Kruckeberg Botanical Garden

We’ve been wanting to explore Shoreline’s Kruckeberg Botanical Garden since we moved here. Finally a few months ago we took advantage of a gorgeous day and headed over there after Joy School. We packed a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Because of another appointment we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked and were only able to explore a small portion of the gardens. So, we’ll be back.Fairy house

There is a whole section devoted to fairy gardens. Anyone can come and build one. There is quite a collection of them. It was so enjoyable to see the different materials used- all natural to create these mini get aways.

Stunning root ball sculpture

This climbable sculpture is made from the root ball of a tree. The artist found it in the Columbia River and retrieved it, polished it, added some hand holds and copper accents (that you can’t see) and it was later installed in the garden. It was lowered down by a huge crane. We sat on the benches nearby and ate our lunch. It was such a serene beautiful place. Every time I spend a part of my day doing something like this I’m reminded of the beauty of our earth and the importance of stepping out of the rat race from time to time to just “be.”

Atop the sculpture

Fall Staycation- September 2014

So I’m WAY behind in my blogging. So in order to get these pictures down for memories sake, here goes. Picture overload. Tom got a week off in September. We considered going somewhere like the Oregon coast, but I was so vacationed out and Tom was thrilled at the idea of just being home so we decided to stay home and staycation it.

On our way to the mountains trying our first Zeke’s Burger. We’ll be back! Yum!

Discovering caves in the root balls of enormous old growth trees

Barclay Lake

“Fishing.” We found some line and a bobber with a hook on the shore, attached it to a stick and he was thrilled! No fish needed.

Our mountain boy.

Lynnwood pool

Taking the Amtrak downtown- this was so fun. The tracks go along the water and it’s very picturesque, if you’re a local and you haven’t done it taking the train from Edmonds to Seattle was a real treat.

Then we stepped out into this gorgeous train station. Who knew this even existed? (Probably everyone else in Seattle.) I love surprises like this. Especially in ones hometown! I felt like we were in Europe!

Another thing we happened upon. A beautiful patio next in honor of the birthplace of UPS.

Red boots.

Amazing lunch at Il Corvo.

Butterfly exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

Boating on Lake Union- ever trying to be frugal I’m always looking up free things to do in Seattle. In my search I discovered that with a Seattle Public Library card you can get free museum passes to a variety of museums around town. One of the free passes was a free 1 hour boat rental at the Center for Wooden Boats. It was so fun! We rowed around in Lake Union taking in the city from the water, watching the sea planes take off around us, and watching a huge yacht come in. Anders was NOT a fan of his life jacket. He screamed most of the time we were on the boat. You’d never know from the beautiful picture below. Thank you pacifier.

Scotland on the other hand, loved it. About half way through he decided it would be super fun to jump in and spent the rest of the time trying to convince either Tom or I do jump overboard. 

Typical grin

What’s a Staycation without delicious home cooked meals? (Especially when they’re prepared by your husband.)

And of course home renovation. We’ve been wanting to open up our kitchen for a while, and finally decided to go for it. We know full well that it will stay “industrial chic” for a while, but that is A-okay. We LOVE the openness. Yes Tom usually does demo in collard shirts- He’s stylin’ like that. (Ok, no, this is an after work demo session.) The major projects during our Staycation were actually moving the washer and dryer from the kitchen to the storage room, and installing closet organizers in our bedroom. The first project was probably the largest project Tom has ever undertaken. It involved plumbing, HVAC, and electricity, the results are terrific, and a real quality of life improvement. No more baskets of dirty laundry in the kitchen. I was in charge of the closet organizers, and am quite proud to say that I installed them 99% myself. Despite the large amount of home renovation I’ve done, I’ve always been a bit shy with a drill. No longer!

Scotland: Quotes and updates

“The one with the long hair, who’s kind of funny looking. Is that our sister ancestor?” (We’ve been talking a lot about our ancestors lately. Scotland loves to sit on my lap and look at pictures, and I love telling him of his inspiring heritage. I’ve never heard him say “funny looking” before. And now I’m a bit nervous where he picked it up. (From me of course. Let’s hope I was pointing to a cartoon in a book when I first voiced it.)

“I’m grateful for my taste buds and my lungs.” (Scotland has an impressive memory for words and LOVES to use them. He wants to understand and will often ask me to define words. Just this afternoon he asked “What does generous mean?”)

