a glimpse into our home: march 26, 2017

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Sunday morning marble race shenanigans.

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saint patrick’s day 2017

I have never been huge into celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but apparently my kids are pretty into it. Ian had the day off, so we had a fun, low-key family day filled with lots of green.

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A few days ago the kids painted coffee filters green, and today they were transformed into shamrocks that adorned our windows and cupboards and walls. They HAD to be hung at 6:45am, because of course they did.

Next up were these yummy green muffins (secret green ingredient: spinach).

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Our next activity wasn’t exactly St. Patrick’s Day related – we walked down to our elementary school to register Luke for kindergarten! I gotta keep it real, it was not the highlight of the day for me. I am already apprehensive about entering into the public school system, which is completely new to me, and this initial encounter with the front office staff was less than stellar. At one point I hissed through my teeth at Ian, “you know how all of this makes me feel!” as I fought the urge to grab my kids and get out of there. I will say that the principal happened to walk by while we were there, and he was super friendly and quickly got down on Luke’s level to introduce himself, so I’m trying to cling to that bright spot. I feel a million different emotions about sending our boy off to kindergarten in a public school next year, and I’m praying that when I look back at this post in a year or two, I’ll feel quite differently.

Back to Saint Patrick’s Day.

Lunch was not noticeably green, so nothing to report there. We watched a Veggie Tales episode that tells the story of Saint Patrick, which would have been fun if not for the fact that Gracie got the theme song stuck in her head all day. She continually belted out “celery!! …ery… ery!!! Veggie Tales!” for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

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Then of course there was green play dough.

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Luke has seriously been requesting green waffles since I made it on a whim last year for St. Patrick’s Day. Today was his day: we had waffles for dinner and he reveled in the greenness of it all.

Family selfies in our green attire. Um, don’t my kids look like twins?! How is this?!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

advent this year

I’ve always loved the season of advent, though my experience of it has varied pretty widely since I became a parent. Some years it was more sweet than I ever could have imagined, like Luke’s first advent or the year I was pregnant with Gracie. Other years it was chaotic and rich with grace. This year I think we are somewhere in between. It’s been a joy watching the kids anticipate Christmas through their advent routines each day, but I haven’t felt as grounded in my own personal anticipation. Quiet mornings of solitude have been hard to come by thanks to a couple weeks of 5:30am kid wake ups (WHY, children? It’s the darkest time of the year!). Nevertheless, advent marches on, and I’ve tried my best to prepare room in my heart for the coming of Jesus.

This year I decided to incorporate four advent activities into our daily routine – each day the kids would get to take the lead on two of them, then they’d switch the next day. In the morning, we take out a new character in our nativity advent and then unwrap a Christmas book.

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This nativity calendar was a new gift, and it has been a big hit with both kids. It’s a little tricky to me, because how do you put things into order? It seems like baby Jesus should be last, but it’s a little awkward to have everyone – including the wise men! – showing up before him. Alas, that’s what we did. I think it’d be too confusing to run this calendar mid-December through Epiphany, so it is what it is. And as you can see from the picture, the kids have fun playing with it and rearranging it each day anyways.

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Also new this year is our book advent. I realized that we had accumulated a bunch of Christmas books that I put away each year, so it’s pretty exciting when they come out. I decided to make it a little more special by wrapping each one so that they could take turns opening one each day. I mixed up the order in the basket, so Luke has to find the right number each day, which is good practice for him. Some are simple board books, but they’ve all been well received. I didn’t quite have 24, so I supplemented with a few dollar store coloring books and stickers for a few days. We’ll definitely be doing this again, the kids have loved it.

In the evenings we focus more on the true meaning of advent. After a couple years of trudging through “family” advent devotionals that were still going over Luke’s head, I brought it down to a better preschool- and toddler-friendly level.

Before dinner, one of the kids helps light the advent candle(s) and opens the door on our little Precious Moments advent calendar from my childhood. Each day gives a snippet of the Christmas story – 1: “Long ago in the city of Nazareth…” 2: “Lived a young woman named Mary.” It’s perfect for little ones.

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After dinner, we read a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible. This has by far been my favorite part of advent this year. My kiddos have always had a hard time with “Bible reading” – as soon as they see their Bible, they ONLY want to read the Noah’s Ark story. Not even joking. But suddenly we’ve had a shift, and they (well, mostly Luke) are engaging in each story. A big help in that has been coloring sheets. Each day I print out a related coloring page, and they color it while I read the story. It helps to have busy hands, and Luke got interested in coloring about 5 minutes ago, so the timing has been great. Hearing him ask questions and seriously coloring his page has filled my heart. And the Lord knew I’d need that, because Luke always has a really rough growth spurt around his half birthday (December 10). His behavior and emotions have been a roller coaster, but doing this Bible reading together has been a true sweet spot. Often he wants to keep coloring after the story is finished, so I sit and color with him, which is bliss.

