Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Birthday!

To my wonderful husband, Greg...
who makes me laugh when I need to lighten up,
who folds countless baskets of laundry without complaint,
who is an expert bath-giver and tummy tickler,
who is always up for an adventure,
who works tirelessly to build relationships with and mentor students,
who loves me well, even when I'm not so easy to love.

I love you Babe.
Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello Kitty Birthday

Elisa will turn four tomorrow. On Friday we had her birthday party. She wanted a Hello Kitty party. Which was super easy to do, since Hello Kitty is absolutely everywhere right now.

At Jonathan's birthday party back in October. I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Every time Jonathan saw me he said, "Momma! Momma!" In this heartbreaking way. Like, "It's been sooo long since I've seen you, where have you been?" I learned some things the hard way from his birthday party:
1) Do easy food.
2) Don't try to decorate the cake the day of.
3) If possible, delegate! And talk about any expectations you have of your husband.
4) If you aren't throwing the party in your own home, but need to do set-up and decorations in the party location, give yourself adequate time.
5) Remember that the point is to make a fun and memorable day for the birthday boy/girl... not to impress others or outdo yourself in some way. It will be more fun for them (and you) if you are not stressed out!

This time around, the party preparations went much more smoothly. We ordered pizza; and I assembled fruit, veggie, and cracker/dip trays. So the food was easy. I did the cake the night before. I had Greg make the balloon flower decorations while I was doing the cake (I'm so glad I did this, since these ended up being a little more complicated than one would think). I started decorating the lounge where we had the party the morning of, instead of waiting until the hour before. And I paused to refocus myself and pray the afternoon before the party instead of frantically working all day. The fruit kebabs turned into a fruit plate because I ran out of time, but I was in a much better frame of mind by the time the party rolled around. I had a great time at the party. I was able to talk to my guests, and enjoy watching the kids play. I think Leesi had a great time too.

We had the party in the lounge which is separated from our apartment by a small hallway. Both doors were open, and so at one point the older kids disappeared into our apartment. All of a sudden the parents looked around and thought, "Where did all the kids go?" We found them in our downstairs, pushing the button on our Skiing Santa, who sings a little song. (He used to also actually ski across the room, but this year when I pulled him out, I found that he no longer does that.) They had this whole routine worked out of freezing in one place while Santa talked, and then starting to dance when Santa started singing. It was so cute, and it just goes to show you that sometimes the funnest party games and activities are not the ones you thought up.

Here are some pictures of the festivities:

Hello Kitty cake and kisses.

The food table (pre-food).

Greg made balloon flowers and animals for the kids

Pin the bow on Hello Kitty. Mysteriously all bows ended up perfectly placed.

Party favors and prizes
(Prizes never were given out. Prizes are a bad idea for this age, unless everyone gets one.)
What was I thinking?

The big birthday girl and Momma.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas tree time

Most years that we've lived in Portland we have gotten our Christmas tree from this great u-cut place called Sandy Farms. It's cheap (this year it was $15-$20 per tree, in years past we've gotten trees for as little as $5), it's fun, and it's tradition. Every year we wonder, is it worth the drive? Couldn't we just pay five dollars more and get a tree down the street. But each year we go, and each year we love it. There's something about it, the whole experience, that we love... the drive, the search, the cold, the sawing, the hauling, the hot chocolate at the end. This year was no different. We had a great morning on Saturday finding our tree.

It was quite cold. Right around freezing. All the shady places were still covered in frost. Leesi kept saying, "I'm freezin!" and "I'm getting really icy!" So after we found our tree, and while Greg was still trying to figure out the big tree, the kids and I went back to the barn for hot cocoa. I think this was their favorite part.

