Friday, December 26, 2014

Hand Me Down

(Violet 2014 - 14 months)

I was incredibly excited to pull this sweet ensemble out of the closet for Violet to wear for Christmas this year. Five years ago my mom so sweetly made these Christmas jumpers from some vintage kitchen towels for Aubrey (who was just 13 months) and my niece Molly (who was 21 months.) I put ours away in the closet as one of those items I knew I'd keep forever.  Hoping to pass it on to a grandchild someday. But I never anticipated that I'd have another daughter who would look nearly identical and just as cute in it as her sister did five years ago.

(Aubrey 2009 - 13 months)

Christmas Morning

It seems that every year my excitement and anticipation grows along with the kids' until just after opening presents and that "well now it's all over" feeling hits.  But I was pleased this year as our kids were genuinely grateful and happy with the treasures they received. The smiles, the hugs, the love, the laughter, the excitement.  Celebrating Jesus' birth with the ones I love the most...

Monday, December 22, 2014

14 months

Her vocabulary is taking off in leaps and bounds and her tiny voice is the cutest thing in the world. She's still reluctant to take any steps but her confidence is growing daily. She's finally figured out how to climb the stairs which left us with the task of putting up gates (Joe did a phenomenal job of creating a beautiful wooden one for the top.) She's becoming a Daddy's girl and can melt his heart when she hears him walk through the door and shouts "Da-yee!" with a smile. Her brother and sister are loving her increasing interaction with them though we're frequently reminding Aubrey "if she's whining or crying that means she doesn't like what you're doing so please stop..." Her snuggles are to die for and she can brighten my day with just her smile.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


You can see the tears in our poor baby's eyes.  It seems so torturous and yet we still do it because we don't want to miss out on capturing this memory.  Daddy was sweeter than I would have been.  He put her down slowly, letting her cling to him for a few last seconds before completely handing her over to the stranger in red and white.  I would have done the drop and run... she'll never remember this anyway.  So the photographer took a few quality shots and when all was said and done, we chose not to go with the "face angry with tears" shot.  The candy cane seemed to appease her just enough.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fly Me Home

A conversation between me and my children while driving down the road:

Brendan: Mommy, did you know that they make a car that is also an airplane? Wouldn't that be cool?!

Me: Wow, that is pretty cool.  I'll bet you'd need a special kind of license to drive one of those

Brendan: Yeah, how would that work?

Me: Well... you'd have to get a pilot's license in addition to a driver's license

Brendan: So, how would you get your pilot's license?

Me: You have to take lessons.  And get lots of hours flying with an instructor.

Aubrey: Well where will we go?

Me: (pause) What do you mean where will you go?

Brendan: She means where will we go?

(Right... because asking the question a second time gives me total clarification...)

Me: (let's try this again)... um, I don't understand what you mean...

Aubrey: Where will we go while you take your flying lessons?

*long amused pause*

Me: Sweetheart, I will not be taking flying lessons

Brendan: (while Aubrey let's out a soft whine) Well I guess we won't be getting one of those airplane cars then...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bottle Baby

I don't want to give this up.  There is nothing in the world like these precious moments and they're gone so fast.  I struggle every time I think "she's old enough to be drinking from a cup... that baby is drinking from a cup... will she become attached to it if I let it go on too long???"

And yet, every day that I tell myself "this should probably be the day" I nearly break down in tears and I can't seem to let go of these moments.

Breastfeeding wasn't the enjoyable bonding experience I had hoped it would be for us.  I don't remember either of my other two disliking it nearly as much as sweet Violet.  It often seemed like a battle and wasn't always a sweet "snuggle into me and enjoy the moment" kind of thing.  But I powered through with the goal of nursing until she was old enough for cow's milk (as close to 12 months as I could get.) So just a few weeks short of her birthday I began slowly replacing nursing with bottles of milk and like clockwork, on her birthday, she nursed for the very last time.  I might have actually been sad if it had felt like I was taking something away from her.  But when she pushed me away and shook her head I knew we'd both get over it fast.

Then something happened and our experience changed. She enjoys her milk from a bottle. Our routine of wake-up, bottle time! She enjoys laying in my lap, snuggling into me just right and my heart is full and happy every time. So what if she "should" be drinking from a cup? I'm OK with this for now...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

13 months

So I decided (for the sake of cuteness) to continue our monthly updates/photos of this sweet baby girl.  It's so much fun to be able to look back and watch her grow before our eyes.  And to look back on all the milestones she was reaching.  It's priceless really.  And just think of all the new developments she'll be making this year! 

Her vocabulary now includes such big girl words as mama, daddy, sissy, baby, bye-bye, night-night, hi, no, go, yucky and shoes (among a few others I'm sure but it's so hard to keep track!) 

