There's not a lot of people that would welcome a family of six to their home with open arms. We're not the quietest bunch in the world and some of us eat quite a bit. It is only a family who are true friends who'd be up for having us crash at their house. Ashli, Jason, Drew, Austin, and Colby are those kinds of people to us. We rolled up to their house in Aptos, California and instantly felt at home, even though it had been three years (and the addition of one more little bub) since our last visit.

It's so refreshing to have friends that we can fall right into comfortable conversations and that will immediately mess around with us. Jason hauled out the drumset for the boys who gleefully grabbed the sticks and pounded to their hearts' content. The boys showed the kids how to throw the slobbery ball to their dog and poor Dallas didn't get much of a break all week with our kids working him hard. Ashli stuffed the fridge with food and fed us amazingly. We all draped ourselves on the couch and watched Olympics together. It was so fun.

One morning as the Jason and his boys were racing out to catch some waves, I begged to come along, leaving Ashli behind to feed my crew. They are an athletic group and it was so fun to trail along to an activity that they do all the time together. The beach was empty, a little cool and misty with fog. I was in heaven, sitting in the sand and playing around with my new 70-300 mm zoom.

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These guys are really good and know how to catch a wave.

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Almost every shot I got of Colby, his tongue was out as he concentrated :) .

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That afternoon, we went up to their kind friends' home where we shot some family images and then spent the rest of the afternoon poolside.

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I am sure I sound a bit gushy but Ben and I are so encouraged by the way they are raising their family. They are such great examples to us and we just love their boys and the young men that they are becoming. Ashli and Jason are very down to earth and have a great sense of humor. Yet they are instilling real character, a strong work ethic, and a sense of compassion in their sons. They support and push them to work and play hard, but are also affectionate with them. It gives us a lot of hope to raise our sons (and daughter)! Besides that, they are pretty cool and our kids just hung on them like monkeys all week long.

Drew.

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Austin.

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Colby.

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Also, only with true friends would I insist that they go stand under a tree with manure at the base....because it's the perfect tree.

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We love your family so much and are so blessed by your friendship. Thanks for an awesome week!

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