Things I love

I love how Anders crawls down to his brothers, first thing, after waking up from a nap.

I love how he lays splayed out on his belly while taking a break from crawling and taps one foot, because he enjoys the sound.

I love his opened mouth smile and joyous clapping.

I love when Scotland snuggles up with me to read books.

I love when Scotland doesn’t know something, or wants to second check, and with a lowered voice asks “How do you say it Mom?”

I love that last night I could see and hear Tom and Scotland reading books together while I stirred the risotto.

I love when a new recipe turns out divine. Such as this one.

I love long hugs from Tom.

I love the crisp fall air.

I love when Scotland likes a book so much, he asks “Can we read it again. Right now?!”

I love how Anders smiles at me EVERYTIME I look at him.

I love when Scotland is a kind and patient playmate with his friends, as he was this morning.

I love watching Scotland swing on his belly, in the rain.

I love my job most of the time.

A follow up post

Last night after writing yesterdays post I had a soulful prayer session. I was reminded of this Mormon Message that Tom shared with me a few weeks ago.

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/mormon-messages/mormon-messages-2014?lang=eng

I started to list the wonderful things I’d done that day:

spoon fed pancakes to Anders, even though he could have eaten them himself- just to have more connection with him.

set up visiting teaching

excused a student who didn’t show up to their lesson, with patience and understanding.

had a great chat with a friend while our kids played

visited with a neighbor while on a walk

made a healthy and delicious dinner that utilized what we already had in the fridge

organized and held a sweet and effective FHE

read books to Scotland

Had a successful reading session with Scotland using puppets

sang

played the piano

wrestled with Scotland

patiently and uncritically guided Scotland through shredding the large block of cheese from Costco in the food processor.

fed Anders all homemade baby food.

played cars, puzzles, duplos and teddy bears with Scotland

harvested green beans, raspberries and tomatoes with Scotland

sent the pictures I had taken of my nephew on his baptism weekend to his parents.

scheduled a student’s lesson.

pulled a few weeds

cleaned and folded a few loads of laundry

did the dishes- a few times

swept up- several times.

pulled out homemade baby food to thaw so I’ll have it for tomorrow

determined Scotland’s clothing needs for this fall.

snuggled and kissed Anders over and over!

listened to Scotland interestedly and intently over and over

prayed

chatted with my sister

nursed Anders

read the Friend to Scotland. . .

My youngest sister who is currently 13 asked me very genuinely one time- so what do you do all day? This, Dantzel, is what I do.

 

Admitting low points

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Too often at the end of the day when I would normally blog I decide to instead hang out with Tom, or the thoughts that are streaming through my head seem too negative to share, or I’m just to fried to write anything meaningful.

I’d say in my current life one of my main struggles is finding pockets of time that are quiet and undistracted enough to really develop thoughts. There used to be nap time, but that has pretty much phased out.

I have a need for new thoughts. I think that’s why I enjoy journalling and blogging so much. It allows me to recognize and flesh out thoughts. Not blogging, for me, is a side effect of a dull mind.

Interestingly, another attribute of this period in my life is that I have more questions then answers. Perhaps listing those here will be as revealing as anything:

-Too often I feel that Scotland and I are competing. That it’s him against me. I believe a higher form of parenting would feel more like we were on the same team. How do I achieve that? The competition style of parenting is exhausting.

-Scotland asks me “Will you play with me?” hundreds of times a day. (Or more recently he’ll say “Will you talk this guy?” Handing me a car, a plastic animal, etc.) Every time he asks I feel guilty. The truth is I rarely want to sit on the floor and “talk this guy” under his strict directions. So I usually sit down and try to gear the play towards what I’d like him to do, “Let’s try these new puzzles!” “Would you like to play this math game?” He rarely wants to. So we both end up frustrated. I’m trying to be better about thinking- let him direct the play for 15 minutes, then perhaps he’ll be willing to switch gears and do what you want to do. This is just an example of the him against me situation. How does one let go of the “to-do list” and fully engage in the imaginative world of their three year old?

-I haven’t tackled a large project in what seems like forever. Tom and I have done a few projects when he’s been home, but I haven’t done much on my own. Most days I believe it when I say “That’s not my priority, it’s more important that I spend quality time with my children.” But days like today I feel frustrated that there are still no frames on the wall, I haven’t planted anything in the back flowerbeds like I’d hoped, I haven’t weeded the garden in forever, I rarely sing anymore, Scotland’s wall is still not finished, I have a deep pile of clothes to be altered/curtains to be hemmed. . . . Even sharing this list publicly sounds pathetic. All of those things are so silly, frivolous.  But the fact is they matter to me. And the fact that week after week they are left undone wears on me. How do I remove the guilt? I can’t tell you how many times I’ll think, I think I’ll spend the day going to the nursery and buying plants, and compost and then gardening- only to think “That’s a waste of time and money. . .” so I’ll putter the day away, cleaning here, playing with the boys there, reading to them, cleaning and putting away. . . feeding the boys.  . until the days is over.” I’ll look out the window the next morning and think the same thing.

