RAINBOW DANCE COMPETITION

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Nina had her first dance competition last weekend. Zig was “dance dad” for the day and stayed with her for the afternoon. The performance is only a few minutes, then lots of waiting, awards, hoopla, etc. Her team received double platinum, first in their age/skill category and invitation to New York? I have no idea what any of that means, but she had such a good time!

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Happy New Year

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Zig took the older kids on a last minute trip to Kauai after Christmas. I decided to stay back and rest here for a few days; the holidays took it all out of me.  I regretted that decision as soon as they started sending photos hanging at beach with our friends, but I had a great time here with my little men.

The first morning Evan woke up with everyone gone, he felt like a king. I let him spend the first day watching as many movies as he wanted and I’ve never seen the boy so happy. He stayed in his jammies all day and was totally blissed out with  all this freedom to be completely lazy.

Our week was so mellow. We played at home a lot. It was freezing! Evan had some playdates and we went on walks. One day I let him plan the whole day and we were quite busy with  a donut run, mini golf, bike park and a movie. Kayla worked a few days and they had some adventures as well.

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We went on some walks. The weather was super cold, but sunny!

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Mini golf. Brrr!

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Evan was having so much fun that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of him.

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So glad there were no cracks!

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By the last hole. Weston and I were almost frozen by this point.

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Luckily Weston isn’t very good at picking little things up yet, but I’m sure that day is coming!

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Weston gets more than his share of “loves.” Poor guy.

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Evan’s note stating what he wanted to do for his special day.

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Luckily we didn’t have to go far to celebrate.  Our next-door neighbors had a big party and we headed over at  11:30 to ring in the new year.

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And then we played with light sabers. The end.

Christmas 2015

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Christmas came so fast this year. I was unprepared but soldiered on, elfing it until Christmas Eve. I didn’t get it all done, but we had a nice Christmas. Having a small babe this time of year made it so much more special, and all I wanted to do was just bask in the simplicity of the season and enjoy my family. But, alas, the shopping. I wish the gift giving portion of Christmas could be a separate holiday all by itself. The music, the worship, gathering with neighbors and friends, enjoying the lights, cooking, quiet evenings at home, fun winter activities like ice skating and sledding…these are the things that make it feel like Christmas. But unless the shopping is done, it’s always in the back of my mind.

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The kids look forward so much to their Christmas jammies. I don’t buy matching ones because I want everyone to love theirs and look good in them. Not everyone wants a onesie like Rollin or snug little Hannahs like Evan. And we won’t even talk about the difficulty of finding Nina something “SUPER soft, not tight but not baggy, snug at the waist, and gathered at the feet.” I consider finally finding her little pants a huge success. It was such a challenge that I bought the same style (different print) for next year and put them away with the Christmas decorations. Oh the challenges of being a mini.

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Evan wrapped his own gifts for Zig and I. He shops around the house for us and we always love to see what he wraps up.

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It’s always amazing that a month’s worth of planning, preparing, shopping, and wrapping goes down in about 15 minutes.

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The day after Thanksgiving was super sunny this year so we decided to get a real tree again. Definitely pros and cons to a real tree and I could not wait to get that thing out of my house the morning after Christmas. My clutter radar was going crazy and the endless pine needles were too much.  As soon as I woke up on the 26th I started taking the ornaments off. The kids were bummed but I literally could not help myself. I had to have it gone.

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Ah, Christmas clutter gone. So rewarding to vacuum up that last pine needle. At least I kept a poinsettia and the mistletoe. Isn’t that enough? Apparently not, said the children.

FRIENDSGIVING 2015

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We spent Thanksgiving with friends, as we do most years. But this year the crowd was much bigger. Lisa and Dave hosted this wild and crazy group of about 14 adults and 20 or so kids. So many good cooks in this crew and everything was amazing. We had so much fun eating, lounging and playing games.

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Lisa sets a beautiful table, always!

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Weston was feeling the love.

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Caught red-handed!

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Kid table with Pilgrim Tyler Rands!

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Mali, Sela and Annika.

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He escaped from the kids’ table!

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The beginning of the games.

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Post dinner nap, a must.

Happy Thanksgiving!

THIS IS US (2015)

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Serafin- EditedNina often comments to me about how she wishes I’d keep up my blog. She can’t understand why when I homeschooled I was able to find time to post regularly, but now that everyone is in school, months pass between each post. And I’ve got nothing…can’t blame it on the baby as I fell off the blogging wagon long before his arrival. The kids all love to go back and look at old entries. Partly for them, and partly for my own desire to preserve memories, I’ve been playing a bit of catch-up, but it’s mostly just photos as I try to get current.

