Friday, August 31, 2012

Birthday Boys...

Seriously though, how cute are these two???
And in honor of the season opener tomorrow - GO DUCKS!!!
Emmitt was born just three days after Matt's birthday (barely).  He was almost here on August 23rd, which would have made Matt's birthday, Matt's Dad's birthday, and Emmitt's birthday August 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, but alas he came at 1:03 in the morning on the 24th.  I guess he just needed some space.  I don't mind because now both of my children have birthdays that are multiples of eight. And yes, I am probably the only one that thinks about things like that... AND Matt's Dad turned 29 the year Matt was born, just like Matt turned 29 the year Emmitt was born.  Again, I'm probably the only one that discovers things like this.  Speaking of which, just to humor you all, I discovered at some point this summer that between all my siblings and the "add-ons" (That's a shout out for you, Haley! ;) for the next month our ages are 27 (David and I), 28 (Krista), 29 (Josh), 30 (Matt), 31 (Jordan), and 32 (Haley). Jordan ruins it when he turns 32 in October and then we'll have to wait for it to be realigned next year after Matt's birthday. Unfortunately Jess is too young to play a significant role in the number game, but we still love her!

Anyway, that's not the point of this blog, the fact that I see in numbers on a regular basis, the point is that my boys had birthdays this week! Matt turned the big 3-0 and Emmitt had his first birthday! We took our time celebrating last week.  We ate steak and potatoes with cupcakes for dessert on Matt's birthday, headed to the zoo as a family on Thursday and topped off our day with Red Robin and then had family over to celebrate Emmitt on Friday night.  All in all, plenty of cupcakes, ice cream and candy was consumed, which made it a great week, AND we got to love on our two favorite boys. ;)

Evidently our only zoo pictures were taken on the tractor.  It's hard chasing kids and taking pictures!

About three months ago I got super excited when I thought about having a "Bug" party for Emmitt.  I've called him Em-Bug ever since he was born and I couldn't wait to buy all sorts of bug candy in bulk from Winco.  So pretty much the party involved candy and dirty cupcakes.  Peanut Butter and honey butterfly sandwiches and bug juice.  Cheap and fun. =) And thanks to Ramie's cricket, I used scrap book paper that's been sitting in my garage for five years to make a birthday banner. 

Our birthday boy was all smiles, as usual...

Until he lost his shirt and tried stealing other people's food. Then life became real serious again. 

Typical one year old birthday experience, all the big kids opening his presents for him.  And in case you're interested there happened to be a really funny birthday post just two days after this on the blog Calling All Cool Moms.  My brother told me about it.  It must just be wishful thinking on his part, or maybe he thought I was cool enough and didn't want me to miss out.  Either way, you should read it.  She's funny.  

Matt's birthday dinner and Madi's excitement about his birthday cupcakes we made. 

The birthday boy eating his cupcake! We actually forgot to do this at his party, so we did it the next day in the sunshine. =)

I feel pretty lucky to have these two boys in my life! Even if 30 is old...

 **cough, cough** 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Year...

Just when I figure out how to mother a kindergartner, it seems, I have a first-grader standing before me instead. I have just learned how to love and live with a nine-year-old when the nine-year-old vanishes, leaving a preadolescent in his place. They don't stay still long enough for me to have my fill of them ever, at any stage. "Stop!" I want to shout. "Let's just do it this way for a while, let's stay right here." But the movement is inexorable--up and out, away, into the future.
~ Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God

I have plenty of adorable pictures showcasing my sweet children and our last week of summer together as a family.  We celebrated Matt's 30th and Emmitt's 1st birthdays last week and I could spend a whole post on each of them alone, but this week begins another new chapter in our lives.  As far as I can predict, our lives will always revolve around the school year starting and ending as the "beginning of the year". I don't mind, in fact, I absolutely love that our seasons seem to fall perfectly in line with our lives.  The weather starts to get cooler and the leaves start to turn colors and fall to the ground at the same time that we start setting our alarms a little earlier and gearing up for a new routine, shedding the unnecessary and focusing on what is most important during what seems like less time in each day.  I've probably mentioned it before, but I officially resigned from my position as a teacher for the NSSD last March to stay home full time with our kiddos.  It was a hard decision to say the least, but I'm thankful for God's provisions and the opportunity I have to be Mommy day in and day out to our two beautiful children.  

