11.05.2016

Pictures!

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. 
10.14.2016

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 
1.22.2016

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!


12.21.2015

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!


12.16.2015

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.
-Stef








9.15.2015

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!




7.03.2015

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!





6.12.2015

May existed, right?

Some months seem to take forever to go by and some fly by so fast I have to remind myself they were here! May was that way for us. Lots of wrapping up the school year, end of the year field trips, testing, filing paperwork, holidays and Spring cleaning in our yards.
So, June arrived and I had hoped it would go by slower, but here we are, June 12th and I'm feeling like June 1st was literally yesterday.

This year we chose to stay local for Jason's vacation. We've always gone to CA to see our families and while we love our families, we've really felt like we needed to have a STAY-cation. So that's what we did. And it was amazing! We decided we'd do at least 90% of things we've never done since moving here. Things we've always said, "oh, that would be fun to do that!" So we made a list and picked what was on the top of that list.
We did things that included Ride the Ducks tour in Seattle (a must do!), we walked most of the city, including Kerry Park and up Queen Anne hill to our favorite ice cream parlor. I have to say here, my kids shock me with how well they travel in a car and walk LONG distances. Truly amazing.
We ate at a few new places. Pegasus Pizza on Alki beach won our award for BEST pizza ever.
We toured the Rose Garden in Tacoma, took the ferry to Vashon Island and spent the day there. The Chuhuly Glass museum, Ice Cream Social with friends, the 5 mile drive at Point Defiance, some hikes, beach visits, played in our pool and hot tub, BBQ dinners, roasting s'mores over the fire pit outback - it was an amazing week! And the best part is, we still have 2 more days!
Oh, and we went to (and bought season passes to) our local theme park, Wild Waves. Such a fun family day AND my two biggest chickens rode on their first upsidown roller coasters!! Everyone but Miles did the zip line that goes across the park and flies back down over the park before landing.
The week has been really wonderful. The first part of it was a bit hot for comfort, but I'm making my peace with the fact that summer has arrived and so I will just be sweaty until October gets here.

School is technically over until September, however, we do some light school through the summer. Keeps everyone (including Mom) in the "school mode" and then we end up not shocked and horrified once the more formal school days start up again :)
The kids and I had a great school year. I get a little annoyed with all the hubbub around grades and levels and who's-the-best-at-what-crap, so I'll just say they all did well. Testing went great and seeing their scores was a relief to me, to see that I haven't totally messed them up.
Ethan will be going into 5th grade, Rachel 4th, Kara 2nd and Miles will be officially doing preschool!
However, they do a lot of school together. Kara often ends up learning 4th grade stuff because she over hears it, Miles is already picking up on phonics skills for learning how to read, and Rachel will probably have the whole family sewing by the end of next year. Homeschooling at its finest :)


Because I have a hard time keeping this blog private; Blogger keeps telling me I have too many people signed up to read it and it exceeds the 'private' setting limit (WTH?!) I don't know how many pictures will be posted here. My Instagram account is private, but I am more than willing to add anyone I know, so feel free to find me over there. I post daily (probably too much for some people's standards) and my name is 'eatsleepandrun'. I kinda felt bad for making that switch, but everyone has cell phones so my feeling is, if you really want to see pictures, you can check my IG account :)

I also may go through my list of readers on here and delete people who I actually don't think check this blog anymore. I guess if I delete lurkers that never say anything they can ask to be added back.

Anyway, that's our Summer so far. We celebrated 1 year at our church last week by doing a community service outreach at a local city park. They laid gravel for the trail to help control flooding and we pruned back blackberry bushes.
Jason is the proud new owner of a Subaru! We said farewell to the dear old Metro when it needed more work than what we paid for it.

The kids are doing well. I feel like, for whatever reason, they're all growing way too fast. I think the toddler years feel like they go the slowest because, for me, they're the harder years. I have a hard time with the constant teaching, reminding, repeating myself, handling new emotions and the like.
Miles hit the terrible 3's and has been a mixture of "sweetest boy ever" and "demon child". He is mostly an awesome little boy who keeps all of us laughing and wanting to kiss his cute cheeks, but he's literally throwing a tantrum next to me on the cough right now because Daddy said he couldn't have a band aid on his leg where he has no boo-boo.

Life.

Ethan departs for a week (A WEEK!) of summer camp in July. He keeps telling me how much he's going to miss us and I keep telling him he will probably have a blast and forget about us, while I'll sit at home and cry buckets of tears, wondering why we allowed him to be gone so long. The truth is, I'm thrilled for him. Its a camp at our church and I know he'll have a great time and I'm already praying he meets amazing kids and comes back with lots of new friendships.
His football team won their playoffs game and so tomorrow is their final championship game of the season! Then its NO MORE 'organized' sports for us until January!! (aside from continued swim lessons)
Rachel and Kara vacillate between highly emotional and loads of fun. They are either fighting about who-knows-what, or the best of friends. The other day they were crying because they both said the other was hurting them and 'being mean' (which is typically code for "not giving me my way about everything") and then moments later they came running out of their room, with drawings of what will someday be their home they build and live in together. I have learned to minimize my reaction when the screams and tears come and to remind them that it will soon pass and they'll be the best of friends again in no time.