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Zondervan Publishing actually offered free printables for the the advent reading plan this year, so it’s been fun to use them. The kids take turns pulling the next one out of the basket, and after our reading is done, we hang it up with a little clothespin. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible because they make such an effort to clearly show how each story “whispers His name” – getting to dialogue with Luke about this, and starting to expand his understanding of Jesus’ birth has been awesome.

So that’s what we are doing this year, with Luke at 5.5 years old, and Gracie at almost 3. I’m excited to see how our celebration will grow and evolve over the years!

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farewell, summer

20160824_162705My facebook feed has been flooded with back-to-school photos for weeks, my son starts back at preschool next week, and we’re a good week+ into September. I admit that I was not ready to end our summer, but it seems that the weather turned cool and fall-ish the moment we switched the calendar to September, so now I feel more ready. But what a summer it’s been.

We didn’t doing anything especially cool or unique – no family trip (we had an awesome trip to Maui last January), no big events – just lots of full, rich summer days. I admit that last spring I felt a lot of trepidation heading into a summer with no preschool and lots of days that were blank slates. My sweet boy is pretty much the exact opposite of myself when it comes to social needs. Since he was around 18 months old, he wakes up every morning asking “Who are we seeing today? Where are we going? Is anyone coming over?” While I don’t relate, I recognize his need to be with people, and I have done my best to meet those needs (for everyone’s sake) as he’s grown up. Preschool has been a great way for him to connect with friends and have some independence from me. Last spring, it seemed like his social needs were increasing, and I worried how our summer would go. I prayed and I plotted, and what I came up with was the weekly calendar:

20160826_190034A sheet of dry-erase poster board that hangs on the kids’ door with a full view of the week ahead. Each Sunday morning, the new week is revealed, and Luke has been known to ask about it as early as 2am in the morning. With our highly spirited boy, you just never know how an idea like this will go over. We’ve done visual schedules in the past, but he’s never fully embraced them. But this one was a winner. And it has greatly reduced the number of meltdowns regarding “What are we doing?! I don’t want to stay home! Who can come over?!” Now he can see the mix of outings and friend time and time at home, and is more accepting of the big picture. Which is not to say that I never heard him complain about wanting more social time, or asking “Is this a ‘down day,’ mom?” with a sarcastic tone (gotta admit, I feel a glimmer of pride that I can almost hear his use of air quotes – soon I’ll teach him my signature eye roll) – but overall, it has been a great success for both of us.

And we were busy. So many fun outings and playdates. Parks, berry picking, hikes, zoo days, riding the bus, spray parks, camping locally with my parents in their camper, the marine life center, and tons of picnics – just lots of fun enjoying our lovely PNW weather.

These two kiddos are at such a fun age for all these little adventures, it was really a blast.

And when we were home, I tried to sprinkle in some “scheduled” activities, which made Luke feel better. I’m a big fan of open, self-directed play (especially now that Luke and Gracie are such awesome playmates), but mentally Luke likes more structure. Often, he would get so caught up in playing that he would forget about what was on the calendar, so we would just skip it. If the kids were having a hard time playing together, it was nice to already have a planned activity to whip out and turn everyone’s attitudes around.

Mostly we did “craft time” and “school time.” Crafts were easy – the kids love painting, so we’d do that a lot. Chalk paint was a big hit for everyone. School time was my way of sneaking in extra OT work for Luke. They would each get ~15 minutes of tablet time with the ABC Mouse program, which was super exciting for them because they didn’t even know we owned a Kindle. While one was working on that, I worked with the other one on a hands-on project. I got so many great ideas from my friend Stacie’s Fine Motor ABC book, and the kids usually loved getting to do this part of school time. It was fun to come up with different activities (like the awesome 50 cent lacing cards I found at a garage sale!) and surprise them with it.

And can I just say? My boy has come so far in the last 6 months! It’s probably a post for another day, but I am just so thankful for our time in occupational therapy. Not many people know about Luke’s challenges because they are so easily masked by his super energetic and social personality. But he has to work so hard in a lot of areas – most fine motor tasks like writing and cutting are really challenging for him, as well as some gross motor planning (he wasn’t even able to pedal a tricycle or use a balance bike until a couple months before his 5th birthday, which I’m sure would be super surprising to a lot of people). I am so proud of how far he’s come, and how hard he has worked. “School time” was a big breakthrough for us, because previously he had been unwilling to work on these often frustrating tasks while at home with me.