It was hard to leave Madelyn when she was a baby, but I knew she was in good hands with my mom and sister-in-law.  When I found out I was pregnant with Emmitt, I knew it would be even harder to leave both babies for two long days each week and we prayed for direction and felt a peace about me taking a year off.  I knew in my heart that a year would fly by and I dreaded coming to an ultimate decision this last March, but again it was clear to both of us that asking for another leave of absence would just be delaying the inevitable - it was best that I resign and embrace this season of life.  

It's hard leaving babies, but it's even harder to leave small children who are constantly learning the ways of the world on a daily basis.  As wonderful as our family and friends are, no one can teach life like mommies can.  

As the days have gotten shorter (again) and our evenings have cooled off faster, the smell of a new school year is in the air.  I wish I could say it is easy to let go of a career and  job that I love, but it hasn't been.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be home with our children, but this time of year I'm constantly reminded of all the fun things about teaching.  Just thinking about organizing a classroom can literally make me salivate. Seeing work friends after spending summers away from each other is always exciting, and of course the rewards of creating relationships with students and watching them flourish can hardly be captured in words.  On the flip side, just like mothering, teaching isn't all roses and chocolates... the days are l.o.n.g., and if they aren't, than a thousand things are left undone and it's hard to get the job done well.  

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend that has happened a few times since I resigned last year.  It started out with something like, "So what are you going to do this year?" I knew the real answer was a whole list of house chores, changing diapers, etc, etc., but instead I answered with the same thing I have been telling people, I'll sub a few days a month and tutor through the district for a few hours a week.  Let's face it, our society has little, if any, respect left for the full time job of mothering, and we all know it's a less than glorified position that comes with zero vacation days and no sick time... but alas, the beautiful reward of sticky hugs and snotty kisses.  

Occasionally, you'll hear the opposite from people, what a luxury it is to stay home with your children. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful to be home full time, but I'm afraid it would only be a luxury if I had a live in maid and full time cook.  

Although I generally love playing the frugal game, there are days when I wish so badly we didn't have to buy everything on sale or wash ziploc bags and reuse them (Okay, that's probably just my mom coming through in me...) We've worked so hard to live "debt free", which is one of the main reasons I'm able to stay home now, but it doesn't mean I still don't stress over where the money is going to come from for Matt's next masters' class or what would happen if one of our less-than-new cars dies for good.  The comfort of money sends me a false signal that I can take care of all of our burdens by myself; when in reality it wouldn't matter how much money we had stashed away, our God is in control... He's clearly provided for us this far, and I don't doubt He will continue to.  

I recently had the opportunity to take a long-term sub job (about 6 weeks) and I wanted to take it SO bad.  Mostly for selfish reasons, Halloween party, Christmas party, extra money, getting out of the house, but after prayer and my husband's wise instinct, I turned it down.  It was during the middle of basketball season when Matt is gone the most and he really appreciates me being home a lot when he's gone.  I completely respect this and I'm glad I was able to lean on his shoulder to make this decision. 

So as we begin this new year in life, I'll embrace the most important classroom; the one I have here at home.  Our sweet Madelyn is soaking up every word she hears, and even though I'm probably in denial, Emmitt is headed fast down the same road. 

This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"
...the chief end of [their lives] is the salvation of [their] soul[s].
~J.C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Growin' Up!

This time next week our little monster will be ONE! I can't believe it's been a whole year since I was months (close enough) overdue with this little man.  And then he came like a thief in the night and he's melted our hearts ever since... He's got the smoochiest cheeks in the world, the bluest eyes on the planet and the flirtiest head tilts I've ever seen.  He already knows how to stick his lip out and tilt his head down when he wants sympathy and he has definitely got his Mama wrapped around his finger. 


It's rough being this cute. 

And it's no wonder he's earned himself the nickname Mr. Smooch'ems...


You'd smooch him too, if you could reach through your computer screen.  

A friend watched him for us during rehearsal dinner last week and she made the comment that he instantly started smiling and posing when she pulled her phone out.  He's used to the paparazzi, what can I say...

It's true though.  He's much easier to take pictures of than Madi because he thinks the camera is funny and the flash is even funnier! It's hard to resist not snapping way too many!

