Anders’ milestones: 7 months

Crawling everywhere- on hands and knees. He’s getting fast. I love how he’ll follow the sound down the hall to find Scotland in his room. Sometimes he’ll even go down the hall and play in Scotland’s room by himself- because he knows there are toys in there. Apparently the “baby toys” that I keep in the living room are loosing their interest.

Pulling himself up- on the couch, the tub, on baskets. . . He let go with both hands the other day and fell flat on his back. Poor little guy, he was pretty shook up. (I almost always find him standing up in his crib when I come to get him up from naps.)

Smiling constantly- I’ve had so many sweet exchanges with strangers, as a result. He gives his opened-mouth grin with big bright eyes to anyone, anytime.

This kid can eat. Anders LOVES solid food. I’m always amazed at how much he eats. I’m forever feeding what I’m sure will be enough, only to end up back at the fridge trying to decide what I can feed him. I’ve taken to tearing up a piece of bread to buy me time to figure out what else to feed him. He loves it, and usually gets 95% of the bread in his mouth! When he’s hungry he’s hungry and he’ll let out deep grunting sounds if the food isn’t coming fast enough. (And once he’s started his vocalization, even if you have the spoon at his mouth, he will finish it up to his satisfaction.) It’s a very demanding guttural sound that totally stresses me out!

high pitch squeals

Playing with Scotland- The other day Scotland asked if Anders could play outside with him. I explained that I didn’t think it would work because I needed to get dinner ready, and couldn’t watch Anders, and I figured he would crawl off the blanket and eat the grass. Scotland assured me that he would watch him. Wanting to encourage his generosity and desire to play with his brother I agreed to pull out the picnic blanket and give it a try. I set Anders down and went inside to watch. As expected Anders immediately crawled off the blanket. Scotland grabbed his feet and pulled him back. Anders squealed, then took off crawling again. He got a little farther this time, before Scotland pulled him back- this time pulling down his pants. Scotter laughed, and Anders squealed as he took off again- making it all the way to the patio, Scotland grabbed his arms, swinging him around and pulling him back.. . I went out, thanked Scotland for watching him, and brought Anders inside. I just love seeing the two of them playing more and more. Scotland often asks now “Can Anders’ play with me?”

His two bottom teeth are in.

Kisses- I love his kisses. He’s especially free with them when he hasn’t seen me in a while. He’s a total Momma’s boy, and to be honest, I love it.

Distracted nurser. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anders weens himself early, because he’s just not that into nursing. In keeping with the “Babywise” philosophy I always try to keep him on the wake, nurse, play, sleep pattern but he won’t have it. He is adamant that he wake, play, nurse, sleep. He’s just too eager to get going when he wakes up.

When he does nurse he’s always in motion, swinging his arms, slapping his hand against mine, squeezing my breast to speed things up.

He’s a major spinner when changing his diaper, and screaming follows if he is made to stay on his back.

He plays independently well. It’s fun to see him copy Scotland. The other day he had picked up the drum sticks and was hitting the drum, and today when the boys were all playing “Dragon Power” with various pieces of our marble track set, he picked some up himself and started swinging them around. He’s always watching and observing. Today as I watched him focused on the three crazy “Dragon power” boys, I wondered if he’ll be much more high-energy and wild- simply because that’s being exemplified all the time for him.

He loves the bath- and is always crawling into the bathroom and pulling himself up at the tub, waving his arms around as if to beg me to let hime bathe.

He’s a VERY light sleeper. Much to my chagrin. I remember reading when Scotland was a baby, that if a child wakes up and isn’t happy, than they haven’t slept enough. (And this held true for Scotland.) If that’s the case with Anders, he rarely sleeps enough. Because he always wakes up cranky and needs a few minutes to brighten up.

He LOVES the black lab puppet that we use as our “Joy Pup” in Joy school. He chuckles every time I bring him out, and continues to chuckle as I move the dog and make him bark. It’s adorable.

He’s gone to the babysitter’s three times now without a fuss! Hurray. (I got really nervous after he had one particularly sad episode.)

He loves to dance, and always beams when I sing.

Clapping

Reaches out to touch peoples faces when they make eye contact with him.

