34 Weeks Pregnant

Fair warning: This is one of those lame pregnancy updates that doesn’t include a photo. Thus far, I’ve always managed to get some photos of me and Scott and the kids near the end of each pregnancy, but as far as I’m concerned the bigger the belly for those pictures, the better. So they are probably a few weeks away. :)

Not counting miscarriage, this is my fourth pregnancy and I’ve been reflecting lately on what is new this time around, and the many things that aren’t.

New! I’m packing a hospital bag! With our first baby, we were ushered straight from a regular doctor’s appointment to the hospital to deliver. So all I really had was my husband and my wallet. That worked out just fine. The next two births we did a little bit of grabbing stuff as we headed out the door, and that worked out fine as well. Maybe I’m low maintenance? Maybe it’s a product of having short deliveries? I guess I’ve sort of always rolled my eyes a bit at the lengthy lists of essentials you find on every pregnancy website. Change for the vending machine in case the cafeteria is closed and the change machine is broken! A plastic garbage bag in case your water breaks in the car on the way to the hospital! Your own nightgown and towels and toilet paper in case those provided by the hospital are not comfortable enough… and… and…

In my experience, as long as my baby is born healthy, the rest is gravy. I haven’t bought any maternity clothes this pregnancy, nor have I had to shore up our supply of baby gear so I guess I was just planning to coast into delivery. But this past weekend I realized all our baby stuff is still packed up since our move (two years ago!) and I might actually want something to dress this new Bean in. And hey, perhaps the listers are right and I will enjoy fuzzy socks, gum and an a spare hair tie. And, I’ll let you know how the Depends suggestion works out for me. (No I won’t.)

Old News: Compression stockings in the summer. I am in loooove my thigh-high open-toed compression stockings this time around. They are so much better than I had with previous pregnancies and they help with restless legs and my energy levels a lot, in addition to keeping the varicose veins away. But I look like a loon if I wear them (plus the necessary socks to protect them) with shorts or capris. So when it’s hot in the summer time, I’m cookin’ in my long pants and layers. I’m not missing the heat of Columbus a bit, that’s for sure.

Old News: Naming a baby is tricky. Scott and I finally talked about boy names for the first time on the night I went into labor with Daniel. I’d love to have a front runner for both a girl and a boy long before we get to that point this time, but it’s not looking likely.

New! I have a really and truly excited older sibling on hand. Mackenzie (7) is old enough to fully understand the changes that will take place in about a month, and she is over the moon excited. Not a day has gone by that she hasn’t wanted to talk to me about the baby, feel the baby move, or snuggle up to my belly. She prays for this baby and was so patient with all the ups and downs of morning sickness because she knows the discomfort of pregnancy is for a great cause. It’s fun to have another player on Team Baby because I’m anticipating a tougher adjustment for the younger two kiddos.

Old News: Nerves. I’ve been reading birth stories (including the ones I wrote myself) lately and trying to remember what it’s like to bring a baby into the world. And once the baby arrives? Wowza. I recently re-watched the video of us trying to dress Mackenzie for the first time and I realized I feel like I’m back at the beginning of the learning curve. I haven’t had a newborn in three years and I don’t remember what it’s like

Mostly though, I’m overwhelmed with that feeling of knowing my life will change forever soon, but the simultaneous inability to anticipate for and plan out all the details ahead of time. I’m a planner at heart and until I meet my baby, I really don’t know what I’m in for. (That much, it seems, I do remember.)

Old News: A pre-baby todo list. I’ve made a list of things I’d like to accomplish before this baby makes his or her appearance, which will hopefully take my mind off of the Due Date Countdown.

Here it is, mainly for my own journaling and accountability purposes. The plan is to update it at 36, 38, and 40 weeks. See how I’m not counting on this baby coming early? That’s a win for the list already. ;)

To Do Before the Bean Baby Comes!

Walk 60 miles. I want to be fitter for labor and recovery. Pushing a double stroller around our hilly neighborhood will definitely help.