We found a tree for us, as well as a tree for outside at the school's Christmas party. After some discussion about whether or not it would fit on top of our car Greg chose the largest doug fir he could find. When the workers were trying to put it through the baler, it got stuck and it took a little time and ingenuity to get it unstuck. We cheered when it finally made it through the baler. It took 4 men to load it onto the top of our car and I think it bent our roof rack a little. It was quite the adventure. But now the Christmas party will have a beautiful large tree. And we have a beautiful tree too. It's only half way decorated so far. We're looking forward to finishing it up tomorrow!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jonathan's jacket flip

Jonathan learned how to do this about a week ago. And I think it may be just about the cutest thing ever.

Leesi and the zipper

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost ready for a big boy bed...

So I posted this on Facebook. But I wanted to post it here too, so that when I look back I'll remember.

A few mornings ago I was awake, but still in bed and pretty soon I heard Leesi say (through the monitor), "You did it Buddy! Do you wanna come snuggle in bed with me?"

Yes indeed, Jonathan has learned to get out of his crib (and the Pack'n'Play that he naps in too).

At least there was one person in the family who was excited for him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Slowing, part two

In my previous post I wrote out a bunch of excerpts from The Good and Beautiful God about slowing down. I wanted to take time to write a little bit more about my experience of slowing. As you can see, I haven't been in a real big hurry to get around to the second part of this post... I guess that's appropriate. ;-)

As we learn to slow down at first it may feel painful because we are so addicted to productivity, or used to hurrying. But as we physically slow ourselves down our hearts and spirits slow down too. And as I quoted before "The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow.... Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God."

Anyway, so in this book the author gives a lot of ideas for slowing yourself down. Drive in the slowest lane of traffic. Get in the longest line at the grocery store. This one is one of my favorites in a funny way: Take an hour to move like a sloth (I can just imagine someone doing this, walking across the living room with the slowest steps possible, taking 30 seconds to move the fork from the plate to your mouth, etc. It just makes me laugh). Make one day a slow day: linger over breakfast, cut out t.v. and media, go for a leisurely walk, watch the sunset. Plan a meal with friends or family: cook slowly, enjoy the smells of the food, linger over dinner, eat slowly, enjoy the food and company.

So I read all these ideas and then realized that the only thing I needed to do to slow down was to go at the pace of my children. Wow, do they ever go slow! I mean, sure, they have boundless energy and can run really fast, but as far as productivity goes, they go slow. It can take 10 minutes or more to get from the car to the front door, or worse vice versa (insert teeth grinding here). I often find myself telling them, "Hurry. Hurry!"

So a few weeks ago when I determined to slow down (as my homework prescribed) I decided that I would stop hurrying my children. I let them explore every puddle on the way from the car to the front door. I didn't rush them to get ready in the morning so that we could go and "do something better."

Of course, there are times when I needed to go quickly. But I resolved to do it with an unhurried heart, a heart that is not fearful but is fully resting in God's goodness to me regardless of circumstances. "I'll move my legs as fast as I can while my heart is happy and unhurried." (Remember that quote from the book? It's one of my favorites!)

Case in point: Wednesday mornings (Bible Study mornings). We have to be leaving our house with everyone dressed, fed, and presentable at 9:00. For us that usually means a hurried morning of pushing. I'm pushing Elisa to get dressed, pushing Jonathan to eat faster, pushing myself to get the dishwasher loaded and my makeup on. And all this, while trying to stem the tide of chaos which threatens to flood our house each moment. "Elisa, no you can't start an art project now. And didn't I just ask you to use the bathroom." "Jonathan, are you poopy again? I just changed you!" I have to say that we usually have some kind of major meltdown on Wednesday mornings (from a kid, not me, in case you were wondering... although I'm not far behind).

Almost always my hurry is fear related. I worry about what others will think of me if I'm late. I fear rejection, embarrassment, letting others down. My kids see that fear in me and mirror it. Then it builds and consumes us in a huge cycle... worry, fear, hurry, worry, fear, hurry.