She still has no desire to walk but can crawl faster than we can keep up with her.  Still no more new teeth to announce but she's doing fine with the 6 she does have. She doesn't have much of an appetite and has (much to her mother's dismay) developed a picky palate.  My once "easy eats anything" baby has turned a sad corner.  While she ate every kind of baby food I made for her just months ago including squash, parsnips, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, corn... she has now decided that veggies are clearly not meant for her.  I can get her to eat an occasional cooked sweet potato or some steamed broccoli.  And once in awhile I can sneak a few green beans past her.  But otherwise this girl is a tough case to crack.  We often resort to trying to get her to eat at least one pouch of packaged mixed fruit/veggie baby food but even that can be a struggle.  And though the rest of her food preferences are touch and go too (she'll eat eggs, sausages, pasta, and cheese.... but only when she's in the mood...) it's the veggies that have me at my wits end. 

I recently proclaimed "I'm pretty sure our baby hasn't had a single serving of vegetables in the past three days!" to which Joe replied "didn't she eat one of those pouches of baby food?" 

"Half of it..." I said, frustrated. 

"Well then I think you're being a little dramatic" he smirked.  

So I try to let it go and just carry on.  She will not starve and she will somehow get all the nutrients she needs without eating her vegetables.  After all, the three things you can't force your child to do are eat... sleep... and go to the bathroom, right?  That doesn't mean I've stopped trying.  You can bet I'm still putting an array of choices before her, hoping one day she'll change her mind... 

She's still stingy with her kisses but gives hugs that are simply to die for.  She plays amazingly well by herself but when her siblings are around she wants nothing more than to be with them.  She's happy and sweet and her giggle is the best sound ever.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Birthday

Gymnastics and cupcakes.  And a few friends of her choosing.  That's all this girl wanted to celebrate her big day.  Of course at the age of 6 it's still hard to comprehend the fact that her party needed to be so much earlier than her actual birthday because of its ability to fall so close to Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving Day last year... Black Friday this year.  And since so many people travel or get overwhelmed with company for the holidays, we figure it's best to celebrate early (6 days early this year to be exact.) I let her browse Pinterest with me for the perfect cupcakes and she eventually settled on chocolate chip cupcakes with cookie dough frosting (I must say... some of my best cupcakes ever... bakery worthy in my humble opinion.) She enjoyed every minute of her special "party" day, playing on the gymnastics equipment, opening presents and having cupcakes with her friends.  But the one thing I loved the most was the look on that sweet beautiful face.  You see, that smile, it was classic.  Each time she opened a gift she was genuinely excited about it and thanked the giver profusely for knowing "exactly what she wanted!" Filled with joy seeing her bursting with so much excitement.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My 3 Kids

Seriously? I am blessed beyond measure.  There are no words to describe how full my heart is...


If I'm lucky, she'll adore him forever the way she adores him now.  Just look at that face.  And he's so incredibly tolerant.  Letting her play along as he was trying so hard to practice.  He thinks the world of her too, proclaiming more times than I can count:

"Mommy, can you imagine our lives without Violet? I mean, I just can't imagine what it would be like not to have her.  She makes our lives so happy and complete..."

Oh buddy, you're so wise beyond your years.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


We were lucky this year that the weather was tolerable for trick-or-treating.  Rain was in the forecast but decided to hold off for just one night.  We donned the kids' chosen costumes (a fighter jet pilot, a princess *shocking I know*, and a dalmation - her sister's costume from her first Halloween.) We met our friends at Daddy's office for treats and a costume showing.  Then we came back to our place for some Chicken Tortilla Soup (that had been cooking in the crockpot all day...mmmm... warm delicious goodness) and took off around the block for trick-or-treating.  

Friday, October 31, 2014


If you'd like a reminder of what pumpkin carving generally entails in this household refer to this post from 2012...

This year we put off carving so long that the beloved event actually happened last night...the night. Before. Halloween. And in case you're wondering why I'm in so many of the photos, it's because this year it went a little something like this...

We gathered pumpkins at the pumpkin patch early in October with the excitement and intent to carve them (excitement and intent totally mine... Joe hates pumpkin carving... refer to linked post from 2012.)

Left the pumpkins outside and nearly "forgot" about carving until the kids insisted we needed jack-o-lanterns.

Everyone picks out a pattern except Joe who insists that drawing with a pen/marker is way less messy and much, much easier (COP OUT!)

Joe turns on a movie to be festive which in turn sucks the kids' every ounce of attention, which means they are distracted and mommy gets angry because IF YOU DON'T START CARVING WE'LL BE HERE ALL NIGHT!!

Joe helps Aubrey quickly carve what is supposed to be Tinkerbell's profile into her pumpkin and brags that he is done.

I enjoy carving my pattern of choice for the year and then move on to "helping" Brendan who is both too engrossed in the movie and also insisting he do his carving (a cat's face) himself.

I persuade Brendan to let me "help" him and end up mostly taking over while Joe takes photos and smirks that "oh, by the way... did I mention I'm finished?"

Violet is upset that it seems like everyone is doing something she's not allowed to do and is not easily swayed by my attempt to make measuring cups look just as fun.

We finish... dear Lord we finally finish... and we later pose the pumpkins for the traditional photo-op, get the kids to bed and thank heaven we're done till next year.

It's no wonder the carving ritual got skipped last year as I was either on bed rest, having a baby, or taking care of a tiny newborn for the entire month of October!