In the meantime, I thought I’d post a little snapshot of what daily life has been like for us this year. I added a few family photos to the mix as well.

Here we go.

Four kids in 3 different schools. Two in public, two in private. Three drop off and pick up times. Somehow it all works, mostly. Except throw a midweek early release in there and inevitably I will forget someone at the bus stop. Thankfully we have neighbors who are at the stop when that happens.

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Sela started early morning bible study this year. She wakes up at 5am. She and Zig drive out of the driveway at 5:30. I am not awake when this happens. Zig drives a group of teens from our neighborhood every day and then heads to his workout. It’s a mostly silent drive to the church. The kids are soooo sleepy.

Zig’s workout starts at 6 and he never misses unless he travels. He will drag himself there even when he’s sick. I admire his commitment to health and well-being. Crossfit is his workout of choice right now. He rarely eats sugar, bread, pasta, meat, dairy or carbs. He can’t pass up a healthy homemade treat though. If he had his way, our family would be vegans who eat salmon.

Sela comes back home at 7, gets ready some more, eats breakfast, collects her things, does some last minute printing, gets her sports gear ready for after school, occasionally helps make her lunch, and then we rush to the bus. We often miss it and chase it around the hill several times a week. Me in my pajamas and a big coat giving the same lecture day after day about how we REALLY need to leave earlier. I try not to get too upset because I don’t want her last interaction with me to be a negative one before she faces her day. The struggle to delicately rush/hurry a teenage girl out of the house on time is real.

After Sela is off, I come home, make more lunches, start to wake the other three up, turn the teapot on, think about breakfast. On a good day, Weston will sleep until 8 or so. The boys are never ready to get up and when they do they want to run around like crazy animals rather than get ready.  The morning routine of hair and teeth brushing, dressing, finding socks, putting on UNDERWEAR (it’s a huge battle), and finding their backpacks is still such a chore. It seems so basic to me, but man, getting all that done is a huge undertaking. So many reminders falling on seemingly deaf ears. But these are all minor issues in the greater scheme of things!

Rollin will always wear the first clothing items he sees. Pink socks, holey socks, too small clothing, ripped shirts, shorts in any temperature, the boy could care less. Nothing need match. And he never thinks he needs a coat. I try to guide him but sometimes I simply give up and feel grateful he attends a school where no one else cares how you dress. Individuality is praised at the Attic and boy is Rollin his own person! He loses backpacks, coats and shoes frequently. It’s just so hard to stop playing and remember to grab his things.

If you look closely, you will see  Rollin wore his well-loved socks for the family picture. I didn’t realize the ginormous holes until I looked at the photos. I had to promptly throw those things in the trash. But, alas, this photo captures Rollin in all his glory.

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Our sweet friend, Gail, drives Rollin and Nina to the Attic. She drives up the driveway pretty much the exact same time each day, 8:35. There is lots of reminding and gently rushing, looking for shoes and cramming in breakfast from 8:30-8:35. Most days the kids are ready and at the front door when she drives up. It’s a miracle. Lots of “I love yous” as they leave. The kids have fun discussions with Gail and Marley on the drive and Gail genuinely cares for the kids. It makes me happy knowing they are dropped off in good spirits each day.

I wave goodbye to them and turn my attention to Evan whose bus comes at 8:48. He gathers his stuff, throws in a Pokémon card or two, and rushes to finish his homework if for some reason he didn’t do it the night before. We grab Weston and head to the bus stop. Usually Weston is agitated because he is ready to nurse. Evan always gives me a hug and kiss and is happy to get on the bus.

Once we get home, I sit down with Weston to nurse or climb back into bed with him and rest. He still wakes up during the night several times so I’m not quite sure what it feels like to wake up rested at this point. But I’m rested enough to function so I can’t complain.

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I volunteer on Mondays at the Attic (Rollin & Nina’s school) for several hours in a classroom support role and Fridays in Evan’s classroom as a reading helper. Sometimes I take Weston to the Attic with me as siblings are always welcome, but sometimes he stays home with Kayla. Weston is sort of a celebrity with the primary aged kids at the Attic. I’ve taught them if they want to touch him to touch his little feet.