One Wednesday morning not long ago, Elisa screamed and cried all the way to church. I was so rattled I missed a turn. And when I finally sat down at Bible Study it took about 10 minutes of deep breathing before I felt like my heart rate was back to normal.
But, on the first Wednesday morning of intentionally slowing my heart while trying to move my legs as fast as possible, there were no meltdowns. I had time for joy. I laughed with my kids. We looked at leaves on the ground on the way to the car. We still moved quickly. In fact I caught my kids telling each other, "Hurry. Hurry!" (The words that I had ingrained in them). But I corrected them, "No, it's okay. We do have to try to go quickly but we're okay. Everything will be okay." And that's what I was telling my heart at the same time. I kept repeating my mantra of "God has everything under control. I have nothing to fear."

I got to Bible Study early. My kids were happier than usual. I was happier than usual. It was wonderful.

Of course, I do have to add that the next time we went to Bible Study with this same unhurried heart philosophy I was quite late and had to walk in awkwardly and find a seat while everyone watched. But you know what? I didn't care. My kids were happy, no deep breathing was needed.

As I learn to go more slowly and stop hurrying my kids, I notice that I am doing less things... there are fewer outings to the library and the park. But I am enjoying the everyday things more. Diaper changes and putting on shoes and socks are not inconveniences on the way to something good. They are the good of the current moment. They are an opportunity to closely interact with my kids in a way that meets their needs. I am beginning to delight in the everyday moments instead of rushing off to the next place.

More on this topic to come... eventually... don't hurry me!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slowing, part one

This week has been... a good week... but an interesting week. A couple weeks ago our car gave out on us. We are a one car family, but luckily we were able to borrow a car for the first week that our car was in the shop. We thought that we were going to get our car back early the next week. But it turned out that it had to go back to be fixed two more times. And so we didn't really get our car back until Friday. So, last week we didn't have a car, it was rainy, and both of my kids have colds. So we mostly stayed home and didn't do much. It was a great lesson in slowing.

Appropriately that was our spiritual discipline assignment for our Sunday school class for the last two weeks. Slowing.

One of Greg's favorite books is The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg. In it he talks about the discipline of slowing. He says that once when he was entering a new ministry he called a spiritual mentor for advice. His mentor told him, "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." Ortberg wrote this down on his paper and then asked, "Okay, what's next?" "There is no next." his mentor replied.

Our Sunday School is going through the book The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith. I can't explain slowing down better than he did, so here are a few excerpts:
Hurry and distraction are nothing new, but in our age we seem to have perfected them. More than at any time in history we have become obsessed with productivity, speed and efficiency.... And while we increasingly move faster, we are enjoying life less.

Our impatience has made life a dizzying blur. And as a result, our spiritual lives are diminished. As we try harder, we are becoming spiritually shallow and deeply disappointed--not exactly a recipe for a robust life.

The mantra of our achievement-oriented world is, "You are only as valuable as what you produce." This leads to the narrative that what we produce determines our value, and therefore the more we produce the more valuable we are. What we did yesterday is old news; what matter is what we are doing today.

Satan does not always appear as a red devil, a ghastly monster or the object of sexual desire. Sometimes he simply inserts a false narrative (achievement equals value) into our minds. Once that narrative gets firmly planted, we are headed toward destruction without realizing it. The narrative can sound almost Christian. That's why it slips in unnoticed.... But one day we wake up and realize that the things most important to us--time with God and our family, our emotional and physical health--were sacrificed on the alter of achievement (or the success of our church). And we have nothing to show for such an amazing sacrifice.

Jesus told Martha, "There is need of only one thing." That one thing is listening to Jesus. Jesus did not say that the "one thing" was to obey his commandments (though that will come.) The first thing, the one needful thing, is to listen to his teachings. The world tries to pull us away from this important thing. Martha's way was good, but Mary's way was better. She looked at the situation and evaluated what was most important. Jesus was in her home, and being with him was the most important things she could do.