“Actually, my name is Samuel. But you can call me Crash Man!” About 60% of the time Scotland takes on the persona of the imaginary Samuel. Samuel is older, faster, and stronger. Fortunately for me Samuel is also very well behaved. He’ll often start a conversation with this. “My name is Samuel. . .” and then go on to tell an imaginative account of his life. When he’s Samuel he calls me Kjirsti. His ability to categorize the real and pretend is quite impressive. He knows that when he’s Samuel he has much more license with his life, so he resorts to it more often. Samuel flies to Italy, Samuel often doesn’t have parents, Samuel can know things that Scotland’s Mom can’t. It’s typically quite hilarious. Many times I’ll say, Scotland, It’s time for dinner. To which he’ll respond. “No, I’m Samuel.” As I write this I’m thinking its time for me to reread my Calvin and Hobbes so I can view all this in the right light. Either my child has a neurosis or a terrific imagination.

Always the silly boy.

A month back I whispered in Scotland’s ear “Do you know what? I love you to the Moon and back.” To which he turned around and said “I love you to the Sun and back!” That game is a bit old now, but we used to often play the game “How much do you love Anders/Daddy/me.” Scotland continues to enjoy comparative language and is always keen to be faster, taller, stronger, etc. It is when I point out that, no, actually I am taller. That he says: “Oh, My name is Samuel. . .”

“Actually. . .” He learned it from me and says it all the time. 

“Would you like to see my coins?” For a couple of weeks he was asking me this a dozen or so times a day. He must have sensed my weariness, because now he says something more like “Would you like to play a coin game with me?” Scotland is a fixating type. He always has something that he is obsessed with. Right now it is coins. He has a collection that includes three half dollars, a scattering of nickels, dimes, and pennies, as well as coins from Egypt, the Dutch Antilles, Mexico and Canada (we bulked up his Canada collection when we were there two weekends ago- to his absolute thrill!) Every few days or so he changes up how he keeps his coins: plastic bag, money purse, cardboard box, backpack, plastic bag again, music box, jar, you get the idea… Despite the transient nature of his coins he keep meticulous care of them and has lost very few.

 

“I don’t want any where they are mean or grumpy or scary.” “How come?” “Because it makes me feel sad.” As I mentioned in a previous post Scotland has come to really love listening to and watching audiobooks on youtube. There are few from the SAG that are a bit scary. He always requests that I skip those ones. He may have inherited my sensitivity.

“Are these real?” Because of night time fears Scotland and I talk often about what things are real and what things either don’t live on the earth any more (dinosaurs), or are pretend (dragons). He will often ask when we’re reading books- “Are these real?” (pointing to whales, crocodiles etc. He has an impressive understanding of pretend vs real as a result, and will often clarify as we play together.

Slime, part of our Halloween celebration at Joy school. The boys (and especially Anders) loved it. Our one girl, Ava, said and I quote “It’s going to ruin my nails.”

“I love Joy school!” Scotland really enjoys his preschool group. (Even though he can be quite a rascal during it sometimes.) He loves having his friends over, and I love when he’ll say “I learned that at school.” Its been really good for him. His social skills have improved and I love that he has twice weekly opportunities to work on “talking it out,” problem solving, and sharing. As much as teaching preschool is time consuming and energy draining, I have really loved being able to weave the things we are learning in Joy school throughout our day. Every unit of Joy School comes with a list of book recommendations. Most of them are really old, but I’ve been surprised at how influential it has been to read a bunch of books on the same theme. Our current unit is “Friendships and relationships” and reading books like “The Rainbow Fish.” “Enemy Pie” “Let’s be Enemies” and “The Quarreling Book” have given us lots of opportunities to talk about how to work through difficulties with friends, and how important it is to be friendly and inclusive.

It’s faded out a bit now, but last month Scotland was totally immersed in writing. He’s learned his pencil grip and can write all the letters in his name. he loves to draw smiley faces. He was continually asking “Do you want to draw with me?!” I love how children go through “sensitive periods.” It makes me so glad that I can be home with my boys so that when they are super excited about one thing I can really gear our play and enrichment around that. We can thank the book “Dog Loves Drawing” for Scotland’s interest.

Got to love the difference in faces. Poor second child. 

Scotland has been working so hard at interacting with Anders appropriately. Applying the tenant “A misbehaving child is a misunderstood child.” I realized that often Scotland was doing things because he didn’t know better ways of dealing with the situation. Like lying on top of Anders to stop him from grabbing his toys instead of asking for my help, putting the toys up, or giving Anders a different toy to play with. Once again I’m realizing that you have to teach children everything.

The random paraphernalia that rotates through Scotland’s “Treasures.” 