Alright, in other news, this boy's a walkin' and a talkin' and a gettin' himself into just about everything.  He LOVES being outside and he really loves playing with his sister!

This silly girl is the best big sister around! She's always looking out for her brother and taking care of the rest of us.  She packs snacks for him when I forget.  She remembers his blanket and almost always has a toy for Em in one of her gagillion bags.  I'm totally lost when she doesn't come with me.  It sucks trying to remember everything by yourself. What did I ever do before she was so self-sufficient? 

I'm so happy these two are the best of friends.  It's so cute to watch them play and laugh together.  I can't wait to watch their relationship develop even more as they grow up.  

The other day Madelyn wanted to try on my wedding ring and while she was putting it on I asked her if she ever planned on getting married.  She said yes.  I asked her who she wanted to marry and she said, "Um, Daddy, or maybe Emmitt if he ever turns free {three}." 

I'm sure she'll change her mind in a few years, but she sure does love her baby brudder!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Number Nine...and the First Horse Head-butt!

Yesterday we celebrated our nine year anniversary! Matt had planned (but then told me about, so not technically a secret ;) a whole day in Pacific City, complete with a horse back ride on the beach. I was super excited, as I love horses and never get the chance to ride them.  We got there a few minutes early, changed (I had pulled out jeans, but forgot to actually pack them... thus the shorts on a horse), and chatted with the cowboy that owns the guide business.  I was excited when I got assigned Charlie because his blanket matched my shirt and I knew we'd make a great picture. =) Matt humored me and took this picture right before the big injury. 

Yup, you read that right. 

So... right about now is when I should warn you that this story is about as weird as it sounds.  I grew up riding horses with friends (lots) and loved it.  We always begged my parents for a horse, but they constantly declined with the excuse that my dad was very allergic to them (which is true), although I would argue the real reason was that they're just flat out expensive.  Needless to say, I'm not scared of horses nor have I ever had any horse casualties... 

Anyway, you can't tell from this picture, but there were two little girls (like 15ish and 11ish, maybe?!?) that kept trying to move the horse to a different spot by pulling on his bridal strap.  Meanwhile, I had leaned down to put my foot in the left stirrup and the horse got tired of the girls tugging on either side and whipped his head back at the same time.  The result was a head butt by the horse to my right forehead.  Although it wasn't that big of a deal, I had an instant headache and a fairly good sized goose egg.  Let's be honest, horses have hard heads... My plan was to grab some Aleve from the car to tame the headache so that the ride would still be enjoyable, but once I got down the cowboy offered me an ice pack and I sat down for a while. He suggested we wait a while to ride, if we still wanted to and offered a full refund.  I'm sure he was hoping to avoid having this crazy girl go bouncing off along the trail after passing out from her head injury just ten minutes earlier, or maybe he was just nice.  

We chatted with cowboy Gary for a while and then decided that we'd just come back a different time to ensure the ride was completely enjoyable.  I sort of imagined myself trying to hold my head as still as possible on a horse for over an hour, which didn't sound like a lot of fun.  I think Gary was happy with our choice and he gave us a full refund and a free ride for next time.  Maybe it was because he found out they never "offered" me a helmet like both the handlers were wearing (although I'm sure I would have declined) or maybe because we were never asked to sign the release... either way we were excited about the free ride, and do plan on returning upon complete recovery.  I still think Charlie and I have a few things to work out...

We grabbed a deli sandwich and enjoyed it on the beach and then decided to hike out to the tip of the rocks and explore.  Truth be told, a really long nap on the beach sounded quite fabulous, but I was afraid I might not wake up until the next day... as it turns out the head was fine as long as I didn't move it too fast and took ibuprofen every two and half hours.  Not bad for a horse head-butt...

This is as good a picture as we could get...

Haystack Rock through the bushes as we hiked out to the tip.  

Sometimes I forget just how beautiful the Oregon Coast is... we've definitely been spoiled living so close to the Pacific Ocean our whole lives and for some reason it seems so much more spectacular to stand at the edge and think about how we are standing on the edge of the North American continent.  

God's creation is full of so much beauty and I never cease to be amazed at the little things He didn't forget to create.  I'm so thankful for His beauty to remind us daily of His love for us. 

