a post with pictures *gasp*

Blogging feels so weird to me now. In the same way writing a hand written letter feels weird and texting a quick message feels normal. I hate to say it, but I've become one of *those* people.

 When I was introduced to Instagram I knew it would take over. Only because I know the Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles really only care about photos since we keep in regular touch on the phone and via skype. And I was really only blogging in such detail for them and for my own memory sake; I still keep journals for each kid and a silly quotes journal to remember all the hilarious that goes on in our home. 
I'm going to throw some pictures in here randomly for those of you who aren't on Instagram and haven't seen my kids in over a year... 

since I last blogged, Rachel turned 11!
This was taken a few weeks ago at her Essentials class. 

I also feel like, without babies or toddlers, life feels much less "note worthy", if that makes sense? Each day is different, but typically we're doing the same sorts of things. The kids are obviously learning, but I don't feel the need to be on here telling you every single thing they learn in school :) Its different when a child learns how to walk or talk; milestones like that. 
Ethan is changing the most I'd say. He's coming on 13 in just a couple months and the 7th grade has brought about huge changes, academically and just his over all maturity. His work load feels like it quadrupled and the responsibility factor has gone way up, which is great, but a challenge nonetheless. He is doing the Challenge program through Classical Conversations and has become too old for Sunday School so he is now a teacher's assistant in the 2's and 3's class. His little buddy Joel greets him with a huge smile each week and Ethan literally has trouble falling asleep on Saturday nights because he's so excited to get to class :) 
He's also grown an insane amount in the last year. He's about 5'3 now and eats more than all of us in the house put together. Its kind of crazy. 
I don't notice that we spend more on groceries but I DO notice we rarely ever have left overs anymore. Last night we had dinner out and Ethan literally finished food off everyone's plates when we were too full to finish. 

And in October, Kara turned 9!
Still can't believe our baby girl is nine, but time refuses to slow 
down, so there you have it. 

The biggest news around here, which doesn't feel like *news* anymore, is that we converted our garage into a family room, adding almost 500 square feet to our house! And to be clear, WE didn't do the work. We hired a contractor from our church and he did an incredible job. Most people that come over and see it are shocked because in their minds, it still will look like a garage, but with some paint and a rug on the floor. We did a FULL remodel, so it feels just like its part of the house. The door is gone (though he did build a fake carriage door on the outside of our house so it still looks like we have a garage there) and the rest of the room looks just like another part of our house. 
Its been an incredible addition! Even though it was costly and meant we didn't travel anywhere this summer, it was totally worth it. And it was WAY cheaper than adding on or moving :) 

October brought beautiful colors! 

My health has been over all very good this year, with a slight issue back in May. My lipase levels got elevated again and we eventually decided to cut out Kombucha teas since that seemed to be causing the flare ups. After not drinking any for the last 6 months, I've been 100% fine. I even feel like I'm not as dependent on my digestive enzymes as I used to be. Who knew?! 
Its been a reminder to me that every one is different and just because something is healthy, doesn't mean its going to be ok for everyone. 
Through many, many months of regular blood tests, we determined that I do in fact have very low progesterone. I probably always have, its just something that became a problem after 3 back-to-back babies (my older 3 kids). After they were all born, I was probably totally depleted and just didn't know it, which led to 3 miscarriages. A few people have asked me, "didn't you already know you had low progesterone?" and the answer is, yes and no. I had never officially had a Dr tell me that because up until I met my naturpath, doctors never seemed to really want to figure out my problem. They told me that miscarriages are normal and I needed to just move passed it. 
A good friend of mine (hi Heidi!) suggested after my 3 miscarriages that I use progesterone cream and see if it helps. She said her Dr told her that low progesterone can be the cause of miscarriages in the 1st trimester. I bought some organic, soy free cream at Whole Foods and used it for a good 2 months, then unexpectedly got pregnant with Miles and he was full term and healthy. 
Fast forward 3 years after Miles was born I got pregnant with Zachary and immediately began using the cream again. At my 8 week appointment we saw a healthy baby and fluttering heart on the ultrasound screen and when I told them I was using the cream, they told me it was a wives tale and a waste of my time. The midwife also told me the cream can actually be bad and cause cancer (looking back, I realize she probably assumed I was using the fake soy filled kind). Anyway, I went home and threw the cream away and when I miscarried at almost 15 weeks, the tests they ran on the baby said his growth significantly slowed at 9-10 weeks gestation and by 13 weeks my placenta was falling apart. 
I have NO idea if it was actually because I stopped using the cream, but I share this story just in case anyone else is having these issues and someone tells them the cream is useless. If you get the good kind, it can't hurt to use it all through your first trimester. I also know anyone actually reading this knows me and cares about this stuff, so that's why I'm sharing it :) This is the kind of stuff I DON'T share on Instagram lol. 
Anyway, I'm doing a lot better and I seem to be actually feeling normal again, which is quite lovely. 
I do have food restrictions (I don't feel like any of them are too difficult to follow) and I've worked a lot on getting better sleep this year, which has helped tremendously. Realizing at 37 better sleep is more of a priority than it was at 27 ;-) 

My Mom and Niece visited in early October! 

Homeschool is going well. I have an extra kid this year! Some friends at church asked if I would homeschool their 9 year old son, who was struggling with reading and writing and after some prayer, I said yes! His name is Michael and he fits into our daily routine quite well. He and Kara do all the same work (except Math - he's one book ahead of her) so it works well to lump them together. 
He comes everyday from 8am- whenever I send him home, haha! He's able to go home at 2:30 but he usually stays with us and plays after school is over. 
Rachel is in the Essentials class at CC this year and we are doing Foundations here at home, which has gone really well! We basically do 30-60 minutes of new grammar everyday and then on Friday we play a review game. We already have an art and science curriculum so that gets done with our regular school. It was becoming difficult to have a whole day devoted to co-op so I decided to try doing Foundations at home - since I've tutored it for 4 years, I assumed I could handle it :)  

Ethan and Michael 

we don't really "celebrate" Halloween, but we enjoy 
getting pumpkins, carving them and then watching them rot, apparently :) 

This one probably doesn't need an explanation :) 

Ok, that's probably enough for now... I should do this more often and then I won't need to write so much, haha! 
Hope you all have a wonderful week! 