Finish Duolingo Spanish. I have about 30 lessons left, and if I’m shooting for the stars, I’d like for my “tree” to be all gold! The kids all love to do this with me and I can do it while putting my feet up on the couch so it’s a win all around.

Pack my hospital bag. This is harder than it sounds because it involves digging into all the packed away baby stuff AND buying Depends at the store. *Gulp*

Finish my “speedy photo catchup” blog posts (and use these to bring our current blog book up-to-date. I’m currently two years behind!)

Buy a chair to nurse this baby in.

Update my blog cookbook. It’s way overdue and I have a pile of great recipes we use all the time to add.

Dentist trips for everyone. Actually not everyone. I think I’ve decided that kids with no adult teeth yet are probably good with just a checkup every now and then so Caitlyn is off the hook this time around.

Annual doctor checkups for all three kids – I crossed this one off my list when I realized I could just buddy them up with newborn checkups in the coming months. Our doctor will see two kids per appointment. Sweet!

Ask a friend to be on call to watch my kids when we head to the hospital. Another tough one for me this time around. Since we moved to Salem, nobody has really imposed on me so I feel a little funny about asking for help. During medical school and residency, it was commonplace for the wives to ask and give real sacrifices of time and sleep and sanity for each other.

Finish the kids’ summer reading programs. We absolutely love participating in the challenge over at Exodus Books but I upped the ante this summer: Caitlyn had to read a book to me before putting it on her list, and Mackenzie had to narrate each book before putting it on her list. Those were two skills I really wanted them to work on, both in their willingness to do it and their capacity to do it well. We’ve seen big improvements thus far but it means the final week of the challenge has them each scrambling to jump through my hoops to finish the 35 quality books needed to claim their gift certificates. Phew!

Rotate all the kids’ clothes for fall. This is not a chore I want to tackle while recovering from giving birth.

Buy pictures for Scott’s office. His walls are still blank after two years. Yikes.

Stock up on a few great ebooks to read while nursing. Suggestions? I love reading something worthwhile in the wee hours of the night when I’m up anyway with a baby. My iPhone saves me.

Cut Daniel’s hair. I’m not very good at it yet, so I procrastinate, but I’m determined to figure it out.

Inventory our freezers. I’ve been experimenting a bit with freezing extra meals lately but I actually have no clue what we have on hand now. When you don’t eat like most people, very few of the “freezer cooking” tips and recipes apply but I’ve been making some headway on figuring out what works for us.

Master a new Suzuki piano piece. I just started Book 3 and the difficulty level jumped quite a bit!

Play musical beds. We have three bedrooms, two beds, a crib, a pack and play, two couches, and an air mattress and I’m not at all sure who will end up sleeping where when this baby arrives. I prefer sleeping in the same room with the baby. Scott doesn’t sleep at all if he’s in the same room with the baby. The girls are currently sharing a bed but don’t love it so one invariably ends up on the floor. We’ll have guests for the first month or so (hooray!) and Daniel is still sleeping in the crib. Hmm.

Get another 3-4 weeks of homeschooling under our belts. We’re in week 5 of our school year right now and we plan to take every 7th week off this year, plus some more time off for newborn craziness. I don’t want to wind things down too early though, because our school schedule is a sanity-saver for me! Too many unstructured days in a row and everybody is worse off. Also, I know I’ll feel more free to throw light days in as needed if we’ve already had rich learning experiences this year.

Enjoy the fun stuff already on the calendar. Scott is running the massive Hood to Coast relay this weekend, we have tickets for Free Museum Day, plans to spend Labor Day weekend with great friends in Bend, and tickets to the State Fair.

Update my labor music playlist. I never did use this during Daniel’s birth since I wasn’t even checked in when I was dilated to a 9, but surely it will come in handy this time around. I’m trying to mentally prepare for a longer labor at any rate and Norah Jones should help.

That ought to keep me busy, yes?

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Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 7)

Also in 2014… Mackenzie turned 7, Caitlyn turned 4, and Daniel turned 2… but I don’t believe I took a single picture of any of those events. :)

Instead, I took a picture of my girls headed out the door to celebrate someone else’s birthday at a Minnie Mouse party:

That is the pose one assumes when wearing dress-ups, apparently.