And for your viewing pleasure.. the final results...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Birthday Baby

We celebrated this sweet baby girl with friends and family yesterday as everyone joined us for a Saturday brunch.  She enjoyed every minute of being the center of attention and even devoured a piece of quiche, a sausage link and fruit before diving into her lemon-filled vanilla cupcake with raspberry buttercream frosting! She wouldn't wear the birthday princess hat that Aubrey reluctantly wore for her first birthday (and has worn nearly every birthday thereafter.) But she smiled when we sang to her and knew exactly where that cupcake needed to go once we gave her the OK.

Violet: One Month at a Time













Friday, October 24, 2014

12 months

We've made it through the first year and I somehow didn't feel like celebrating.  I wanted to deny that it was happening.  That my baby wouldn't be a baby much longer.  I love this sweet girl.

She's got all 4 teeth on the top but still only two on the bottom.  That doesn't seem to stop her from eating anything she can get her hands on.  She loves grilled cheese sandwiches, green beans and peaches.  She'll eat bean and cheese quesadillas, avocados, sweet potatoes, pb&j sandwiches, smoothies, homemade muffins.  The girl will literally eat almost anything.  Her special birthday dinner was salmon cakes, quinoa/wild rice mix, and zucchini.  She ate almost as much as I did.

Her vocabulary hasn't grown much but she's finally taken to saying "mama" more often than "dada." The one time we got her to say "sissy," Aubrey was over the moon and when she waves and says "hi!" it's enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

She uses a brush to "brush" her own hair and holds her toy remote to her ear like a phone and says "hi-o!" She doesn't like to sit still for long because she knows her mobility can get her places.  This makes it tough when the last thing we want her to do in most places is get down and crawl around on the ground.  Keeping her entertained is a constant battle.

She weighs 19lbs 8oz and is almost 29 inches long.  This puts her right at average for weight but at 26th% for length.  She's otherwise developing at a normal pace and my prediction is that she'll follow in Brendan's footsteps and won't start walking till around 16 months.

We'll have a toddler before we know it.  Another year will fly by and I'll be wishing I could have this time back.  It's a bittersweet time of looking forward to her new developments and watching the baby phases come and go.

Happy birthday sweet baby girl.  We love you more than words could say.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reliving It

I woke up that morning like nearly every other morning for the past 9 weeks.  Took a shower, dressed, dried my hair and took up residence on the couch with my growing belly.  After nearly 10 weeks on bed rest the end was in sight!  My c-section was scheduled in two days and everything was ready!  Our saint of a babysitter would be coming early Thursday morning to take the kids to school as we would need to be at the hospital at 5:30 am.  My parents would be arriving in the afternoon just in time to pick the kids up from school and bring them to the hospital to meet their baby sister.  I had gift bags prepared for the nurses, my overnight bag was only missing a few small items, I even had ingredients prepared to make muffins to take to the nurses Thursday morning (one batch for the night shift nurses getting ready to go home... one batch for the day shift nurses coming on... as their fellow friend and coworker I knew the way to their hearts.)

I figured I had come this far, my placenta was only a marginal previa (the fact that it had been completely covering my cervix weeks before, combined with my preterm contractions that I had been taking medication for were the reasons I was labeled high risk and put on bed rest.) I had been a good bed rest patient.  As good as can be when you are the mother of a preschooler and a second grader and the wife to a busy working husband.  You can only ask for so much help before feeling like a burden and taking on small tasks yourself. Joe took "Aubrey drop-off" duty, delivering her to preschool that morning before heading to work.  My friend and neighbor who had been taking Brendan to school with her daughter in the morning happened to be out of town that week so Brendan's drop off fell on me.  Then straight back home and back onto the couch.  

Until I started thinking about the few things I still needed for my overnight bag and the few items we needed from Costco.  I had stopped taking my contraction medication the previous weekend with the OK from my doctor since I had reached 37 weeks and would be "fine" if I went in to labor at that point (aside from the c-section that would still need to be done related to the placenta previa.) So I had started contracting fairly often again but nothing painful or labor-like.  I figured a quick trip to Fred Meyer to get my last few items and a trip to Costco would be fine.  I'd come right back and plant myself back into my spot on the couch that was beginning to bear a striking resemblance to a permanent mold of my backside.  No big deal.  I'd feel less stressed and everything would be ready to go.  So I made the two trips, came back home, packed up the few things I had purchased, put away items from Costco and made myself some lunch (a ham sandwich, snap peas and a peach... this is how specific my memory is of that day.) I heaved a sigh of relief, grabbed my laptop and plopped back down onto the couch to settle into an episode of Parenthood on Netflix.  But 5 minutes into my show, shortly after 1:00 in the afternoon, I felt a slight pop and a small rush of fluid between my legs.  Panic set in as I tossed the laptop aside and rushed to the bathroom thinking "please don't let it be blood, please don't let it be blood" knowing that, regardless, my next stop was going to be the hospital.  Thanking God with a silent prayer that my water had broken with no signs of bleeding, I lost all sense of mental control as a flood of thoughts overwhelmed me: 

"crap! what do I do first?!" 
"change my pants?"
"call the doctor's office?" 
"call Joe?"
"did I remember to pack underwear?" 
"are the baby clothes in my bag?" 
"crap! my bag isn't done being packed!" 
"who's going to pick up the kids?!" 
"this wasn't in the plan!!!"  