The most important aspects of our lives cannot be rushed. We cannot love, think, eat, laugh, or pray in a hurry.

Taking time is especially important in our spiritual lives. In our spiritual life we cannot do anything important in a hurry.

Why is eliminating hurry from our lives so crucial? When we eliminate hurry we become present, or more specifically, present to the present moment in all of its glory. We become aware of our surroundings. We see colors and smell smells; we hear hushed sounds and can actually feel the wind in our faces. In short, we "show up" and experience the fulness of life. And that includes, not least of all, being present to God. If I am to live well as a Christian, I need to be constantly connected to God. Hurry is not part of a well-lived life.

It is possible to act quickly without hurrying. If I have only ten minutes to get from one end of the airport to another, I can move quickly without hurrying. Hurry is an inner condition that is fear-based: "If I don't make my plane everything will be ruined. Life as I know it is over!" But when I walk in step with God I learn to say, "If I don't make that plane I'll be fine. God is with me. Things will work out. Meanwhile, I'll move my legs as fast as I can while my heart is happy and unhurried."

Slowing down is the way our soul works. Robert Barron says, "The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow, since it seeks to savor rather than to accomplish; it wants to rest in and contemplate the good rather than hurry off to another place." ... Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Activities

Just some fun fall things we've been up to lately.

A trip to the pumpkin patch with Grammy.

Finding the perfect pumpkins.

Washing the pumpkins.

Our finished Jack-o-lanterns, an octopus and a smiley face.

A fall art project - trees made by painting with q-tips.
We had so much fun that Leesi asked to do this a second time.

Happy Fall!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Just wanted to post a picture from Halloween. Tigger and Tinkerbell. We had a fun time this year. Leesi is now totally old enough to realize that Halloween means she gets candy. Also, she was excited about her Tinkerbell costume (although she didn't want to wear the wings). Jonathan didn't want to put on a costume at all. But he saw some other kids in costumes, so he was a little more willing to let me put the Tigger costume on him. He started to protest a little as I put his legs in. But once it was on, he was totally fine with it. This was Leesi's costume two years ago.

We went to the school's halloween party. Greg was doing balloon animals for the kids there, which was fun. But he didn't get to go trick or treating with us. So after we were done at the party we just went around to the student apartments on campus and came home with a perfectly reasonable amount of candy.

Earler in the day on Halloween Elisa and I did a Jack-O-lantern sponge painting project. It was super fun, and has made me want to do more sponge painting!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jonathan at two

So, my sweet little boy is now a big 2-year-old.

He is entering a new phase of willfulness... go figure. All of a sudden he is falling apart and screaming when things don't go quite the way he wants them to. It has been a little challenging for me, but at least I've experienced this before with Leesi... so it isn't a huge surprise.

But the willfulness isn't all there is to him. He is still a sweetheart. He loves to snuggle and be held. At night he gives me a hug, a squeeze, and a kiss. He lays his head on one of my shoulders and says "huuuuug", then switches to the other shoulder and says "squeeeeze", then last a kiss complete with smacking sound.

He is beginning to be quite the talker. He has gone about learning to talk in a whole different way than Leesi. He repeats everything. Now, I think he understands everything we say to him. But even before he understood, he would repeat back whatever you said. He strings long sentences together (even like 8 word sentences sometimes!). Leesi didn't repeat things as much. She thought a lot more before saying things. Jonathan has been an experiential learner. He likes to pray. He starts by saying something that sounds sort of like Jesus, and then he says a long string of nonsense words, and then "Amen!"

Jonathan loves to sing. Some of his favorites are Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs (with letters... but not necessarily in the right order!), Jesus Loves Me, My God is So Great, Old MacDonald etc. The last few nights, right before I leave their bedroom, I've been singing "God has smiled on me" which is a song I used to sing to them when they were babies. A couple nights ago they both all of a sudden started singing along. It was a sweet, sweet moment to hear Leesi and Jonathan's little voices singing, "God has smiled on me; He has set me free. God has smiled on me; He's been good to me."

