Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to two of the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and all sorts of other activities, former scrapbooker and founder of the 
Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.



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In Spokane...

So. Friday we woke up and headed the 25-30ish minutes to my sister's...which was the purpose of our road trip in the first place. As of August 15, it will have been ten years since my dad died (farming accident...he was 57 years old at the time). We all gathered together to celebrate his life and legacy. (Well, almost all of us. Zach and his family were missing.)

Friday was just a low-key hanging out day...

I have a lot more pictures...but these are Blaze and Asher playing...Cassy, Nathan and Joe watching/heckling Charlie hitting golf balls into the field...Nathan going down the makeshift slip n slide (not completely naked, as was Blaze's preferred method, lol)...and Micah photobombing my grandma (who turned 96 the week before and somehow managed to sleep in the house full of people).

Not pictured were the water fight (with Cassy's epic fall while trying to push me into the kiddie pool...ha!), kids jumping on the neighbor's trampoline, handing off the various toddlers and babies, and Bekah and her family arriving after dinner.

By the end of Friday, though, the haze/smoke had really rolled in and was making it unwise to be outside...especially for the little kids and Gram.

Saturday morning, we headed back to Cassy's for a quiet-ish morning and a day full of fabulous food--just as Dad would have wanted it. :) Joe, my favorite brother, lol, had made lumpia ahead of time and Micah helped him fry that up at lunch time. (It disappeared in a hurry!) Dinner was skewered bulgogi and chicken (and hot dogs and lots of other yummy things). And the night ended with baking kifle (Joe had prepared the dough the night before), which again disappeared pretty darn quick.

Beyond all the food, Cassy made us all do a relay/obstacle race...which included shooting hoops, shoveling and moving gravel (she was trying to get us to do some of her landscaping), running up and down a hill, going down the slip n slide and running through a gauntlet of spectators squirting water and pummeling people with balls. Afterwards, we all pretty much agreed that we should perhaps have listened to the air quality warnings and stayed inside, lol.

We also had a moment outside to release balloons and read a poem for Dad (one that Mom had read previously when we'd released balloons just after Dad's funeral). The poem went well...getting toddlers to release balloons didn't, lol. Let's just say that there was some trauma involved and not all of the balloons were released. :)

Again, I have a heap of pictures, but here is a sampling:

From the top left: Micah helping fry up lumpia (borrowing Cassy's apron, lol)...Charlie, Case, Nathan and Asher playing Pictionary (against Noah, Micah and me)...Asher helping Evan and Alice down to the basement...Cassy trying to get through the tunnel during the race and Charlie cheating by grabbing her shoe and throwing it into the field (couples went head to head--Nathan had a good lead thanks to Charlie's cheating but I made up ground)...Cade and Joe making kifle...most everyone outside for the balloon release...and Cade and I after finishing up most of the kifle.

Oh, and I remembered to get some group pictures:

Mom and Gram...

Me, Gram, Cassy, Bekah and Mom...I'm realizing now that we should have snagged the two granddaughters we had there to be in the picture also. :( Could have gotten four generations in the shot.

And, finally, a big group shot...

Not the best shot in the world...but it had us all in one place. ;) It's not easy with that many kids and just using my phone camera, lol. (And I'm sad that I missed pictures of just the kids and of me and Joe...but, again, it was next to impossible to get all the kids to cooperate at once, lol.)

Anyhow...after all the littles were in bed, we watched a video Dad had made years ago of the blood sausage making process...not good videography or subject matter at all, lol, but lovely to see and hear him.

And then we headed back to our AirBNB for the night... 


First few days...

So. Last Monday (7/31), we headed out on a summer road trip. We spent the first day just driving (and driving and driving) to Great Falls, Montana (about 10.5 hours of drive time, not counting stops). We stayed at a lovely hotel with heightist bathrooms (I literally couldn't reach the showerhead and had trouble reaching the towels and comfortably using the countertop)...it was well designed but I definitely don't see how kids could use that bathroom without a stool being provided, lol.

Anyhow. :) Tuesday, we drove from there to Glacier National Park and enjoyed the day driving through the park via the Going to the Sun Road.

We hiked from Sun Point past some falls that I can't remember the name of until we reached St Mary's Falls. (The top three pictures are along the hike. The bottom left is St Mary's Falls.) While we were there, people were jumping from the bridge into the freezing water below--it was pretty impressive and my guys were all sad that they hadn't brought suits and towels. I, personally, was fine with just watching, lol.

