Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Marquam Trail to Council Crest Hike

For my birthday, I asked my family to go for hike with me.  We didn't have a lot of time and needed to stay local, so we drove into the heart of Portland and hopped on the Marquam Trail - near OHSU off Sam Jackson Parkway.  It never ceases to amaze me that you can be steps away from the urban core and enter into preserved forest with trails that go for miles.  Portland is so cool.

It was a typical fall day for Oregon - the woods a wash of orange and yellow and gray skies that occasionally drizzled, but threatened to open up and pour.
starting our hike
We followed the Nature Trail up to the Marquam Trail which leads to Council Crest.  The trail follows the Marquam Gulch up, up, and up to the Council Crest at the summit.
Love my Crew!
This guy is pretty darn cute!
The trail was muddy due to rain and steep in some parts but overall was rated moderate.  I agree with that rating.  It was definitely a climb, but the grade was manageable.
The leaves were big!
pretty forest
We hiked right up into a thick blanket of fog.  It gave the woods a mysterious appeal and completely obscured the view from Council Crest.  Apparently the panoramic view includes the city of Portland in the valley and four volcanic peaks in Oregon and Washington, but we could barely see our hands in front of our faces.
Can you find Grant?
into the fog
Paige asked her Daddy to dance with her so they waltzed around the veranda.  It was sweet and made for a cool photo op.
dancing with Daddy 
I thought this statue was cool
We ate our snacks in the fog, posed for a group picture, and wandered around the park before heading back the same way we came.
Cool water tower - we were hoping to find a bathroom, but this was cool.
Family shot at the view point
Overall this was a fun hike.  It was short and sweet, but not so short that it didn't feel worth the effort to go.  The trail cuts through neighborhoods and crosses a few roads so hikers need to watch the trail signs closely and be careful crossing the streets.

We will definitely come back again on a clear day to catch the view.

Overall hiking distance: 3.7 miles.

Happy hiking.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas Friends!

IN 2014 WE ARE THANKFUL FOR...

this photo (and all the others like it) courtesy of Jared Whitney
  • Road Trips.  4,537.8 miles in 15 days was an absolute blast.  We traveled across vast expanses of the United States, visiting family and friends along the way and made memories that will last a lifetime.
    taking the kids to the softball field where we met
    Mt. Rushmore
    road side dance party
  • Baptism.  Grant and Katie both chose to be baptized - an outward expression of their personal decision to follow Jesus. SO COOL! 
    Their middle school youth pastor got to baptize them.

  • Stamina!  Curt started a doctorate program in education at Portland State University this September.  We praise God for the stamina He’s given Curt to continue to work a busy full-time job as Clinical Coordinator at OHSU, practice orthopedics one day per week at Hope Orthopedics, love his family well, and excel as a student.  He just wrapped up his first term and we are so proud of him.  He also was appointed as an Elder at our church and does such a good job serving others. In his “free” time he loves fixing things and watching football.
    Hiking in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area
    Curt's first day of school
  • A new decade.  I (Jodi) officially entered my 40’s and can now register in the Masters Category for my races.  With the exception of a broken finger, I stayed healthy and was able to run over 1,100 miles this year, including two marathons, two half marathons, one 5k, and finish an open water swim without panicking.  We also spent hours hiking all over the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  I praise God for health to enjoy this incredible place we call home with my friends and family.
    Curt threw a big surprise party for me - with the help of several of my friends.  He's a keeper.
    1st place in the world's tiniest marathon
  • Jodi Stilp Photography LLC.  My photography business officially launched this spring. It is a huge honor to tell my clients’ stories through images. Our kids often come with me to assist on shoots, a fun perk to this line of work. 
  • Grant (8th grade, 13 years) is thankful for Jesus, skateboarding, drums, water polo, Lego Robotics, and friends. Grant represented his school at the state Geography Bee this spring and his robotics team just won a bid to the state championship. Grant is also thankful for Grant’s Lawn and Car Care Company because it funds his skateboard and drumming hobbies. Grant is officially taller than his mother now, one more thing on his Thankful List.  We are thankful for his crazy enthusiasm and his tender heart. Teacher Grant is well loved by the three-year-olds he serves at church.  

    He's taller.
  • Katie (7th grade, 12 years) is thankful for Jesus, soccer, running, reading, friends, school, and having her own phone.  The photos she takes with her phone are oh-so-creative. Katie tackled the 100 meter hurdles with fierce determination during track this spring and won her division in a 5k trail race this summer.  Katie is a skilled percussionist but wishes she would have chosen Office Aid instead of Band.  We are thankful for Katie’s sweet spirit and her steadfast determination to excel at everything she does.  Katie loves volunteering in the Toddler Room at church and is a great babysitter.  Give her a call! 

    Seriously intense hurdler!
  • Alli (5th grade, 10 years) is thankful for every sport on the planet, friends, turning double digits, Jesus, and babies.  This year Alli played two seasons each of water polo and soccer and is currently playing basketball. She has boundless energy to expend on sports or hanging out with her friends and approaches life with gusto.  Alli won her age division in a 5k this spring and will occasionally join me on a training run.  We are thankful for Alli’s enthusiasm, compassion for others, and her love for Jesus.  She committed to reading her Bible every day this year and it has been so fun to watch her stick to it, even in the “boring” parts.