On to 2015!

Cannon Beach with the Harwoods

Right on the heels of Christmas and Mackenzie’s birthday, we took a trip with our great friends who visited from Columbus. They rented a beach house with us in Cannon Beach and we had a fantastic time freezing with the kids on the beaches, staying up late playing games, and talking about everything under the sun. Our kids match up in ages really well, and both husbands are doctors and foodies so we have lots of common ground. It was incredible to spend time with old friends and I can’t help grinning every time I think about it.

True to form, Caitlyn took off layers every chance she got and ended up utterly miserable and cold. Oregon beaches are stunningly beautiful but are not for the faint of heart… or those in stretch pants and a t-shirt.

A much better way to stay warm (for both of them):

This wonderful woman and I have been friends through many highs and lows. Even though we only lived near each other for two years and have hardly kept in touch (neither of us are too good at that), when we do get together or talk… it’s like no time has passed. There’s something special about friends you make during medical school and residency, especially ones who are having children and figuring out motherhood right alongside you.

These kids were happy to see each other again too:

As an introvert, Scott really values his friends and I love that he had the chance to catch up with another good man who values his family:

We spotted seals and whales:

We had many chaotic meals:

And visited the Tillamook cheese factory:

More in Winter 2015

Scott took the girls on a date to a local high school choir concert and they excitedly dressed up for the occasion:

I miss Columbus in some ways, but I love a mild Salem winter! These photos are from the middle of February:

We also have an oversized two car garage in our rental house and only one car, which is often driven to Scott’s work during the day. That means my kids have a perfect place for wheels even on chillier days.

After being worried about Daniel’s hearing around the time he turned 2 (because he was humming to communicate), it was wonderful to hear him articulating words. He wanted to be included in all our homeschooling, and communicated this by adding “Danner” to the end of other words. “Paint Danner” and “Color Danner” and “Do that too Danner” were popular along with “sit lap Mama!” and “play Mama”, because I’m the luckiest. :)

I had three homeschooling epiphanies around this time:

– Mackenzie actually loves workbooks, though I’d been avoiding them like the plague previously. There is one that goes along with the Logic of English textbook I love and she was over the moon to have it and completed pages in her free time for months. That came in handy when I was sick on the couch with my pregnancy! I’m sure part of the allure is the fact that we rarely use a workbook, but her enthusiasm was enough to make me grudgingly admit they can be a good tool as long as they are legitimately free of busywork.

– I realized that my own abilities as a teacher, not just to know and love my kids but to present a subject in a clear, engaging way, makes a big difference in our homeschool. I started investing in some training on teaching writing, handwriting, and literary analysis as well. (The Logic of English has free teacher training online, and I ordered used copies of “Teaching the Classics” and the Institute for Excellence in Writing “Writing With Structure and Style“).

– I’d read this tip before, but happened to implement it accidentally one day and was stunned by the results: Front-loading the most mentally challenging subjects makes the whole day smoother. We switched to memory work and math first thing in the morning and haven’t looked back since.

Posted in Life as we know it | Leave a comment

Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 6)

Christmas Comings and Goings

I blogged previously about what Christmas looks like around our house.

Here is the long story about the highs and lows of Christmas 2014:

Cutting down our Christmas tree

From my journal, “We cut down our Christmas tree on a beautiful day, but we still had tears from two of the kids! Caitlyn refused to wear anything warm, opting to leave her sweater and hat in the car and shiver in her capris the whole time.”

“Daniel would only hold my non-gloved hand and fell 7 times over stumps into the mud. After a while, he insisted he was “stuck” if he wasn’t holding my hand.”

“I swore up and down the tree was much too tall to fit in our living room, but it was absolutely perfect, an inch from the ceiling.”

(Notice how all the pictures are happy? That is why I keep a 10 year journal. It’s an important reminder that parenting is made up of a huge range of highs and lows. Tears and smiles often come just moments apart and I signed up for both!)

