Lake Tahoe Family Vacation 2013

Well, we’re back. And while I’m sure it will take a good part of the week to get bags unpacked, laundry sorted & washed, babies back on napping schedules and lots of motivation to get back in the routine of lessons and dinner making, I wanted to post this while the emotions were still so fresh in my mind. What an incredible time we had! If someone would have told me a few years ago that we would be driving 4 kids ages 6 and under over 10 hours to enjoy possibly  the best vacation of my married life, I probably would have said, “Ha. No thank you.” But thanks to my dreamer of a husband, and some detailed planning on my end, we did it and It. Was. Awesome.

We spent the 1st couple of days adjusting to a new schedule, assessing the area, going to mass, getting some groceries (don’t worry, I didn’t do a single bit of cooking unless it involved the microwave) and sharing and planning out our desires for the week. This meant time at the park so Dean and I had a chance to talk, look over brochures and maps while the kids got plenty of exercise to make up for the long car ride.

DSC_142aThere was a sense of wonder in all of them being in such a gorgeous place.

DSC_186a I think they sensed God’s presence in a special way.

DSC_783aI know I did.

DSC_776aand an evening at the ice cream parlor.

DSC_65a1 of our 1st full-day outings was to Apple Hill Ranch (I think was the name)

DSC_806aOne thing that really struck me there and over and over throughout the trip as I observed each of the kids was that as different as they are in personality and temperament, they were all so peaceful, so independent, so happy being outdoors, from morning till nighttime, being so close to Nature, to God’s Creation. It’s as if they knew that their surroundings were made just for them.

DSC_803aAlizea would dance and twirl and I think the perfect word to use is “frolic”, 😉 engrossed in her imagination requesting from time to time different topics to sing about

DSC_368awhile Genevieve kept busy in her imagination with dirt and rocks for hours…

DSC_317aSoren was thrilled to run down hills, sit and just gaze up at the majestic trees, climb on anything there was to climb on, throw rocks and just explore.

DSC_796aAnd Amelie, well she had plenty of space to crawl and stand and practice her walking to her little hearts content.

DSC_812aAlthough we were expecting to go Apple Picking, it was a short drive from there and we were having such a wonderful time, we didn’t want to pack everyone up again. Ironically, we packed some apples from home which we all enjoyed so we can just pretend we hand picked these 😉


DSC_400aThe girls made a new friend. They ran around the lake, did somersaults and cartwheels and played on the hill until the sun began to set.

446bAnd this just might be my favorite picture of the 500 (or more) I took during our stay…

DSC_793a So, since we never really recovered from our midnight arrival, our mornings usually didn’t even begin until 9-9:30 , getting everyone ready and rushing to make the 10:30 breakfast cut off for Egg White Delight McSandwiches and yogurt parfait’s. Even the scenery outside of McDonald’s was beautiful.

DSC_817bAnother of our full-day outings was a drive through Carson City, Nevada and into Virginia City. There, we rode 1 of the oldest trains, strolled through candy stores, museums, a gorgeous Cathedral and we took a very long trek to the Chollar Mine.

DSC_735aFrom the time she heard it mentioned, Alizea had her heart set on exploring this sight. So she and daddy took the 1/2 hour-long tour through an underground, no kidding mine.

DSC_824aWhile I hung out with the 3 littles…

DSC_0748I didn’t do much more than supervise because once again, they were so involved and in love with their environment.

DSC_738aI may or may not have given Soren 1 lollipop, 3 pieces of salt water taffee and a handful of M&Ms to get him to stand still for this shot 😉

DSC_822aSince at least 2 of the kids would nap on our drive home, after baths, a late snack (we only really ate 2 meals a day with lots of snacking in between) a show or movie and our family prayers, we didn’t pass out until 10-10:30 each night. And we all, passed out. 🙂

Probably the highlight of our trip, for me, was taking this sort of hidden, breathtaking trail as a family…It’s hard to describe what I felt. It’s like, here we were, 6 individuals, sharing this incredible new experience together, understanding the feelings and thoughts of each other without having to say a single word. On our own journey back to Him.

