Back To School

Well, it's official.  Summer break is officially over.  This morning our three oldest kiddos started school, and our little guy starts on Wednesday.  It's hard to believe it's already here, but sure enough, this morning our 1st, 3rd and 5th graders got on the bus and off they went!  Even though this day comes every year, it's hard not to stop and think about how fast time is racing by as they get older.


At the same time, there's something nice about getting back into a somewhat normal rhythm around here.  It always takes a little time to readjust, and the days fill up quickly, but having a schedule again can be actually be a bit of a welcome change from the adventures of summer.


We've definitely been preparing for this day for a few weeks now, getting backpacks loaded up, school supplies crossed off the list, and visiting open houses to check out new classrooms and teachers.  I think we're all as ready as can be, and we're super blessed that our kiddos love school as much as they do!  


We sent them off this morning with our annual first day of school photos, and are looking forward to them coming home so we can hear all about new friends, new grades and new adventures!

What are your back to school traditions?  How do you get ready for a new school year?



You’re off to great places,
today is your day.
Your mountain is waiting,
so get on your way.
— Dr. Seuss

Family Adventure

We are all about adventure in our family.  Why else would anyone take 4 children to a park with 16,000 of their friends, in 85+ degree weather, to sit in the sun for 4 days and listen to loud music?  As our kiddos get older, and especially as the summer winds down to an end, there are less and less opportunities to make memories together, so we definitely take advantage of every chance we get.  So, we took one last summer trip last week to the Unity Music Festival in Muskegon, MI, and had a blast.  I'll just let a few photos from our weekend tell the story!


We're blessed that our kiddos are always up for an adventure, whether it's a road trip up north, a camping trip near the Mackinaw Bridge, or a 4 day outdoor Christian music festival.  The best part is, nothing creates family memories like a little family adventure.  And it's memories that we pray our kiddos will take with them as they grow become young adults in the next few years. 

How about you - what does your family do for adventure?  We'd love to hear about it!




A Family is a group of
people bound together by love
and a little bit of adventure

Music Is

I don’t remember when music was first a part of my life.  I know I was pretty young, and I’d play songs by ear on the piano at my grandparent’s house.  Later, that piano ended up at our home as a kid, and I took lessons.  Today that piano is here at our home, and although it doesn’t get used quite as often, music is still a pretty big part of our family.


See, sometime in college, I discovered that guitars are a lot easier to carry around that pianos, or even keyboards, so I bought one and taught myself to play.  Our kids have grown up loving having a dad that plays the guitar. It’s not uncommon around here to have a random jam session with the kids dancing around and dad strumming away on the guitar.


A little while ago, both our girls started learning how to play the Ukulele with GraGra (their name for my mom).  It’s been super fun watching them learn and thrive musically!  And the Uke is a great little travel instrument, which is perfect for kids who love camping as much as ours do!


A few weeks ago, our oldest daughter, Maddie, turned 10.  We had a special music-themed birthday party, and we gave her an acoustic guitar.  Actually, we gave her the opportunity to go with dad to Elderly Instruments to pick out her first guitar.  If you’ve never been to Elderly, it’s legendary. Seriously, it's kind of like Mecca for guitar players - they’re widely considered one of the finest guitar shops in the world.  Not a bad place to pick up your very first guitar.  


There was something beautiful about looking through the different options and picking out the perfect guitar for Maddie.  We settled on a Taylor Mini GS-e Walnut.  It has a smaller (parlor) sized body, which is better for a 10 year old to get her arms around, but it still packs a lot of sound.  It's also a guitar that she'll be able to play for a long, long time - which is the goal!

I'm super thankful for the gift that music has been in my life, and I'm especially thankful for those people who invested in me, from piano teachers, band teachers, choir directors and more.  I'm grateful for the role that it continues to play in the lives of our children, and I can't wait to see how they grow and flourish musically!

  - Jason



If I were not a physicist,
I would probably be a musician.
— Albert Einstein

Cousins Are

If you are fortunate enough, like us, to have lots of cousins, you probably have some pretty great memories as a kid of cousin adventures. Some of our favorites from our childhood include spending time at our cousins' farm, summer birthdays, playing "ghosts in the graveyard," cousin sleepovers, and family vacations. 


That's why we're glad our kiddos have some pretty great cousins to hang out with.  They love camping together with Grandma (known as GraGra around here), and Papa, and making life-long memories.  They say that cousins make the best friends, and I think we'd have to agree!


A cousin is a little bit of childhood
that can never be lost
— Unknown

Family, AdventureJason Aten