Concerts
Although we are often homebodies, we make an effort to regularly go to community performances. Scott and I went on a date to a lovely choral performance in a gorgeous church, and I snagged a picture of the stained glass to show my girls:

(We had made some “stained glass” with tissue paper recently.)

Mackenzie was my date to the Willamette Master Chorus Christmas concert. It was fantastic and I was so glad Scott has the opportunity to make music of that caliber. It was one of the highlights of the season for me.

We pulled some friends together and put on little Christmas programs for several nursing homes again this year. This is a crazy thing to attempt with preschoolers and there’s always a fair amount of chaos, but it is so incredibly rewarding to see the connection between old and young, between those who are weary and those overflowing with energy. It’s evident that an exchange takes place because the kids leave a little wiser and more aware of others, and the elderly remain, their hearts a little lighter and less lonely.

Homemade Gifts

I’ve said it before: I am not crafty. Scott’s family did homemade cousin gifts this year for the exchange and it was so tricky for me to come up with something I could do, since with a 2, 4, and 6 year old… they really weren’t going to be able to do more than color a picture. :)

I decided to make apple print shirts and I was delighted that they turned out pretty darn cute. So here’s an easy gift idea in case you’re stumped like I was:

Also, we ended up making a bunch of homemade pillowcases for a local shelter:

I make pillowcases for different holidays for our family already, so it was a simple project I was comfortable with. The kids helped pick out the fabric, pin the layers together, and deliver the final products. A crooked seam here or there doesn’t matter much with a pillowcase so it’s the perfect project for me! :)

Finally, I made a Race Log to give to my dad for Christmas. He’s been doing triathlons, road races, and a hodgepodge of other cool athletic competitions for decades and I scoured the Internet for race results, had my mom turn his closet inside out for finisher’s shirts, and picked the brains of some of his racing buddies. I printed up a complete list of every event (that I could find), location, and time, highlighted his PRs (Personal Records) and included the stories behind his few DNFs. I pulled logos from different websites, photos of him competing, newspaper clippings from when he was featured and then compiled everything. I’m not crafty (did I mention that?) but I just printed the log on cardstock, cut up prints from Costco, and pasted them on… I slipped the pages into page protectors and made a cover sheet for the binder. Voila! I hope it will be something he’ll be able to flip through in future years and reminisce over, and I know it majorly inspired his grandkids (at least the ones living at my house!) to be active “like Grandpa Mac.”

z-golden-2logos-5Chris compiled

Pssst… I’m making a race log for my own family for this next Christmas. Our list of events won’t be nearly as impressive as my dad’s, but I love to have a place to record our progress on goals, our efforts to stay fit, and our memories.

Potty training Daniel

I’m not sure why I switched Daniel to underwear in the middle of the craziness of December, while I was still hobbling around on an injured foot and scrambling to make Christmas for my family… but I did.

He was just a few months over 2 years old, but caught on fast and was proud of his “Mickeys” (the first time I’ve ever bought character underwear… so worth it.) Naps and nighttimes are still (9 months later) diaper times for this heavy sleeper, but after about a month it was pretty rare to have any daytime accidents. It did add an element of adventure to every outing for a while, and he took a gigantic step backwards when he was ill around Christmas time, but the whole thing went surprisingly smoothly.

Christmas Failures

A random smattering of the things that went awry last year:

– I mailed a full 15 Christmas cards without stamps and then sent an email of shame to my friends apologizing for the Postage Due stickers I anticipated them receiving. Thanks to soft hearted postal workers across the country, all of them made it to their destinations without a hitch. And, as an added bonus, most of my friends responded to my email with good humor and we had a good time catching up. :)

– Despite stressing about it for weeks and weeks beforehand and promising myself I wouldn’t put it off, we finalized gifts for out of town family on December 18th, according to my journal. Only then did I finally feel like I could enjoy the peace of the season. Blah. I’m not a thing-giver by nature and I can spend months scouring my brain for ideas and still end up feeling like the gift I gave was impersonal or rushed at the last minute. I’m blessed with many excellent gift givers in my family and Scott’s family and I know that’s how they show love (and I appreciate it!) but boy it’s hard for me to adequately reciprocate.

