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We celebrated Eric’s thirty-ninth birthday this past Friday. Please don’t tell anyone, but we were naughty and kept the kids out of school (I made some vague excuse) so we could drive about an hour west to Shenandoah National Forest. The weather was delightfully warm for January – we just had to be outside! Willow declared, “We are hikers now!” We just might be, well, almost.

One of the changes that we have committed to in this, our year of many changes, is to celebrate our birthdays with more experiences and fewer things. Eric wanted to get out in nature and eat really good food, so we did both.


We have decided that Shenandoah needs to become familiar ground for our family. We are planning to head back as soon as we get a really good snowfall, so we can see how the forest and the mountains have changed.

The kids were blown away by the views. We all were.

We decided not to force the evening, so it was a quick dinner and off to bed when we finally arrived home after dark. Saturday was a laid back day filled with food and family time.

Jarl has become really interested in my camera. With his technical mind he will probably be giving me pointers in no time. I love seeing what he sees through the lens.

(This is Moose – our beloved guinea pig, and Jarl’s buddy.)

We sang Happy Birthday and then devoured the gluten-free coconut apple cake I had baked in the afternoon (Thanks Gluten-Free Goddess!). I wasn’t able to get a great picture last night, but this morning I was able to capture an image of what was left.

We all decided that this cake makes an almost perfect breakfast.

In the quiet, after all of our little people were sleeping, Eric and I decided that this new less stuff, more family business felt pretty good this weekend.

Happy Birthday, Love.