Moving

Tom and I have been talking about moving a lot these last few months. With applications and interviews for fellowship positions occurring, we’ve been forced to face the future. We love so many things about living in Seattle, but different training opportunities for Tom and a lower cost of living are forcing us to look else where. The thought of relocating is always followed by a mixed bag of emotions for me. I love novelty, and the thought of exploring a new city/area excites me. There are things about Seattle that I wish were different (namely the lack of sunshine for much of the year.) So the thought of living some place sunnier thrills me. But when I move past the niceties of those changes, and face the other realities I’m brought to tears by all I will miss when we move from here: dear friends, a wonderful  church family, and frequent visits to and from my parents and younger sisters. Then there is the home we’ve built here- the slide and fort out back, the raspberry plot that is finally producing abundantly, my perennial beds that are finally filling out, an organized home where everything has its place. All theses things take years to establish and the thought of starting again. . .

Already thoughts of what to take and what to leave have kept me up at night. Do we just sell it all and start afresh? We’d save thousands in moving expenses. But then, would we find ourselves in a new place, with a whole host of things to acquire? Or do we bring along the things we’ve come to enjoy, making the transition less severe? The minimalist side of me gets giddy with the thought of lightning our load considerably, but the practical side knows that much of the things we have, we use, and re-acquiring them would be burdensome.

Then I’ll stay up late looking at housing options in the places we’re considering, which throws open a whole new list of questions. How big of a house do we really need? Do our kids really need their own bedrooms? What length of commute is ideal? How much should we spend on a house? Would we be okay living in a townhouse without a yard? Do we have it in us to renovate another house? Maybe we’d love living in a track neighborhood with a neighborhood pool and playground. Or maybe I want to homestead.  I’ll try to explore each option in my head, predicting ramifications, and puzzling over how each choice would effect our family.

Whenever it gets too daunting, I’ll project myself 30 years. Life will be  more interesting to look back on if we mix it up every several years. Experiencing a new part of the country, with a different culture, and different demands will change us, and shape us in new ways. We’ll be able to relate and connect with a larger group of people. We’ll have a wider range of experiences. We’ll be more complex and hopefully interesting. We’ll widen our sphere of influence.

At these moments of decision and change, I’m ever more grateful for the gift of the spirit that blesses us with peace.

 

Chiara Jade Foutz: a birth story

Birth is a sacred time. I believe it should be hallowed, reverenced, prepared for. As I alluded to in this post, I spent the weeks leading up to Chiara’s birth preparing emotionally and spiritually. I wasn’t surprised when my due date came and went, and had a feeling that she would be born on Tuesday. I told my midwife this at my appointment the Thursday before and she exclaimed “Alright! That’s my day! Let’s do it!” and we gave each other a high 10.  When my water broke around 9:00PM on Monday April 4th, I was excited our baby was coming! As is procedure I called the midwives to let them know, they suggested I come in, but as I wasn’t having any contractions I suggested I wait and hour and let things start happening. Tom and I busied ourselves gathering our stuff. (Tom was SO excited!) An hour and a half later I checked back to inform them that I was still not contracting. We agreed that I’d come in, and just make sure the baby was doing okay. Caroline Hulet came over to sleep with the boys, and we headed to Northwest Hospital. Fetal monitoring showed that the baby was doing great, but the light meconium staining in the amniotic fluid resulted in our having to spend the night at the hospital. The midwife was sure that things would get moving soon and that the need for inducing or augmenting labor wouldn’t be necessary. Though she informed us that if I didn’t go into labor on my own, they would start me on pitocin in the morning. I spent a long sleepless night anxiously wishing my body into labor. I had heard that pitocin contractions were so much more painful than natural contractions and that you just didn’t get induced without an epidural because the pain was so much more intense. I worried about my hopes for an unmedicated birth. Determined to get things moving Tom and I set off to walk the halls of the hospital the next morning. (One administrator who saw us on our rounds later told me, she originally saw me from the back and thought I was a visitor, and then when she saw I was pregnant got concerned I was trying to run away!) Our speed walks were unsuccessful so around 8:00AM they started the pitocin. They fed it in super slowly (too gradually it turns out due to a miscommunication) so I didn’t start to experience painful contractions until around 12:30. We filled the morning, chatting, walking the halls, and generally trying to pass time. My mom arrived around 10:00. (Caroline took the boys to her house in the morning, and then my Dad and Dantz picked them up around 10:00 and cared for them the rest of the day.) The waiting game was hard on me. I was genuinely eager for hard contractions! (I also had a headache from uncomfortable hospital pillows and sleepless night.)