For a few short seconds I was seriously paralyzed without a clue of what to do next.  Eventually I got it together.  I called the hospital to let them know that I'd be coming in.  I called Joe and got no answer.  


Fortunately, being pregnant and on bed rest had given me a bit of priority as far as Joe and his work were concerned.  We developed a system wherein if I called and he didn't answer because he was busy that was fine.  But if I hung up and immediately called back it meant I needed him NOW (never mind that I accidentally forgot about this system and unknowingly abused it just a couple weeks prior when the plumber came out to fix an outdoor hose bib and I couldn't answer his questions... when Joe called back after the second call asking "honey?! is everything ok?! what's wrong?!" I remembered the system and immediately felt bad!) So here I was, using our "system" and immediately hitting redial.  

Still no answer... you've got to be KIDDING me! 

I stared at the phone in my hand and the paralyzing flood of thoughts started to return.  Fortunately for me, that only lasted a few seconds before the phone rang in my hands and I answered my husband's return call.  He had been getting ready to head out on an afternoon site visit by bike and planned on leaving his phone when his coworker heard it ringing (several times) and figured it must be serious.  My timing was impeccable. Instead of a bike ride, he was on his way home to take me to the hospital.  

On the way I called my friends in desperation for help with the kids.  One agreed to pick Aubrey up and keep her overnight.  One would pick Brendan up and deliver him to another friend who would keep him overnight.  I have amazing friends.  

I was triaged and admitted and apparently in luck.  Not only was my good friend Melissa working that day (who I had already chosen to be my nurse for Thursday's c-section) but my doctor was on call too!! When I asked who would be assisting my doctor (yes, I had chosen my entire team... when you work in the field it comes as a privilege and I felt most comfortable in these two women's care) I was told that said doctor was seeing patients in the office but had been notified and given the option of heading over to assist anyway (let me kill the suspense and tell you that she came... and I was forever grateful and honored.)   

I walked to my room, settled in, signed all paperwork, IV and meds started.  All the necessary prep for a c-section.  The realization hit me that I had forgotten the camera (I felt lucky I had remembered putting on pants at that point) but our modern technology came through for us as we handed off our phones for the nurses to use instead. Then I was wheeled down the hall to the OR while Joe waited in the hall for me to be prepped before coming back to sit at my side.  The spinal anesthesia was taking its time to set in but the team continued with preparation anyway.  The doctors were scrubbed and ready and the test "pinch" was given to make sure I couldn't feel anything.  So I think it came as a surprise when I cried "ouch!" and was still able to lift my legs.  The doctors gave a frustrating look to the anesthesiologist and asked him to please make me numb even if it required an epidural instead of a spinal (another spinal would have dropped my blood pressure to dangerous levels and my doctors and I refused to allow him to put me to sleep as that would require Joe waiting outside the OR for the duration of the procedure.) So I sat back up for an epidural placement just as the spinal anesthesia began to take some effect.  Joe was brought in and the surgery started but I felt a nagging fear that the anesthesia just wasn't right.  Minutes later I heard my sweet baby cry and Joe left my side to be with her.  But it was during the "repair" parts of the surgery that I started to feel more than I should have been feeling.  Joe brought sweet Violet to the head of the bed as I kissed her sweet face and grimaced in pain simultaneously.  I could feel my insides being "man handled" and I was trying to just deal with the pain. My doctors apologized profusely as they continued their repair.  The anesthesiologist kept repeating "it's normal to feel a little queasy" and I wanted to scream "I don't feel queasy, I feel pain you IDIOT!" but refrained.  The fortunate part is that at least I was still superficially numb, so while my fears that I would feel them stitching me up left my heart rate racing, I felt nothing but relief that their hands were finally out of my abdomen.  I was wheeled back to my room with my baby in my arms and some good drugs on board and that was the moment I started falling in love.  

I couldn't believe she was finally here.  And all the pain in the world was worth every ounce of her.  

This was a year ago today and yet I'm able to recount the whole story like it was yesterday.  And I relived the whole thing in my memory today as I battled the tears from mourning the time passing so quickly. Happy birthday baby girl... if only I could keep you little forever... 

  Violet Alexis 
Born 10-22-13 at 3:56 pm
6 lbs 6 oz. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Family Game Night

We were on a roll with the quality time we were spending with the kids over the weekend so, as we finished dinner Sunday night, I said "hey! let's play Farkle! We'll have a family game night!"

Of course you can probably guess from the score sheet whose reaction was less than appealing.  We convinced her that being on Daddy's team would make it more fun, she could help him roll the dice, we wanted her to participate.  She obliged but not completely.  The few times that her rolls failed to result in a score (aka a "Farkle") she would be on the floor in a puddle of tantrum and tears.  We tried explaining "chance" and "luck" and told her there was nothing she could have done differently but it was no use.  Eventually she'd come back.  But as soon as she rolled another Farkle she was gone again.  The rest of us pressed on.  We laughed, we high-fived, we tried convincing each other to take risks we wouldn't take ourselves.  And though Brendan won with the high score (reaching 10k points before the rest of us), I still think there should be a prize for the person who rolls the most Farkles ;)

As far as Aubrey is concerned... we'll keep working on her.  She'll come around eventually.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just the Two of Us

This boy.  He makes my heart happy.