Overall, it has been a great summer. I love cozy weather, so moving into fall is not too sad for me, though I will miss this particular season – the sweet sounds of my 2.5 and 5 year old playing together, and finding delight in the simplest activities. So long, sweet summer.

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it’s all going so fast

It’s so cliche – “They grow up so fast!” But the thing is that it’s true! Lately I’ve been feeling extra crazy in that I feel so sentimental about this season in our lives. I love having little kids. Yes, it’s hard and exhausting and some days you find yourself giving and giving until you feel like you have nothing left. But I love it, and I know we won’t be here forever.

We’re not sure if we will try to have more children beyond Luke and Grace, and while I know that however many God gives us will be enough, sometimes that’s a hard unknown for me to face. With both of my babies my body has gone on overload with happy hormones and I want ALL THE BABIES. Sometimes I will be reveling in this extreme joy and I will look over at Ian and declare “Babies forever! Babies always!”

I am lucky that the man does not run away.

Anyways.

Other than a glimpse into my crazy head, I have a whole bunch of photos to share. And maybe some tidbits about our life these days.

20140505_104514Yeah, that is how I spend a lot of my time – reading books about animals. Mostly wildcats these days. Did you know that female lions do the hunting but the male lions eat first? What is up with that!

IMG_7813He spends more time in just his undies than I’d care to admit. And he is 3! So crazy. Also: it looks like 3 may be kinda challenging. This kid keeps us on our toes, and I’m thankful that we can live in God’s grace every day.

IMG_7836For Mothers Day we went to Birch Bay State Park and explored the beach. Luke was not super keen on stopping for a photo.

20140615_111607For Fathers Day, we went out to breakfast and then stopped by the Marine Life Center. Such a good dad to choose to do something that Luke loves so much.

IMG_7850She is pretty much perfection in my books. She’s 6 months old tomorrow (sniff!), and when I came across this one from a couple months ago my heart just melted.

20140521_102729Animals. Everywhere, all the time. Luke has a growing collection of animals that he plays with all.the.time. He seems to think we could still use more. “But we need more female lions for the pride!”

20140521_120157Uh, yeah. I am in babywearing heaven. Gracie is often in the Moby wrap or Ergo carrier, snuggled close to me as we go about our day. And that look on my face is one that often precedes “babies forever!” declarations.

20140603_135802Speaking of babywearing, this is us at work. I work in the office one day a week, and the babe accompanies me – still trying to get her to pull her own weight around there.

IMG_7856I laughed so hard when I came upon this photo. Don’t even remember it happening.

IMG_7857I think this was the shot I was going for originally.

IMG_7871Daddy-daughter time. It’s hard to come by these days – Luke would be glued to Ian’s side if he could, so he gets most of daddy’s attention these days.

IMG_3144I was actually trying to recreate this photo of Luke. I bet they weighed about the same amount, even though Luke was only 2.5 months and Gracie was 4 months!

IMG_7874My mom recently gave me some of my old baby clothes. LOVE. Awkward baby photo? Even better.

IMG_7884We decided to get a membership for myself and Luke to the Woodland Park Zoo this year, and so far we’ve made it down three times. It’s a lot of excitement for Luke to take in, but he does pretty well and we’ve enjoyed our visits a lot.

IMG_8002Seriously. Stop the cuteness already.

IMG_8005I see lots of sibling shenanigans in my future. Gracie thinks everything Luke does is hilarious.

IMG_8044I’m not sure why we thought it was a good idea to give the kid something that was on fire, but somehow we all stayed safe.

IMG_8100Summer snacks on the patio. We’ve loved the warm weather lately.

IMG_8107Summertime naps are pretty great.

Well, I think that’s all. Not a lot of big things happening over here, just lots of small stuff all the time. It’s pretty great.

gracie’s first two weeks

At 5:50am on January 21, 2014, we became a family of four.

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Our sweet Grace Katherine entered the world.

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Her birth was perfect. I had a few issues after she was safely in our arms, so we ended up spending a night in the hospital. It was cozy and peaceful, and soon enough we were headed home.

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The next days included lots of cuddles and rest and gazing at our Gracie Kate.

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Luke spent a few days with Opa and Oma, then came home to join us. I was amazed at his instant adoration and love for his baby sister. It feels like magic to watch them cuddle, and to constantly hear his little voice say, “hi little Gracie!”