Due to the pitocin, the baby had to be constantly monitored, which meant that every 15 minutes the two nurses (Becky and Maggie) had to adjust the bands to get them to pick up baby’s heartbeat. I suppose the fact that I couldn’t sit still didn’t help! I kept hoping that walking the halls would speed things up. Finally, around 2:15 active labor started. I was so relieved, this is what I had prepared for!  This time around the birthing ball was my best friend, with my arms resting on the end of the bed I circled on the ball while Tom rubbed my lower back. Together we worked our way through the contractions. It was very much a united front, Tom was there rubbing my back, massaging my neck, and lending support through all two hours of active labor. Because of the need for monitoring the jets on the jacuzzi weren’t an option this time- which was too bad, since I had really appreciated that approach with Anders.  I got up and walked from time to time but the contractions hurt so much more when I was standing that while it felt like it lent more “progress” it didn’t feel worth it. Not to mention laboring in the hall, with so many people looking on, was awkward.  I feel the need to be very focused when I’m in active labor. Breathing and relaxing through the contractions is what allows me to cope/relax into the contraction. And having so many people in the room through the entirety of the labor wasn’t ideal. But with my eyes closed and music playing I was able to focus inward, and be one with the baby and Tom.

I was very aware of transition, and fortunately, because I identified it, was able to encourage myself through it, saying “I got this, I got this, I got this.” But I found myself suddenly annoyed by the two nurses who were never more than five feet away, watching and adjusting the fetal monitors. I suddenly couldn’t stand how strongly they smelled of purel, nor did I care for Toms un-showered un-deodorized state. I grew annoyed that things were taking so long.

While in transition, I switched to a deep child’s poise on the bed after learning that I was only measuring at a 6. (This was probably around 3:50)  As I lay there in child’s poise, my face resting in the pillow, Tom continually rubbing my back, I realized that I was controlling and preventing the tail end of the contraction from running the full length of my body. As soon as I relaxed into the final part of the contraction, it started running to the very depth of my pelvis and I went from a 6 to complete in 15 minutes. (Which meant the neo-natalogist wasn’t present, as they had hoped.)

I feel the take home lesson from labor this time, was trusting my body’s timing. I was so sick of waiting that I really wanted to push things along and my midwife said several times, “There is no need to rush.” Interestingly, it was my own involvement that resulted in the slowing of labor- even though I felt more control- I was in my own way. My body knows how to labor and I had to trust my maternal instincts and not my logical brain.

I needed someone to coach me through the breathing in the final stages but nobody did. I lost my focus, whimpering at the intense pain of the ring of fire and tissue ripping. I started hyperventilating which caused my arms to go numb. I was in an awkward position for the pushing stage, I didn’t feel very set up or supported like I had with Anders when Mary gave me detailed instruction. I suppose it’s because Michelle knew it wasn’t going to take long. I held Tom’s hand on the left and my Mom’s on the right  I gave two or three good pushes and then Michelle had me continue to push between contractions (because Chiara’s heart rate dropped to 50) and with that and two more pushes she was out! Around the third push I reached down and felt the top third of her head. This brought me such intense joy and I couldn’t help exclaim “My baby! Oh, My baby!” After the fourth push I felt Chiara kick inside of me- and I laughed as I said “She just kicked!” One more push and she was out and on my chest.  I can’t express the intense joy I felt. My eyes brimmed with tears and my lips spread wide in a smile as I held my sweet tiny little girl. I couldn’t get over how small she seemed, how beautiful she was, how much love I felt for her.