2 thumbs up for Blue Apron!

Oh my gosh, I'm back for a second blog post in one week! Don't get used to it.

We tried Blue Apron this week. I got a deal in the mail for 2 meals for free and so we jumped. It was fun! I enjoyed the box showing up the porch. We use Amazon Fresh delivery as well and I get the same giddy feeling when my groceries that I clicked on once to buy, show up at my front door. Its like there's a magical fairy out there and she helps me with my chores *twinkles*
We liked both meals we received, but especially loved the Roasted Pork with Apple, Walnut & Farro Salad.
It was SO tasty and seriously, the end result made me feel like a chef.
I'm not being sponsored by Blue Apron nor have I tried any other companies that compare, so this post is literally just about our experience. We liked it. I think, if you're the type of family to order out on busy nights (like we are) or tempted to grab a boxed pizza or boxed anything (gross), this is a much better alternative. Its far healthier, its cooked in your own home, and chances are, your family will join in. I'm not sure take out or grossed pre-made meals in a box can compare to that!
I make 98% of our meals here at home and from scratch. But seriously, we definitely have too many nights lately where we order out and that drives me nuts. Or we just stop and eat somewhere because, oops! the last few days have been nuts and dinner was never prepared. So, in our ever so humble opinion, Blue Apron can be a great option! Just in case anyone was interested.
We decided to try 2 meals every other week that would serve 4-6. So far they feed all 6 of us and of course a couple of them I can't eat, due to my crazy restrictions. Like, tomorrow we're having steak and I'm just gonna be sitting there drooling the whole time *eyeroll*

I will come back and post pics later tonight! Right now we're gonna go enjoy our Catfish Katsu & Yakiniku Sauce that was delivered yesterday *heart eyes* (seriously, we need emojis for the blog world.

See ya!


a post title goes here.

I think I found the secret to helping January go by quickly and feel less... depressing.

1.) Don't overly decorate your house for the holidays
Just a little here and a little there goes a long way and when its time to clean things up, your house won't look like you took away all the fun and brought back all the boring ;-) 

2.) Travel
Nothing extravagant or expensive. Just leave. Go somewhere further away from home so it really feels like you're getting away. Ethan and I went to LA to visit friends and family and I'm telling you, between the getting ready and anticipation of that trip, the going and returning, it really helped January feel fun and exciting! 
I feel bad for January. It gets such a bad rep because it comes after all the holiday crazy, it has winter weather (hello! its a winter month) but for some reason we all expect maui temps to return simply because Christmas is over. 

3.) Don't cram every little thing into December. 
Because its still winter, save some of your wintery activities and trips for January! Maybe even ask your husband to save some of his time off for January and go on a mini getaway. Or stay home, silence your phones and don't answer your door if friends come by. We've done stay cations before and they're seriously so fun. 

Just the other day I told my husband that one of the reasons I feel like I've fallen off the "blog wagon" is that I never feel like I have anything to share and no real advice to give. I don't feel like I'm a magical wife, or raising kids in a mysterious unknown way, and I barely ever wear make-up and have NO sense of style or fashion, so there goes the idea of just sharing about that stuff.
And lets be honest, Instagram has made even blogging seem like a chore. I can go post pictures for the Grandparents, sum up what we're doing in a few short sentences and move on with my life.
But I do like blogging. I love to write and I often learn more about myself when I express myself through writing. So I just need to get out of my own head and quit thinking this has to be a format for me to teach, or guide, or entertain. Funny too, because my most favorite blogs are people just talking about their everyday life. Nothing spectacular or outlandish, just life.
I'm the kind of person that's always thinking it would be so fun to be a fly on the wall in situations and I guess for me, that's what blogs are.
Except its not creepy and the person is allowing me in to see what they want me to see. (oh my goodness, I miss emojis when I blog! Just then I really wanted to put the laughing emoji there and couldn't. Apple has officially ruined me.) 

So, life. Ours is moving along nicely. People often ask me how I'm doing and full disclosure, I hate the question. But I love the people who ask it, so never feel bad.
I mostly hate the question because the answer is technically very long. I usually say that I'm fine or OK or ups and downs, stuff like that. The truth is, I'm doing SO much better than I was a year ago and not as well as I was doing a few years ago. How's that? :)

...My pancreatic issues are still a bit of a mystery. They don't know the WHY but they know what's wrong and I'm thankful to at least have that. My pancreas no longer creates enzymes to digest my food. So I have to take herbal enzymes before I eat. When I say this to people I usually get big wide open eyes and then they gasp. Which always shocks me, because compared to so many people who struggle with really serious health issues, mine seems so small and insignificant.
Taking pills before I eat is a little annoying but I'm used to it and we tend to forget so fast. I can barely remember the days when I could just eat and didn't have to worry about how my body would react. I have a lot of food restrictions. This has been the hardest adjustment for me because so many of the foods I can't eat are healthy.
I'm allergic to all dairy except butter. (But because of my pancreas I have to go easy on fats, so butter is limited.)
I can't eat nightshades. I have a rather deathly allergic reaction to them because over time, they literally poison me. So, any vegetable or fruit you see with a cute little green leaf topper, I can't eat those. Bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries (most berries), white potatoes, white rice... and the list goes on. This would include any spices that have those. So any kind of pepper or seasoning that would have tomatoes, jalapenos, paprika, etc... No no's.
After I was hospitalized in August with my pancreas going crazy, I was taken off all red meat. Another crushing blow. I love red meat. Oh, and no alcohol, but I rarely ever drank so that wasn't a blow at all. If they said no coffee, that would be another story.

I tend to post a lot of food on Instagram and the common misconception is that I'M eating the food I'm posting. I don't. But I LOVE to cook and refuse to give that up, so I still do cook. I also love cooking so that other people can enjoy my food, so there's that. I'm slowly buying cookbooks and learning how to cook things I can personally eat, but 95% of what I cook for my family I myself cannot eat. Again, I usually get met with really sad faces when I say that to people and really, don't feel bad. It truly could be worse. I love that I still get to feed my family and love them in that way. It is hard to feed me though and I totally get that. When we go to people's houses for dinner (or any meal) I always tell them I will bring my own food and just let them cook for my family.
I CAN eat gluten and sugar. Haha! People always assume I can't. Those two things are fine, though I do stay away from processed sugars.