Joe decided to take Aubrey on a date Saturday afternoon after realizing she was starving for his attention and needed some one-on-one time.  She's a daddy's girl for sure.  So off they went, Aubrey boasting about her special time with Daddy. Of course Brendan was slightly devastated.  "What about me?" he asked sadly.

I told him we could have our own special date.  Just the two of us.  Me and my boy.

So we woke up early Sunday morning in order to make it to early church and I sat pondering what we could do that would make our day feel special.  Joe suggested a picnic so I presented the idea to Brendan and he was thrilled. I packed up some PB&J, carrots and snap peas, peaches and juice boxes. We grabbed a blanket, hopped in the van and headed to the park.  It was one of those unseasonably warm October days.  A little breezy but perfect for a picnic.  I asked him if he wanted to sit at a table or on a blanket in the grass.

"On a blanket!" he exclaimed, "it'll be more fun that way!"

So we spread out our picnic and began one of the best dates I've probably ever been on in my life.  We chatted about life.  He told me about school, his friends, his fears, his achievements, his projects, his dreams.  I listened.  I mean I REALLY listened.  My eyes were not glued to my phone (although sadly it was close, next time I vow to leave it behind... but then I wouldn't have captured this sweet "selfie.") I gave him my undivided attention and he thrived on it.  He finished his lunch before me but continued to chat as he showed me how he makes leaf necklaces when he can't find anyone to play with at recess.  My heart broke a little but he smiled as he linked them together and placed it around my neck.

I watched him play on the playground as I picked up our gear.  His pride at accomplishing the monkey bars is so incredibly sweet to see.  I helped him create an obstacle course which he completed with joy several times over.  We swung on the swings and I laughed harder than I have in as long as I can remember.  We joked, we played, we giggled, we bonded.  And as our date came to an end and we walked back to the van, I hugged him tightly and said "thanks for our date sweetheart... I had such a good time."

"I did too Mommy," he said. "Let's do it again soon..."

I planned this for him never realizing how much I needed it too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Salty Cornbread

My son is a pleaser.  He always has been and always will be.  He loves to make people happy, especially, without a doubt, his mommy (he's 8 years old and still calls me mommy... I'm trying to hold on to it as long as I can before gently requiring him to give it up for his own personal social reasons.) So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that he praises my cooking every chance he gets ("salmon?! I LOVE salmon!!" "what are you making mommy? it smells so good it makes me want to dance!") Maybe a little over the top at times but he's only trying to make me happy.  Who wouldn't be proud of that?

He has also developed a love for the kitchen and a desire to bake and cook.  And as he gets older, his desire for independence has increased immensely.  One day not too long ago we awoke one Sunday morning, took our time getting out of bed and came downstairs to realize Brendan had "made" us all breakfast.  He took the liberty of pouring the cereals he thought we each would like, setting the table, and even pouring the milk.  When Joe came down and began to chastise him for pouring the milk when he didn't know how long it would take us to come downstairs, starting in on an explanation about soggy cereal, I interrupted when I saw B fighting back tears.  "He had just poured it when we walked down" I said, "he was just trying to be nice..." And when he got up from the table to pour us all a glass of milk Joe said "oh no thanks Buddy, I'm good." (cue another disappointed look from the boy.) So even though I wouldn't normally have a glass of milk with breakfast I said "I'll have one sweetheart, and I'll even drink Daddy's." He smiled.

It was after this incident that I started thinking I should involve him in food prep more often.  It's a passion of mine and it warms my heart that it's something he longs to enjoy alongside me.  I was planning my ham and navy bean soup for Wednesday night and I traditionally make a batch of homemade cornbread to go with it.  How hard could that be? He's 8, he can measure, I'll supervise, it's the perfect first solo baking attempt.  So I suggested it and he was thrilled.  I typed up the recipe (here several of you are wondering why I didn't just use a boxed mix... I have a tried and true recipe from my mama, it's easy, it's amazing... I don't do boxes.) I sat at the counter and let him go to work.  I gave him gentle direction but, per his insistence, I didn't touch a thing. It was when we got to the cornmeal that we hit a minor roadblock.  He poured what was left of the box in the pantry and it measured 1/4 of the entire 1 cup that he needed.  I texted frantically, no neighbors had it on hand either.  I decided to take Violet next door to continue the hunt.  We had come this far, most of the ingredients had been measured, I couldn't back out on him now! So I left him to continue (minus the cornmeal for now) after showing him the salt and explaining teaspoons vs tablespoons (little t... big T.) But the hunt turned up nothing (come on people! who doesn't have cornmeal as a staple in their pantry?!) so we packed up all three kids and headed to Albertson's for a quick in-and-out stop for cornmeal.  We headed back home, he finished up the recipe, stirred like a champ (when I stepped forward saying "here buddy, let me show you how to-" and he cut me off with a sharp "NO! Don't show me, just tell me!") It was his work, he wanted to be proud.  He poured it into the prepared pan, put it in the oven and set the timer.  It baked up puffy and golden brown along the edges, it looked perfect.