After Chiara was born she stayed skin to skin on my chest for over an hour. The nurses suctioned her, wiped her up, and checked her out without removing her. (Chiara immediately worked her way to my breast and started nursing)  Tom stayed at my shoulder, his arms encircling us. I felt such a strong bond between us this time. We were truly in it together.  I sensed more joy and confidence from Tom, more assurance and peace that “I had this.” He knew what to do, or what to ask if he didn’t.  Despite the flurry of activity from the nurses and midwife after the birth, it felt like it was just the three of us Tom, Chiara and I- wrapped in this warm light of love and unity.

Tom left to get Scotland and Anders (and my Dad and Dantzel) around 5:00. The boys were so excited to see and hold Chiara and were so sweet in the hospital. They enjoyed the celebratory meal of pizza and pop that Grandpa brought. We had bought each a small present (a foam sword and shield to “protect their sister.”) And when asked if he was ready for his present Scotland said “Baby’s the present!” When they were getting ready to go Anders asked “Baby come?” They enjoyed sitting on the bed with me and pushing all the buttons, laughing hysterically as the bed moved in all different directions.

Tom gave Chiara her first bath that evening around 10:00. (New research suggests you wait at least six hours.) I spent the night with Chiara sleeping on my chest- in complete bliss. Finally, my baby had arrived!

Now in pictures:

Brothers/ Grandparents visit:

First Bath:

Morning After:

Heading home:

It’s crazy to think that more than a week has passed since this sweet girl entered our lives. We fall in love with her a little more everyday. She loves to be cuddled close- preferring as much body contact as possible. She’ll often nuzzle her way under my chin, so I can feel her little breath on my neck as she sleeps. She’s a great nurser- patiently working with me to get a good latch. She sleeps well during the day- in the Ergo, swing, or Daddy’s lap. She isn’t keen on sleeping on her back, and so we’ve taken to letting her sleep on our chests in the rocking chair, or in the swing at night. She’s easily soothed, and, so far, seems unperturbed by the loudness and craziness around her. She likes to be wrapped tight, and enjoys her pacifier. For the first few days she mostly opened just the left eye, and even still she’s slow to open her right eye. The boys love to hold her, and are always excited when I invite them to help with her in some way. Despite being an average sized baby, we all still can’t get over how tiny she is (compared with Anders). She has long thin fingers and long thin feet. We adore her!

Happy Easter

We had a beautiful Easter- spread over a few days. We dyed eggs Friday night for “Family Fun” we hid two sets of plastic eggs inside on Sunday and then hid our boiled eggs outside on Monday (Since Sunday was rainy and cold, and Monday was beautiful.) We had our spiritual lesson on Monday for Family Home Evening, as Sunday was taken up with church and dinner with the Vogel’s. I managed to get one quite snap shot on Easter when the rain broke for 15 minutes before church. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of our family: Anders looking sweet, Scotland being silly, me smiling though clearly stressed out, and Tom trying to keep the peace. I’m not sure why Easter Sundays are always so stressful for me. I’m afraid the attempt to get two wiggly high energy boys to church without dirtying their clean pressed shirts, or rumbling their brushed hair is an overachievement. But I keep trying, unsuccessfully- adding a family picture to the equation was the sinker this year. Thanks to the classical radio station for calming my nerves before Sacrament meeting.

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IMG_4968The boys had so much fun with all the egg hunts. They loved hiding the eggs for each other, and for us. Anders ran around the yard enthusiastically, exclaiming whenever he found an egg. And Scotland was determined to find the “hard” ones we had hid for him.