We didn't send out Christmas cards this year :( First time in the 12 years of being parents that we let that ball drop and for some reason it really did make me feel like I had truly failed at something. Funny how things that really don't matter at all become so important. So because of that I'll give you a rundown on the kids.
** remember in The Office when Jim doesn't know what a RunDown is? haha!

The kids are doing well; growing like weeds and reminding me on the daily life is slipping by.

Ethan turned 12 on Monday and is literally about to hit the 5 feet tall marker. He's really excited to be catching up to me in height, all the while I feel like there has to be a medication out there to help parents cope with this kind of thing! 
He's half way through the 6th grade (this has been a school year where I'm amazed he and I haven't killed each other yet) He plays flag football and basketball, takes piano lessons and is teaching himself how to play his new guitar... that's what you do when your parents drop the ball on finding someone to teach you. 

Rachel is 10 1/2 and in the 5th grade. She's our artist. She loves to draw and write. We find illustrated stories of hers all over the house. She is full of emotion, a good communicator, generally very happy, loves to sit and visit with people who come over and has a new found love for Jane Austin movies. She is really good at math and enjoys working on puzzles. Rachel is quiet. We don't live in a big house and yet I find myself always having to go find her. And yet when she's with people and talking, she's loud. She reminds me of me that way. She's also on a basketball team and takes piano lessons. 

Kara is so much of a mini ME it makes me laugh sometimes. And then in some areas she isn't like me at all. She loves to cook, so we share that passion. She's always in the kitchen with me and has a cook book collection that is quickly catching up to mine! She's 8 years old, in the 3rd grade and always moving and always jumping around the house or rolling on the floor. 
She likes to be busy, loves to laugh and loves her friends deeply. She gives out hugs to her little friends at church and gives cute little pep talks to the girls on her basketball team each week. Last week after her game had ended her coach asked the girls (in front of all the parents) "is there anything you girls would like to say before we end the meeting?" and Kara stood up, put her hands above her head and said, "We all played great!!" and every girl on her team smiled and clapped. I felt so proud of her in that moment, mostly because they had lost their game, so I was so happy that's what she took out of it. Kara takes piano lessons as well. We found an awesome teacher just down the street from our house and the kids love her. 

I like to say that Miles defies most "baby of the family" reputations. He IS the baby in our family but in so many ways has more maturity than our older kids, hah! He's 4 1/2,  and is very responsible, cleans up his own messes, gets himself dressed, makes his bed, puts his own shoes on, gets sippy cups of water ready to take out to run errands, etc... he follows our house rules better than the older kids too! I told my friend the other day, I think younger siblings tend to do those things well because they've been able to see how parents deal with the older siblings breaking the rules ;-) I remember this from my childhood! There were things I never tried or just didn't do because I knew the rules. 
He's learning how to read, can write his own name (I didn't teach him how and I'm not sure which of his siblings did, but someone worked with him on it) if Daddy is at work and I can't be found, Rachel is his go-to back up parent. He loves her so much and they are sweet and tender with each other. 
Miles is a cuddly, affectionate boy. He holds a very special place in our hearts and we tell him all the time what a gift he was and is to our family. During a few difficult years of losing babies and not knowing what was going to happen, God slipped him there for us and we are eternally grateful. 

Jason and I are doing really well. We're busy, but not overly so. Our busyness is usually wrapped up in our kids. Homeschooling is wonderful. I really love it. I have days where I second guess our decision and worry WAY too much about the books we use, the methods we use, are they learning enough, am I doing an adequate job, etc... but we love it. I love that its a family affair and has given me SO much time with the kids before they grow up and leave us (insert ugly cry face here).
Jason got a job promotion this last year which bumped him up to "Manager" status at Amazon. I'm so proud of him and the work he's doing. He loves his job and any of you wives know, that's a huge bonus for the family because a Dad who loves his job, comes home happy and fulfilled :)
I am everyday so thankful for our marriage and our family. Truly. I still go to the door all giddy when he comes home from work because being together is SO much better than being apart. We don't have a ton of hobbies or do anything fancy or extravagant - just being together. Games, movies, talking, going places together, walking, driving long distances together, you know... married stuff :)

Well, folks. Its dinner time over here and tonight on the menu is buffet style burritos! I need to go to get that ready.

Since it will take about a month to read this whole post, I'll see you all in March! :)



Need I say more? ;-)

Sometimes we have days where we just need to be out. 
Away from the kitchen table. 
Away from chores around the house. 
Away from the everyday, mundane. 
My kids recently told me they love doing their art lesson out in 
nature, so I've been trying to do just that on the days we do art. 
Sometimes that means we go sit out on our trail, behind our house. 
Sometimes I means we drive to the beach. 
This beach is called Seahurst Beach Park and its one of our favorites. 
It helps that one of my favorite coffee shops and used clothing 
stores it just up the street from it :) 

We use an art program called Artistic Pursuits and we love it. 
Its taken us a while to figure out which curriculum we like most and this 
one has been a favorite. 
I read the lesson and the story, then we talk about what we learned, 
we try to find real life ideas and then they draw. 

this was our view. 

And kids that once said they couldn't draw *anything*
are now able to draw things like this, in a matter of 10 minutes. 

Because the book we're using is geared to 6th graders, Kara isn't fully 
able to do what's expected, but I love that she can listen and learn 
and do her best. And that's all that matters. Find what you love and do your best. 