– This is another snippet of the failures/successes that seem to just come with the motherhood territory:
“Today we walked a mile and a half each way (in beautiful weather, though we could see our breath) to visit a friend of mine. Daniel fell out of the stroller(!) and scraped his forehead, Caitlyn slid big time in the mud, and Daniel wet his pants during the visit, but we had a lovely walk home with the girls giggling and Caitlyn’s balloon trailing behind her as they raced down the sidewalk.”

– I told Scott that it didn’t really matter if the bottom of our tree was cut perfectly straight. I was freezing at the time and I really can’t think of another good reason for me to say this. Apparently he was cold as well because he agreed. We must have adjusted the Christmas tree a dozen times over the course of the month, shimming it and rescrewing it into the base. We referred to it was the Leaning Tower of Treeza and we could often be seen staring at it with our heads slightly cocked, trying to determine if it was really leaning again.

– The littler kids were sick with croup the week of Christmas. It was so sad to see their excitement pour out in these miserable coughs and wheezes.

– On Christmas Eve, Daniel screamed all day long, sick in my arms and had many potty accidents. Mackenzie was so anxious for the holiday that she threw up, Caitlyn dumped an entire container of cinnamon on the floor accidentally, Scott burned the garlic in his bechamel sauce for our traditional eggplant lasagna (and had to run to the store to get more ingredients and start over… it was a 7 hour lasagna when all was said and done.) BUT, and this is a big BUT:

Christmas morning, we woke up the girls by singing carols and all of us gathered around Daniel’s crib to sing to him. He woke up with a huge smile on his face and we promptly plopped him in his high chair with a stack of eggnog french toast. I don’t know that he’s ever been happier. We had a lovely day exchanging presents and talking with faraway family on the phone, and every one of us sighed in utter contentment a dozen times over the course of the day.

My conclusion? Life in a family, at least our family is often messy, sometimes hard, but so worth living. We laugh and love every single day, and cherish the memories we make together, including the rough ones. :)

Here’s sweet, sick Daniel a few days before Christmas:

Posted in Holidays, Life as we know it, Tough Days | Leave a comment

Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 5)

Seattle Tough Mudder with the “Eh Team”

Scott talked two of his brother-in-laws into doing a Tough Mudder race with him up in Washington and we all went up to see the pain live and in person.

Our kids like being in the car for the most part. And this boy is explaining how much he loves me in the picture. :)

The night before the race, we went out to a super fancy restaurant with Scott’s sister and her husband. The food was spectacular and I lost count of how many tiny, beautiful courses were brought out.

We tend to eat cheap food we cook ourselves most of the time (lentils, rice, etc.) and then splurge every great once in a while on a completely memorable gourmet meal out. We bypass the mediocre restaurants entirely.

Here’s my fancy self:

Here’s the pre-race shot of the Tough Mudders on the team. They each have a different interpretation of the word “tough”:

If you click here you can read in the captions and flip through the photos to see my take on the whole event. I’ll just share a couple more photos in this post.

My reddish-haired, curly-haired sister-in-law looks more like these girls’ mama than I do. :)

The kids had their own mini mudder and they could run around their course as many times as they wanted:

More from Fall 2014

– Visiting a corn maze is a hard and fast family tradition, even though I have no sense of direction and always worry if we’ll actually be able to find our way out. :)

– I did manage to blog about Halloween back here.

– What didn’t make the blog was that I broke my foot (maybe?) on Halloween night and was on and off crutches until nearly Christmas. So many nice people asked me how I hurt my foot and I honestly have no idea, but it wouldn’t bear weight the next day. An x-ray showed a floating bone chip but was inconclusive on a fracture, but my foot went ahead and turned colors and swelled up like it was broken. I wore a snazzy boot and chased my kids around on crutches until I could finally walk without pain again. It made for a tricky holiday season for sure.

– Scott auditioned for the Willamette Master Chorus and was happy every Monday night to go sing beautiful music with talented people.