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Grace is quite adorable,  I do believe.

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She spends most of her time sleeping, as a new baby should.

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I wasn’t sure what it would be like to have a baby in the winter, since Luke was a summer baby.
Turns out it is super adorable when they are all bundled up.

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Grace is pretty easy-going thus far. She puts up with her older brother’s loud and invasive affection, as long as she gets lots of cuddles from mom and dad.

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She unknowingly joined the 12th man mania.

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We are adjusting to being a family of four. It feels like stretching – sometimes it feels just perfect, like when Luke wants to drink his bedtime milk next to Gracie. Other times it feels like a huge change that takes some getting used to. We are working it out, this little family of ours. Ian took some time off, and we are treasuring this time together. And we are thankful – we never expected to grow our family this way, and Gracie fits in just perfectly.

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summertime fun

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten around to updating this blog, so I’m going to cram the last couple months into this post.

First up: Luke’s debut at the local all-comers track meet.

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You can see he was quite serious about it.

I don’t know if I can really ever stress it enough to people, but Luke loves running. Like, really loves running. I know all two year olds like to run around, but Luke loves running for the sake of running. He would run circles around our swingset all day long if someone ran with him.

So I thought the all-comers meet would be great. And he did like it – unless he hated it. He just didn’t quite grasp the concept of only running during your race. He got pretty worked up waiting for his races, and then again after his races when he had to stop running. So yeah. He’s two.

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The “mini-jav” event. (Not pictured: his turn at the long jump pit, where he ran full speed and then veered into the other long jump pit (with the older kids) at the last second. Luckily it was clear at the time).

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Running his 50m race with mama.

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This guy keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure. We had our family vacation at the end of July, and it was great. We kicked it off with a day at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

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He’s started saying “cheese” for the camera, and I kinda love the smile it produces.

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After a spending the night at Ian’s grandma’s house, we continued south to Seaside, OR. Ian’s mom met us down there the next day, and his brother Jamie’s family joined us a few days later. We had a great time – Luke loved playing on the beach.

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IMG_6922He also rode the carousel numerous times.

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We also made a trip out to the Tillamook Cheese Factory – Luke and I may have gone through the sample line a couple times.

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Luke adores his older cousins, and whenever we walked anywhere, he’d quickly turn to find them so he could hold their hands.

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Adorable Miss Reese loved playing in the kiddie pool. All the kids enjoyed lots of pool time – so nice that our resort had a shallow kids’ pool that they could happily play in.

Back home the next week, we attended a Bellingham Bells game with our small group. Things were going fine – Luke was running around with the other kids down in front of the fence along left field, where we were sitting.

Between innings midway through the game, they let all the kids run across the field, from left field to right field. Ian went with Luke, who of course loved it. And it was no surprise that he kept asking to do it again afterwards.

What was a surprise was when he and our friends’ kids managed to open the gate in the fence during the seventh inning stretch. Luke bolted and ran off onto the field, with Ian in fast pursuit. Luckily the ball wasn’t in play yet, and Ian managed to nab him to the sounds of the cheering crowd. One of our friends caught their exit on his phone.

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Our next baseball outing was to the Ken Griffey Jr. Hall of Fame night at Safeco.

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It was so great to see the pre-game ceremony. Luke even enjoyed the first 10 minutes (having dinner didn’t hurt either).

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After those 10 minutes, the kid got squirrelly and spent the first half of the game running up and down the ramps and escalators with Oma. Eventually he was able to watch part of the game from our seats. He really just wanted to run on the field himself, no surprise there.

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A couple weeks ago we took Luke to his first fair! He loved seeing all the animals.

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He got to ride one ride, the carousel. He was pretty pumped about it.

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We went with our good friends, “Papa Frank and Nana,” who rank very high in Luke’s world, since they often babysit him. (And yes, it was raining pretty hard, so we all got pretty soaked – Luke’s hair got super curly!)

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And of course the other big news around our house is that we are expecting baby #2! We were super surprised and excited to find out that I was pregnant – I’ll have to write more about it later, but here are some photos for now. This was me at 12 weeks along, just a little bump and a face that portrays the first trimester exhaustion/nausea that I was feeling.

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And this is Luke when I was 12 weeks, he stepped right up to have his photo taken, with deep seriousness…

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And both of us a couple weeks ago, when I was 18 weeks…

IMG_7094I think that’s about all I can muster for an update right now! We are all happy and healthy and usually incredibly tired at the end of each day (I think that has to do with all the running and chasing that happens around here!). Hope your summer is going as great as ours!