I feel the days slipping by. 
I never thought I'd say that,  because the baby and toddler years don't ever 
feel like they're slipping. In many ways they feel like time has slowed down and is 
never going to actually pass. 
As soon as Ethan hit 3rd grade, I definitely felt time going faster. 
I know there's going to be a day when they're away from home much more than
they're AT home and that excites me and makes me sad all at once. 
The other day Rachel mentioned "When you're a Grandma" and I teared up when 
she said it because I know I'm going to be there sooner than I think. 
I love being a Mom. I love having kids and the older they get, I love it more. 
There's always someone to talk to. Someone to play a game with. 
Someone to smile at. 
Someone to help me out when I feel overwhelmed. 
I hope so much that when they're adults we can enjoy a relationship of 
"hanging out" and fun family discussions, laughter and love. 

this was the sunset during Ethan's flag football game last Saturday night. 
God's handiwork never ceases to amaze me. 

this is earlier in the day last Saturday. 
My love for clouds isn't lost on anyone. 
Living in a state where you get epic daily clouds has basically 
been a dream come true for me. 

laughing out loud sometimes isn't enough

I saw the title and intro to my last post and laughed out LOUD. Oh well. I'm not even going to talk about it anymore. My only defense is that for most people, blogs are a thing of the past. I refuse that to be true for me (I still sit once a week and catch up on my favorite blogs). To me, it is as personal as you can get, without being face to face or talking on the phone.

 My run-down for how 2016 has gone so far can be summed up in 3 words. Wonderful and unexpected. I think when you come close to death the way I did last year, it takes a lot to get you in the depths of despair (as Anne would say), so while parts of this year have been beyond sad; Jason's Grandma passed away, my health continued to cause major issues, etc... I am still forever so grateful to have life.
I see my kids growing each month, learning new things, struggling with big kid issues, having "the best day ever" many days over I've lost count and I realize those things alone are blessings we're just not promised.

The highlights of this year were us getting to see and say goodbye to Jason's Grandma. We went to California in April and spent her 90th birthday celebration with her; a day I'll never forget.
On that same trip we knew we'd probably not see her again and I found a lot of peace in being able to know I was kissing her goodbye for the last time. I'm really thankful for that trip.
I got the chance to fly to LA and visit my oldest sister and her family! I had such a fun time with them and am already planning my next trip there. There's something completely beautiful about a Mommy, stepping away from the daily mundane duties and acting like a young, 20 something with very little cares in the world. It was such a fun 3 days and the only thing that could've topped it was if Jason could've been there with me.

We got season passes to Wild Waves again but sadly haven't used them as much as we did last year. Which is a bummer because its such a fun park! Between my health issues and hospital stay in August it really caused our summer to feel like it disappeared before it even started.

School is going really well this year. Its gone pretty smoothly so far and has been more intense with a 6th and 5th grader. I'm tutoring at Classical Conversations (5th and 6th graders) and this is Miles first year as a student and he's loving it! The other day we all laughed when we heard him in the bath, singing his Latin verb endings *haha!*
He is most interesting in learning how to read and all things space. He wants to know where the sun is, how far away from us it is, "does Saturn know it was created by GOD?" and so on. He basically never stops wanting to learn. He's sitting on the bed next to me right now, admiring a Lego ship Jason made for him and he said, "Daddy is a genius! He found a crossbow here!"

Fall has been beyond amazing this year and has totally lived up to its hype. This weekend we've got a nasty storm blowing through, but everything was canceled and we have grand plans of being home with fires burning in the fireplace, lots of reading, board games, movies and, of course, football. Because, the Seahawks.

(I just laughed at myself because while that last "sentence" makes total sense to ME, it is SO improper! I guess this is what happens when you're teaching your kids all about English and writing. We can thank social media for the new version of talking *eyeroll*) 

I'm in that spot where I feel like I have nothing to say and 5 million things that want to come spilling out. I love writing out what I'm thinking but I feel like its either getting harder to do the older I get, or I'm so busy with other stuff, sitting down to write what's on my mind feels like too much work :(
I need to get better at it.

I'm not looking forward to voting this year. I feel like for the first time in my life, I'm going to be really depressed as I walk to the polls. And yet, things like this prove nothing more than reminding me that God is so much bigger and better than anything or anyone here.
He created each one of us. The other day I was reading Psalm 139 and that simple fact hit me like brand new information. God created each one of us. Even the ugly, stupid people ;-)
We're all formed in His image; He knows our end just as He started our beginning. That gave me not only hope and comfort, but reminded me to pray for people I would much rather just stick my middle finger up at. And oh my gosh! I've never actually done that, but... I've wanted to. Which is the same thing basically, right? HA. Just when I was feeling proud of myself.

I'm trying to be more intentional with friendships. Learning which ones aren't the most helpful to me and which ones I need and need me. Sounds weird right? It was hard for me to admit to myself. I need people and people need me. Not in the 'needy' way we like to imagine. But we need people to love us, pray for and with us, encourage us, remember us, laugh with us, split a gut with us! I have a few of those and they're cherished friends forever. No matter the distance.

I know most of you are on Instagram (some of you maybe not?) so I'll leave a picture or two for those of you who aren't. I don't want my blog to be that boring blog with NO pictures.

looking forward to some good tunes after some lessons :) 

in front of a pretty church in Tacoma, WA 

doing her Art lesson at Point Defiance Park 

Hey! I do exist :) 

finding leaves as big as our heads! 

I'll leave you with this Fall beauty 

before January is no longer

I'm getting better at this blog thing!  I think its because I updated my side bar with all the blogs I read and now I come here to check those out and read up. Its a win-win situation.

The New Year started off fun with a trip to the Children's Museum in Olympia. We drove an hour south to this museum for 3 reasons. Its tradition for us to venture out to a new place every new year's day. We've heard uh-mazing reviews on this museum and I've been wanting to check it out for a long time. I found a Living Social deal that we couldn't pass up! So we drove down and we all had a blast, not just the kids. We spent several hours there and needed many more to really cover the whole place and enjoy each spot, so we're definitely going back.
We also visited the state capital for the first time. I felt really bad doing that (finally) after living here 7 years, but my good friend who's lived here 38 years told me she's never been, so... guilty feelings averted!

The girls started up with basketball. This is the first year for Kara and we've been told she's a natural. Not really a surprise. When it comes to sports (or anything that takes physical energy and good hand/eye coordination) Kara seems to be a natural. They have games every Saturday and literally count down the days during the week. Ethan sadly didn't make the team. I signed him up 4 days after sign ups opened and they were already full for his age group. Super bummed.