They do one concert every year with more modern/pop music, but generally they sing classical pieces. As it turns out, Scott scored a solo for “Born to be Wild” and decided to dress the part for the concerts.

There was some of this on the stage, and the crowd loved it:

– A snippet from my journal about our efforts to be on time to church one morning in October:

“After feeding the kids and cleaning everyone up, Caitlyn came back wearing her pretty church dress with a pink stuffed panther underneath. ‘That way, when I need him, I can just pull him out!’ I talked her out of the panther, but she came back with a stuffed carrot. Finally everyone was dressed, but Caitlyn squirted lotion all over her dress and bumped into Mackenzie while trying to find me to tell me. So they were both lotiony and distraught. The carpet was also lotiony but didn’t complain as loudly and so (I just realized) it never got cleaned. Then there was a meltdown after Caitlyn came back wearing bright orange socks with her shiny white church shoes and I told her white was her only sock option. Then Daniel required yet another diaper change as I was loading him in the stroller… I finally texted Scott and said there was no way we’d be on time! ”

– And one more journal entry about the very busy toddler I had last year. I still have him, of course, but we’ve pretty successfully ended the pushing around of kitchen chairs at this point and it’s really been a game-changer.

“Today Daniel pushed his chair over to a bowl of food on the counter while chanting excitedly to himself, ‘Eat that, Me!’ over and over. I overheard his running commentary from the next room and needless to say, I thwarted his efforts.”

Thanksgiving

We lucked out for Thanksgiving and had Scott’s brother, Paul, come to stay along with his adorable dog Buster.

I was on crutches watching the Turkey Trot but Scott enjoyed being humbled in the 10k by his brother. Despite Scott getting a personal best at that distance, Paul ran the first race of his life and placed third in his age group. He’d never run 6 miles before!

Anticipating having a meat-eating guest in our home, Scott learned out to spatchcock a turkey and I’m told it was pretty tasty.

My kids were hilarious as they regarded the turkey with these suspicious looks, like it was going to jump out of the pan. They are, um, not accustomed to having meat around.

You can see Mackenzie in the back here, fascinated by the carving process:

We added another new dish to our Thanksgiving lineup and this one will be back every year (and many times in between). Roasted green beans with lemon juice and almonds… heavenly

Scott made his traditional baked alaska with homemade sweet potato ice cream and it did not disappoint:

Also, an apple tart, which was a reminder that I married a man very different from myself. If I had made a tart (which I wouldn’t because the crust is made of things like butter and white flour)… it would have been made with efficiency and there would be a pile of apples sitting in the shell. Scott, on the other hand, took the time to create a thing of beauty. And I’ll admit, the butter and flour were not ill-used. :)

Predictably, my kids were instantly enamored with Buster. He was a source of endless entertainment and featured prominently on our Thanks and Giving tree by the end of their stay. I kept having to remind my kids to think of something different that they were grateful for… so we ended up with “I’m thankful Buster played with me” and “I’m thankful Buster is so cute” and “I’m thankful Uncle Paul brought Buster”, etc.

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Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 4)

The Start of a School Year

Although we homeschool year round taking breaks along the way as needed, we do make a big deal out of a brand new school year. Scott has a one-on-one date with each kiddo and they show off their summary binder from the previous year, talk about goals for the new school year, and definitely eat a treat.

Oh, and they take goofy pictures together. I’m not sure how that became a tradition, but I like it.

Here’s Mackenzie, ready for the “first grade”:

(Grades are sort of meaningless over here since we just work at her level in each individual area, but I pick a grade anyway.)

Women’s Retreat

When I lived in Columbus, I had the privilege of meeting some truly amazing women. Most of us were there for 2-8 years as our husbands were in graduate school, professional school or residency, and then we scattered all over the country. Many of us became mothers around the same time and all of us shared so many moments of needing each other for moral support, for last-minute kid watching, for a good laugh… we bonded in ways that last a lifetime.

