Wednesday, June 22, 2016


          It's all comparative isn't it? I love the new idea of taking a photo of the first and last day of school. It's so interesting and fun to look back on their progress throughout the year. Everyday the kids change but it is so slight that we don't see it. Ethan and Val really changed the most this year. Val started dressing up (thanks to her Aunt Jill's prodding) and Ethan, oh my! He looks like a man! 

Val spent this year buried in her books, honed into her many hobbies, and singing Hamilton at the top of her lungs, around the house. She received Student of the Year in Mathematics (it was even posted on FP Facebook page)! She has even made herself an organized checklist for her summer obligations without a mamma prompt. I am OVER the TOP proud of her.

Ethan is done with this year and has managed to survive with all the changes that he had to go through. I will say that I am glad to get a break from his Biology teacher, and might be celebrating more than he is. He will begin working on his volunteer hours and is trying to get paid hours working with my brother with his landscaping business! He had his first day today and Jer said he did great. He is saving for a computer!!

Charlie's growth looks like it happened mainly in her hair length. She started school mid waist and now it hangs past her little bum! She is missing Mrs Likens and Mrs Scott but is looking forward to Camp Gilead next month with her cousins! Although she didn't win any awards (she was glad because she didn't want to walk up front during the assembly) she was so excited for her friend Lexi who did! She has such a true heart of friendship..

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Family Matters

The Saturday before. Life was good!
Giving this handsome Grandpa Kisses!

My mom with my Auntie and Uncle! So glad you guys could make it! Love spending time with both of you.

The Fenstermackers at Mike's memorial Service
Lanie and Ryan at Daddy's Campsite
Tillamook Cheese Factory
Family Bingo TIme. Lots of laughs but NO cash!
Auntie Kisses are the Best
Grady, Joe, and Charlie at the Compound!
Aunt Miget telling her famous secret "Don't tell anyone, but YOUR my favorite!"
The Abston, Gibson, Lewis, Wegley Clan
Mom and Aunt Kathy. Can't tell they are related, right?
Debut of Mary Poppins with Mary herself- Kaarin Vail
They definitely needed this hug from Bert- Matt Vail aka Charlie says "My boyfriend's father!"
Really enjoying spending more time together but going to TGW every other weekend!
Yes, they all have to go now! He hee! Love these pumpkins!
Taking the kids to Mary Poppins!
So excited that the play has popcorn and candy!
Ready to begin. The first scene was directly mid stage in front of these two! They were grinning from ear to ear
A civilized bunch of siblings!
It had been a hard month for my family and I'm pretty sure we will not be the same for a very long time. We have had a lot of time together lately though. We need each other. I am blessed to have our family on both sides. A family isn't always defined by blood either. It was so nice to go see Mary Poppins last weekend so we could see Matt and Kaarin. They have always been a part of our family.

TheAbston family reunion was good. We went on a weekend where they were hiding another 100 glass floats on the beach. I got up on Sunday at 345am and combed the beaches with my sister in law trying to find one for my sister (in Mike's honor). We didn't end up finding one but it was such a beautiful time to walk the beach, enjoy the waves, the quietness and Jill's company.  We did manage to come home up with a trophy. Ethan received the "Best Bargain Babe" shopping cup.

It has been  wonderful having time off work to be there for my sister. I want to help her as much as I can. I miss her when I'm not with her, and wish I could do more, say more, or take more burdens off her shoulders. In the end I have learned that we get strength from our families. We need each other. I love my family, each and every one of you!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

In Memory
Picture linked to his Obituary

May 9th,
 The last post on my blog was posted on the same day that we lost a precious part of our family, my Brother-in-Law Michael Patrick Cortez. He was a man that hardly any person could call a stranger. If you had a chance to meet him, he would talk your ear off, grab your cell phone digits, and consider you a friend. He was full of advice, recipes, reasons for this or that, how to's, a helping hand if he could, discounted car parts, tips on living, and whatever else that would come up in a conversation. He never showed judgements, and was always happy for another person regardless of what he thought you should be doing, or buying. I remember the first time I showed him our Honda that we had just leased (I know he was most like others and was against the LEASING of a car). He didn't ask all the crazy questions others do when you did something wrong and they wanted you to know it. He only asked if he could drive it around the camp ground. As he drove it he was so genuinely excited for me and told me that he wished he could have "one of these suckers too."

I, as well as eveyone else, remains in disbelief. We've had the viewing, the memorial, and we plan to accompany my sister to the burial this month (if she would like), but it is still not enough validation. I can't believe that we will never hear him laugh again, see him hold his Lanie bugs in his arms, watch him hang out in the chair during family functions, camp together, watch soccer games together, hear him cheer for Ryan, as well as create new memories together. We are all hurting. I don't know if this post will cause my sister more sadness (I would never want that), but I didn't feel like I could move on in my blog without celebrating, capturing, sharing, and enjoying those memories with a few pictures (which I've learned that the more pictures/video of a person the better) of "our" Uncle Mike. We will miss you forever!

Mike helped me blow up my air mattress during a camping trip when I didnt have Mark to help me. It took him forever but he didn't care. He laughed when I showed him this picture!
I love how he loved my children. A special moment with Charlie and Mike during a summer hike.

A family camping trip out on the lake. He was always so relaxed and laid back.

His happy place on the water, at the lake!

Playing in the ball pit during a birthday party for Ryan