Family Traditions… what we ALWAYS do!!

“But…. that is what we ALWAYS do!!”
I started to hear this more and more as the children grew older… whether a cherished holiday tradition or making homemade pizza on a Saturday night – the children knew what they wanted… and what they wanted was for things to be done the way that “we ALWAYS do them” – – – The funny thing was that some of these things we had done once or twice… yet I began to learn that these events/activities were important to the children and thus to the family.  So, if it was good and positive… I would go ahead and implement, thus forming a Tradition, thus solidifying our family identity and building needed strength and love.  Even when this “tradition” didn’t last long… it still provided memories to share together.
This is the reason that, a few weekends ago, we used two nights of hotel points, left our visiting grandmother home alone (it’s ok, she had friends come stay with her), and drove five hours each way… the end result was this photo:



This photo is part of a somewhat silly but cherished family tradition and here is our story:


Our first official family vacation was in 1992 when Nathan was about 9 months old.  Before that time, our vacation has consisted of returning to California to visit our parents.  By now I was working as an RN in the operating room at UVRMC, so although Mark was still a full time student, we had a little money for a hotel and gas to get us there.  We found places with refrigerators so that we could pack our food.  We drove to Durango, Colorado and went to Mesa Verde.  When we walked past the old-fashioned photo shop we both remarked how we had wanted to do these photos as children but neither of our parents would agree… then it dawned on us… we were grown up!  We could take have an old fashioned photo taken and wouldn’t our little boy be happy about that when he was older?  And so it began.
Two years later we found ourselves at Lake Tahoe with Mark’s family.  We took an afternoon off from the reunion to have a little family time and explore Silver City, Nevada.  Of course a tourist town like this would have a photo studio – and we had a new little Greg to be added to our picture, so we once again splurged.  Both of the boys were pretty excited to be holding guns, especially when Daddy had one also.

One of our best vacations was in May of 1997 when we borrowed Mark’s parents’ RV and drove around Idaho and Wyoming.  Here we are in Jackson Hole – we have to smile when we see this photo because the kind man that took it had really no idea what he was doing.  He was a disabled vet who was watching his sister’s shop while she went to lunch.  He just said – go stand there and starting shooting (the photo, we were happily the ones holding guns once again).  In these days the photos were not digital and I think that when he came out of the developing room and saw how awful both shots had turned out, he just gave them both to us – we think he pocketed our money and never told his sister that we had been there…


By the time we drove to Edmonton, Canada in 1999 to visit Mark’s parents who were living there as missionaries, we had begun to notice a pattern.  We were having a baby one summer and taking a family vacation the next summer – adding a new little baby each year.  The boys were none too pleased to be holding school books instead of guns, but Jackie was very happy to be wearing a long dress, and of course, this year we included Natalie who was just shy of her first birthday.  I believe that we were at Fort Edmonton.

A most memorable vacation in May of 2001 to Boston, Massachusetts.  We had enough frequent flyer miles to fly the whole family and hotel points for the week.  Our good friends, Nathan and Sarah Smith, were living there going to M.I.T. and they provided great food and acted as tour guides many times.  We saw a lot of American and Family History sites – combining them on this day as we visited Plymouth.  Where else can you dress as pilgrims?  Nowhere – I think that this shop was out of Cape Cod – we had just had a very long day and seen a lot – the boys missed their guns, but those little girls felt so pretty with their basket and flowers.  They never wanted to take off their costumes!  Here we have David at 10 months old.

Life got a little crazy by the time our sixth baby, Kimberly, arrived.  It looks like she is about two years old in this photo and we hadn’t been on a vacation – at least not one with old fashioned photos.  We had moved from Oregon to Washington in July 2001, and this was 2004.  Everyone was happy with the Civil War theme as there were swords/guns for the boys and the girls were dressed up to be beautiful.  We like this one because our little one behaved very well, but wasn’t thrilled to be wearing gloves.  You can see that she is taking one off while its pair is there on the floor already.  A fun moment to capture.

2006 and we are back on schedule for photos, but had no more babies to add.  Quite alright, we fill up the photo just fine.  Here we are in Deadwood, South Dakota.  We are dressed as a gang of outlaws.  We thought we should get back to our western theme to celebrate our location, but soon-to-be-8 yr old Natalie flat out refused to be anything but a cowboy.  Jackie refused to be anything but a lady in a pretty dress.  Kimberly wanted to hold a gun, so we decided to be a gang of outlaws.  Mom agreed to wear the dress for Jackie, but balance it out by wearing a cowboy hat and gun.  The momma of ruthless outlaws needs to be ready for anything…

Seaside, OR, 2008 – we saw these cute outfits when we came in 2004 and thought it would be a fun addition to our collection.  At this point our tradition had morphed from adding a baby to just taking a photo with a new theme every two years.  Thankfully there is a great little photo shop in Seaside and we looked forward to other events here such as renting one of those nightmare three-bench bikes.  It was fun the first time… but the second time… read on…
Back in Seaside in 2010 – we are scruffy, merciless pirates.  We took this just weeks before sending Nathan to the Philippines on his mission and sending Greg to the hospital for chemotherapy.  We realized that this might be the final time to have Nathan in our photos – and we decided to morph the tradition once again to counting down the children – that is, to take a photo each time a child leaves home.  For the record, this was our second bike rental and we happily headed down the street only to find out that it had no brakes…and I think there was a problem with the steering.  I just have an image of driving wildly past oncoming traffic into a curb to stop ourselves – not my favorite memory.
A bunch of wild Indians – that’s us in 2012 as Greg prepares to serve as a Spanish speaking missionary in Oakland, CA.  This is not our favorite – but it is fun.  We are back in Seaside, and maybe this is the time that the brakes gave out – I don’t know, it is all getting to be a blur of costumes and salt water taffy…  Therefore, for our final photo before Jackie leaves on her mission to Utah, we thought it worthwhile to drive the five hours to Leavenworth, Washington where we not only had the fun experience of seeing our men in Bavarian lederhosen, we ate some delicious German food – and here I will put in a plug for the Andreas Keller Restaurant – very authentic!

I was just thinking that the first time I ever saw an “old-fashioned photo” was when I was quite young… I probably have the memory all fuzzy, but it seems that it was at my parents’ friends’ home – perhaps the McNeals who lived up Poly Canyon?  I thought, even at a young age, that an old picture was very cool – and then to realize it was modern people… well, that was just magical to me.  It was probably 20 years later that I walked into the little shop in Durango, Colorado to get a picture of my own… and look at me now.
This is just one of our traditions – a rather unique one I think.  Just like us…

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