We hired a nanny when Weston was born because I didn’t want him to live in the car. I had visions of being stuck in traffic every afternoon with him screaming and I just didn’t want to do that this time. There are afternoons where kids need to be in Lynnwood, Woodinville, and Redmond. All at the same time.One thing I haven’t gotten used to after four kids is feeling calm in the car when a baby is upset. It’s so stressful to have a screaming baby who just needs a nap being lugged around with no schedule of any sort.

Kayla has been such a blessing and her help has allowed me to really enjoy the first few months with a new baby, without the stress that comes with having to get four kids to different places every day. I’ve just soaked that little guy up. I have pretty much nothing to show for the last five months and haven’t been anything close to productive, but I have held and loved him like crazy and our connection and bond is strong.

He hasn’t been sick once, not even a cold. I think that is partly because I don’t cart him around much.

I started going to a Piyo class twice a week when Weston was about 2 months old.  I really enjoy the combination of pilates and yoga and feeling sore again feels good. I keep thinking I’ll start working out more than twice a week, but so far I haven’t pulled that off.

Kayla helps with errands, grocery shopping, laundry, meal prep and driving. She can also do hair and is really crafty…skills I do not possess. She and Nina have had fun with a few creative projects. I mostly stay home during the day and do a little driving after school. On most days it still takes two of us. And one day a week, we need all three of us so Zig has to pitch in on the pick-up.

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Rollin is still singing in the Ragazzi Boys Choir. He dreads practicing and loves performing. So many people have commented to me how he looks so full of joy when he sings. Our family had to sing in church in December and Rollin pretty much stole the show. He is also singing in the regular church choir as well as in the shower, bathroom, car, etc.

Evan has really grown up this year. He is so proud that he can cook burritos, quesadillas, noodles, bananas and peanut butter, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by himself.

We lost our beloved Kona in the spring. A sad and unexpected passing. SO many tears and broken hearts. Despite the kids near constant begging for another dog, specifically a French bulldog or micro Pomeranian, we told them they get a baby instead. They want both.

Sela is active in ASB, the student leadership organization at her school. The weekly morning meetings happen before school…a 40 minute round trip drive to drop her off. Thankful for a carpool!

Sela’s academic load is heavy this year. She is taking all pre-AP classes and I miss her. Her schedule is so full and homework load so considerable that I rarely get to really engage with her during the week. She is organized and responsible and I never have to remind her about anything.

After much begging, Rollin and Evan joined a spring flag football league. They would have preferred tackle football but  mom said no. They played in a league with lots of their school and church friends. Totally low key and highly unorganized, but they had so much fun. When Evan talks about his future goals now, it always includes the line,” when I get in the draft.” I hate to break it to him, but genetics are not in his favor.

As I mentioned before, the most adored baby on the planet joined our family in August. I underestimated just how wonderful it would be to have another baby. I was nervous that it would be overwhelming and hard to go back to having a newborn and being literally tied to an infant almost 24-7. However, words can’t even come close to expressing what a complete blessing this little guy has been. Oh we are bursting with love for him! I wish I could have several more. Crazy, but sometimes I feel that way. I have missed out on a few things, but it’s so worth it.

I’ve tried to go easier on myself with this baby. I haven’t stressed about the weight or my body. I’ve started wearing my hair wavy because I don’t have time to blow dry it. I have dropped so many balls but I’m just not beating myself up about it. I’m doing the best I can and I remind myself of that constantly when I start getting down about not having it all together. I do worry I’ve become flakey. There are thank you cards that went out much too late, parties I rsvp’d to and forgot to attend, meetings I put on my calendar and missed. So many things like this but I’m just hoping people forgive me. The brain fog is legit and I have to say, I look forward to someday getting a good night’s sleep and making it up to people I’ve let down. We haven’t surpassed 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at this point.

Sela played club volleyball for the first time starting this January, followed by playing on the high school team in the fall. She is now beginning club season again. Club involves practice 30 minutes away, several hours a few nights a week with weekend  tournaments in random towns, hours and hours in a loud gyms, and the awesome kind of bonding that happens in team sports. Sela has improved so much and I love watching the games.

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The dance bug officially hit Nina as she joined the Performing Company at her dance studio and takes 6 dance classes per week. Lyrical, Jazz, Progressions and Turns, 2 Ballet classes, and her Performing Company Class. She’s made lots of new friends and is always excited to go to class. She sings and flits around the house all day long. The whole dance culture is a new thing to me and I’ve had to watch a few youtube videos on how to do hair and makeup. And dance moms are a real thing.