I prepared the “Easter Bag” activity from the Friend, for FHE. It involved a collection of items that symbolized different events in the last week of the Savior’s life. We then read the scriptures and the boys found the item mentioned. I’m still surprised at how well my boys understand the scriptures. Anders excitedly picked up the little plastic cup when I read “Let this cup pass from me.” As is the norm their was a good measure of silliness, but I hope that the boys felt some of the spirit that I felt. Especially as I read the passage of Christ appearing to Mary before he ascended to the Father. The emotion captured there is stirring. I felt a measure of the joy Mary must have felt at seeing her Lord alive, and was glad to be able to bear testimony to the boys of the living Christ.

I’m so grateful for sacred holidays for bringing these discussions to the forefront. I’m grateful for a church that nurtures spirituality in my boys. There are few things that I love more than hearing them sing primary songs as they play- often filling in lyrics or making up melodies where their memories fail them. I’m grateful for how their testimonies strengthen mine. Mostly, I’m grateful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for filling my heart with joy, my mind with truth, and my soul with peace.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin carving:

We started the holiday festivities off at FHE on Tuesday when we carved pumpkins, halloween music playing. Scotland carved a scary face, Tom a Tiger, and I a bat. Anders painted a pumpkin. Tom had him help him clean out his pumpkin. At first Anders refused but finally got in on the fun. Scotland was meticulous with his cleaning. Even spending a good amount of time at the sink- washing it out before he felt it was ready to be carved. We all enjoyed roasted pumpkin seeds for a treat!

It took a bit of encouraging before Anders would stick his hand in.

But he finally did.

Friday morning Scotland had his preschool halloween party. The two “outings Moms”- Caroline especially went above and beyond to create this darling party for them- complete with a spooky lunch and foaming witches brew!

Preschool Party:

Church Party:

We had such a fun sweet Halloween with our little guys. Friday night we had a blast at our church’s harvest festival. A great variety of games- life size angry birds, hoop fest, cake walk, donut eating contest, face painting, magnetic fishing and bag decorating all made for a memorable night. Anders participated in everything, and had to be nearly dragged away from each activity because he just didn’t want to stop! They finished the night with the trunk or treat and were overjoyed to dump out their bags and see their spoils when they got home. Scotland, happily shared his with everyone.

Sweet Bro. Geddes letting Scotland try out his real sword.

I loved all the creativity that went into the activities. Our past bishop made this angry bird catapult based off his wife (our RS president’s) idea!

The High Priests put together this fishing activity with real poles.

This was Anders’ favorite though- balls!

Note the ring on the pumpkin- go Anders.

Trick or Treating:

Batman, Lion, Warrior Woman, and Stick man (sans mask)

Saturday night we went trick or treating in our neighborhood. It’s a sweet street, quiet with few trick or treaters and few houses. Once again it was darling to see Anders be such an active participant, he want to carry his bag, and knock at each door. He quickly got a hang of the “choose a candy” but not the “only take one!” He vigorously roared for everyone, and Scotland was super social introducing each of us and telling what we were dressed up as for Halloween. He was SOOO proud of his batman costume. I found the outfit at Goodwill and he was determined to wear it despite it being a bit too small. We borrowed the cape and mask from friends. Boy did he strut his stuff; running to feel his cape fly out behind him and showing off moves when requested at the doorstep. He was polite and grateful, and I beamed with pride at his maturity and kindness.

We came home, examined candy, and ate some while we watched Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.

It was so fun to have Tom join us this year. We had him home ALL weekend, which was treat enough for me. The boys just soak him up when he’s here. Anders, who has been sick all week, wanted to be in his arms as much as possible. And Scotland was constantly requesting another session of LEGO creating, fort building, or some other sort of play.