Our whole family has bikes now, so we've been enjoying bike rides and exploring local trails and areas closer to home!  Hope you all have delightful summers. I'm not sure when I'll be on here next, but I'll try to write more often. Journaling gets harder and harder these days so I know someday I will be SO thankful for things like this blog and my Instagram.
Oh, we are NOT on Facebook. I had a few people suggest I just blocked them and its not true. We deleted our accounts almost a year ago and aren't on there at all. Hopefully that's clear :)

Bye for now!


4.06.2015

what JOY!

Easter 2015 will be a day we won't ever forget. Our daughter, Rachel, was baptized and gave a public profession of her faith in Jesus! It was a day filled with so much joy and thankfulness to God for all he's done and is doing in her life.
Here are the video clips alone with amazing photos our good friend Jason took.

Her words in the video are 100% hers. She wrote out what she wanted to say and memorized it so she could speak boldly in front of everyone and she asked us if she could do it on her own :)

Also, she has been corrected and knows that her favorite verse is in Romans chapter SIX and not chapter three  ;-) 

{this link will take you to the video where she spoke- this video comes before the actual baptism just FYI} 
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ozun95sus5j2wex/rachel-baptism.mov?dl=0

video

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."


Leaving for church, Easter morning. 

we had the pleasure of being at our good friend Bryan's wedding on Saturday. 
Such a joy to see him and his new bride Katie begin their life together. 

3.06.2015

because coming up with a title annoys me every time... this one is "all the things"

I have the urge to write these days, but very little motivation. I'm not sure if that's an oxy moron but it makes total sense in my head. {also, side note: spell check just suggested I wanted to say "oxy Mormon" -- bahahaha!} 
This year in school we've been doing more reading and writing than we've ever done. I suppose its normal when there's a 4th grader around. Ethan has shocked us with his writing abilities. He reads A LOT so I should've known he'd be a good writer, but I guess because getting the words ON paper takes him f o r e v e r -and-a-day, I just figured he didn't have much to say.
We use the Excellence in Writing program at home and for his Essentials class at Classical Conversations. Its a program I can't recommend enough. I love it. And I love the way Andrew Pudewa teaches parents/teachers how to guide children. Its totally changed the way I view homeschooling, for the better, I hope ;-)
So we ordered the books for Rachel and she and I do them here at home. She's the one I thought would love it and take to it right away. She didn't. She actually groans when I tell her its time to her writing work. Funny how they surprise us like that, huh?
She will sit around and make up random stories {most of them make NO sense at all, but they make total sense to her} and she loves to create characters and tells me all about their abilities and characteristics. Ethan is the opposite. Give him something actually concrete write about and he's good. Tell him to go make up something random and he struggles big time.
For me its such an "a-ha!" moment in my day where God shows me my kids are each very different from one another and forcing them to be the same or as close to the same as possible is a huge mistake.

anyway...

I'm going to be a rebel and say that Spring is here. Who ever waits for a calendar to tell them these things anyway?
Its 65 degrees here today and in other places on the West Coast its in the 80's. And even though people try to act like its something new, it happens every year. I can remember back in the early 90's we were at our friends house, swimming in their NON heated pool on February 22nd when we got that call that our other friend's mom had her baby. And we didn't think it was weird. So, yeah.
Leaves are returning to our trees, daffodils are popping up everywhere {because in Washington, plants like daffodils and blackberry bushes are literally wild flowers and grow everywhere}
I need to figure out how to prune our apple and plum trees, so if anyone reading this has any tips or can send me to a website with good tips, please do! Also, we have 3 maple trees that will need pruning and I'm clueless there as well. Lets just get it said: You know 'green thumb'? Mine is black. The end.

The kids and I are reading through the Bible together. Ethan and I trade off reading each morning and today we landed on Matthew 4. Its a passage I've read what feels like one million times and yet when I read the bible aloud to my kids, I see it in a whole new light. I stop and realize there's so much to explain and talk about. So many sentences we typically just breeze right by and don't think much of them. I think mostly for me its because I was raised in a home where we read the bible. Its so very familiar to me and sometimes with familiarity comes boredom. Not obvious boredom, but just this sort of "yeah, I've read that; I can even tell you what's coming next" attitude.
So we were reading Matthew 4 today and came to the spot where it says Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert (with NO food, mind you) and Satan came to tempt him.
Rachel stops me. "Wait! This has always confused me. I thought Jesus was sinless. If Satan tempted him, how can he be sinless?" Perfect opportunity to talk about the fact that being tempted isn't sinning. Because we can use the strength God gives and say no and resist temptation and chose not to sin. Walking IN to temptation = sin. {I refuse to use the word "falling" because I think 99.9% of the time we walk into temptation with our eyes wide open.}
It ended up being a fun conversation to talk about other areas in the bible where people were tempted and sinned and some resisted and God blessed them in amazing ways.

- I have a 6 year old refusing to eat her soup I made for her {she spotted bok choy and has decided its my ploy to kill her} so I need to run.






 

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