For the last five years, a group of these women have been getting together for an annual retreat, changing the location each year to hit different parts of the country. The first four years I was unable to go due to a family trip at the same time, being super pregnant (twice), or Scott’s work schedule. Finally last fall I joined these women in St. George, Utah, leaving Scott solely responsible for our kids for the longest stretch in 7 years (3 1/2 days). I also sneaked over to my grandparents’ house and soaked up some time with them and my cousin, since they lived just a few minutes from where our rented house was for the retreat.

It was incredibly refueling to be surrounded by great women and to catch up and discuss everything under the sun. (I’m holding a baby in many pictures from the trip, but none of them were mine. :) ) (Also, all the photos were taken by my friend and planner extraordinaire, Kirsten.)

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We also went on a great hike, visited a few religious and historical sites, celebrated my friend’s upcoming 40th birthday, and I even went clothes shopping with a whole army of helpful consultants. Scott was ecstatic because I rarely shop.

Here’s the vegetable poster we came up with to tease my friend (who hates vegetables with a passion). We also made her a candy bar poster, which she was much happier about.
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And this is about the only time you’ll see me with a haul of Diet Coke. (We made a big 40 out of them for her.)

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More from around the house

We canned lots of applesauce and apple butter last year so I’m hoping I get the year off to have a baby this fall. We’ll see. :)

(More about apple picking back here)

My girls were delighted to be invited to a Frozen themed birthday party:

We had no birthday themed wrapping paper so it was super convenient to go with the snowflake theme. :)

We eat pretty healthy around here but I had to laugh when Caitlyn cheerfully went to grab what she thought was her plate for dinner:

(The veggies and tofu were going to be cooked up with pasta and a spicy peanut sauce. We’re not that strange.)

We tease Mackenzie sometimes about having “noodle arms” and on this occasion, Scott put our noodle right in the pot to cook for dinner:

It’s a good thing she’s used to his jokes. :)

Daniel continued to be my kitchen helper and in this case I stepped out of the room and returned to this:

“I put the pepper in, Mama.”

You have to love accuracy in reporting.

Next up… Tough Mudder!

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Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 3)

Right on the heels of our Disney Boat adventure, some of my family members came to visit us in Oregon and then we headed to the SmugMug annual retreat in Sunriver, Oregon.

Again it was a great chance for kids to play with cousins and we spent lots of time romping around the beautiful surroundings.

Proof we don’t always eat healthily. In fact, I think we relish treats more than most people because of their rarity. :)

My dad takes the title of “fun Grandpa” up to a new level. He’s such a picture of health and youthful enthusiasm that he attracts all nearby kids, not just his own grandkids. I think I count 10 kids in this picture.

And here’s one where he’s holding all my kids at once… plus a bonus child who begged to be up as well :)

I hiked up Mt. Bachelor with my dad and sister-in-law one day, along with a bunch of other fun SmugMuggers. I think foot-skiing down the snowy parts on the way down was one of the most fun things I did last year.

This pose is sort of a tradition for me and my dad, but he caught me by surprise this time:

My sister-in-law embraced the bum sled instead of the foot ski and won some style points.

Mackenzie dancing with her aunt and cousin. Priceless.

Later in the summer we went to the Portland Art Festival and hiked Multnomah Falls.

The gigantor “kid-size” burritos at Whole Foods were a highlight (loaded with beans and veggies and cheaper than art fair food1).

Being friendly to the burrito-maker and being adorable helps maximize the amount of filling, I think.

Parking was tight at the falls and Scott had to pull up close and personal to a tree to be sure our Subaru wasn’t jutting out into the busy road. Nicely done.

All our kids have loved riding in our Sherpani backpack:

We celebrated our tenth anniversary by staying at our friends’ beach house in Lincoln City, with all our kids in tow. :)

Spotting the ocean from the back porch:

I married a gem.

We drove out to Utah for Scott’s niece’s wedding, but wrangling kidlets at the wedding kept my camera phone in my pocket so here’s a shot of a picnic on the drive back. Scott flew back early and the kids and I stayed on some extra days. Here’s our loot from a grocery store and a shady spot in the parking lot where we ate it:

(Broccoli, carrots, hummus, grapes, and whole grain bread. Fast food what?)

