A Rocky Mountain Hello to you from the Zenzes!  We recently returned from a 10-day family vacation to Boulder Colorado and thought the trip would make for good Family Update material.

This was a “Family” trip in more ways than one...  It was our first chance to visit brother Andy and his family since they packed up and moved out to Boulder a couple years ago.  Andy, Betsy, and little Mercy gave us the royal treatment, opening their home, showing us the sites, and even orchestrating a bookstore storytime visit for me.  It was wonderful Brother/ Sister/ Niece/ Nephew/ Uncle/ Aunt/ Cousin lovin’ time.

Of course it’s absolutely gorgeous out there.  Walk out their front door, and you can see the Flatirons looming above you.  We went on up-mountain hikes every day but one.  They were my first experiences lugging around pounds and pounds of Elijah on my back.  The hikes proved to be everyone’s favorite part -- that goes even for Gracie, despite her dramatic comments at the time like, “I’d rather fall off a cliff than go any further!!!”  Lily and her little legs did a super job plodding along.  She was proud to bear the title “Blazer” most of the time as she led the string of hiking Zenzes forward.  Amity wore the title “Caboose” more often than not, holding her favorite place in line.  She was pretty freaked out about possible mountain lion encounters, but alas, we detected no signs of them.  We did see lots of mountains though, and Lily often prompted the mountains to “Smile!” before we snapped photos of them.  Isaac enjoyed fishing in Boulder Creek, but didn’t catch anything.  Except a nasty old sunken lure.  And a tree.  Which stole his bait.   Hmm... should have saved that nasty lure...  Elijah loved Boulder Creek.  Every time we passed by the raging, splashing waters he would shout “Wowwwww!”

Speaking of Elijah, he’s reaching the age where his little personality is starting to come out.  He’s a fairly mellow lad.  Until bedtime.  Then he goes nuts -- absolutely bonkers.  Spinning in circles.   Flopping around in laughter.  Lunging, swooping, dodging all attempts to pajama him.  He’s a weirdie.   He also makes a hilarious ‘surprised’ face now, and he’s got one of the greatest smiles I’ve ever seen.  He likes washing his hands more than toys or candy.  And Elijah LOVES books.  More than I do if you can believe it.  He could look at books all day.  He devours them (unfortunately sometimes literally).  He grabs huge armfuls of books and brings them to you and fully intends for you to read them all with him.  And if you do read them all (and fail to sneak away afterward), he hops down and returns with another giant stack.  Elijah also has a very funny way of asking for things he wants...  It all began when he started standing up in his highchair -- We would pat the seat and tell him “Sit down on your bum.”  He must have thought that was simply the signal to place anything (for example, a bum) down in a certain spot.  Soon after, when he would run out of food, he would pat his plate and say “Bum, bum, bum” until we put more food down on it.  Now he pats and says “Bum” anytime he wants us to put something down in front of him.  Yeah, he’s a little weirdie.

So Elijah is a year and a half now...  Wait a minute.  It seems like it should be time for...  Boy we ought to be...   Let me go check something, I’ll be right back.          Yep, I thought so – we’re Expecting again.  You could set the cosmic clocks by our regularity, it’s so predictable.   So far, all is well.  We have our big ultrasound in a couple of weeks, so that’s a bit nerve-racking -- our ultrasounds aren’t always happy events.  Amity is predicting a boy based on symptoms and lack of migraines.  The In Utero Name has been bestowed: this baby’s been dubbed “Cinco.”  And little Cinco’s due to join siblings Uno through Quatro on January 1, although we’re all hoping for a 2007 birthday instead.  Yea babies!

And you may be wondering about ‘work’ stuff...  I’ve been doing some Graphic Recording for the local hospital.  What’s Graphic Recording???  I had never heard of it either.  It’s pretty cool actually.  You can see examples of people who are really good at it here.  The NASCAR ABCs book I illustrated is due to come out in September – we got our complimentary advance copies already and I think they came out pretty sharp.  And we recently found out that Zondervan picked me to illustrate a series of four “I Can Read” books about a little dog named Howie!  Woohoo!  Just what we’ve been praying for!  It’s great on a number of levels – almost exactly a year ago I had been making attempt after attempt to establish contact with Zondervan.  I got zero results and finally gave up.  Now a year later God made it happen in His time.  Also, it’s a series of books, so it’s Illustration pay times four.  That should make for about six months of income I figure.  Now we’re just praying (and you can pray with us) that while I’m working on these, the next book opportunity or two present themselves so that I can launch into those while these wrap up, and hopefully on and on it goes.  We’ll see!   A funny thing about Howie: the original request was to make Howie a Bichon Frise – you know those little white frou-frou dogs.  And the only hint I had at storylines was that one book was about a tea party.  So I’ve jumped from fast and furious NASCAR race cars  to  frou-frou dogs and tea parties...  At least it will show a wide range in my portfolio!

A final noteworthy item...  While in Colorado, Amity and I had our 10th wedding anniversary.  Wow, how time flies.  It seems such a short time ago that I watched her coming down that aisle in beautiful white, eyes sparkling, tears falling.  It has been my great gift to journey through life with such a marvelous companion.  She is my support, my joy, my completion.  How wonderful to have someone who desires the best for me – she IS the best for me.  It is no difficult task to find praise for Amity.  She is a woman of God – always striving to please Him, constantly communicating with Him, seeking the spiritual best for those around her.  She is incredibly self-denying – taking true delight in serving the kids and I.  And she is a great person on top of it all – funny, trustworthy, wise, friendly, caring, pretty, diligent, tender-hearted, and sincere.  I love her much, and as I think toward the next 10 years, I feel only anticipation.

Well, as I wrap up and recompose myself, I'll say farewell.

All our best!
Aaron, Amity, Isaac, Grace, Lily, Elijah, and Cinco