I love this little boy. I love having a baby to snuggle and smile with and a toddler to talk and play with. It’s a great combo- though challenging.

 

 

 

Positive Discipline- worth the read

I’ve been reading “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen. It’s a spectacular parenting book, with LOTS of great ideas. I’ve been trying to implement her suggestions, and I’ve seen a real change in Scotland and I’s relationship, and in my view of motherhood. Here’s a few things that have really struck me:

  • Why do we feel like in order to help a child do better, we have to make them feel worse?

She is particularly against lecturing, and piggybacking on natural consequences (saying I told you so, or lecturing after a child has already experienced the consequence of his choice.) I hate when people say “I told you so,” so why do it all the time to my son?

  • Analyzing the long term effects of various parenting choices. Harsh punishments are effective in the short term- but what are the long term consequences? Deceased self-esteem, poor problem solving skills, approval-junkie tendencies?

She strongly encourages teaching problem solving skills. When a child makes a mistake- flip it onto the child to figure out a solution/resolution. She mentions that for children who are used to lectures they will most likely say “I don’t know.” (Ah, man! What do you think Scotland always says. . .)

  • If a child, especially a toddler, is “misbehaving” a lot, take it as a cue that they need more teaching. Then wait for a non-hostile time when you know you can teach with kindness and respect.

It occurred to me that for some children those teaching moments might happen most successfully while playing with your child. I’ve been surprised by how effective role playing with dinosaurs can be to teach kind communication. I’m also learning the power of waiting until I’m calm to address issues. I’m still practicing staying calm in the heat of the moment. She suggests leaving the situation, “I’m going to leave you be now. I’ll be happy to talk to you again when we can do so kindly and with respect.”

  • Say what you are going to do.

You can’t force your child. Or perhaps you shouldn’t force your child. I have a strong belief in the pivotal role choice and accountability has in the purpose of our earth life. I believe that before we came to earth there was a counsel in Heaven. Two plans were presented, one by Satan to secure us all to heaven by not giving us choice, and the other by Christ to give us our agency, but also provide an Atonement so that when we repent we can be forgiven, and thereby also return to Heaven. This belief, makes parenting more challenging, but also more uplifting. My job is to teach my sons how to make good choices,  and to teach them to know what choices are good by allowing them to experience natural consequences.

  • Winning children over means gaining their willing cooperation.

Find ways to “need” Scotland. Work together not against each other.  When I’m doing something instead of saying “Not right now. . . in a minute, say “I’m watering right now, would you like to help me?!”

  • Show empathy.

My mom raised us kids to be tough. When we fell down, her typical reaction was “You’re okay, rub it out!” I’m grateful for this. My siblings and I are tough, resilient, and have high pain-tolerance. On the flip side, I also feel less empathetic, sensitive and understanding as I would like to be. I’ve been working on this lately, and I’ve been surprised at the results. When Scotland falls and starts crying, if I say “Oo! Ouch, that looks like it hurt. Are you okay.” He looks at me with a smile of appreciation, and says, “Yeah, I’m okay!” When he complains that something is too hard, or too long, instead of ” Too bad, deal with it.” I say, “I can imagine this feels like it’s taking forever. I used to hate long car rides when I was a kid too. . .”

  • Humiliation violates the basic concept of mutual respect.

It’s easy to treat children like some sort of lesser being. Not listening to their opinions, making constant demands, and not respecting their needs and desires.

  • Always ask: “Is what I’m doing empowering or discouraging?”
  • Establish an atmosphere where mistakes are viewed as an opportunity to learn.

I don’t want to train my children to fear failure. I want them to learn from it and move on.

  • Solve problems with them, not for them.

Just like anything, a little study has significantly improved my parenting over the past few weeks. It’s funny because I had a real upswing in positive parenting after reading the first couple chapters a couple of months ago, and then things headed south. I picked up the book, refreshed and read some more, and again my parenting has improved. I guess like anything, consistency is key! I’ll keep the book at my bedside.

Joy School!