DSC_792aAnd yet together. Made to make this journey together.

DSC_790a“For we walk by faith, not by sight”

DSC_785aEven Amelie had her walking chewing stick

DSC_782aAnd he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:2-4


DSC_815aI haven’t seen a baby this dirty since I was in Africa 12 years ago

DSC_784aOne of the many things the Lord showed me on this trip was how much I enjoy being around these little people. It’s easy to forget when frustration and impatience gets the best of me and when 4 different and equally important needs are hitting me all at once but they are my favorite people in the world and we have so much fun together!

DSC_821aAnd I don’t meant to brag but I felt like a real photographer after seeing this shot (unedited)…not that I did it on purpose but that’s besides the point 😉 …the lighting was stunning and now I finally understand what those pro’s mean when they say lighting is everything. Alizea, you radiate beauty and purity and I can’t even begin to tell you how proud you make me!

DSC_633aAnd this guy. I told Dean on 1 of our many car rides that I remember vividly the feeling I had of expecting a boy. I felt so unsure and uneasy of my affection for a son. Not having a brother and with 2 girls under my belt, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. Boy, was that an understatement.

DSC_691aIt is safe to say you surpass anything I could have imagined and my heart bursts at the seams for you.

DSC_693aFeeling so accomplished, so refreshed and recharged!

DSC_813aWe spent our last full day at the Lake (finally). We stopped at the local grocery store, grabbed sandwiches and chips, boiled eggs asnd yogurt, donut holes and chocolate milk and feasted overlooking the water. We had the place to ourselves and it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

DSC_940aWe did not come prepared with a change of clothes or towels because I guess I assumed the water would be too cold to hold the kid’s interest. Uh, yeah right, mom. Wishful thinking.

DSC_848aThey had an absolute blast.

DSC_927aMajorly happy baby

DSC_945aPossibly due to the caffeine rush 😉

DSC_901aShe literally sat here for hours while I drank my coffee and took in the beautiful scenery.

DSC_1063aA true vacation alright. God is good!

We came back to the swings 3 or 4 times while we were there. I think they appreciated the view as much (if not more) than us grown-ups did.

DSC_1004aAnd it was so neat to see these 2 making the most of their surroundings. Unlimited sand and a pair of shoes is all they needed to keep them busy for hours…

DSC_1034aSo much bonding took place on this trip. Which made every minute of the screaming and yelling on the car rides worthwhile. At least that’s what I kept telling myself 😉 DSC_1016aDaddy with his blue-eyed blondie. The wonders of genetics 🙂

DSC_987aIt was bitter sweet leaving Lake Tahoe. It may be wishful thinking but I sure would love to be able to give these kids more of what we experienced there. Not just once or twice a year but a childhood filled with days outdoors exploring and tapping into a hidden place in your mind and heart that thrives in such an environment filled with God’s watermark. We shall see what the Provider of all has in store…For now, I have this image to take me back to my “happy place”

DSC_939aif only for a moment…


4 Responses to Lake Tahoe Family Vacation 2013

  1. Hi Marisa! I am so happy that I found your blog again. Your children are simply beautiful and I am inspired by your awesome supermomness. God bless the 6 Sotos!

  2. Marisa, Your vacation shows that store bought toys and junk aren’t necessary to entertain kids and bring them joy. Your wonderful photography just exudes candid and joyfilled expressions by all, both kids and adults. Wow, your vacation seemed to be just delightful and thoroughly enjoyed by all. I was struck by the absence of man made places, which so often characterize vacation photos. You guys just prove the point that the best things in life are free!!!! Love you, Dad

  3. somehow i missed this post. aw, loved every picture, every word! Lake Tahoe is just so close to my heart too. Glad you got to enjoy your time there. Now, lets win the lottery and buy a second home there and share it!!!

  4. Hi there. I’m just a random lady who came across your blog and wanted to ask if you would jot my name down and pray for me; for repentance and faith in my life. For love of/desire for Jesus. Thank you.

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