Rollin discovered a new passion for rock climbing. He climbs and boulders several days each week at the local climbing gym. He also ran cross country this year and placed 2nd in the final district meet. Anything to wear that boy out. Boundless energy, that one. Sitting still for any amount of time is his biggest challenge in life.

We now have 4 snowboarders in the family and two skiers. Nina and I still ski, but Sela and Evan joined Zig and Rollin this year and will probably never turn back.

The kitchen is where everything happens and everyone congregates. Meals, homework, crafts, cooking, projects, meals. Pretty much everything. It’s interesting, before Weston was born, I was really stressing about needing more space or at least a different layout. We had architects come out and watched all new real estate listings closely. Once he was born, though, I haven’t felt cramped at all. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. I feel like we have plenty of space.

Pretty sure the kids have polished off at least a couple hundred pounds of Pink Lady apples this fall and Stem and Leaf Mandarin oranges (they are very picky that they must have the stems and loose skins) this winter. We can never keep the fruit bowl full for more than a couple hours after a grocery trip. Luckily in the summer we grow our own berries as they can easily polish off $20 worth at one sitting.

Everyone has different breakfast preferences. Sela loves her carbs (bagels, muffins, French toast) and greek yogurt with mix-ins. Evan loves little sausages. Nina loves toast. Zig eats something with protein powder and fruit. Rollin makes chia puddings for himself. I like oatmeal or egg/veggie/chorizo scrambles. The smoothie we make most often consists of bananas, chia, peanut butter, carob powder, coconut milk, and hemp seeds.

The kids all take their lunches to school. Most days lunches are turkey sandwiches or turkey veggie wraps, fruit, veggies, cheddar rockets or popcorn, and a cookie or muffin. Rollin and Nina take more food because they can eat whenever they want at their school. Evan always takes a little Z bar for snack. He is paranoid about accidentally taking peanut butter to school. I packed him sunflower seed butter sandwiches one week and he was afraid to pull them out and eat them for fear someone would think it was peanut butter.

I always try to have an afternoon snack, and now Kayla helps me with this. Muffins are the language of love around here, specifically pumpkin chocolate chip, or dark-chocolate raspberry and we’ve probably made at least 5o dozen this year. Sela eats lunch so early at school that when she gets home she is starving. I know how much it means to her to have a warm muffin or homemade cookie waiting so I try to always have something around.

Our go-to dinners are Lettuce Wraps, Tacos, Soup, Thai Curry, Asian Chop Salad, Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes with broccoli, and Panang curry with roasted cauliflower. The kids’ favorite sides are roasted broccoli and cauliflower, sautéed cabbage, and cucumbers.

We also have soup several times a week. The ones most often in the rotation are Wild Rice Cherry, Homemade Chicken Noodle, Greek Lemon Orzo, Creamy Tomato, Chili,  and Tortilla Soup.

We go through a ton of Chai Rooibos tea and Coconut milk creamer. Everyone loves tea in our family.

We all take lots of vitamins and Zig has all sorts of recurring orders on Amazon to make sure we never run out. We take a ton of Vitamin D. Thank you Seattle winters.

Fingerprints and foot prints can be found at all heights on our walls, ceilings, and door jams.  The world is Rollin’s jungle gym, and increasingly Evan’s.

I am serving with the teenage girls at church. The 12-13 year olds are a sweet bunch. Everyone was so understanding as I took several months off from any church work. I didn’t take Weston to church for months.

Most Fridays we have family movie night. It used to be pizza night too but no one likes pizza anymore.

Zig and I don’t get out by ourselves as much as we’d like lately. Maybe once every six weeks or so we go out an actual date. We did take a trip to the BVI with friends a couple months before the baby was born which was very nice. Unfortunately we’ve lost all the photos due to a computer issue.

Zig loves to look at Kauai real estate in his spare time and plot our future move/life on the island. He loves everything about island living and is his best and most content self in that environment.

I took my first road trip to Utah in July a few weeks before Weston was born. One super pregnant Mom and four kids hit the road. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and it won’t be the last time now that Erin and John have settled in Salt Lake City. Visiting Utah is like a kid heaven with so many fun active things to do.

We try to do family chores on Saturday morning. I usually just write up everything that needs to be done and assign a name to it. The kids cross their jobs off when they are done. This takes longer than it should, naturally. There is always some complaining and accusations that I did not fairly distribute the workload, but ultimately, things get done. And I’ve relaxed my standards.