I've not had the amazing health renewal I had hoped to have this new year... but I'm alive and kicking so I'm not gonna complain. I was hit with a horrible flu virus (not the stomach kind) and finally today I got some meds to help with what's turned into a sinus infection. I went back to the ER last week due to a ruptured ovarian cyst (ouch!) and thankfully that's all it was. With the pain I was having they were sure it was my gallbladder, which had me terrified.
I don't like hospitals and yet it seems to be my 2nd home lately. I knew it was bad when I was on a first name basis with the Dr's and nurses (insert wide eyed face here) 
I'm praying so much that my health will get back to being good. I'm doing everything I can do, so we shall see!

We've been working on a bucket list of sorts for this year and its been fun to come up with new ideas, places to visit and people to see. We have a goal of getting to know our neighbors better, which might be difficult in this neighborhood. We don't have the friendliest neighbors. I mean, they're friendly, but they're not out very much. Its the first neighborhood we've lived in that's like this and we're determined to still be obnoxious and get to know everyone well.
We have plans for some far away trips, some places to explore close to home and some fun ideas for game nights here at home. With our kids getting older, board games and such have become way more fun. And we don't have to host a party to enjoy them - the party is built in!

I'll do my best to blog our adventures here. I may even add a picture here and there ;-)

Happy New Year!


Christmastime is coming!

Remember that song? "Christmas time is coming, the goose is getting fat... please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny a hay penny will do, if you haven't got a hay penny, God bless you!" 
My Mom would probably laugh so hard if she knew I walk around my house singing the silly songs she taught us when we were little. I know so many more like that one. My kids think I'm super cool at this point and I'm hanging on to that opinion as long as I can.

Christmas is a few days away and since I'm still in "healing" mode, it doesn't fully feel like Christmas. The other day I found myself saying "I miss NORMAL!" and as I said it, I asked myself, "but what IS normal?" Like, isn't normal where we are right now? Why do we always think normal was the last time we were happy or stress free?
Before I was married I was single. Single at one point was the norm for me. So why didn't I freak out after I got married and miss normal?
Before becoming a mom I didn't have kids. So after Ethan was born and I was blissfully happy, why didn't I cry for normal? I just realized that I believe normal is right now. Its where we are and what we make of today. I know everyone understands when I say "I miss normal", I just felt like I needed to verbalize that reality check I went through :)

I am doing well. Its a popular question right now and while I always wonder if my response is sufficient enough (although sometimes I think I give too much information!) I always think of that scene in FRIENDS when Monica asks Richard how he's doing and he says, "oh, I see you've heard about the divorce." He tells her he knows when people know he and his wife got divorced because they tilt their head to one side and ask "how're you doing?" Anyway... just realized this means nothing to any of you if you haven't seen FRIENDS. Which you should. And its on Netflix. But as "friendly" as the title sounds, its not a kid show.
All that aside, I'm doing well. I'm healing but its a very slow process. I had some bleeding start up again which concerned me a great deal, but my Dr is 95% sure its my cycle beginning again. I'm gonna stop there just because I don't know how many male readers I have.
I feel weaker again, I tire out easy still, and by 5pm I am pretty much done for the night. I physically can't push myself further at that point and I've mostly learned to embrace that. If something fun is planned for the evening I just make sure to nap during that day. I'm basically a toddler right now ;-)

It snowed a tiny bit today! And I'm so glad the people in the greater Seattle area aren't used to getting snow because otherwise we would totally feel like out-of-place Californians every time we saw some! Thankfully everyone around here freaks out just as much as we do :)
It melted inches before hitting the ground so it wasn't like we got any that stuck, but it was still beautiful, wonderful snow falling from the sky. Its so peaceful to watch. We had Nutcracker music on and the girls had their noses pressed on the sliding glass door, trying to will it to snow heavier. Miles is still uncertain. He has never liked snow. He doesn't mind seeing it, but he has mostly refused to touch the stuff since he was born. He was asking me if God was spilling ice cream, or if the clouds were overflowing (that was my favorite), and his eyes were just huge while he looked up and kept saying "I just wonder why it does that."

After hearing that real Christmas tress bloom mold (and this is ALL Christmas trees, not just some) we opted to try an artificial one this year in the hopes that we all saw improved winter health.
I'm happy to report that unlike the past... 5 years? We haven't had one viral issue in our house so far!
Jason and Ethan usually get it the worst. In fact, Jason's has turned to walking pneumonia the last several years. Ethan has had to use an inhaler this time of year since he was born and I always had horrible issues when we lived in CA that got somewhat better here, but still showed their ugly head every December. I've been told its all in my head and we're just healthier because we haven't been as social this year and while I think that's cute that everyone thinks they know our schedule so well, my husband and kids have been just as social as ever. It is true that I've been less out of doors and busy as I usually am, but the kids have been at church, school, activities, friends houses, Jason has been to work, church (teaching Sunday School to a bunch of 6-8 year olds) etc... so something tells me the lack of a real tree has helped us.

The girls and I never did have our Christmas baking day and I know I'm missing it more than they are. I brought it up the other night, they made sad faces and then I offered them these delicious chocolates I bought at Costco and it was like all was forgotten. They were so happy to eat chocolates with me at 8pm :)
I'm hoping to feel well enough to make the Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls! We did that the last two years and they are SO good and fun to share with neighbors. Its a fun process too; the kitchen gets all messy and smells divine and you get to use so much butter with NO guilt... because its Christmas and we only indulge in these rolls once a year. So there.

We did Special Angles again this year. Its a tradition my mom started when I was a little girl and we've done it since Ethan and Rachel were very young. It definitely gets more fun as the kids get older.
This was the first year Miles has begun to really understand it. I explained that your special angel does loving, special things for you and does their best to do them in secret. But I know he doesn't fully get it because any time I wipe his bottom, or give him a meal to eat or buckle him in his carseat he tells me, "mommy, your special angel is SO proud of you!" :)

This post is all over the place and I'm stopping here just to point out that I know that. I haven't gone completely crazy. I'm just rambling. You all know by now how good I am at that.