We sat down to dinner.  We all ate half a bowl of ham and beans and our salad before cutting into the bread.  It felt like a christening of sorts.  It smelled heavenly.  I served my family.  A piece for Brendan, a piece for Aubrey, a piece for Daddy, even a piece cut up for Violet.  I heard Joe say "mmm... pretty good buddy" as I cut my own piece.  He sat at the table with eager anticipation.  He wanted so bad to hear me sing his praises.  So I can't tell you why I said what I did other than that I was shocked and I spoke before I could think.

I sunk my teeth in, wrinkled up my nose, nearly spit the piece out, chewed it slowly instead and said "oh... oh no..." as I looked at Joe who was reprimanding me with his eyes.

"Salt?" Joe asked so calmly and nicely.

"Um... yeah... oh wow... way too much salt... I think maybe he mixed up teaspoons for tablespoons" (in which case he put three times the amount of salt that was called for.) Joe put his piece down, I gently pushed mine away and discreetly reached over and swiped Violet's piece from her tray. And then came the tears (his... not mine.)  I looked over and he was devastated.  Full.  On.  Tears. I tried everything I could to take back what I had done.

"Buddy, I've made mistakes too.  It happens all the time! One time Daddy made a cake without baking powder and it didn't even rise! Think about how awesome the cornbread looks... it wasn't a bad mistake. Aubrey's eating it!" (yes we let her finish her piece... I figured if the taste didn't throw her off, I owed it to her brother to let her finish her piece and be the one to exclaim "I think it tastes good!")

But he was clearly hurt by my words and I couldn't take it back.  We put the kids to bed and I moped into the kitchen.  As soon as Joe came down I started in on him.

"You could have warned me! You took a bite and told him it was good!"

"I was trying to be nice" he scolded, "YOU were mean!"

I had to make things right.  I texted my friends and told them what had happened and one texted back with a suggestion "just go cuddle up to him in bed and whisper in his ear 'you didn't mean to.. Mommy was just a bit surprised.'" So that's exactly what I did.

He was lying in the dark with his arms wrapped around his teddy.  I laid down next to him.  "Can I snuggle you?" I whispered.  I wrapped my arms around him and he started to cry.  "I'm sorry for what I said sweetheart.  I'm so proud of you for trying and you did such an amazing job.  It's easy to make a mistake like that.  Not everything I make turns out perfect."

"Yes it does!" he countered, "your food is ALWAYS good!"

Well OK then... we will not argue.

"It hasn't always been that way buddy.  I learned from my mom too and it took years and years of practice.  I love that you want to cook and it makes me proud that you love something that I enjoy too. It made me so happy to see you trying your best.  And I hope you'll try again."

I could see him smiling in the dark.

"Can you forgive me?" I asked "I love you so much."

He nodded his affirmation. "I love you too Mommy."

My heart was full, his hurt was healed. "I fixed it" I told Joe as I sunk into the couch.

Our kitchen adventures commence!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

11 months

She turned eleven months old yesterday and she's now on the move.  She's been full on crawling now for about a week or two and she's loving her new-found independence.  She has yet to learn how to pull herself to standing and we can't seem to get her to move her feet much, but she's mobile now and it's a huge step for her.  When she smiles big you can see three of her 4 top teeth and the 4th one attempting to break through.  She gives amazing hugs but won't kiss on demand.  She saves those for moments she sees worth it.  She claps and says "yay" and it's the cutest thing ever.  She's developed a temper but it seems to diffuse quickly.  She doesn't like to be told "no" but she gets over it in seconds. That bow in her hair?  She refuses to keep it in and it's a battle I attempted to have for the sake of pure cuteness.  I even went so far as to follow her around telling her "no" each time she removed it, putting it back in, showing her I was serious.... I lost that battle.  She loves pat-a-cake, snuggling her teddy bear, giving baby dolls kisses (go figure), swinging, and being outside.  She's easy going, smiles a lot, warms my heart and brightens my life.

If I could only make this next month slow down... this is going by way too fast.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Two Halves

Make a whole... 

