4 Search Results for 13th birthday

Man Up! Coming of Age

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nearly 2 years ago, we promised Tristan a “wilderness adventure” for his 13th birthday.  This wild-at-heart-man-child of ours is most at home away from home.  This apartment in Bangkok just isnt a natural habitat to his free spirit and we’ve longed to be able to set him loose and see him push his limits and rise to a challenge!  That opportunity came in the form of a mountain trecking endeavor with his dad and a team of men that we work with. The team was going to lead a training in Nepal which made it easy to tack on an extra week to summit the Annapurna in the Himalayan mountains!

We’re talking big-boy adventure here!  Similar to the Everest base camp climb!  ROCK (climbers magazine) names the Annapurna the “deadliest mountain in the world“!  Even tho no one is allowed further than the base camp anymore, the climb to ABC was no small feat!!  Tristan left a kid and returned a man….because there aint’ no way his momma could have done it and he has earned a badge of honor, the respect of everyone else on the trail, bragging rights and a great sense of accomplishment!

The rugged terrain took their trecking party of 7 up the 4,130 meters of the Annapurna mountain to the base camp, which is now the highest point which climbers are allowed to summit – because it is so dangerous beyond that point and there have been too many deaths!  I restrained the urge to google too much information about the treck until I knew they were safely down, but when I did, I came across crazy stories that would have left me with an acute case of insomnia had I known!  The guys passed “memorials” on the way honoring climbers who didnt make it back down.

Every day, from the crack of dawn, they hiked for hours through blazing heat, rain and then snow to make it to their destination.  Nights were spent in tea houses which were un-heated, but provided water for showering and a hot meal.  Daily hurdles included rope bridges to cross, creeks to wade through, altitude sickness, headaches, oxygen deprivation, rocks to climb, cold to press through and mental stamina and true grit!

We didn’t hear from the guys the entire trip aside from a spotty attempted phone call and a couple of text letting his momma know he hadn’t fallen off the mountain.  C tells me that Tristan was, by far, the youngest guy on the trail!  And can I just say its a good thing his momma wasn’t there!!  I for sure would have gotten in the way of him summiting.  The guys tell us that the last day, they had to get up at 4am to begin the final hike in order to summit at sunrise.  Tristan at this point had an especially acute case of altitude sickness and was not doing well at all.  They guys all pushed and prodded, encouraged and antagonized, whatever necessary to keep him putting one foot in front of the other.  Apparently he was delirious and kept asking C if he could “just lay down in the snow and sleep for a minute?”

Oh my momma heart!!!  Had I been there you can bet that 1) who am I kidding, I would have died the first day and never gotten that far, and 2) I would have been the weakest link in the chain that pulled him up those last miles!  Tristan persevered and conquered the Annapurna trail!!

The summit has a helicopter that rescues climbers 4-5 times a day who just pass out and cant make it any further.  Im pretty sure Tristan was on the brink of a fast track out of there, but he continued on and made the descent with the guys and bought his Tshirt to wear with pride!

Annapurna checked off the bucket list!!  Such a cool father-son adventure!  And, we’ve told him that he’s now obligated to do it again with Eden in 13 years…..because Im pretty sure C is gonna be too old by that point to attempt it again with son #2!  So insanely proud of these guys!!

California Cousins and Twin Teens

Tuesday, June 23, 2015



And just like that, we have TEENAGERS!!  We did the math….from this day until Gigi turns 20, we will have 16 consecutive years of teenagers ahead of us (gulp!)  These two who made us parents have made us proud!  We love the young man and woman that they are becoming.  On their 13th birthday. they were presented with a list of challenges from mom and dad – tasks to be completed before their next birthday on which they will receive a new set of goals for each birthday throughout their teen years….Spiritual challenges….A new skill to acquire……Implementation of their gifting and exploration of their interests.  An opportunity to serve.  And a special trip planned for each of them this year!  (leave me a comment or email me if you’d like me to share our challenges for our kids as we usher them into adulthood upon this monuments birthday!)

There’s no place on earth they’d be happier celebrating than in the USA!!  We’re loving being HOME!!   Our “California girl” and “Surfer dude” celebrated with cousins, grandparents and friends on the beach.  After some surf and sand, we lit a fire and bundled up as the temp dropped with the setting sun.








The fun continued the next day as we sojourned to a week of “Smith” family vacation in Palm Springs where we soaked up some rays and blistered our feet in the desert heat.  A joint birthday celebration at a fun Mexican restaurant to celebrate the twins and Aunt Arlene’s birthday made for some full bellies and giggling girls when the mariachi band started singing improv about Gigi – the “chips and salsa girl!”








Finally some R&R for our family after a couple weeks on the road.  We loved the slow mornings and lazy hours by the pool and the little duck friends that came to the back door of our condo.




Gigi, the very moment our aggressive little ducky friend “bit” her finger!







Cousins are just the best!!  Your turn Savvy and Eli….Come visit us in Bangkok next summer!  And you’re invited too Sheryce!!  We loved catching up with you!!



……back on the road again with this brood scattered between states and grandparents…..missing my babies, but so excited they are making memories with the friends and family they love so dearly!




Stroll Down Memory Lane

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Its been anything but boring…..life with this man.

C thought of something incredibly romantic on our first anniversary that has been a favorite tradition of mine every year since…..  Every wedding anniversary, he buys a silver charm to commemorate the past year of our marriage and celebrate a significant moment, event or often…..a baby 🙂  Someday, my kids will fight over who inherits this bracelet.  I love the story it tells.