Scotland started Joy School this week. He was SO excited to begin, and asked me “how many days…” several times a day for a week. There are four kids in his class: Ava Kirkwood, Noah Hulet, and Cole Watkins. It looks like it is going to be a great group, though I’d love to add one more girl- just to balance things out a bit. (Ava is definitely fought over- “I want to sit by Ava” “No, I want to sit by Ava!”)  Scotter is so ready for a bit more enrichment, and definitely needs more social time. He’s done great so far. I’ve helped both times this week, and I teach next week. So it will be interested to hear how he does when I’m not there. Will he be better, or worse? Hopefully, just the same.

Our little school boy!

Scotland tends to fixate on things. There is always one thing that is in his constant care. For a while it was his teddy, then his “special book”- a moleskine type notebook, now it is this backpack. When asked what his favorite toy was in Joy School, he thought about it for a bit, and then said “My backpack.” He takes it with him everywhere, shows everyone. The other night when I went to check on him in the middle of the night- it lay next to him in bed.

The class: Scotland, Cole, Ava and Noah

The first class was pretty rowdy, but today went much better. We’re trying to decide how much wrestling and running around is acceptable. With three boys, we’re definitely going to have to increase the activity level!

I’m reading the book the accompanies the curriculum- Teaching your Children Joy. The philosophy behind the program is that in these early years we should focus on teaching children how to find joy in life. It’s been a good reminder that while yes, it would be great to teach Scotland to read, do math, etc, what is more important is that he learns to love life, to love others, and to find joy in learning and creating. So much of happiness is determined by one’s chosen outlook and life choices, what better concept to establish in a child’s mind at this impressionable age. In order to teach it however, we as teachers must exemplify it. The manual suggests you say often “Wow isn’t it wonderful to. ..” “Doesn’t it make you happy when. . .” “I’m so happy that. . .” Maintaining such a buoyant spirit can be challenging when four toddlers are running around your house screaming! I think this program is going to be as good for me, as it is for Scotland!

P.S. I am a Joy School graduate. When I listened to the songs for the first time, I got this elated feeling when I heard “Oh Boy! I Got Joy!” it was the strangest thing. It was like I was having a “feeling” memory.

Mom, Dad and Derek enter the picture

So the day after Devin left, my parents came into town, and a few days later Derek followed suit.

We took Grandma and Dantzi to the zoo. It was a overcast day with a light mist from time to time- which meant there were few people at the zoo, but the animals were very active. We saw two young male giraffes doing some sort of bum-whopping ritual. They would walk around in a circle and take turns smacking the other on the bum with their head. I thought that was just a HS football thing. We saw the hippo walking around, which was a first for us. And Dantzi, Mom and Scotland got to watch a fierce encounter between two gorillas and a seeing eye dog. Let’s just say, thank goodness there was glass in between!

It was fun to go with my Mom. I grew up visiting zoos, my Mom loves animals and seeing her pass on that affection to my son was very endearing. She taught me, I realized, how to love a zoo. Unlike some, who just want to see the animal and pass by, my Mom trained us, by example, to wait and watch. We’re slow zoo goers, as a result, but we’ve seen some amazing things!

Making paper out of elephant poo. Yup, you read right. Scotland was definitely hesitant but intrigued enough to take part.

Dantzi- ever wanting to help. I was really impressed by her ability to “Observe, and then serve.” Her skills in that regard are very advanced for her age. 

Meanwhile, back at the home front my Dad labored away on a fort for his grandson. (He skipped the zoo of his own accord.) My Dad’s building skills always impress me. His father was famous for pulling together scrap wood and making beautiful things. My dad has the same sense for using what’s around and making it work.(For example he cut the majority of the 2×4’s with the pathetic saw he is holding before he finally caved and went and bought a circular saw.) He built an awesome fort for Scotland- of which Scotter is very proud. I love that both grandpa’s and aunt, an uncle and his Mom have all worked on his fort. Now we just need Tom to help put on the roof, so he can be in the mix too!

I love when my Dad visits. I see a different side of him when he’s in my home- he’s more chipper, more playful, and more relaxed. I love it, and so do my boys.

We took Dantzi on her first ferry ride (well that she’ll be able to remember.) It was a perfect day, warm with a brilliant blue sky. Seattle, my friends, is divine this time of year.

