Monday, March 7, 2016


I turn 33 years old tomorrow.  And I haven't posted or written a thing on this blog since August, just before the back to school craziness started up again.  It's the longest I've gone without posting since I started, in July of 2007.  I'm not sure if I've got the words to explain the long break, or if I'm trying to come back to this regularly, but writing tonight feels right, so I'm going with it.  Maybe it's because something about birthdays brings out the reflective side of me; looking at who I've been and who I am today. And I like recording that little snapshot of thought, to read over next year, when I'm sitting here again.  A whole year different but back in the same reflective mood.  That's really the thing that keeps me coming back to this blog, this place.  The record of what life has been and what it is now.  Because I've changed.  Andrew's changed.  The girls have changed.  Our house, our pets, our garden, our plans, our opinions.   They all change.  But the way things were is still a part of me, even if I can hardly see it now.  And so all the old stays, and I keep coming back here.
Sweet birthday flowers from my student teacher
Tonight I'm sitting here alone, in the quiet.  Well, relative quiet.  My sick kids keep having ridiculous coughing fits, and I hold my breath waiting to see if they wake up.  But currently they are sleeping through them and I'll take what I can get.  Andrew's teaching trumpet lessons, which he still does two nights a week.  I'm taking a personal day off of work tomorrow, to give myself a treat for my birthday, so I've got no work looming that must be done tonight. Thank goodness for an awesome student teacher, otherwise I'd be worrying about sub plans and making sure my "kids" are covered for tomorrow.  Instead, I'll be soaking up a day being spoiled by my family which sounds just perfect to me.

I feel more comfortable in my own skin now than I ever have before.  It's the best part about getting older, at least for me.  That I know myself better each year, and feel more content with who I am, good and bad.  I am more able to admit my flaws and the things I'm working on, as well as celebrate the things I love about myself, the pieces that I want to hang around despite the constant flow of change.

I've realized that I can't make everyone happy, but that I can try and leave them a little bit better off than they were before.  And I have to remind myself that I am not responsible for other people's happiness, every day, frequently. 

I'm realizing that sometimes plans need to change, in order to achieve the real goal that originated the plan in the first place. That you can start down a path, realize it's not leading where you want it to, and change.  That you should change...instead of bullheadedly continuing down the path you started. 

And that plans created with the goal of fun...should feel like fun. To always come back to the "why am I doing this?" and "am I really getting what I wanted out of it?".

I'm learning to make time for myself, to put my needs first.  To get a run in, to get a babysitter to go out, to not clean the house but to color or take a bath instead.  That there will always be more to do and that it's ok to not always do it.  I threw away about 50% of my to-do lists (Yes.  You read that right.  There were a lot of them). No excuses and no justification.  Maybe it's a natural progression as the girls are getting older, but it feels right.

I'm trying to say yes.  Yes, to things that I want to do, without letting worry get in the way.  And I like it.  It's led to more fun.  To trying new things and finding more that make me happy.  Slowly training my brain to let go of worry and embrace something new. 

I'm trying to find balance.  Balance between standing up for myself, not changing to please others, saying what I really think....and not bulldozing everyone around me. To say what I think, when you ask, without implying that you have to agree with me or do what I say.

I'm learning to spend more time processing alone, in my own head.  Without bouncing every thought off everyone else.  This is a hard habit to break.  To spend time thinking instead of talking and gauging reactions.  To wait on a thought.  Or a feeling.  And see if it's still there later.  Because sometimes those feelings pass and they didn't need to be acted on.

I've embraced the fact that I will always plan pessimistic, but in the moment, I'm actually feeling quite optimistic.

I'm learning to savor the little things that I love instead of getting too busy to recognize them for what they are.  That cup of coffee while I watch the sunrise (instead of thinking about how ridiculously early it is).  The 30 minute run where my brain is occupied with the sound of my breath (instead of how hard it was to get out the door, and why does it still take me a full mile to get in the groove?).  The dish of chocolate chips, glass of wine and a bath (never mind that I can't leave the house because there are two kids sleeping in the other room).

So, to the year when I realized that change was constant, and to embrace it instead of fight it; thanks.  To the year when I learned that I could have fun doing new things when I stop letting my worries become an excuse; I've enjoyed you.  And to the year when I'm focusing on thinking about the reasons driving the plan; I'm excited to see what comes next.

P.S.  If you are really hating me right now because I didn't include pictures and updates on the kids, go check out my instagram...and stop being mad.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Home Again Home Again Jiggity-Jig

About to load up for one last itty bitty camping trip-August 15th, 2015
We are home from our last trip of the Summer, well Elena, Scout, and I are...Andrew's getting a last day of climbing in and will be back tonight.  And while I don't officially start work until the 1st (Happy Anniversary to us!), it feels like this is the end of Summer.  I've got school work to do this week, and we've got projects to finish up (ha!), cooking and cleaning to do to feel ready for the school year.  But I'm still daydreaming of quitting work, selling the house, buying an RV and traveling I don't think we overdid it this summer!