At least that's what Joe tells me.  I spontaneously decided to run another half marathon just three weeks after running the first one.  Joe had found a relay race in Ashland on the 20th that he had attempted to throw together a team for.  So when I found the information for the Rogue Run being held in Medford on the 21st we thought it would be a great "fitness weekend" opportunity.  The Rogue Run offered a 10k and a half marathon option and waking up Sunday morning I was wishing I had chosen the former.  Joe's attempts at a relay race team were unsuccessful but I was committed and registered and so we went.  We drove to Medford late on Saturday afternoon, retrieved my race packet, checked into the hotel, browsed the shops nearby and went to dinner.  Joe and the kids got up with me Sunday morning, dropped me off at the starting point and drove off to the finish line to wait.  It was a beautiful point-to-point course along the Bear Creek Greenway from the town of Talent to the city of Central Point. I finished with exactly the same time as the first one and had mixed feelings of pride for finishing yet feeling like I should have been able to do better.  But for now I'll just enjoy Joe's assessment: "hey, you did two half marathons... and two halves make a whole, right?!"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

See the Light

It started about a year and a half ago.  I remember one day when I asked him to tell me how much time was left on the oven timer.  He was sitting at the dining table, just 10 feet away or so.  He squinted at first, then got up and walked halfway into the kitchen before telling me what I had asked. I said "why did you get up to look?" and he said "because I couldn't see it from there."  And for awhile I gave everyone else the benefit of the doubt.  His teachers never said anything except that he had scored a little "off" on his school vision screening but that it was probably nothing big.  He was doing great in school. I had friends and relatives who said "oh, that happened to us too... he'll just grow out of it..." So I let it go. And sadly there was a part of me that wondered if he could be telling the truth.  Would my son "fake" a vision impairment in order to wear glasses? I'd heard of it happening before.  Kids thinking glasses were cool, telling their parents they thought they needed them.  But looking back, he never once mentioned glasses.  It was the little clues here and there, not being able to read something that seemed so obviously clear to me and Joe.  And then this school year started and, when questioned, he admitted to not being able to see the board clearly.  I was devastated I had let it go on this long.  The optometrist gave him every test in the book and when he dialed it down to a specific prescription and held the test lenses up for him to look at the letters on the wall, I held back tears as Brendan's face lit up with excitement and he said "oh! now I can see them all clearly!"

I have to admit... I may be a little biased but he sure looks handsome...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wedding at the Love Ranch

We traveled to California last Wednesday to celebrate in the preparations for my sister's wedding.  A long 8 hour drive to Grass Valley where we set up our little family of 5 in my grandparents one guest bedroom. But the time spent with family, the celebration of marriage and the beautiful backdrop of the family ranch were well worth the time and effort.  Prayers for a long lasting marriage to the man she finally found who knows how to treat her right.  With a lot of strength, love and faith, they can make this thing work.  Here's to Jill and Jeremy and a lifelong future together...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of School

He's growing so fast.  A big 3rd grader now.  Excited about school and making new friends.  It's getting easier each year to watch his wings grow. Yet I still look back on pictures of him as a baby and the memories come flooding back like it was yesterday.  I'm ready for him to take on the 3rd grade but wanting time to stop in its tracks... for just a little while.  

Her first day of school was anticipated with much apprehension.  Though not on her part, but on mine.  Her previous year of preschool was a constant struggle.  Tears and complaining each "school day" morning.  Worries that she was spending her days with kids much younger than her, learning things she already knew.  And so this day also felt overdue.  Like she should have been in kindergarten a long time ago.  But there were no tears, no complaining, no whining, no attitude.  My beautiful girl woke up ready to take on the world.  We'll see how long it lasts...

I pray they dream big and learn never to give up.  The process of watching them grow up...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunriver 1/2 Marathon for a Cause

And now... I am a runner.

At least that's what the general consensus is.  I think after all the training I went through, my friends and family are tired of hearing me say "well I'm really not a runner..." But I reached my goal and it feels incredibly amazing.  I've logged more miles in the last 8 months than I have in my entire life before that. And while 13.1 miles may not seem like much to all those "real" runners, I can hardly believe what I've accomplished.  

I spent the week prior to the race feeling anxious and nervous but still confident that I would at least finish, if not achieve my ideal time of 2 hours.  Dad and Nadine came into town on Thursday, we picked up our race packets on Friday, and Saturday morning we headed to Sunriver for takeoff.  My dad, sensing my anxiety, turned to me in the car Saturday morning and said "it's just another training run... just with lots of other people..." I confided that I had, in fact, attempted to pretend to be running alongside "friends" during some of my training runs.  I knew from my 10k back in May that a race stirs up adrenaline and feelings of competitive nature.  But nothing could have truly prepared me for how this race would feel.  We took off at a slow pace as the race announcer counted down to start time. I had fully intended to stay with my dad but he made me promise to leave him behind if I felt the need to speed up.  I turned to him at mile 2, keeping an eye on my pace, wanting to stay just faster than a 9:00 mile.  "Is the elevation gonna bother you Dad?" I was still at a conversational pace and needed to speed up.  He was used to running at sea level (quite literally... as he lives in Cannon Beach) and we were racing at 4500' elevation.  I had trained here.  He had not. So when the opportunity to pass some of the slower runners presented itself, I slowly inched ahead figuring he'd keep up if he could.  By mile 3 I glanced back and he waved me on.  