 

It’s fall, we went on vacation

Summer has been over for a good month, but it’s really felt like it the last week or so. There’s been a culinary shift. We eat pretty seasonally, since the bulk of our diet is vegetable based. Butternut squash has replaced green beans, applesauce- fresh berries. Today I made a batch of Myrtle’s applesauce. Grandma Myrtle was a dear friend whom we adopted in Cleveland as Scotland’s “Grandma.” She cooked great southern food, including a scrumptious applesauce. I hope I never forget the time we stopped by to visit and, as was the norm, she sat us down at her table to eat. Scotland was just starting on solids, but I gave him a taste of what amounted to apple pie in puree form, sans crust. He downed the whole bowl so fast I hardly got a taste. Myrtle happily supplied me with a large second helping. The next fall I called to ask the secret to her fabulous sauce: “Oh, you just cook down a variety of apples then add butter, sugar, and cinnamon until it tastes good!” Butter! I wouldn’t have come to that on my own. So today, I made a batch of applesauce that even Myrtle would agree “tastes good” with plenty of butter, sugar and Penzies apple pie spice. It’s divine. I think of Myrtle often, I miss her, but I feel closer to her now, that she’s in heaven. I like to think she can hear me when I talk to her, and that she checks in on me, just like she used to. We love you, Grandma Myrtle.

We spent the week in the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island specifically. One of the perks of Tom’s job is that he gets four weeks of vacation. And they can only be taken in two one week chunks and one two week chunk. We can request certain months for vacation, but specific dates are chosen for us, and they are selected in July for the following year. It forces us to plan, and make use of his time, as it is so special. It also means they don’t always coincide with family get togethers. I hate that Tom often misses my family reunions, but we appreciate that it gives us time as a little family to get away and make memories. We rented a small cabin that was right on the water. We spent our three days there playing in the sand, hiking, fishing, cooking over the fire and BBQ, eating outside, driving around the island, and enjoying the resort’s spa. The first day was gorgeous, the second rainy, and the third overcast. We made the most of the weather, hiking despite the rain, and enjoying family time playing games and reading books inside, but we were all thrilled the the rain cleared the third day so we could return to the beach, the pier, and the breathtaking outdoors. I’m really glad that we chose a place on the water, because Orcas Island has very limited public access to the water. The place we stayed West Beach Resort, had a good stretch of beach and a long dock from which to take in the scenery. The boys got drenched and totally sandy a few times each day. I was grateful that a change of clothes was only a few strides away! The ferry ride there is a good fifty minutes of sheer beauty. Islands dot the landscape in layers, with Mount Baker faint as a backdrop.

Now for pictures:

Day 1:

Ferry Ride

I tried hard to capture the beauty of the islands on our way in. But you just can’t capture the expanse. They seem to go on endlessly. It made me reflect on how incredible the human eye is. What a creative masterpiece. Despite my fancy camera, it couldn’t come close to capturing what I could see. 

Scotland was most excited about “discovering secret passage ways” in the ferry. Something he and Tom did last time they rode the ferry together. Tom as always, was willing to indulge his appetite, so the three of them set off to try out every stair well, elevator, and hallway. Leaving me to savor the wind in my hair, and the beauty before me.

I was determined to spot any whales that were had to be spotted. We were rounding the corner from Lopez island to Orcas when there they were two orca whales! We saw them dive in and out of the water several times, just as the captain instructed us all to return to our vehicles. We waited and watched a little longer before a firmer voice repeated the demand. I was tickled pink that my persistence had paid off, my wish granted, and that my two boys saw their first whales in the wild! (Lucky ducks!)

Our cabin- #4.

Beachfront property. Sigh. Scotland suggested we buy a house by the water in the future. I’m right there with you bud. (Well, except for the constant supply of sandy wet laundry!) 

Scotter and I had a blast building a “fish trap” on the beach the first afternoon, while the two other boys slept. I found that waterproof pants, boots, and rubber gloves made for a much more pleasant beach experience for me. Then I was willing to get “into it” just as much as Scotland, without getting squeamish about the bugs jumping out of the sand, or wet pants. I’d wished I would have sprung for waterproof pants for Scotland before this trip. He may be getting thigh-high waders for Christmas!

Our first night, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. A real treat since we didn’t see the sun the rest of the time we were there. We had tin foil dinners and s’mores for dinner the first night- note my boys there around the fire in the bottom right. (The tin foil dinners were a huge success- They had precooked and marinated BBQ chicken, diced baked potato, corn and onion slices. The BBQ flavored everything and the fire gave it all a delicious smoked flavor. The fact that everything was pre-cooked was key- it was just a matter of heating it up!)Day 2:

The second day it rained all day. But we were determined to make the most of it, so we set off in the morning to explore Moran State Park.

