love this lake!  We visited this area once before when Kanayla was about 4 months old and it was cool to see the changes.

The day we were at the lake was really hot.  According to park information, the average high temperature is 69 degrees in July.  We were well into the 90s!    It was kinda neat that we were high enough in elevation that even though it was really hot outside there was still snow on the ground.  Matthew and the kids enjoyed an impromptu snowfight.

The lake is a gorgeous blue color.  Kanayla and I liked learning more about how the lake was formed. She is very interested in science right now so the workings of a volcano were very interesting to her.  We found out after we left that they offer boat tours of the lake now and I can't wait to come back and do that some time.  It was quite the drive to get to the lake but well worth the extra effort!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sapphire Mining from July 2012

Last July while we were in Montana, we stopped by Gem Mountain to mine for sapphires. It was a lot of fun, I (Matthew) could have spent hours doing this, but the kids didn't have the same amount of patience, but there wasn't too much complaining for the 4 hours we were there. I put together a small video of the process of mining for sapphires at Gem Mountain. At the end you can see the glass-like rough sapphire, we collected about 75 of these rough sapphires from 4 buckets of gravel.

We paid to have 7 of the sapphires (that were large enough) to be heat-treated and cut. It takes them 6-9 months to complete this step, I guess there is a large waiting line. The remaining rough sapphires, Kristina put in a small vase with some sand. You can see that below.

We got the finished product in the mail about 2 weeks ago. They are small, but pretty. The first picture was not heat-treated, they left in its natural state because of the unique coloring. The last 3 are all similar in size and color and they recommend a mounting and possibly a pendant for these 3.

Here is the best close-up of the larger sapphire (a whopping .31 carat). We don't know how much any of them are worth, but I'm pretty sure their value is at least twice what we paid to get them heat-treated and cut. Nice souvenirs from a fun vacation we will remember. We'll definitely visit Montana again.