We continued our drive through the park, stopping at Logan's Pass and a couple of pull outs and at Lake McDonald (the two bottom right pictures). We ended up in Kalispell, MT that night for dinner and a hotel (with a normal bathroom and a decent breakfast the next morning).

The next day (Wednesday), we drove from Kalispell to Yakima (about 7 hours of drive time) to visit with Nathan's parents and take Nathan's grandma out to dinner and have a lovely visit with her. We neglected to take a picture during the daylight but did remember to get one:

Thursday morning I consented to run on a treadmill (instead of outside) given the poor air quality (wildfires in Canada, Idaho and Montana were causing a good bit of haze and smoke in Washington, Idaho and Montana) then we spent a quiet day just enjoying time with John & Nancy...going out to brunch to celebrate Nancy's birthday (a few days early) and playing games and seeing the house they're renovating/selling and taking pictures...

In that bottom left picture, Micah and Asher are making a grandpa sandwich and sporting their new Scottish hats that John & Nancy brought back from their recent trip there. The hats are both variations of the McLean family plaid (Nancy's maiden name is McLean). 

After dinner, we got back on the road and drove back from Yakima to Spokane (about 3.5 hours) where we found our AirBNB and crashed for the night.

More on the rest of our trip soon...



While I'm working on getting unburied from laundry and photos from our trip (we just got back from a nine day road trip...more on that soon, hopefully!), I wanted to make sure not to forget to share photos of the steps that Noah finished just before we left!

They turned out really well! And now we can get out of the kitchen without risk of falling...yay!

It's so handy to have an engineering-minded son (and husband). :)



My baby turned twelve today!

Last night we had some (delicious) cake and celebrated with friends. This morning, we let Micah open gifts (a game from Noah and a box of twelve different candies from Asher...he was pretty happy about the candy, in particular, lol...Nathan and I also got him a tee shirt (the one he's wearing in the pictures below) and some new kamas for karate...he's still thinking about what he wants to do to celebrate "bigger"). Then we took some pictures.

At lunchtime, we headed to The Waffle Lab (where he was delighted to wolf down his own plate of food and parts of Noah's and Asher's) and Peace, Love, Donuts (where we each picked one to try...YUM!). And now we're home and boys are learning the new game. :)

Here are the height comparison pictures that are becoming annual...

Not a huge change as of yet, but the boy has high hopes for the coming year... ;) 

And then there were pictures of just Micah...

And a few others...

I just love, too, that Micah asked to look through his baby scrapbooks earlier this week. (He's pretty taken with how adorable he was, lol.)

Yup. I've got good (and good looking) boys. :) Happy birthday, my Micah!

(And, yes, this all means that a year from now I'll have three teenage boys. Oy.)


Black Belt Essay

I realized that I never mentioned that both boys had to write an essay as part of their black belt testing. The essay should answer these questions:

  • What does Black Belt excellence mean? (Name some specific area in which you are striving for this excellence.)
  • What does Black Belt excellence mean to you, personally?
  • Why do you want to be a Black Belt?
  • What benefits have you achieved from training at Karate West?
  • What is your next goal?

For the sake of having it somewhere, here are their essays.

(For each, I typed it as he dictated it initially and did correct grammar in places, but the language and thoughts belong to each boy. These are after some drafts. Personally, I'm thrilled by that alone...that they each embraced going through the editing process, as historically that's been something they've resisted during our writing lessons.)



by Micah Probst
age 11
July 2017 

In many ways, my black belt journey has been like the story of the Jamaican bobsled team in the movie “Cool Runnings.”

First. Just like the Jamaican bobsled team, I had to get started. They found a coach and I found Karate West. I was just four years old and mostly I just wanted to have fun with my big brother, Asher. Back then, I looked a little ridiculous. My mom says I looked like a baby bird trying to fly away when I did jumping jacks. I’d bet the bobsled team looked pretty silly trying to bobsled in Jamaica, too. We both made our fair share of mistakes.

As the bobsled team kept practicing, so did I. Over the years, I’ve had a number of great instructors who have all taught me new things and helped me improve my skills. Along the way, I’ve also made a lot of friends. Talking with them and laughing with them and watching them has helped make karate feel more like a home away from home. 