2001 – 2002

Married on the beach on Saint Simons Island…God’s presence and glory showered down through a thunderstorm!  Honeymooned in Key West.  Settled in an apartment in Columbia SC.  Got pregnant.  Surprise of a lifetime – its TWINS.  Threw up every day for nearly 9 months.  Helped with a church plant and hosted a small group.  Moved again into a second home.  Gave birth to Tristan & Abi.  Our family grew from 2 to 4.

2002 – 2003

Began preparations to move overseas.  Packed up all our earthly possessions.  Spent the twins 1st birthday in London en-route to Ukraine.  Tristan broke out with chicken-pox on the trip.  Landed in Kiev and moved into a temporary apartment.  Discovered we were pregnant 2 weeks later.  Miscarried at 15 weeks.  Processed loss and grief alone in a foreign place.  C began traveling.  Found a permanent apartment and moved a 4th time in 2 years.  Potty trained the twins (why this seemed like a good idea at 18 months is beyond me!)

2003 – 2004

Katherine, my sister moved to Ukraine to be with us – a Godsend to help with twins so we could study language.  We visit Sharm El Sheik Egypt.  We began volunteering at an orphanage.  C spending 30-50% of the time on the road.  We spend Christmas in London and get to see C’s parents and my mom.  We bring back a souvenir from England……due in 9 months.

2004 – 2005

Our sweet Britain is born in a hospital in Ukraine.  My mother comes to meet her grand-girl.  Our language skills improve….my attitude to the Ukrainian cold does not!  We go back to the States for a short visit and to get some intensive counseling.  Strain of living overseas has taken a toll…and….Im pregnant again.   Twins are enrolled in Russian pre-school for a short time.   My daddy comes to visit.  The Orange Revolution is taking place all around us.

2005 – 2006

We welcome Isabelle after a very scary delivery and almost losing her to placental abruption.  My mother and 2 sisters come to visit.  We develop close ties with our team members, our landlords, our language tutor and the orphans we are working with.   We discover an international church that fosters friendships with other ex-pats.  We begin hosting a small group and find “family” away from home.

2006 – 2007

A fun family vacation to Marbella Spain.  Once again, we bring back a souvenir – two pink lines on a stick.  We are asked to come on as directors of the orphanage/ministry to street kids we’ve been working with.  A busy year as we take on directorship as well as buy, remodel and move into an apartment.  Fifth move – first home we’ve owned.


We return to the US for Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate the holidays with family.  Baby Evie born.  We now have 5 kids 5 years old and under!  Life changes forever with the diagnosis of Evie’s heart defect.  The year we will forever look back on as full of miracles!   Many tears.  Many prayers.  So much love and heartache.  The blog is born.  C returns to Ukraine while we are still in the hospital to ties up loose ends and move our family back to the States permanently.   Charleston becomes dear to us!  We settle into a quiet house on a lake in Prosperity SC.  Tristan falls in love with country living.  C and I leave our kids for the first time and go Jamaica for our friends wedding.  I begin doula certification.

2008 – 2009

A bit of a blur.  So many hospitalizations, sleep studies, inpatient and outpatient procedures.  100+ blood draws.  Little by little, we see Evie begin to gain strength.  That summer, we’re invited to go work on C’s uncles ranch in Montana for the summer….we consider staying forever!

2009 – 2010

C buys me a “real” camera.  My passion for photography and writing take off.  A fun year of experimentation.  I launch three businesses as a spin off to the blog….photography, modeling and boutique marketing.  We also begin homeschooling the kids.  Fatigue sets in – surprise!!  Another pregnancy!!

2010 – 2011

Seeing Andrea Bocelli in concert together makes for our best Valentines day ever!  Lots of “high risk” monitoring of pregnancy due to a heart condition they have detected in me.   Gigi makes her entrance at a wee 6 lbs. 3 weeks early.  Heathy!  Such a redeeming experience to get to do a baby again….differently this time!  C works remodeling our fixer-upper-house.  Work/minsitry takes him to Cuba, China and India.

2011 – 2012

Winds of change are blowing again.  Highlight of the year was returning to Key West ALONE together for a long weekend.  A fun excursion before we launch overseas again.  C and I make a scouting trip to Bangkok and secure an apartment then return home and start uprooting.

2012 – 2013

Family trip to NYC for embassy meeting and visas.  We pack a pod, withdrawal from school, and move to the other side of the world.  Another season of adjustment.  We begin homeschooling, then enroll the kids in school when I get sick….a surprise pregnancy is short lived – we have another baby in heaven.   Proximity to India allows C to travel frequently and extensively to coach the Indian team.  We are blessed to have many, many, many, friends and family visit us in Thailand.  We get to play with wild monkeys.  I travel back to the US for my sisters wedding.    Life Group becomes a wonderful source of community and friendship for us in this new place.

2013 – 2014

Doula and photography opportunities growing.  Ministry flourishing in India.  Family beach trip with C’s parents to Phuket.    My parents come spend Christmas holiday with us.  Surprise visit from Faith and Maggie – some of our dearest friends. Melina too….friends even dearer so far from home!  We experience the Bangkok “Shut Down” and survive a Coup D’etat.



Life has been anything but boring!  Its cliche to say “Id do it all over again” because honestly, I wouldn’t choose to go back.  There were some really hard seasons and truly, it just. keeps. getting. better!!!  But…….there is NO ONE I would rather have done it with and I love looking forward to more adventure and growing old with this man.  Happy 13th Anniversary love!