Three look-alikes, no?

My parents and their baby.

Scotland quickly took to Derek. He LOVED his silly, playful nature. As proven above. Scotland laughed and laughed with him. As I was looking at these pictures I noticed Scotland’s arms around Derek in the picture several above this one. It’s rare for Scotland to be really affectionate like that in pictures. It made me realize two things: one, how much it means to me that my children have a relationship with my siblings, and two, how much Scotland loves silliness and playing. It was a good reminder that I need to lighten up and just be goofy with him more. He craves it.

Anders was equally a fan of Uncle Derek.

Dantzel and Scotland watching the school of fish off the dock.

It was a great weekend, and I felt really lucky to be able to treat my folks and sister to a fun “end of summer” vacation.

 

 

 

Devin and Dantzi’s visit

This has been the most family-filled August I’ve had- since, well, probably moving away for college. Seriously, all but two of my siblings visited our home last month, and the two that didn’t, I saw at my folks. It’s been wonderful! I’ve already catalogued the first three family events: reunion, Karlsven visit, and Grandma and Poppa Foutz, so now we’re on to Devin and Jessica, Dantzel and my folks, and then Derek. (I’ll admit to feeling rather popular! wink. Please tell me it’s not just because I live in a gorgeous place.)

Devin and Jessica got free stand-by tickets and decided to use them to visit Seattle, which was quite an honor. I was determined to treat them to a fun trip,  because they’re newlyweds, and he’s my younger brother, and because I want them to come back again, and again!

I think what sets Seattle apart from many cities is it wealth in three areas: vibrant city life, gorgeous beaches/water ways, and breathtaking mountain escapes. So we planned our three days accordingly. Day 1: City, Day 2: Water, Day 3: Mountains.

Day 1:

Both Dev and Jess were sweet to help take care of the boys while they were there. Only a true man can confidently wear a baby- and I must say Devin was really styling in the Ergo. Though to be fair, Jess was model-worthy as well.

But I digress, besides wanting to see Pikes, Dev and Jess didn’t have much preference regarding what else we saw downtown, so I decided to take them to a few places I’d heard were interesting- Capitol hill, Volunteer Garden (we’d been here). We decided to walk everywhere, which actually turned out to be a wonderful way to see the city.

I enjoyed stopping in several artsy Cap’ hill boutiques. You never know what you’ll find in these sorts of places. This place featured succulents, air plants, botanical prints, clothes and, you got it a grizzly bear. Why not.

This furry guy definitely up-ed the interest level for Scotland, for which I was grateful.

After hearing Jessica is an ice cream lover, we decided to let her try Seattle’s favorite ice cream- Molly Moon’s.

Notice Anders, he conveniently took advantage of their distraction to steel Jessica’s cone.

Scotland was happy to revisit an old haunt. (We visited Molly Moon’s several times together when we lived around the corner from the one in Wallingford. Back then I had pregnancy to excuse the expense on!)

Not sure why books make Scotland feel this way. . .  but. I loved dropping in Elliot Bay Book Co. I always leave book stores like these  committed to reading more.

Dev and I had to poise by this sign, because, well, we’re cheap frugality is our jive.

One of our recent discoveries- the historic water tower at Volunteer Park. The view from on top is stunning!

I really enjoyed walking through the historic Capitol hill neighborhoods. I miss the colonials and tudors that I ran through in Shaker Heights, but the homes in Capitol Hill reminded me of them. I’m grateful there are still people with money willing to keep up these old beauties.

We ended the day watching my younger sister’s first college soccer game. Go Ad!

Day 2:

Ballard Locks

Catching falling acorns.

We stopped by for the food truck experience at El Camion. My cochinita pibil burrito was amazing. (Ooo. I kind of want one right now. And it’s 10PM.)

They spent the afternoon at the beach with the boys while I taught, and then headed out on the town for dinner, just the two of them.

Day 3:

My youngest sister, Dantzel, joined us for day three. It was so fun to have her. She’d never done a tough hike like we did and her repeated statements of awe and wonder made the hike all the more enjoyable. We climbed Mt. Pilchuck. It wasn’t the best day to climb it, but you work with what you have- and I had a strong back that could carry Scotland, so we went for it. (Thanks Devin!)