All started well. Anders and I were fully suited up- totally rain proof. Tom and Scotland were only covered on top, and had water proof shoes.

We chose the mountain lake loop, and stopped to play at the lake about a fourth a mile in. A poor decision. Scotland was thrilled to play in the water, as always, but fell in not longer after getting there. Which didn’t deter him from having a fabulous time at the lake, but did result in a less than happy camper once we hit the trail again. Let’s just say we didn’t make it the full four miles.

The boys would have happily played by the lake the whole day, throwing rocks, building boats, and being boys.

Note Ander’s rock!

After a long play session at the lake we set off again from the trail. But what followed was a good half hour of whining and crying from Scotland, negotiating/pleading/demanding from Tom and I, until finally I grabbed his hand and started skipping along belting out such greats as “Do you Ears Hang Low” and “Shinnamerinkadinkadink!” which lessened his displeasure, but didn’t completely stop it until I made him the soloist of “The Wheels on the Bus-” “The baby on the bus says: motioning to him” He immediately grew silent, laughing as over and over I sang the prompt “The baby on the bus says Scotter, that’s your part!” He thought it was hilarious and requested I sing that song the rest of the way back. Despite the emotional duress Scotland’s cold, wet state brought upon all of us we still enjoyed a beautiful, though brief hike.

Thanks to Anders rain suit. He was happy as a clam!

On our way home we saw a bunch of deer and then a huge bullfrog hoping across the road! I HAD to pull over. It’s not everyday a boy gets to see a frog that big. Of course I had to catch it, because well, that’s what you do when you see a frog right?!

The rest of the day was spent working on the Snap Circuit, reading, and goofing off in the cabin. We did head out before dinner to buy a fresh salmon to grill up, which was fabulous! Tom and I enjoyed seeing more of the island. We at dinner on the patio, listening to the rain pitter pater as we enjoyed grilled cheese and tomato soup, and salmon.

Day 3:

Anders and I were up first so we sneaked out to enjoy the early morning quiet so the other two could sleep.

We were rewarded with a bald eagle site-ing as well as fish, crabs, a starfish and of course lots of sea birds. With the rain cleared Anders enjoyed his breakfast out next to the water, and Scotter enjoyed a pre-breakfast sand session.

After breakfast, I took Scotland fishing. We rented a pole and tried our luck with hotdogs at the end of the dock. (As was recommended.) He had several tiny fish bite, and several larger fish sniff, but no takers. I was proud of his patience, and persistence, but after a good half hour lacking in excitement, he decided to move on to other things. I was surprised at my desire to teach him to fish, to show him the joys of fishing, the thrill of teasing the fish, the art of imitating the fly, worm, etc. I don’t think of myself as a fisherman, but I fished every summer growing up on our family backpacking trips, and I can appreciate the thrill of taking in a fish! I’ll admit I was disappointed that I didn’t have a license, and couldn’t try my own hand at snagging those whoppers down below.

We visited Eastsound that afternoon, it’s a charming tiny little town with a couple streets full of darling shops and restaurants. I’m always a sucker for the beautiful potted flowers tourist towns such as these support.

Day 4:

We headed back to the mainland around noon. After eating a scrumptious brunch at the Island Skillet. Fortunately the clouds had blown off and it was, again, a gorgeous clear ferry ride. We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Mt. Erie in Anacortes. The view was beyond breathtaking. Almost unworldly. Pictures can’t come close:

For future reference here’s my brief review of the vacation: We were really grateful we chose to rent a cabin instead of tent it. For one it was really wet, and we all appreciated our sleep. We had more struggles than we would have liked with Scotland. (I’m really appreciating our spacious house after our tiny cabin.) If we go again I’ll be sure to supply Scotland with water-proof gear, so he can go out whenever he wants without getting chilled. Next time I’ll plan it more thoroughly. There was a lot of “So what do we do now?” The indecision was hard on all of us. I liked having a kitchen, even though we did eat primarily pre-prepared foods. While it was nice to be there on the shoulder season because of it being quieter, and a little cheaper. I think we’ll go when the weather is more reliably nice in the future. We made the best of it, but we ended up in the cabin more than any of us would have liked. All in all we had a wonderful time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to leave behind the projects, stresses, and distractions of our home for some wonderful family time in a gorgeous place!