I can't believe in a couple weeks we will be wrapping up all the pretty Christmas things, putting the decorations away and thinking about starting school again. Because this December has been much slower for me I think I've actually enjoyed it more than I usually do. The month typically flies by in a crazed flurry and I usually spend January wishing we had spent more time at home. Just us. Enjoying each other and the season and all it brings. And this year I'm happy to say we've done so much of that. Lots and lots of fires in the fireplace, the older 3 kids have stayed up to play board games with us, the girls spent one night sleeping out by the tree and I laid with them for a bit and we giggled about all sorts of things. We've been loving the advent type (devotional) book by Ann Voskamp... just so many things we usually don't make time for, we've enjoyed so much this year. So see! There are hidden blessings everywhere. We just have to look for them and want to find them.

Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!


life is a vapor {a post about our recent loss and my visit to the ER}

This has been an interesting year. It started with me telling Jason in mid January, "this isn't going to be a good year." and I hated that I said it the minute the words came out of my mouth. I hate being the pessimist, but I was admitting what I felt deep inside. The truth is, I typically don't like the odd numbered years. I can go all the way back to 1983 when my Grandma died so suddenly of Ovarian Cancer and that kind of started all of it. Some odd numbered years haven't have anything terrible or tragically significant happen in them (that I can remember) but 1989 was full of deaths and a very bad earthquake, 2001 was September 11th, 2011 is when we lost 2 babies, etc...
There are more in-between but I didn't want to completely depress you :)

This year seemed to be going fine. I was actually shocked, especially when we found out we were pregnant! September greeted us with that exciting news and boy, were we excited. It was going to be the biggest age gap in our family (four years) and it just felt like it had been WAY too long.
I had horrible morning sickness. Even saying it that way doesn't seem like it does it justice. It started days after finding out we were expecting and continued into November. Like, getting out of bed only to crawl (literally) to the bathroom to throw up. And doing that so many times a day I lost count. I ended up in the ER around week 9 with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is pretty much a fancy, medical way of saying "you are REALLY morning sick." haha!
I was dehydrated even though I was drinking and eating, and just so so sick. We saw baby on a bedside monitor though and were so thankful to see a nice strong heartbeat!

Fast forward 6 weeks to my 14th week of pregnancy... I was finally starting to feel amazing; getting energy back, enjoying food, and excited to get on with life.
On November 20th it all came to a crashing halt when I woke up with what felt like contraction pain and within a few hours my water broke and I was in labor. SO not the plans I had or direction I saw things going.
That's always hard for me. To first adjust my thinking and to redirect it to reality.
When I realized what was happening I just burst into tears. I remember crying out and asking God "why?". And then I felt so bad, because I don't need to know the "why", I just want to because for some reason I tell myself it will make me feel better.

These moments during miscarriage are so private, but I will share what I look back on and realize I am most thankful for in those horribly sad moments.
I am SO thankful to God that Jason was home from work that day. He had taken the day off because we were going to go out for the day to celebrate his 34th birthday. 
If he wasn't home, I'm not sure I would've lived.
I am so glad he is strong and amazing during these moments. I'm so glad he holds me and cries with me and encourages me that everything is going to be OK. Because in the midst of it all, everything feels far from "ok". I love that he prays over me and doesn't mind me sobbing so loud the neighbors can probably hear :( 
We had a friend from church who dropped everything when she heard I was in labor, came to our house and watched our kids while Jason and I were in the bathroom, and kept them so busy and entertained they never even knew what was going on. She is a God-send to our family and we will forever be so grateful for her. 

I felt ok after labor; as ok as a person can feel I guess. I sat down and called my Mom to let her know what happened. We cried together and its somehow comforting to hear my Mom share in our grief and tell me how sorry she is.
It was maybe 40 minutes post labor that Jason realized I looked pale and started asking if I felt ok. I told him I felt weak and tired and then within a few seconds I just remember saying I knew I was going to pass out. He told me I passed out for a while, then had a seizure (which I've never had before) and he called 911 when he realized I was in bad shape.
I remember waking up in an ambulance, talking to a paramedic, asking her if I had my baby. I remember dreaming that I had our baby, but I was full term and the baby was healthy. She let me know what happened and I remember smiling because it made me laugh to see the drastic difference sometimes between our dreams and real life.

They admitted me to the ER and for the sake of time I will just say that NO ONE in the ER took the paramedics seriously and decided I was fine and just a lady who miscarried her baby. I heard the paramedics say, numerous times, "she just gave birth at home and is bleeding out fast, she needs immediate attention." They thanked the paramedics, wheeled my bed into a room and closed the door. No joke. No call button near me, no one checking in on me, nothing.
Jason was driving in his car but was delayed because he didn't get to drive fast with sirens :)

I laid there in the bed realizing I had started bleeding badly again. So badly I could feel a lot of blood down by my ankles. In my mind I yelled for help, but in reality I think it was barely louder than a whisper.
No one heard me, no one came. The door stayed shut and I could feel my heart just slowing way down. The room became dark and then light and far away and strange. I had some weird euphoric moments where I felt like I was floating high up out of my own body. I remember realizing I was dying and could feel my body shutting down. I felt total fear at first and then this weird, incredible calming peace came over me. I saw this really bright light kind of far off in the distance (but it also felt close at the same time) and I remember realizing if I die I will see Jesus and that suddenly didn't seem so bad at all ;-)
I just remember feeling so peaceful and calm (and actually subconsciously thinking that was weird).
I took the deepest breath I could take and closed my eyes, assuming I would die.

Jason walked in seconds later and saw me white as a ghost. I opened my eyes and as loud as I could muster, I told him my heart was stopping and I needed help. I remember saying, "I started bleeding again" because I knew he knew how much I bled at home.
He ran to get the nurses and they came in and (this part is all Jason now because I passed out again and don't remember any of it) he said they walked in kind of nonchalantly and the minute they saw me they panicked. He said suddenly there was 12 people in the room yelling stuff he didn't understand and basically trying to get me back. They freaked out at how low my blood pressure was and he said they got an IV into me as fast as he's ever seen.
I remember waking up and thinking I had died. Its kind of funny but I looked around the room and only noticed people's faces, nothing else. I remember thinking, "surely this can't be heaven. These people are so ordinary looking!" :) 
They did get my heart rate stable. Its scary to think they were happy with it being at 42 over 18 - The Doctor came in (he ended up being amazing) and was very angry no one had told him I was there or that I was in such bad shape. He was the first person to look at us and say "you came so close to dying."
We heard it from many others by the time we went home the next day. Talk about a huge reality check and change in perspective. We went from being in the depths of grief to total joy that I was ok and alive and getting help.
I did not have to have a blood transfusion. They said my iron levels were really good and it kept me from needing one.
We ended up staying the night and went home the next afternoon.