One of the highlights of the hike was all the huckleberries, or mountain blueberries. They were everywhere- and got tastier and tastier as we gained in elevation. (Or we got hungrier!)

The hike wasn’t as fun for Scotland, since we made him stay in the pack most of the time. So he was thrilled whenever we let him down to pick berries.

The final descent a boulder scramble to the pinnacle of the mountain! (A bit precarious while carrying children, but do-able!)

Despite the cloud cover the view was still breathtaking. (If the clouds weren’t there we could have had a 360 view of the Cascades with Baker, Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens, the Olympics, and the Puget Sound in view. . .Okay I’m still a bit bummed the clouds didn’t clear! I’ll be going back.) That being said, we did get a quick glimpse of Rainier when the clouds parted for a minute.

I’ll be bold enough to say I doubt there have been many 6 month olds in this look out! I must brag about the Ergo, I carried Anders all six miles in the Ergo (except for the last half mile where I carried him in my arms.) and I wasn’t sore or uncomfortable at all. I love this thing!

On top of the world.

This photo of Devin’s gives you a pretty good idea of how steep this final stretch was.

It was a spectacular hike. Looking at these pictures makes me want to hit the mountain again. If only Tom didn’t work so much! Maybe I just need to get a lama that will carry Scotland so I can go more often! He’s a great hiker, but hikes such as these are just not achievable for a three year old. Any suggestions for a great pack for carrying older children. Scotland has pretty much outgrown the one we used.

We spent the final evening together eating cookies, and playing Dominion. It was great fun. Dantzi was a great addition. Her carefree, “Let’s Party!” attitude lightened everyone up and we all had a great time.

I have long wanted to play the fun, entertaining older sister role. I’ve been begging Dantzi and Adalee to come up for a week-long visit alone to Seattle for the past year, so having Dantzi and Devin here was such a treat. I love giving people new experiences, and while I had a hard time reading Devin, Dantzi was thrilled to be having them, which, in turn, made me very happy. She threw her arms out when we reached the top of the mountain, she smiled brightly as she picked huckleberries, and she stood at the helm of the ferry and let the wind blow through her long hair.

(Meanwhile, Tom worked, and worked and worked. Poor man. Thank goodness he loves his job. And thank goodness I love mine!)

Center for Wooden Boats with Grandma and Poppa

Pam and Stan were here visiting the last couple of days. They drove all the way from Tucson to bring us Stan’s old truck!!!! Can we have a cheer! We can now fit our whole family in both of our vehicles. It’s going to be SOOOO nice to have a truck that I can drive the boys in- hello piles of compost, road-side furniture, and yard waste removal! Thank you SOOO much, Mom and Dad. They mostly helped us with projects around the house (cleaned our garage, de-mossed our roof, prepped the fort, helped us move beds around.) But we did enjoy one half day excursion to the Historic Harbor and Center for Wooden Boats. It’s a very picturesque part of Seattle. I loved the merging of Seattle’s maritime and technologically innovative economy. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Museum of History and Innovation, but peeking in, it’s definitely on my list. (Hopefully we’ll make it to the chocolate exhibit!) Here’s a few picts from our visit:

Stan- the super-Poppa, carrying one while holding the hand of the other. I love how involved Stan is with the kids. When he’d recognize that Scotland was getting in the way, or getting to worked up inside, he’d say. “Hey Scotter, will you show me how fast you can ride on your scooter.” Or “Why don’t we go up into your fort!”

Seattle Boy.

 

We went to this part of town because I’d heard great things about the Center for Wooden Boats. But it ended up we spent more time at the Historic Harbor nearby. We loved seeing the variety of boats and learning about their history.

One of the boats featured was this old Lightship. It’s in the process of being restored, but they still let people walk on. It’s in horrific shape, but I felt lucky to get to see it now, knowing that we’ll probably get to watch it’s renovation. Scotland was intrigued by it and wanted to see every room.

I can’t imagine taking on a project as large as this one. Every surface needs to be restored. But I’m glad they are tackling it. This ship has an incredible history and is really a fascinating vessel.