Scotland has caught on to the Frozen craze. He loves to throw his white crocheted blanket over his shoulders and pretend to be Elsa as it trails behind him. When Tom took him to the Dollar store and told him he could choose one thing he picked a back of rings. He recently finished chapter 29 in his reading book and so was able to pick something from our prize box. He chose the Fairy wings. (Tom and I try to keep our chuckles to ourselves, but can’t help but wonder if we ought to say something. .   nah! Think “Lord of the RIngs” and “Epic.”)

Home Picts

So a few weeks ago I asked for help on home decor issues. A few people requested pictures. So here they are:

Wow this picture makes me think I should up cleaning this brick wall on the priority list. Eek! I’d like something above the fireplace. I can’t decide whether I should just hang frames, mount a floating shelf. Build a mantel around the pellet stove?

I love this from Jennasuedesign.

I adore my piano, But I think it needs something more around it to balance out the height. I’m planning on buying a big plant for one side, and then I’d like some frames on the wall- maybe scrap the stuff on top of the piano and make a gallery wall around it. Down just one side?

My friend Elisabeth suggested doing some frames like this along the top- all the way up to the ceiling. I like the eclectic look. But worry I couldn’t pull it off.

One thing I realized as I was talking to her is that I don’t like how dark my living room feels. It doesn’t bother me until this time of year when it gets dark at 4:30, but then I start to wish I had lighter walls, lighter furniture. I’m really tempted to sell my champagne colored chairs and repaint my walls a lighter color. Maybe if I just got some light colored frames no the wall it would offer more highlight. What do you think?

Another view of the piano wall.

And for those who haven’t seen our new “open layout.” 

The plan is to completely remove those 2x4s, obviously. It will entail hiring a contractor to move the load bearing support beam to the corner. We could leave the opening where it’s at or take it to the other side of the intake vent (see bottom left) What would you do? I’m pretty sure we’ll leave it where it’s at because I like having the wall between the kitchen and the front door- not to mention I like those upper cabinets there. But I can still gaze out my huge picture windows while I cook and see the entire living room. The plan is to have a bar/peninsula where the opening is. We’ll get a slide in range, and then extend the countertop 12-14 inches. What would you do with the wall next to it. Just sofa table with frames above, or built-ins? I’m nervous having the wall half cut out is going to look dorky. How do I make it look cohesive?

I just think this looks a little dorky. I’m not planning on having the higher bar, maybe that will help it feel like more of the kitchen- and not like there are bar stools floating around in the living room. Ideas?

Maybe I should scrap the bar and do something more like this:

Ahhhh! It’s so hard to know.

Update: Reporting a rise back to “normal”

Perhaps the only thing I remember from college orientation was this advice. “At some point during college you are all going to call your parents and tell them that everything is going horribly, you hate college, or you feel like you’re failing, or something. Do me a favor- and when things have turned around and you’re loving college again, your succeeding- call them again and tell them! Too often we report when we’re low but never when we’re high.” A month ago I wrote a post during a low. I re-read it tonight and was struck by how many of those problems that seemed so insurmountable that week, that night, aren’t even issues anymore. I complained that I never had quiet time for deep thinking- that the cessation of Scotland’s afternoon naps had resulted in the extinction of my personal time. It seems silly now, but I had the hardest time coming up with a solution to that problem. Now Scotland has a quiet time for 45 minutes, after which he can come downstairs and play quietly, or listen to audiobooks for another hour. (We recently found this youtube station which is our favorite. If you have kids, check it out. It’s amazing!) Because I’ve been consistent he knows that that time is also my quiet time- so he can’t talk to me (well at least not constantly :)) and he needn’t ask to play with me. As a result I have felt such freedom in knowing that I have an hour and a half each day that I can plan to do whatever I need. Sometimes I waste it away with general home upkeep, but other times I’ve had soulful study sessions, or lively phone calls. It’s when I can blog or work on a difficult project. Knowing that I will have that time to attend to tasks has made it so much easier to be present during the 15-30 minutes of Scotter-led play earlier in the day.

I was feeling overburdened with Scotland’s requests for me to play with him. So I created a daily schedule. He now knows that there will be no playing until after he’s ready for the day, we’ve eaten breakfast and he’s done his chore. (It turns out that that chore buys me TONS of non-guilt refusals because it generally takes him a while and I can say, I can’t play with you until you’ve finished your chore.) It’s also been nice for me to say, sorry I can’t right now I have to do my chores- placing myself under the same obligation of duty as he has and freeing me to take care of the general home maintenance that stresses me out when it goes undone.  There is great power in “Rules.” Scotland is much more obedient when I say “Sorry that’s the rule.” Then “I don’t want you to do that.” I’ve also upped his social interactions considerably and that has helped fill his need for playmates, without that playmate always being me. Obvious, right. (Thank you Sarah.)