I was so happy to be home. So happy to see my kids and hear their voices, and so thankful for Jason's brave, strong personality. He had to have many difficult conversations at the hospital. He made so many phone calls I would hate making, he texted friends of mine to keep them in the loop so they knew how to pray. He asked lots of questions when hospital staff came in and switched meds or changed my IV or anything, just to make sure he knew exactly what they were doing.
It was interesting to me at one point when I realized that even in miscarriags and emergencies he's my coach.

This wasn't our first walk down this road. Sadly, it was our 4th miscarriage. We lost a baby at 5 weeks in January of '10, our 2nd loss was at 12 weeks in April of '11 and our 3rd was around 6 1/2 weeks in July of '11. It was after that miscarriage that I started to believe we were done having kids. I felt almost like maybe God was saying "your 3 is enough" and honestly, I felt okay with it. I told Jason I wanted to purposely try and NOT get pregnant for about a year, just so we could focus on getting me better and stronger and maybe figuring out what my issues were.
God has a major sense of humor and decided to use Miles to remind me that HE does that planning, not me. To our shock and amazement, we found out we were pregnant with Miles in August of '11.

And I'm not sure how many of you remember this post I wrote in honor of our son Micah, but I just want to say, we feel the same way, post loss. God is SO good. He is SO faithful and merciful and generous. I know its weird to say after losing a baby, but I cannot tell you enough how close and tender and loving God feels to me in the midst of great heartache. And I'm so glad. Because I could't get through it if he wasn't.
I feel held by Him. I know he's grieving with me. I know he knows loss. God watched His son die on the cross for the sins of a world that hated him. I can't imagine that pain. So I feel Him in those moments meeting my every need and bringing to my memory all those verses that remind me he cares deeper than anyone on earth ever could and he heals the broken hearted.
I don't feel anger when I've gone through the sorrow of losing a baby. I feel great sorrow. I remember how quickly this life passes. I remember my kids belong to God and not me. They're not mine to keep. I remember how I truly don't know what a day will bring, no matter how much I try to pretend I've got it all planned out.

God is God and I am not. That's a phrase I say over and over sometimes and it comes from a Steven Curtis Chapman song I used to listen to growing up. You never know how those seeds planted will come back to bless you :)

I'm physically feeling better and better each day, though it definitely feels like a slow process. It takes about 2 months for red blood cells to get back to a normal state. The body makes plasma very fast, but not so much with red blood cells. So I tire out easier than normal, I need more sleep and I can get very overwhelmed and having panic attack type feelings in situations that normally wouldn't stress me out at all. And I've never experienced panic attacks and have a brand new level of respect for people who deal with them often :(
Its funny how quickly we learn what we can and can't handle. I walked into Costco last week, got about half way down an aisle and knew immediately I needed to just leave and go home. I thought because I was without kids I'd be ok, but I could tell right away my brain was in overdrive and could not handle it.

Because I had been so morning sick since September, I had missed out on so much of life. My favorite season is Fall and I literally missed it. I remember in mid-November when I started feeling better I walked outside and was like, "wait! the leaves are falling off the trees?!" I hadn't been to church since the last week of September and finally went for the first time last Sunday. It was like medicine to my soul. SO good to be back and see everyone and sing with everyone and hear an awesome sermon.

There's always going to be things we can be sad or hurt or even angry by. But I feel like these situations cause us to stop and see how truly fleeting life is and for me, I want to soak up what I get and enjoy the blessings God gives. Because He gives so many. Not only in the good, carefree moments, but in the insanely difficult, life shattering moments as well. In my journal I wrote out all the ways I saw God working in and through the craziness of losing our baby and me almost dying and the list got so long it was ridiculous. And I know there's a ton of stuff I don't even know! Stuff that only God knows and is doing "behind the scenes".
I'm so thankful He loves me perfectly and knows me inside and out.

Its not a post that's ever "fun" to write (and I almost didn't write this one) but I knew the right time would come and tonight was that time.
I will forever be grateful for the 14 weeks I got with my sweet baby. We don't know yet if it was a boy or a girl (we should be getting test results back soon) but it doesn't matter. It was our baby and will always hold a very special place in our hearts. Our family feels the absence of its members we don't know face-to-face here on earth. Heaven has become so much sweeter a place for us knowing we get to meet 4 members there that we only had for weeks at a time here.

Thank you to those of you who've been praying for us and loved us, no matter how far away you are. We felt God's love through each one of you. Even a comment on Instagram meant the world to us. Just another reminder we are loved so deeply. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
My mom got on a plane the day after I had the baby and flew out here, dropping all of her Thanksgiving plans with my family back in California. I know that was no small thing for her to do and I'm so thankful for the ways she shows love to her kids.
We had a beautiful, calm and quiet Thanksgiving and I think my favorite part was praying before the meal. Jason asked us to each pray 1 thing we were thankful for and the whole table either thanked God for our baby and/or thanked God that "mommy is alive." I think Miles may have thanked God for his Kindle Fire as well ;-)

As Christmas quickly approaches I am finding a renewed thankfulness for Jesus' birth and for the life he lived and the death he died on my behalf. And eternally grateful that I have a Father who literally gave his child for me and is building the best, eternal future for me to enjoy... all because he is good.

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe ending to this year and pray 2016 is blessed.


Fall habits

I'm not even going to apologize anymore for the lack of posts - mostly because I think I gave fair warning that I wouldn't be posting on here *that* much and because, I don't even think anyone reads this, haha! I'm pretty sure this has become more of a journal for me and less of an actual blog for readers, which is cool.