The center for wooden boats was very quaint. I’m looking forward to going back. (Maybe this week!) We didn’t get to see the building where they restore and built boats, nor did we get to spent much time in the boat house, or the museum.

One of my main aims as a mother is to raise children who find joy in the simple, free things in life. Children who can find interest wherever they are, and find beauty in the natural. So, as I watched him drop to his knees to examine the water, or peer inquisitively into the peeling shabby cabin, I felt pride. He looked in the cracks along the dock, he checked every porthole. He asked thoughtful questions, and interacted sociably with the sailors who talked to him. I know much of this is just him, it has nothing to do with me, but I like to hope I have fostered, or at least protected this natural curiosity.

Whenever we go on outings like this I am reminded of what a fascinating city I live in. Watching the 6-8 year olds go out kayaking, and then the 8-10 year olds come in to dock their sailboats made me all the more excited for the opportunities our children will have here in the future.

It was great to have Tom’s folks here. The boys soaked up their attention. Anders was extra smiley and Scotland was on his best behavior. I appreciated all the help. There are SO many projects that have gone un-done around here, since the baby was born. So checking a few of the big ones of our list felt amazing! Thank you Pam and Stan, for all the help, support and love!

Five children under three!

After our family reunion, my sister Brigette and her kids came up to Seattle for a visit. It was a wild couple of days as combined we had five kids under three. There was much mischief had, but also lots of fun.

We spent one morning at Richmond Beach, looking for creatures, playing in the sand, swimming in the water, collecting shells, and having a picnic. The weather was perfect and we had a wonderful time.

We took Brielle, Keiton, Coleman and Anders on their first ferry ride. Anders loved feeling the wind. It was a stereotypical Seattle day- foggy and gray. I’m learning to find the mystical quality of that monotonous blanket of humidity.

We stopped off in Kingston to get crepes and ice cream. The grilled chicken supreme was dynamite! And the salted carmel with dark chocolate and pecans wasn’t shabby either!

Mostly we hung around at home. (No pun intended!) Obviously, judging by the number of pictures I took, I was a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of caring for five young children.

Brielle, Scotter, Keiton

 

The three three-year olds.

One of my favorite memories was building a fort with Brigette, Keiton, and Scotland. We installed steps, cleared a “secret tunnel,” added another pallet for the foundation and then nailed on a piece of plywood. The two boys were in heaven hammering in the nails. While we were technically building the fort for the boys, building an imaginative world with my childhood playmate almost made me feel like one of the “little girls” again, out in the backyard making adventure!

We spent our child-free evenings, putting outfits together from my wardrobe- I’ve felt particularly uninspired lately- shopping at Goodwill, enjoying Vietnamese food and playing Dominion with Tom.

It was a great visit. I never would have had the gumption to pull off a trip like Brigette did, especially alone with three kids. She’s an amazing woman and I’m so grateful for her sacrifice.

Getti:Kjirsti Selfie

 

Getti, I love you! I’m so glad we got to be little girls together, and now we get to be young moms together.

Pete Summer Bash

This has been the summer of family. One of the main reasons Tom and I wanted to move back West was so we could be closer to family. (Though we were sad to be moving farther from his sisters.) I don’t think I’ve had this much family interaction since I lived at home, and it’s been wonderful! We had what’s becoming our annual Pete’s Summer Bash the first week of August. All of my siblings, but one, brought their kids to our folk’s and we had a party. I felt like this was one of our more successful family get-togethers. It might have been because Tom was with me, and my kids were remarkably well behaved so I wasn’t feeling as haggard as usual, but by and large I felt like we did a better job of balancing things. Meals were simpler, activities more varied, and I thought us sibs did a better job of getting involved with the kids. (Sometimes because  we see each other so rarely we fall into the trap of staying inside and talking much of the time.)