One cute memory from the wedding: Caitlyn (3) begged to be able to stand next to “the princess” (AKA the bride) during picture taking outside the temple. :)

Fall of 2014 to come…

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Speedy Photo Catchup (Part 2)

(The first Speedy Photo Catchup post and an explanation is back here.)

This picture is from spring 2014, but if you trade underwear for the diaper it could have been taken yesterday.

Scott is in there, under the pile of kids. :)

Oh I’m so grateful to have a husband to share the craziness and happiness of everyday life with little kids.

We take a fair number of road trips and this is a very typical scene:

We’re picnicking at a random stop by the side of the road, Scott is reading Narnia out loud, and we’re just enjoying the moment. In this case, we’re driving back from Washington where two of Scott’s sisters live. We’ve taken that drive a half dozen times in the last year.

Cousins are always worth the drive and we were especially glad we could come see one get baptized!

I’m not sure he was quite as thrilled to have us there after this picture. ;)

We’re old-fashioned on our trips… no ipads or devices, no food in the car, just a shared audiobook or the alphabet game out the window and then a grassy spot to stop and run around with a picnic.

One time I was driving back from Washington without Scott, and one of our kiddos threw up five times. That time we had some extra stops to run around (and hose off). That time was not my favorite, but it didn’t scare me off of road trips for life, so that’s a win.

My Mother’s Day haul last year:

This girl has given us a run for our money lately, and it’s good to look a year behind remember all that sweetness is still in there, wrapped up with some feistiness and her admirable zest for life:

2014 was the year of the half marathon for me. I hadn’t been able to run without pain in ~8 years but armed with a foam roller I was able to thoroughly enjoy it again and I completed three half marathons. Running my first half mile convinced me I was so far out of running shape that it was a long shot to prepare for a half marathon, but I followed the program from Run Less, Run Faster and got ‘er done. I wrote a little about my first race, the Newport Half back here. The method calls for intervals at the track and I must say this is not a bad view first thing in the morning:

We had a family campout in the backyard for the first time, complete with a fairy tale read by flashlight and hot chocolate in the morning:

Caitlyn taught Daniel how to fly that morning. :)

My family reunion last year was one of those can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening occasions. We took our combined 11 kids, ages 8 and under, on a Disney cruise to Alaska. Even the littlest (Daniel) was absolutely entranced with the magic of it all. We hopped on a train in Salem, met some California cousins for the ride up, spent some extra days in Vancouver and enjoyed every minute of our time on the ship. Ok, not the minute when we realized we lost Daniel and hadn’t noticed. That was a bad one, but the Disney people acted like it happened all the time when they paged us…

(I thought Scott had him, he thought I had him. I should have had him.)

5 great memories from the trip:

1) Running all around Vancouver at midnight. With a grandma at the hotel room to watch sleeping kids, Scott and I ran miles and miles around the city, checking out the night life, the wildlife in the huge park, and the lights reflected on the water. It was a heavenly date.

2) Caitlyn nearly took out Ariel. She was so enthusiastic to meet the princesses that she got a running start for this hug. It was awesome.

3) Caitlyn’s connection with Cinderella. They compared shoes, talked animatedly for a long time, and Cinderella ended up getting our room number and sending Caitlyn a personal note. I’ll admit to being a little swept away in seeing a princess through a little girl’s eyes.

4) Glaciers and seals and whales and misty fjords. Ok, that’s more than one moment but I love Alaska and the rugged scenery. It was absolutely incredible to watch a pod of whales “bubble net feeding” and be close enough to smell their awful breath.


This float plane trip was entrancing in its beauty but we made a bad call and took motion sickness-prone Caitlyn along. She was miserable, poor thing, and had to stay buckled in her seat instead of snuggled up with me or Scott. You can see it in her face here:

5) Time with family. Ok this is not just a single moment either, but I am so incredibly grateful for aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins who genuinely love my kids.

This is Caitlyn dancing with her Uncle Don. :)

More catch up to come…

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