I’ve started to schedule in projects. Sunday nights I plan my week, and just knowing that after the kids go to bed I’m going to hem curtains helps me have the motivation and energy to do it, instead of wasting the evening away looking up random things on the internet. I’ve also let go of “is this worth my time.” If it’s something I keep thinking about, it’s worth it to me to attend to it. It’s amazing how good it feels to have finally checked off a few projects. I’m still working on hanging frames. I might have a complex.

I mentioned that I wasn’t using the Atonement. Well, I am now. I’ve started to call upon the Lord more, and it has changed me. The last three weeks I have felt so enamored with motherhood. I’ve regained my fascination with Scotland’s daily developments, with his silly fixations, and his deep questions. I’ve felt more of a desire to soak up Anders- to hold him longer, and sing to him more. The Lord has blessed me with a broader perspective of motherhood and I’ve been awed by the career I’ve chosen. (I’ve also decided to call myself a professional mother- but more on that later.)

I’ve stepped it up in my Young Women’s calling. Staying up later, brainstorming more. It’s brought a lot of fulfillment. I love my girls, I’m so excited for their futures. And I want so deeply to help them recognize and then desire to realize the potential within themselves.

I’ve scrapped the budget. :) It’s amazingly liberating. wink wink.

 

 

Mmmm!

I love it when I swing through Goodwill quick and come out with just what I was looking for. Durable binders- brand new. Running shoes for Scotland. And tempura paint- well didn’t go in looking for that but. . .

Decorating doldrums

Perhaps it’s the change of weather, the fact that it’s dark so much earlier, that my shades are drawn longer, or that we’re inside more, but I’ve felt an overwhelming desire to decorate my house. To make it cozy, inviting. To make it- me. I pulled out the frames, the nails, the hammer, determined to make it happen. I held things up, trying to get a sense of what they looked like from an arm’s length. I even pounded in a nail. I cut out templates that I silly puttied to the wall. I looked at it, then left it. Then I took it all down, and put everything away. Again.

I just can’t wrap my mind around this home of mine. I just can’t seem to catch the vision of how to make it all work. (It doesn’t help that it’s mid-construction.)  The floor to ceiling brick fireplace throws me for a loop. What do I do there, especially when the pellet stove isn’t centered? I have very little wall space, thanks to beautiful big windows, but I want pictures of my kids, I want places to display things that brings back memories, make me smile, or just bring beauty. But then my minimalist side starts to get all tight and worried that things will start to feel to crowded, cluttered. I worry that my tendency toward symmetry won’t fit with my asymmetrical mid-century modern home.  I babysat a friend of mine’s kids at their house today, and I was so charmed by her beautiful home. Her home has just as many quirks as mine, and shares the mid-century modern style, and yet she has embraced it whole heartedly to lovely effect. I came back and looked at my home with fresh eyes. Hungry eyes. It looked so bare, so unattended.

I keep asking people to come help me, but I think they think I’m kidding. Like it’s just some kind compliment to their good taste. But I’m NOT kidding. I need some moral support here. Some assurances, some encouragement. Somebody, help!

 

Changing perspectives

annoying-playful

obnoxious- curious

over-active- energetic, lively

chatterbox- social

poorly dressed- independent

pompous- confident

misbehavior- misunderstood

I’ve been surprised at how changing my view of some of Scotland’s behaviors/characteristics can completely alter my feelings towards him. Words are powerful. When I see Scotland’s endless questions as innocent curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, a sign that I am raising a confident child, I am happy to answer each succeeding question. Too often I wave them off as him being annoying, demanding, disrespectful when that’s not the spirit in which they were issued. And likewise, even if they were delivered in such way, when I ignore that behavior and instead treat him as if he was being sincere, he usually becomes as such. I’ve been trying to treat Scotland more like I would if he were an adult. That means not demanding that he drop everything and do what I say, when I say it, but instead respecting that he was doing something he deemed valuable and that I should instead say “When you’re done with X, will you please do Y?” (It’s shocking how much more quickly he responds when I ask like this.) Interestingly, in my pursuit of treating him with more respect, it has been easier for me to require him to treat me with more respect- and he has been much more willing to do it. Funny how we treat children as lesser beings, and then punish them when they act like it. Scary how closely our children mirror our own behavior.