Favorite memories:

Moxee 5k-

In keeping with our long held Moses Lake SpringFest Fun Run tradition, we all ran/walked Moxee’s 5k. As I mentioned earlier Scotland was a champ- running a good portion of the first two miles. I taught him to just call out “Walk!” when he needed. At one point after the two mile mark he asked me if I would “take him” (His way of saying carry me.) I told him to run a little bit more and that then I would give him a piggy bike until we caught up with the stroller crew. I told him “It’s good to push yourself past what you think you can do, so you can get faster and stronger.” He thought about it for a bit, and then said “I’ve already pushed myself!” Agreeing, I picked him up.

Dantzi took care of Anders during the parade- not even complaining when a huge blow-out left her with poop all over her shirt! What a saint.

Nertz and Scum with the “older nieces and nephews.”

One of my favorite college memories was our weekend nertz and cookie-eating ritual at the Huffs. In hopes of bringing the fun alive in my own family, I brought a bunch of cards up and taught my younger sisters and oldest nieces. They really took to it and we had a bunch of fun playing together. (Sabina even made chocolate chip cookies one night to make it all complete.)

Team African Star- Rhyse came up with the name.

I got paired with these two cuties for the little kid scavenger hunt. Rhyse was our fearless leader. My favorite was running down the hill trying to avoid the sprinklers- all of us laughing!

What’s a family reunion with tons of kids without pony rides. Seriously, I felt like I was at a carnival! Chief, the pony, was such a champ taking us all up and down their private lane. I loved hearing the kids woop and squeal as he broke out into a trot.

By a stroke of Divine goodness Tom got a three day weekend and got to come down to join us for part of the reunion. It was SO fun to have him there. When he was back at work the next week they were talking about their weekends and he got to say: “I spent the weekend with my wife’s family in Yakima and got to see my 6 month old son start crawling, and my 3 year old son swim 10 feet all by himself!” They all cooed.

Our traditional talent show turned dance party!

family run

girls’ morning yoga

acrobatic display

Wild bunnies

Bonding with his Aunt Sabina

Anders and Miles- future best buds!

Anders had his first “camping” experience while we were there. We tented it one night. Scotland was a champ and slept soundly the whole night. Anders. . . was another story, he was up several times- mostly due to a bought of diarrhea. Regardless, we were happy to break in Tom’s new Father’s Day tent.

I want it all.

I really want to make granola, and bread, and finish painting Scotland’s wall, and landscape my back bed, and tear down a wall in my kitchen, and organize the shelves above the washer and dryer and spend more time with the young women I serve, and sing more, and get my studio going, and can a boat load of tomato sauce and salsa, and hang out with friends more, and keep in better contact with distant friends, and be more present with my boys, and spend more time with Tom, and read more, and study the scriptures more deeply, and paint my toe nails, and figure out my system for structuring my life, and go shopping, and go running, and do yoga, and visit some adopted Grandma’s, and make cement stepping stones, and build a cold frame, and build a fort, and paint our shed, and weed my yard, and go on more walks, improve my photography, get involved with high school musical theater programs, deep clean my kitchen, and spend more time in prayer.

That’s my list tonight. It will be different tomorrow. But no shorter.

This is what a summer looks like- at the Foutzes

I’m far over due to post. And yet I have little desire to write about what we’ve been up to. I fear it would just be a travelogue, which is generally unexciting to those who weren’t riding along. And yet I want to document the wonderful times we’ve had and the memories we’ve made with family. (Mostly because I know that whatever goes on this blog- ends up in our family record book. Oh, if only I was caught up enough that I could just add it there, and not here.) 

Summer at the Foutzes looks something like this:

Family Outings:

A gift card from work resulted in a memorable family outing to La Isla (a delicious Puerto Rican Restaurant in Ballard) – which we took out to enjoy eating at the Ballard Locks followed by Scotland first “bike ride.” (I must say walking hand in hand with my hubs as my baby rode his bike in front of us felt like one of those family landmarks. Like the true indication that we had arrived in the next stage of parenting. Tom and I both beamed and laughed as we watching Scotland determinedly pedaling, his little legs blurring in tiny circles as he inched along on his radio flyer.) In my mind, this couldn’t have been a more perfect outing: delicious ethnic food, rolling down a grassy green hill, watching boats and trains, going for a walk, watching my boys squeal with delight, being with my best friend. mmmmm!