    ALL IN - this is Alli with every sport.
  • Paige (3rd grade, 8 years) is thankful for READING, school, dance, friends, Legos, Barbies, and Jesus.  She is also thankful that she gets to be the flower girl in her “big brother” Todd’s wedding. We are thankful for Paige’s intelligence and witty sense of humor that spill out into everything she does.  We are also thankful that she freely gives hugs, snuggles, and thinks Greenie (her blanket) is the best thing ever.  Paige got tired of her “baby Bible” and graduated herself to reading a “real” translation every day.  Somehow it all comes back to reading for Paige.

    Little Flower girl
  • YOU!  Our entire family has been deeply blessed by our family and friends.  Our lives are richer, beautiful, and more colorful because you are part of them.  THANK YOU.  May grace, peace, and joy wash over you this holiday season and throughout the new year.
Warmly,
Curt and Jodi, Grant, Katie, Alli and Paige (and Dusty)

can't forget Dusty.  She says "Merry Christmas" too!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Todd and Shayla Get Married

We met Todd because he served in the 4's and 5's class at our church.  We'd wrangle our crew of kids from the van through the busy parking lot, into the church building, and down the hall to the kids wing.
Easter 2014 and Grant's 13th Birthday
Todd was there almost every week, with a giant smile and a warm welcome.  His warmth caused even the shyest child to soften up and come play and learn about Jesus.  We loved him instantly, especially Alli since she was in his class.

Over the course of the past six years, Todd has become part of our family.  What started as casual greetings and heart-felt "thanks for serving" each Sunday morphed into longer conversations in the hallway.  Then coffee dates with Curt, dinners at our house, and even missions trips together.
Curt and Todd heading to Haiti together.
Todd has come to band concerts. Soccer games. Water polo matches.  Finish lines of races. Birthday parties. He has lived in our home.  Celebrated holidays with our family. We love him like he's our own.  Curt has become "Father Stilp," I am "Momma Jodi," and the kids are all Todd's brother and sisters.
Finish line of Curt's first half marathon
Grant's 10th birthday party - a Nerf Gun War
We remember when he met Shayla.  Todd came back from a missions trip to Haiti all lit up.  We quickly learned it was not just because he had an awesome week serving Jesus in Haiti.  A gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed, godly woman had captured his heart.

It wasn't long until Todd brought Shayla around to meet the family.  She was soft-spoken, lovely, and kind to the kids.  Alli was jealous that Todd had another girl in his life, but it didn't take Shayla long to win her over.

Todd and Shayla got engaged in February and immediately began planning a December wedding.  Shayla had a clear vision of a rustic winter wedding and she nailed it.  Every last detail was beautiful!
just a little of the wedding decor
A few weeks before the wedding, Paige came downstairs with her birthday present from Todd - a coupon for brother/sister date. She plopped it on the counter and said, "I want to redeem this."  I told her Todd probably didn't have time since he was in the thick of finals at school and weeks away from his wedding, but I texted him anyway to ask.  Even though he was ridiculously busy, Todd moved things around to take his little sister out on a date.

She looked forward to their date for days and came home beaming.  Todd took her out to eat first.  While they were dining he asked her to be a flower girl in his wedding, then took her to the mall to shop for her dress.  And bought it for her!  Can you say ADORABLE?  Now you know why we love him so much.

flower girl Paige
Shayla helped Paige and I shop for shoes.  We'd text her pictures of the options until we found the perfect pair.  We all agreed THESE were the ones to match Paige's pretty flower girl dress.  Paige prayed every night until the wedding, "Dear Jesus, Please don't let me mess up in Todd and Shayla's wedding."  Paige shared flower girl responsibilities with Shayla's little sister Kaitlyn.  They both gained a friend out of the process.
Paige and Kaitlyn
Shayla with her flower girls
dancing flower girls
The wedding rehearsal was on a school night packed with other activities.  This Taxi Driver couldn't get it all done so one of Todd's groomsmen agreed to be Paige's date.  Jared picked her up, kept an eye on her at the rehearsal, and brought her home.  It was really sweet!  This little Princess now knows how to be treated on a date.  Thank you Jared!
Jared and Grant at the wedding
December 14th was The Big Day.  Todd and Shayla become Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Todd Acosta.  They stood before family, friends, and God and declared their love, devotion and commitment to each other.  We clapped and cheered, celebrating the love they have for each other.
Mr. and Mrs. Acosta
first dance
beautiful bride and groom
Our family - including most of The Big's - spent the hours before the ceremony setting up the venue and making sure everything was ready.  It was really fun to get some extra time with Todd and Shayla before the majority of their guests arrived.
Sarai and Paige
Kate was the wedding coordinator and she did a wonderful job!
Todd with some of his sisters
Curt and Todd
Gucci shenangians during the reception 
The ceremony was "unplugged" - no photos or video except the official wedding photographers.  I can't wait to see their wedding album - I'm sure it will be beautiful! I took candids throughout the day and during the reception though and got some fun images of a really beautiful day.
dancing
Congratulations Todd and Shayla.  We are so happy for you both.  Thank you for letting us be a part of your wedding day.  We look forward to journeying with you as you embrace life as a married couple.
Todd, Shayla, Kate, Sarah, Sarai, and our kids
"May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." - Numbers 6:23-25