In some ways he is such a boy. He loves trucks, trains, and things that go. When he's riding in the car he is content just to look out the window and watch the cars go by. He comments on any big trucks we see. And he always points out trains or the Max, and then says "Toot, toot!" He loves playing with balls. He has taken a particular interest in basketball, quite apart from anything we have done. My parents sometimes hang a bucket on a nail from a post on their deck and Jonathan goes to town "making baskets". He also has a fairly deep little voice. And is quite pushy (literally), which my mom says is kind of a boy thing.

But in other ways he breaks the gender stereotypes (which I think is fairly normal). He likes to wear little clips in his hair, and he likes to put on bracelets and necklaces. He sees Leesi getting her hair fixed and wearing jewelry and he wants to get in on the action too. Today I took him to Bible study with two little clips in his hair. I'm not quite sure what his teachers thought of that when I dropped him off... but all I can say is that some days I just have to pick my battles, and today that one wasn't worth fighting.

So here are his stats at 2:
Height: 37 1/4 inches (97%)
Weight: 28lbs. 9oz. (59%)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jonathan's Party

Last weekend we had a birthday party for Jonathan. We decided to go with a theme of "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles" since that encompasses so many things Jonathan loves. Here are some of the highlights:
A masking tape road went in a circle around the room. The kids just ran and ran and ran pushing their various big vehicles. They loved it!

A coloring table was a good place to rest for awhile after all that running.

We also had a bean pool which the kids loved. They played in the beans with various cups and small trucks. It was a popular station.

We had really yummy food. We (by which I mean Greg) grilled chicken in a yummy marinade. There were so many compliments on the chicken. We also had chicken nuggets (for the kiddos), fruit, caesar salad, crackers and cheese, chips and artichoke dip, jello salad, and bread. I tried to make a variety of things that would please both the kids and the adults.

The piece de resistance of the meal was definitely the cake. My friend Lori and I made the cake. Actually, I did the grunt work and Lori was the cake artist. She sculpted the cake and did all the decorating work at the end. Isn't it amazing? I helped her until we had gotten all the train cars frosted. Then I left to get set up for the party. When I first saw it at the party I couldn't believe how good it looked. The kids loved it too. On the caboose door you can see where a little finger tried to get in. :-)

When we sang Happy Birthday to Jonathan he sang along. He even inserted his name in the proper place. So cute. For a few weeks beforehand we had been singing Happy Birthday at lunch or dinner time and then Jonathan and Leesi would dip their fork into their applesauce, or ketchup, or yogurt and hold it out, saying "blow-out-the-candle." And we would all take turns "blowing it out". I'm not exactly sure how this got started, but Jonathan had plenty of practice blowing out the candle. So when it came time he blew out his candles, no problem.

We put up pictures of Jonathan on one wall, along with our happy birthday banner. And I put out his first year photo book for people to browse through. I love looking back on old pictures and remembering! We had a gorgeous day for the party. It was warm and sunny. You can see the beautiful sunlight streaming in the windows in this picture.

Greg and I spent a few hours (while watching t.v.) folding red and blue paper airplanes for this garland. I was trying to think of a cheap way to bring something festive to a large white room. I think it worked pretty well. Although, the picture doesn't quite do it justice.

At the end of the party we had a competition for the adults. A paper airplane contest: one piece of paper, one throw to see who could get the farthest. Everyone got into it. The kids loved watching too. It was hilarious to see all the airplanes that only made it a foot or two.