September has been good, fast paced and exciting! We started the month off with a week long trip to a beach house on the Washington Coast and it was SO much fun! I got hit with an icky head cold while we were there, which put a damper on the trip for me, but it was still pretty amazing.
We went back to Seabrook Cottages, about 16 miles from Ocean Shores. {I realize if you don't live around here these names mean nothing to you, but in case anyone is interested, its a great place to rent any size beach house and a really fun way to spend time as a family.}
There's no Internet service which we love, there's a fully stocked kitchen in each house; we rent smaller homes that we just barely fit in because we like the simplicity and think its fun, but you can rent homes that sleep more than 20 people!
This year we brought our bikes and our whole family enjoyed bike rides and exploring the area that way. We also take lots of walks while we're there and make it a habit to watch the sunsets. Because there's nothing quite like a west coast sunset, right on the Pacific Ocean. Okay, fine... maybe a Hawaiian sunset is better.

We came home and hit the books. Literally. We formally started school {I say "formally" because we did a few subjects through the summer months so we never fully stopped schooling} and so far its gone quite well.
Ethan is in 5th grade, Rachel is in 4th and Kara is in 2nd. Miles is doing at home pre-school work, but I am NOT rigid about the early grades at all. I'm probably the last person a woman wants to talk to when it comes to home schooling because I think most women start too early and get too hot and heavy with everything. Miles plays with legos, colors, builds with his Brio train set, does tracing work on his white board and we read lots and lots of little books.

With homeschooling grades can be tricky and funny. I understand the reason for them, but sometimes I think its all quite silly.
Because we homeschool my kids do an assortment of grades. Example: Kara does the same Science and History that Ethan and Rachel do. Sure, her work after the lesson is "dumbed" down to her 2nd grade level. but she's learning all the same things they are. And she often remembers things much better than they do!
They all read at different levels, but even that is comical to me. Ethan tested at a 7th grade reading level and my response to that was, "isn't that the same as an adult?" I don't feel like I read "harder" books from 7th grade until now ;-)
They each do their own grade in math and their own math curriculum. One of the joys of homeschooling is being able to pick the books that best suit that child. This year I really tried my best to pick what I knew would excite them and push them all at the same time. It proved to be harder than I thought and took a lot more time than I anticipated but I think its going to pay off.

We're in our 3rd year of Classical Conversations, first time doing cycle 1 and my first year NOT being a tutor. To my surprise, I have very mixed feelings about it. I'm going to enjoy the year off, but I think I'm going to miss tutoring just as much. I'm going to be a room mom for Rachel's class which will give me the flexibility to visit Ethan and Kara's classes as well and see the work they're doing.
I'm excited about seeing old friends and making all kinds of new ones. My kids are overwhelmed with excitement. They literally haven't been sleeping well the past couple of nights due to the excitement and countdown for when CC begins :)

Other than that, life goes on as it normally does. We've got our yearly dentist, orthodontist and Dr's visits all coming up as the every 6 month visits roll around, swim lessons for Kara and Miles start next month, I just signed the kids up for Fall and winter sports which seems CRAZY that we're already there again, and the weather is definitely turning from a HOT summer to cool and crisp Fall, with rainy days mixed in.
I love it. It fills my heart with so much joy to see everything green again and to hear the sounds of new birds chirping and being able to light candles and have fires in the fireplaces have been awesome. Its my favorite time of the year, clearly.
This is the time of year when the kids and I enjoy daily nature walks as we call them. Each child has their own nature journal this year and when we get home they write about what they saw, things they found and other things they want to explore more and dig into. They don't all love to journal, but I'm going to do my best to make them love it :)
Ethan started off kind of "bleh" about it last year and for some reason, learning how to write in cursive has given him a love of writing. I catch him writing in his personal journal after he reads his Bible and he's had ZERO prompting from me, which is shocking.
Always awesome to see the natural growth after encouragement and some introduction to new things.
I read an article recently that said when our kids struggle we need to step in and give them best encouragement then. Don't wait to praise them when the get it right, do the praising AS they struggle. Remind them that their little brains are a big muscle and as we struggle to learn, our brains are becoming stronger. If everything was super easy, our brains would be mush.

I should find the article and link to it; it was really good.

Happy Fall to all you lovelies!


summer bliss

Summer has been delightful. I want to blame it all on the fact that we've stayed local and have already soaked up so much relaxing family time, but who knows.
We have a pool and hot tub, so we swim a lot. That's kind of an understatement. We swim all the time. And the other night, my husband got home from work and I thought it would be romantic to surprise him by pulling him in the pool with me. Thankfully due to the 95 degree weather, he thought it was funny and refreshing.
I'm not feeling as wordy these days so I'm going to do more of a run-down of our life the past month.

*We've enjoyed using our fire pit and making all kinds of sugary deliciousness.

*kids have lost teeth and the tooth fairy is going broke.
Rachel likes to pull her own teeth out and this impresses her Dad, so she tends to get quite a hefty amount of moola ;-)

*If anyone's wondering... mosquitos still adore me.
Burts Bees and Honest Company make amazing bug sprays THAT WORK! (yes, I've tried essential oils and no, so far for me they've not worked quite as well) 
I don't buy mine on Amazon (I've found it cheaper at local stores) the links are so you can see which ones I'm referring to.

*we ALL have bikes now, so family bike rides have become a new favorite evening or weekend activity.

*we ended our stay-cation that I wrote about in my previous post with a quick trip to Portland, Oregon. Making it our first actual trip to visit Portland.

*we've had LOTS of friends over to swim and BBQ and we love it. If you want an invite and live close, do NOT hesitate to ask. We like people who invite themselves over. Truly.

*this is an odd sort of update, but important to us, so here goes... Miles takes himself to the bathroom and no longer requires any help! He's been doing this about 4 months now, making himself our earliest independent potty goer :)
He potty trained last summer, but still needed assistance up until around March of this year.

*Our oldest heads off to his first ever week of camp on Monday. If this laptop allowed for emojis, you would see a million crying faces here. That is all.

*July 6th marks the 1 year anniversary of a friend on Instagram who's husband, brother-in-law and Dad all died in a plane crash in California last year. If you read this, please pray for them as I cannot imagine the struggle especially this week/month will be. Pray for their combined total of 3 kids as well who've lived their first year without their Daddy, Uncle and Grandpa.

I hope you all have a safe 4th of July! Amazon gave Jason the day off so he got a 3 day weekend, woo-hoo!!

Happy 4th!


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