Choosing difficulty

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5

 

I’ve been thinking about the benefits of hardship lately. I naturally waffle between choosing the harder way and striving for a “more gentle life” (as Tom puts it). I recently read, or rather, listened to, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I highly recommend the book. I love Gladwell’s writing style, and find his subject matter fascinating. This book, like Outliers, left me with LOTS of food for thought. But perhaps the take home message for me was this: don’t avoid hardship, and don’t create an atmosphere where your children are protected from challenge and difficulty. Overcoming challenge is invigorating and builds confidence. The realization that one is stronger, smarter, more capable than one knew brings euphoria. Trials are part of life, learning to use them to our benefit is the goal. It reminds me of a tenant of the “Positive Discipline” school of thought- celebrate mistakes as an opportunity to learn. This idea has been life changing for me- as cliche as that may sound. I’ve slowly become less hard on myself, more willing to lay the past aside and look to the future. I’ve become more patient with Scotland’s foibles, teaching him- “It’s okay to spill your milk, you just have to clean it up.” I’ve turned to my Savior more, admitting weakness, and seeking strength. When you’re hit with hardship you have two choices, let it sink you, or figure out how to rebuild. And when a building is rebuilt after a storm, it is almost always stronger.

While listening to David and Goliath I have also been reading The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister. (I also highly recommend this book.) The book talks of the importance of “The Fall” Adam and Eve’s choice to partake of the forbidden fruit, and thereby be removed from the garden. There are varying interpretations of this event, but I believe that Eve’s choice was one of strength, wisdom, and selflessness. She knew that without partaking of the fruit she could not bare children. And family was her desire. She also knew that her choice would remove her from the idyllic, peaceful, carefree living environment that she was then enjoying. She knew that without hardship, without trial, she could not reach her full potential. And so she ate, and now we  are all opportune to the same “wilderness” of difficulty. The same potential for growth.

I like the gentle life. I avoid hardship. I prefer to stay in my comfort zone. But, looking to Eve, I have been inspired to seek progression through sacrifice and difficulty.

My baby is 9 months!

Swinging in Klamath Falls

There’s something special about the nine month mark- it means he’s been out as long as he was in. To me Anders feels like he’s 18 months old. Because that’s how long he has been on my thoughts, part of our life, in my heart. If I were to choose a theme song for Anders it would be “You are my sunshine.”

Selfie- not really

He’s near constant smiles, and quick to sparkle eyes make him a joy to parent. I love how he hugs me with his arms squeezed in between he and I’s chests. I love how he lights up and speed crawls, panting like a puppy when he sees me.

adoring his brother

I love how observant he is of all the Scotland does, how we waves his hands and swings his feet when he sees him- (especially when he knows he’s in the safety of my arms!) I love watching him discover and experiment with the world around him. He’s particularly drawn to age-INappropriate toys- the things he sees Scotland entranced by- sticks, colored pencils, coins. He’s pulling himself up on everything- he walked behind the bike he pulled himself up for a few steps yesterday. He can stand by himself, holding nothing, for a good 30 seconds if the conditions are right.

Excited about the food truck in Portland.

He eats as much food as Scotland, and prefers what we’re eating, not some separate mash.

Loving library story hour

 

He’s very social and loves it when Scotland’s friends are over or when we’re out and about and he can test just how many grandma’s he can light up with his smiles.

He’s sleeping well, a 45minute nap in the morning, a near two hour nap in the afternoon, and then he prefers to be in bed by 6:00pm.

Playing with dump trucks at Grandma’s

He’s communicating so much more clearly now. He’ll come and start climbing up my leg when he’s ready for his nap. If I put him off for too long he’ll start giving me open mouthed kisses. It’s obvious when he’s unhappy with what I’m feeding him, and he’s clear when he’s done eating. (Which is always much later than you’d think!) He can grunt so loud its incredulous when he’s hungry- or when the food isn’t coming fast enough.  He knows that either I’ll come to the rescue or Scotland will stop if he gives a good wail when Scotland is harassing him, so he jumps to that reaction more quickly. He’s learning to push Scotland away, and grunt if he’s unhappy with how he’s being treated. He loves to squeal, make a popping sound by sucking both lips and releasing them, buzzing his lips, and recently acquired a convincing growl. He can say ma, da, ga and several other sounds. He’s waiving at people now, and I could have swore he said “Hi” to someone the other day. He often crawls to me saying “mamama” But I can’t be sure he’s actually addressing me.

He loves the bath, and tipped himself so strongly over the side of the tub trying to get in the other day that I had to catch him and pull him back- otherwise he would have went in head first! He loves dogs. And continues to be totally tickled by our Joy School puppet. He recognizes his name.

Quality time with Dad

He’s a bit mischievous. Already if he’s caught doing something he’ll look at me, smile, and take off!

He has two teeth. Is wearing 12-18 month clothes and is near 22lbs. He has a rotund belly, chunky thighs, and the cutest little dimples you ever did see. We love our little Anderoo. He is my sunshine. I”m not sure I’ve ever smiled more on a daily basis.