We had the party in a room on campus that's across from our apartment. It worked out great. Plenty of room for everyone and for the kids to run. But it was a little bit of a challenge in that we didn't have much time ahead of time for setup. We also had to bring everything over from our house. I was running a little behind (of course), so it was craziness right before the party started. I enlisted the help of everyone who showed up early. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, Wanda, and my friend Becca all helped with the crazy set-up process. We couldn't have done it without them. And then at the end, so many people helped us clean up. I ended the night feeling so thankful for friends and family. (And feeling like next time we're going to have a simpler party!) Overall, the party was a fun time to celebrate a little boy who has charmed us over the last two years with his smile and his funny little ways. Happy Birthday Buddy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Well, he probably wanted someone to notice...

Today at the library a guy with a green mohawk was browsing for books while we were checking out. Leesi, in a not-so-quiet voice, stated, "Hey Mommy, look! That guy has green hair." I looked around until I spotted the person she was talking about. Then, not exactly sure how to respond, (since he was close enough he'd probably hear whatever I said too) said, "Yep. He sure does." Then she said, "It looks like a seahorse!"

Hmmm... a seahorse. True, but probably not exactly what the guy was going for.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Afternoon Adventure

This little cutie is about to turn two.
Jonathan is a typical boy who loves all things-that-go.
This afternoon we went out by the airport to watch the planes take off and land. The kids loved it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leesi-isms part two

I love some of the ways that Leesi pronounces things...

a-careful "Mommy, be a-careful." or "Don't worry, I'll be a-careful."

maked "I'm all maked."

helicockter "I see a helicockter!"

slissors "Mommy, will you get me my little slissors?"

I also love the way her little mind works.

When she has a lot to carry she'll ask me, "Mommy, will you help me? My hands are too heavy." Or just "Help! I have heavy hands!"

The other day she dropped something behind the couch and couldn't reach it. So she told me, "I can't get it, I don't have enough arm."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Evening at the river

Tonight we went to a birthday party for a little friend. It was at Kelly Point Park, which is a park at the point where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet. We had such a lovely evening hanging out with friends, eating good food, and watching the kids play on the river bank in the sand.

There were a couple of kid moments that I wanted to record, so I don't forget them... they were so precious.

There was a little meadow by the picnic tables where we were eating, and Jonathan walked around picking dandelions (think white fluff, not yellow flower), until his hands were full of bouquets of puffy balls. He kept saying "bubble, bubble... blow." At one point he had six or seven dandelions in his hands. It was so cute.

Later we were walking back to the parking lot, about a 5 minute walk. The sun had gone down, and it was quite dark. Since our kids usually go to sleep while it is still light (at least in the summer) Elisa was talking about how dark it was and how she couldn't see. I told her "You know what helps your eyes see better in the dark?... Carrots." She thought on this for awhile and then asked me, "You know what else helps you see better in the dark?... Flashlights."

It was just such a lovely evening. It felt good to relax with friends in a beautiful setting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get your boots on!

But Mom... Why can't I go outside?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Fun

Here are some pictures of what we've been up to this summer...
Playing in fountains around town.

Another trip to the beach... this time it was such a beautiful day. Perfect!

Ice Cream!

I love this picture even though it's blurry... it shows Jonathan's personality so well.

Dinner at the Grilled Cheese grill. We ate on the second story of the bus.

Playing at "Discovery Pond" playground at the Snake Lake Nature Preserve in Tacoma.

This picture melts my heart. I love seeing them hold hands. They are such good buddies.

Jonathan has to be in on any project that involves tools. Here he's helping my dad fix the door.

Just chillin' with popsicles.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August... ugh.

Every year since Greg started working in Student Development, August has been a rough time of year for me. It's an exciting time of year... RA training, students moving in, beginning of the school year... but all of this means that Greg works long hours. This past week he was on a backpacking trip with his PA staff, he was out of cell phone range. It was the third week he'd been gone out of the past five weeks. And by the end of the week I could really tell... I was ready for him to come home. Yesterday he came back... and it's been so great to have him back! Today we had a great family day with the kids, and then went out on a date this evening (thanks to Wanda, our great baby-sitter). Now the worst of August is behind us and I'm looking forward to the start of classes and getting back into a routine.