Second. Eventually, the bobsled team managed to get everyone into the sled and stay there…after more than a few tries, they figured out the right technique. Likewise, I got old enough to go beyond just going through the motions. I started learning how it was supposed to look. I joined the demo team and started really focusing on the details to make it look good. I worked on my self control and learned the value of exercise.

Third. The bobsled team packed their bags and boarded a plane to Canada for the Olympics, and I got a piece of paper telling me that I was eligible to start my black belt training. At first, I wasn’t sure I was ready to start. I spent a good many hours laying in bed thinking about whether I wanted to do it. Finally, I decided it was a step I wanted to take…to prove to myself that I can commit to something and follow through. I saw it as an opportunity to go further in my martial arts skills. So I chose to take the next step in my training by embarking on my black belt journey. After all, Bruce Lee once said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

Fourth. In Canada, the Jamaican bobsled team faced some obstacles and had to persevere. People didn’t think they belonged there and doubted them…they didn’t have the best equipment like everyone else…and they weren’t familiar with that environment. In spite of all that, they kept going. 

I’ve faced obstacles, too. Mostly, I struggle with self control. This plays out in two ways. In my head, self doubt causes me to question whether I should even be doing this. With my body, I’m learning how to keep my anger from triggering poor decisions. 

Finally. In case you don’t remember the movie, the bobsled team had a poor run…then a great run (which earned them lots of fans)…and then an even better run, right up until they crashed. But the story doesn’t end there (and hopefully I don’t crash). The bobsled team made the choice to get up and finish the race no matter what. They picked up their sled and carried it across the finish line to the applause of the crowd. They realized that a medal didn’t matter nearly as much as the journey, and they earned the respect of their peers. By becoming part of that community, they were able to push themselves even further and came back to the next Olympics as equals.

Like them, I’ve been trying to focus less on comparing myself to others and more on becoming a better me. When I first started this training, I thought I just wanted the black belt…and I’ll be proud to have the title of black belt, definitely. But I’m even more proud that, like the Jamaican bobsled team, I’ve realized that my self worth isn’t tied to a prize or a title but is shaped by the knowledge and principles gained along this journey. By continuing my training, I’ll learn even more and be pushed by my peers to go further. Eventually, I hope to give back by teaching others. 

Peace be the journey.


Black Belt Essay

by Asher Probst
age 13
January 2016

It’s all about the pants. 

Five and a half years ago, I started at Karate West with white pants. I didn’t know much and had little control over myself. I just came because it was something that looked like fun. 

Thanks to joining the demo team, I was able to get black pants sooner than others. And now I realize it’s much more than just something to do. It’s about obtaining Black Belt Excellence…gaining higher skills and knowledge and always trying to get better. Black Belt Excellence means being someone who practices the principles of the Black Belt; and, for me personally, it means a significant step forward in my journey at Karate West. It means remembering that learning is more valuable than winning or being perfect.

Through my time wearing both white and black pants, I’ve increased my self control, learned lots of karate, made new friends, gained performance experience at tournaments and with demo team, displayed perseverance as I had to exercise patience through various injuries, and learned the importance of practice. 

Now, I’m looking forward to blue pants. I want to be a Black Belt because it’s a more recognizable achievement. People understand what a Black Belt means, when they don’t always know the other belts. Also, being a Black Belt will allow me to attend new classes with people who also are dedicated to doing their best. Being around people who also want to do their best challenges me to do even better. Given this, I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my self control. I especially want to work on doing better with taking instruction and not letting my emotions in the moment override what I know to be right. 

My next goal is red pants. As I work toward becoming a second degree Black Belt, I hope to use the principles of the Black Belt to help me excel in my studies and life. Speaking of these principles, let me lay them out for you:

  • With HUMILITY, I know that I always have more to learn.
  • With COURTESY, I hope to be a contributing part of my community.
  • With INTEGRITY, I will follow the rules and be honest.
  • With PERSEVERANCE, I will continue to push forward even when there are set backs.
  • With SELF CONTROL, I will work on gaining better control over my emotions.
  • With INDOMITABLE SPIRIT, I will strive to do the right thing without bowing to peer pressure or outside influences. 

Most of all, Karate West has taught me that ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING…no matter what color pants I’m wearing. 

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