A post.

Oh, how I’ve pined to blog lately. I compose fragmented posts in my mind until I’m called away to more pressing matters. It’s already 10:00, and my head cold is urging me to bed, but I must write at least something. Clear my head a bit.

Here’s what’s on my mind- in no order:

Countertop choices- a most laborious decision.  I’d always barred myself from ever considering marble. Too pish-posh, high class, sophisticated. But when the woman at the slab yard suggested it as a more economical means to the earthy light look I was going for. . . I got excited. Really, marble, economical? The more I read about it and looked a pictures of it, the more my heart started to pitter patter. Something it has NOT done with any other countertop. The question is, can I live with the etching, staining, patina? Some say Marble is like your favorite pair of jeans- they only get better with time, the wearing increases their appeal. We’ll see, I’m still deep in the process of estimates, slap yard visitations, and contractor visits. Ugh!

Our “have fun” lifestyle, and it’s potential consequences- I read a blog post by a woman who spoke of her concern of the emphasis on having fun. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it.) We drop our kids off and say “have fun.” My son prays daily, “Help us to have a fun day.” We ask: “Did you have fun?” She pondered whether it might be more fruitful to ask “What did you learn? Did you get to try something new. Who did you meet? That we pray for opportunities to learn, to grow to be challenged. I’ve been pondering the idea a lot, and the lesson on “work” in RS two weeks ago only added to it. Historians refer to our era as one focused on leisure and experience. Do we undermine our growth and the growth of our children by measuring the success of a day/activity by how much fun it was, as opposed to how much was overcome, how much was tried, how much was learned? I’m stewing on it.

FHE can be powerful. It’s intended to be powerful. Scotter and I did a 1 minute puppet show of the wise man and the foolish man, using cut outs from the Friend. Scotland was thrilled to be behind the chair performing with his Mom. Anders was tickled to be watching and clapping with his Dad. In preparation Scotland and I had a good chat about how doing hard things (Building a home on a hard foundation) is often better in the long wrong, than taking the easier, shorter route. I think he got it. Foutzes to hard things, I like to chant.

While I sat and painted stones with my two boys in our backyard this afternoon I thought, this is motherhood. Here, with my boys, engaged, learning, experimenting, together. There was much mess and the clean up lasted longer than the activity. But it was worth it.

I really want to irrigate my yard. What’s the best way to do it?

My hydrangeas are stunning. They bring me such happiness.

Blackberry season is nearly upon us. I’m so excited.

I listened to this Podcast about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It stirred me. I’m wondering- how can I build more community amongst the young women in our ward. They spoke the euphoria that can come by totally immersing yourself in an activity, loosing yourself, is what they said. They spoke of artists, and athletes who were when they have completely given themselves to their performance have experienced this sort of high, even though it doing so they actually loose much of their consciousness of themselves. I’ve felt it before- “How did your performance go?” – “I have no idea!” It gave a different meaning to the scripture Matthew 10:39-“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” It is when we completely immerse ourself in our present moment- in painting with our children, talking with our mother, greeting the cashier that we find a higher level of happiness? Now how to achieve that.

I had the scariest moment of my parenting career this morning. That’s for another day. . .

I’m going to bed. Buona Notte!

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween 2014

We had a delightful Halloween. This marked Anders’ first Halloween, and Scotland’s first year going trick or treating. How I love the novelty of child rearing. It’s so fun to see holidays through fresh eyes. Scotland decided to be a dragon again. (Despite my Mom and Dantzel putting together a super fun pirate costume for him. ) Anders was a frog.