I know, I know, pictures of food. But hey it was my first time eating authentic Puerto Rican food- well besides the food Trevor has made. Just a nod to the terrific culinary diversity Seattle boasts!

At Bakery Nouveau- their Twice Baked Almond Croissants will make you hand over your wallet, again and again!

Last Friday we had a Date night with kids in tow. (I gifted Tom with a monthly pre-planned date for Christmas and this was one of them.) Watching Anders happily gumming a chunk of baguette watching Shakespeare in the beautiful surrounds of Volunteer Park. Tom and I looked at each other- “We’re living the life!”  (We also got a sampling of cheeses from The Calf and the Kid- Euphoria was exquisite!

Anders’ first “bike” ride! Clearly he was jazzed by it.

Harvesting:

I like to joke that I’m raising my son to be a day laborer- considering the amount of harvesting we do. On this particular outing we picked 13lbs of blueberries! I love frozen blueberries- they amazing alone, or over granola, or oatmeal, or in smoothies. Yum!

Scotland looking macho in our own urban garden. (I’ve perhaps had my most successful garden this year. The winners: sugar snap peas, shelling peas, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, tomatoes, and green beans.)

Friends:

I’m really sad that this picture turned out so blurry, but the memory was captured. I attended my 10 year high school reunion last month, and was able to reunite with these two dear friends. It was great to catch up with them and see their beautiful families. I was interested in where different classmates lives had led them. And came away with the impression that one can never know what life has in store. I was reminded of President Hinckley’s quote:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

With my dear friend, mentor, and young women’s leader, Shani.

As I approached the event I found myself feeling nervous. Why? Upon inspection I realized it was the typical culprit- I worried about what people would think, about me, my life. Facing this reality I realized- I didn’t care. The fact was, by and large, I’m thrilled with how my life has turned out so far. As I knelt in prayer I asked God to help me forget myself and instead spend my energies on those I had come to see. My prayer was answered and instead of my typical “I, me, my” storyline, I found myself immersed in the lives of others. It was a beautiful experience. One I wish, wasn’t so rare. I haven’t been back to my hometown in five years, since my parents moved from my childhood home a few years ago. I was surprised at how comforting and nostalgic it felt to just drive the streets of Moses lake. It truly felt like coming “home.” Memories washed over me with warm emotions and I found myself smiling constantly. Thinking back on the girl I was then, and the woman I am now was eye-opening. I have changed a great deal since high school, in many ways good in some ways bad. But being there, among those memories I felt that girl inside of me- and it was awakening.

On my way to and from Moses Lake we spent a few days in Moxee with my Mom and Dantzel. It was a particularly special visit for me because I got to spend so much time with Dantzi. (She came to Moses Lake with me). Dantzi reminds me of myself 15 years ago- such drive, discipline and idealism. I admire her, and every time I’m around her I feel inspired to do more, be more. Her and Anders have developed a sweet relationship, and seeing the time she takes to love and care for him, means so much to me.

Grandma treated us to a visit to her friends ponies and bunny rabbits.

The bunnies were fast, but Scotland- after watching Dantzel, was determined to catch one. I was impressed by his patience. At first he would crouch down and put his hands on either side of the bunny- too nervous to squeeze it, but he grew more and more daring and finally caught one of his own accord.

Food experiments:

First fried zucchini blossoms- delicately delicious. Novelty keeps life fresh.

Tree Climbing:

Both and Grandma’s house (above) and our own (below)

Eating outdoors:

I love to eat outdoors. It takes a little extra effort, but for me the rewards far outweigh the pains. Especially at dinner, when I’m often a bit on edge, taking it outdoors helps me relax and savor the moment.

Bare legs and arms:

This might sound weird, but I love seeing my boys’ limbs! The chunky thighs, the realization of hair emerging on my toddlers legs!

Flowers:

Hanging out:

Me folding laundry, Anders rolling or crawling around on the floor, and Scotland. . .you name it.

That’s really about it- throw in a lot of house cleaning, a couple days at the beach and zoo, lots of library visits, plenty of reading, a load of discipline, a few walks, a hike or two, church attendance, a good number of picnics, plenty of wrestling, tickling and laughter and you pretty much have our summer.