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Nina’s social calendar is full. She is often juggling several invitations to do things on any given day. She is a good loyal friend, and people are drawn to her. She maintains friendships with people who have moved away and has fun skyping and sending little packages and letters. Adele in Utah and her cousin Tabitha in Texas are some of her most treasured long distance friendships. When she has friends over, they make videos, do crafts, make cookies or play outside on the trampoline.

Sela’s friends have started going to movies, out to dinner, meeting at the mall, etc. She’s growing up and she has a lovely group of friends. Her friends are all involved in different sports and getting their calendars to line up is hard but occasionally they make it happen and they have a great time.

Rollin is incredibly social but the only playdates that really happen in this family are the ones the kids set up. While Rollin loves to have friends over, he doesn’t do it as often because it involves him doing some legwork. His birthday party list includes kids ranging in age from 5-15. He has friendships with people of all ages and doesn’t meet a stranger.

Evan always asks for playdates and I have been so bad about setting them up. See above.  I just recently started making a bit of an effort and he absolutely loves having the occasional playdate at our home.

Rollin takes a computer programming class at Digipen on Thursdays and Nina has been participating in Destination Imagination.

We’ve managed to keep our Sundays relatively low key and Zig has started implementing a no media rule for the bulk of the day, adults included. It’s pretty special to have one retro day of the week where we just sit at the kitchen table and talk, take naps, read, and where with every lull in activity we don’t all rush to check our phones. Social media and cell phones are equal parts awesome and horrible. Finding the balance is hard and I don’t pretend to have the answers.

I still read everything I can about education, natural living, healthy cooking and simplifying. Those are the topics I’m most interested in. I stopped caring as much about politics and rarely check in on Politico anymore.

We had a warm winter so the berry crop (strawberries, raspberries & blueberries) was amazing this year. We also had a huge crop of figs and even Zig’s peach tree produced fruit. We had so many grapes and they were the best tasting ones we’ve had. I made lots of  berry jam and experimented with balsamic fig jam as well.

My mom likes to say we have a family of chiefs (strong personalities), and I guess that’s true. We have our share of disagreements and heated discussions, but with all that passion there is a lot of love. 7 people, each so different from one another. We grow so much in families, in order to thrive we must grow. It’s so humbling to see your weaknesses on full display so often and to feel like you come up so short. But, a change has happened in me this year where I just don’t feel that discouraged anymore. And trust me, it’s not because we have arrived at some magical place of perfect harmony or constant bliss within our family. I feel sort of a kinship with all parents out there trying to do their best. I don’t think I have it figured out at all, but I’m just focusing on loving the best I can and trying to honor and support each of my children in a way that is meaningful to them. My best effort is what I’ve got. And a love so deep for each of the people pictured below. I’d give anything and do anything for each of them.

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This is US.

NINA’S DANCE SEASON

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Nina has found something she loves and that is dance. She tried out for and made the performing company at her dance studio this year. It’s a step up commitment wise and involves some travel but we figured this would be a good year for her to try. She’s improved so much with all the classes she’s taking and she’s just having a wonderful time. The girls have all been so nice and welcoming. She’s the only new one on the team and she has had much less dance training then they have. We had so much fun watching her in the Christmas show.

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2015-2016 Perf Co Poster

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She took one year of hip hop last year and decided that was enough. It’s not her thing. The performing company girls still had to buy these lovely outfits for when they have workshops following competitions. The diaper pants are especially cute.

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I hardly even recognize Nina with all the makeup and lashes. Luckily Kayla was able to help her get her make-up, eyelashes, etc on for pictures. I haven’t even figured eye makeup out for myself!

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Nina’s best buddy from church, and fellow dancer, Emma Norris!

SELA’S VOLLEYBALL SEASON

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Sela played volleyball for Woodinville High School this year. They practiced every day for several hours. It was quite a commitment and felt at times like Sela might run out of steam towards the end. With several hours of homework each night, she rarely had a free moment. She made some great friends and their team had a successful season. We were happy to have her “back” after the season ended….until she tried out for a club team. Back on the hampster wheel!

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Volleyball Banquet.

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Dig Pink benefit game.

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Volleyball is such a nice sport. They hug a lot, even when they screw up. Zig is still scratching his head on that one.

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Biggest fan award goes to Weston. We could often be found at the top of the bleachers nursing and trying to keep him calm with all that noise.

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Woodinville was the team with the highest GPAs in the entire state. These are academic awards for achieving that distinction.

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Super proud of you, Sela!