We finished the evening with a delicious dinner at the Pelican Brewery with some s'mores fudge for the drive home.  The food was delicious, the weather was beautiful and the company was the BEST! Thanks babe for our wonderful adventure.  I'll be more careful next time!

Happy NINE years to us!!!

I love you more each day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Camping Trip #1...

We've started yet another annual tradition with our little family and this was the second consecutive year (third time) we were able to set aside a weekend and go camping with our good friends the Moodys! You may remember last year's fishing post which was all about Madi's first fishing experience while camping at Breitenbush River with the Moodys.  Ramie also documented the weekend much more thoroughly, as usual. I had good intentions, but never got around to it... also, as usual... ;)

Anyway, us girls marked off July 13th-15th and let the boys come up with our destination.  We took a gamble (again) and headed to Ice Cap Campground at the top of the McKenzie pass.  We camped there together four years ago (obviously sans children) and loved it, but we weren't able to stay for very long, so we were looking forward to heading back.  As it turns out, we were able to find the perfect spot that afternoon as we watched the rest of the campground quickly fill up.

We all had a blast, especially the two oldest children, and decided next time we'll definitely be going for three nights instead of two. So. Much. Work for just one full day! 

Sometimes I revel at the fact that camping is actually as fun as it is.  When I think about all the work it takes to get everything packed up just to head out into the wilderness and make things even more difficult, like cooking, or going to the bathroom, heck even washing hands is quite the task. (I shall pause here and give credit where credit is due: my lovely husband does pretty much all the "camping" packing, I just grocery shop and pack the kids' clothes.) This year, I was really dreading it! Emmitt was on the verge of walking, but pretty much preferred to crawl anywhere and everywhere, especially if it meant he could put something he wasn't supposed to in his mouth. I dreaded hauling him around on my hip all day and keeping him away from the fire. Seriously, I was wishing I could go back to 8 months pregnant and one child, just for the weekend. Thankfully, it wasn't as terrible as I had imagined.  I learned to relax a little and mostly drew the line when live objects entered a body cavity...

But somehow, it really was fun.  It's fun to pretend like life is simple, to listen to the river rippling all day long and to experience the great outdoors to its fullest... 

And fine, I'll just say it.  It's the most fun once the kids have passed out in the tent and we get to sit around the campfire eating and drinking whatever the heck we want. 

Yup, that's definitely my favorite part. 

Although watching our kiddos enjoy themselves as thoroughly as they did was pretty darn fun too...

It's weird our children are old enough to bring their own bikes along, but they are and this is pretty much how they chose to spend the weekend: Judson riding Pinkalicious and Madi pushing her baby around in the baby trike...

These two oldest children have very similar personalities.  They are great friends, but they definitely both like things to be done their own way.  We figure it's good for 'em. 

Emmitt and Cooper spent the majority of their weekend in these amazing packs! Yup, we were totally matching (not on purpose) the first day. I even had a purple tank top on top that I had already de-layered.  I guess we just spent too many "twin" days together at school. =)

Sweet Cooper LOVED getting dirty, but then again who didn't!?! =)

As you can see, not a single one of our children cared about getting dirty.  Nope, not one bit.  At one point dirt was raining down on them and they couldn't have been happier.  Unfortunately, this campground tore out all of the water faucets since we camped there last so it's technically a "dry campground" (who does that, right?!?!). So... we did our best to brush 'em off and strip 'em down. Yeah, they were filthy. 

The Dads and their babes.  These guys snuck off and mountain biked the McKenzie River trail on Saturday during naps. Lucky guys! Although I probably would have died, so I'm technically not complaining...

Nate and Ramie have an awesome fishing boat that they pulled along and we spent Saturday evening out on Clear Lake.  It was GORGEOUS!

Sunday morning we took a short hike (about 3 miles) up to some falls and Madi hiked the ENTIRE way! She loved it and was quite the trooper. She and her "map"...

We took our time breaking down camp on Sunday.  We let the kids "nap" and Ramie and I ventured down to the reservoir.  We headed out of there around seven that night and stopped for pizza at Giovanni's on our way home.  A delicious way to end a wonderful trip, if I may say so myself...

This was our creative way to quarantine the children. Ahem, I mean "entertain" the children while the men broke down camp.

Thanks for your sweet friendship, guys! I can only imagine the adventures we're bound to get into in the years to come! =)