Pumpkin carving with the Joy School kids. They all oo-ed and awed when we lit him up in Anders’ dark nursery. Library Halloween story time.

Last minute costume for Ward Halloween party. (I did a bit more eye makeup after I took this picture, and it really freaked Anders out. For about 5 minutes every time he would look at me he would look away and cry. It was really sad.

Our not so ferocious dragon.Our Ward’s nursery. Scotland is sitting on the knee of his beloved nursery leader, Bro. Kohler. He is such a sweet and gentle man. He and Scotland have such a neat relationship. Whenever we visit other wards Scotland will ask, “Is Bro. Kohler going to be there?” And when I told him that in a few months he’s going to be in Primary, he asked “Will Bro. Kohler be in primary?” He really loves him.

Okay, I was pretty proud of my jack o’ lantern. He reminds me a bit of Olaf from Frozen. 

Ready to trick or treat. We went with our friends and neighbors the Hulets.

My Mom doesn’t like trick or treating, and I found myself feeling a bit that way- why would I encourage my children to go and beg for candy? I almost didn’t take Scotland out. Tom was working, it was past Anders’ bed time.  “He’ll never know” I thought. But we went, and I’m so glad we did. We had a wonderful time! We met a bunch of our neighbors. I had never really thought about Halloween as a beautiful neighborhood togetherness holiday, but it really can be. People opening their homes to others. There were very few children that trick or treated on our street so those who were giving out candy were really excited to do so and were so kind and attentive to our kids. All of these homes that we have walked by a hundred times finally had inhabitants, with faces. It made me want to pull together a block party next year. I live around wonderful people, and I’d love to get to know them all better.

 

Excuse the near-naked shot of my son, but this was perhaps my favorite part of the whole night. (Not the nakeness, he was just distracted midway through getting his pajamas on.) I’m really strict with treats. Scotland next to never eats candy, and rarely eats dessert in general. So when he asked if he could eat some candy my first response was, “You can eat one piece and then its time for bed.” (This being the norm, he didn’t protest.) But remembering that in Tom’s family the policy was (as he can remember it) “You can eat as much as you want on Halloween, but then only one piece the days following” I decided to follow suit. Scotland was shocked and thrilled. When we got home he dumped out his candy (all of which is pictured) and systematically went through piece by piece trying each one, and always sharing equal parts with me. Most of these candies he had never eaten before. The novelty of the gobstopper turning colors, or the three round balls inside the whopper package was thrilling. He commented on each one, analyzing it, observing it. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. He was intent in sharing everything equally with me, which melted my heart. I didn’t really want most of the candy, but I couldn’t turn down his generosity. Sitting there on the floor watching his intense enjoyment I felt for a moment that I had returned to my childhood body and mind. I had flashbacks of Brigette and I’s own heated candy trades, and the joy of candy was fresh in my mind. It was a moment I hope I never forget. A moment I’m so glad I didn’t pass up in the rush to bed, and the pursuit of health.

Some friends of ours invited Tom and I to their Halloween party. It was super impressively done and so much fun. They even had a Clue-inspired mystery that ended in a coffin. It was fun to have a reason to get dressed up, and to spend time with some great friends sans kiddos. 

These are all the ladies I serve with in the YW: Kathy Griffard, Kelly Lee, Lindsay Arb and Elyse Shuldberg. Love them! (Kathy- aka Ms. Peacock, made her and her husband’s costumes, she’s amazing.) 

Tom decided to utilize his Venetian mask, and dressed up as a plague doctor. I followed suit as a Venetian dressed up as a Greek Goddess. Not too shabby of a costume for having thrown it together day of from the 75% off rack at Goodwill! Tom and I haven’t been to a party like this for a while and I was reminded of how much fun he is. He really got into the drama of the Clue mystery, which surprised me. I love that man!

Thanks Kathy and Andrew for the invite. We had a great time. 

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!

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.