I ran.  I thought about life.  I thought about how far I had come.  I thought about all of the people who had loved me, supported me and encouraged me through my training. The friends who passed by on my training runs, who rolled down their windows to give words of inspiration.  I thought about Joe and the kids at the finish line ready to cheer me on. My friend who was dragging her two girls out to wait at the finish line because she believed in me and wanted me to feel it.  I thought about the pride I would feel from both my husband and my dad, the two men I care to impress the most.  And I thought about my own pride.  I had a goal and I was accomplishing it.  My heart kept beating, my feet kept moving and only slightly did I ever slow my pace.  I rounded the corner to the finish and sprinted with all I had left.  I heard my babies cheering from the sidelines and when I glanced down at my watch to see I had beat my goal time by 6 minutes I threw up a victory punch over the finish line.  I was done and it felt amazing.  The smile on Joe's face as he wrapped his arms (and his sweatshirt) around me left me beaming.  My dad came in shortly after I did, gave me a sweaty hug, a high five and that gleaming proud smile I had wanted.  

We made it.  

We were done...

Until the next big adventure...   

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twelve Years

(Our selfie before the military ball April 2014) 

Things I have learned in our 12 years of marriage:

- having a partner in every aspect of my life has gotten me through even the worst of times
- marriage is not always fun or easy but it sure is rewarding
- there is no one in the world who knows me as well as my husband
- we may have been young when we got married but we weren't "too young" 
- my husband makes me feel strong, worthy, uplifted, loved and safe
- when your partner for life is also your best friend you can make anything work
- when there are "downs" there will always be "ups" to remind me why it's worth it
- I assumed correctly that he would make cute babies 
- it took this many years for my maiden name to sound foreign 
- though I knew he'd be a great father, he's a better daddy than I ever imagined
- there's nothing like hearing my husband pray with my children before bedtime
- compromise... a kayak addiction can be a serious thing  
- my husband sees beauty in me where I find faults and I find that endearing
- it will never get old to hear my husband call me "hot" 
- it feels incredible to be immensely adored by someone even after all these years

Happy 12th anniversary honey. We've come a long way and have so far still to go. I love you more than you'll ever know...

Friday, August 22, 2014

10 months

Are we really that close to her first birthday?! Please, no...

She recently started getting 2 new teeth but neither of them has fully emerged.  I refer to it (sweetly) as her vampire smile since it's her top lateral incisors coming in instead of the centrals.  Of course we also joke that she'll look even more like Aubrey who is also missing her top 2 front teeth. She's learned how to wave and I think it's the cutest thing in the world.  She does it often because she loves how anyone who sees her will wave in return.  She's also mastered the term "uh-oh" and hearing her say it will bring a smile to anyone's face.  Her brother, in particular, loves to hear her mimic him when he says it to her. We've finally gotten her to start standing on those two tiny feet.  Though it's still with a slight bend in the middle as her butt slowly lowers to sitting position.  She'll spin herself around on her belly on the floor but still has not developed the coordination to crawl.  We're working on it.  She'll do it when she's ready.  The "witching hour" has become a frequently used term in our house as it's the time of day when she gets the least attention because I'm making dinner and her siblings are usually doing their own things.  She has an insistent "whine" that Joe analogized with a car engine attempting to start and can annoy the heck out of anyone in hearing distance.  When it's accompanied by her high pitch squeal it can sometimes feel like unbearable torture. The love I have for her is too big for my heart.  So much that I can't help but kiss her, hug her, squeeze her, and snuggle her every single chance I get.    

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Swinging Baby

Our recent addition to the play structure Joe built a couple years ago... an infant bucket swing. Unlimited entertainment for our sweet baby girl.  She'd stay in that swing for hours as long as it's moving. Of course we had to take down the coveted "monkey swing" (the swinging bar with ring handles on either side.)  But her siblings still have their own swings and they'd give anything to push her themselves just to see that sweet grin and giggle.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Falkners Visit


It's been quite a long time since they've been able to come and visit. It's amazing to see how much the boys have grown in the last 2 years!  So we were filled with excitement when the Falkners made their trip to Bend.  It's so great to see these boys hold on to their friendship even though they only see each other a few times a year.  We went swimming, went to the Crook County fair, rode bikes and scooters, ate good food, enjoyed each other's company and cried when they had to leave.  It's so hard to live far away from good friends...


Monday, August 4, 2014

Blackberry Picking

I am obsessed with berries.  I love summertime fruits. And berries probably fight with peaches for the top spot on my list of favorites.  But ever since moving to central Oregon, any time we want fresh berries we have to make the trek over the pass into the valley because, alas, the high desert is not a prime fruit growing atmosphere (and I am not about to pay astronomical prices for them in the grocery stores!) Since I was denied my chance to make my favorite jams last year due to my pregnancy and bed rest, I was extremely determined this year to make it happen.  I packed up the kids and we tagged along on Joe's guard duty weekend with the intent to spend time with good friends and pick loads of berries.  I got them up on Saturday morning, fed them breakfast and packed them into the truck with my phone's GPS set for directions to Baggenstos farm in Sherwood, Oregon. Luckily we were nearly the first ones on site and when I prepped the kids with "I want enough berries to make jam... and maybe a pie..." their eyes lit up and they were motivated beyond my expectations. We picked just over 8 pounds of berries.  Enough for some jam AND a pie ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I just kept snapping away because I love these interactive moments between them.  As difficult as Aubrey can be sometimes, she has these moments when she shows so much love for her baby sister.  And Violet just seems to adore her (and her brother too) lighting up whenever she's around.