-Should I just let go of the notion of keeping clothes “nice” and instead wear my “nice” clothes everyday, knowing full well that they will be stained, ripped, stretched out because of the nature of my job. If I don’t, they just hang in my closet rarely worn. Either way seems wasteful.

-How much time and money is acceptable for compiling/making Halloween costumes?

-Why do I always feel the need to do what is “acceptable?”

-Tom and I have a strict budget. It’s necessary if we are to meet our financial goals. But it is terribly confining. Some months I adhere to it strictly- purchasing nothing other than our needs. Other months I act as if I’m too busy to think about it- all the while feeling guilty for extraneous purchases I make- a shirt for Anders that will bring out his eyes, but that he doesn’t need. The large frames that will better fit our living room walls- even though we have tons of frames that aren’t even hung yet. Tom and I need very little, but we want a lot. How does one justify those feelings, when one knows how frivolous and extraneous those purchases are? I struggle to feel justified in spending money on unnecessary things when I know that every dollar spent on such, is a dollar not saved towards my children’s education. How does one determine what is provident, financially?

-More and more I’m feeling discontent with how I’m managing my life. I’m not as patient, creative, and loving as I’d like to be as a mother. I’m not as involved, serviceable and dedicated as I’d like to be as a YW leader. I’m more critical and uninterested as a spouse. I’m less self disciplined, less passionate, less committed as an individual. Looking at myself from the outside I’m disappointed with my life choices in several ways, and yet I can’t seem to change the trend I’m seeing. Admitting this publicly is embarrassing. I can’t say how many posts I have started along this line, which I have then copied and pasted to my journal. Who wants to read these depressing thoughts. And yet, all mothers feel them. So why not be open. It’s the dismissal of difficult thoughts that leads so many down dark paths of isolation. How can I free myself from negative self-criticism while motivating myself towards higher ways of living?

-I’m naturally uptight. I suppose that’s obvious consider the above writings. However, I don’t seem to know how to live any other way when one’s goal is to improve daily? (I just received my answer, from the spirit: The Atonement. I’m not using the atonement in my life.)

-How does one activate the Atonement in one’s life?

This all sounds terribly negative and defeated. I don’t feel like this all day everyday, usually I feel joyful, ecstatic, alive. But I do feel this way some parts of the day, and I feel its only open and honest to admit. How do you deal with these feelings?

 

 

Anders’ 8 month milestones

Busy, busy busy. He’s pulling himself up on everything, getting into anything. He was coloring on the walls the other day. As a result, he is typically very happy just playing. The water level has risen, significantly. Scotland is learning that he has to keep his precious things up- and that coloring, and any paper work is best done at the dining room table.

He’s switched from outright screaming when he wakes up, to a sweet and pathetic whimper, that totally plays on my heart strings.

Fascinated by wheels. He’ll hold the little hot wheels in his hand, turn them over and spin their wheels with the other hand. He chased me all over while I was vacuuming the other day trying to grab the wheels. He pushes over Scotland’s rideable “fire truck” so he can spin the wheels.

Eating off the floor. Oh the treats you can find! (He also chases me around when I’m sweeping, hoping to snag a snack or two.)

Arching. Flipping. Pushing off. He knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it. When he doesn’t want to be held, he’s nearly impossible to contain. I’m amazed at his strength, and speed. He’ll be sitting sweetly on my lab as I type at the computer and then all of a suddenly launch himself up and over the desk to palm my keyboard or grab the mouse.

Eater. He continues to want food at a steady rate. He’s getting picky and can be quite the complainer when I give him things he doesn’t want. He’ll sink back in his chair and gripe, closing his mouth. It’s hilarious. He wants what we’re eating, and if his food looks different, he’s unhappy about it. He loves bread. He’s quite good at finger foods, and gumming down large pieces of food. I can hand him an apple slice, and he’ll be content for sometime.

Smiley, smiley, smiley. He has a great sense of humor, and gives these adorable squeals when he’s excited or thinks something is fun. He’ll often pant as he crawls super fast to get to something, or if he gets excited, he’ll pant and flap his arms up and down.

He loves when I hold him and we chase Scotland. He can ride on Scotland’s fire truck now, which they both think is great fun.

Super sensitive sleeper. Tom made him a white noise machine (yes, made) in hopes of improving the situation. Anders will often wake up if Scotland just runs down the hall past his room. Its mostly a problem with naps. He sleeps great at night. Going to bed between 6:00 and 7:00 and sleeping until his 5:30 feeding, and then back to bed until 7:30ish.

He’s wearing 12-18mo clothes. I eagerly pulled out some of the 12 mo. clothes I loved on Scotland for Anders to wear (like the adorable gray skinny jeans from Mary) only to realize they were too small already! I feel like he’s doubled in weight this past week, he’s SO heavy!

 

 

 

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!