It will probably take me all week to sort through and collect pictures, let alone post anything.  But here's a teaser...we had a blast!

Elena Jo-Priest Lake, ID August 19, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bus ride

Scout loves to watch for buses, and talks to us about riding them frequently. She's been requesting to ride a bus for a while, and we finally got around to it.  We didn't do anything amazing, just caught the bus down a the central Bellingham station, rode a loop around campus, then walked down to the Farmer's Market.  Both girls loved it though!
Riding the city bus-August 25th

Friday, August 14, 2015

Office & Hallway #6

We have a new window!  The old window in Scout's old room, now our office/hallway area was old, aluminum, and small.  It needed to be replaced, and it made sense to do it now while the room was already torn up.  We decided to go bigger and let more light in that little back area of the house. We also moved it down slightly so that you would be able to see out the window if you were sitting at a desk in front of it, part of the long term plan. Our brother in-law Taylor came over and helped Andrew for the day, which was so awesome, especially considering they just had a new baby.  I'm sure it wasn't, but they made it look easy. 
Old window-August 4th
New window in process-August 4th
New window finished-August 4th
So nice to have more light, and a new vinyl window in that room. On to drywall patching...eek!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cilmbing Wall #2

Maybe this post should be labeled Climbing Wall #2, #3, and #4 because the work was done over 3 separate days, but whatever...this works.  Day 1, Andrew dug 4 holes, each about 2 feet deep to sink the corner posts (4x6's) in.  Day 2, our friend Zach came over and spent the day finishing the holes, putting bricks in the bottom (for the posts to rest on), levels the posts, and cementing them in...880 lbs of conrete!  Thanks Zach for the help!
Andrew and Zach figuring out a system-August 5th
Andrew and Scout-August 5th
Scout and I-August 5th
Day 3, Andrew dug a 5th hole, and cemented in a last post, a 4x4, that will support the climbing wall section, and help separate the sloped portion from the unsloped portion.
All 5 posts in-August 11th
It's pretty exciting to see all of the posts up and firmly in place, helps make the whole project seem more real....and massively large! We are excited!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Birthday Donuts

Scout's "real" birthday was on the 3rd of July, and we happened to be traveling south to visit grandparents that day.  Packing up the car, driving two hours south, and unpacking the car is not the most exciting way for a turning 4 year old to spend her birthday.  We tried to liven it up a bit stopping for donuts on our way out of town. They were a hit!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Scout's Birthday Party

Looking at the house: All decorated and ready to go!
Scout requested that have a friend birthday party this year, an idea that I'm pretty sure she got from T.V.  since she has never been to one before.  I was slightly worried (in my normal fashion) that she would be disappointed because I didn't really think she has very many friends and I worried that no one would be able to come...but she has more friends than I realized, they all came, and she had a great time.  It was perfect and it was another piece of evidence that I just need to quit worrying and let it all go. (cue annoying song)
Looking out into the yard: All decorated and ready to go!
We kept it pretty simple, following her lead with what she had pictured in her head.  And we wanted there to be things for the kids to do, but not too much structure and pressure to participate in forced activities.  We tried to think ahead so there would be little to do during the party and the adults could also enjoy visiting.  I just wish I had my camera handy during the party (it ended up in Andrew's pocket) so that I could have gotten more pictures!
Snack table and tent:  All decorated and ready to go!
  • She selected a flower theme and we bought a few decorations at the dollar store.  There were some flower leis, party hats, and party blowers in the mix.
  • We made little gift bags for her friends with some writing materials, stickers, candy and games (again, dollar store) inside.  
  • On the day of the party, Andrew took her to go get a few helium balloons, since she firmly believes that it is not a birthday party without a helium balloon.  
  • We made a "Pin the Flower on the Stem" game (brown paper on the wall), which the kids were all too busy to play, but we played with Scout after.  
  • We pulled out the coffee table, covered it with brown paper and put out a few art supplies.
  • We put out sidewalk chalk on the driveway.
  • We filled up a cooler full of water balloons and put out the mister stick and some spray bottles.
  • We blew up two packages of (dollar store) balloons and threw them all on the trampoline.
  • We threw up some sheets on the clothes line to make a tent.
  • We cleaned up the outdoor toys and balls and such for the kids to play with.
  • The swing set was available for swinging.
  • And we borrowed my sister's kid picnic table for them sit at for snacks.  Scout helped pick out the snacks. We had pita bread, tortilla chips, hummus, salsa, guacamole, graham crackers, Pirate's Booty, cherries, watermelon, yogurt covered pretzels, sliced cucumber and carrot sticks.  She also picked some raspberry lemonade in the fancy dispenser so the kids could get it themselves.
  • Andrew and I made her a ice cream cake, it was AMAZING.  Bottom layer was raspberry with coconut milk ice cream, then a layer of brownies with Hershey syrup, then a layer of chocolate with coconut milk.  Sooooo good.
  • I didn't plan this ahead of time, but I liked it and will totally repeat it in the future.  I'm not a huge fan of the birthday kid sitting and opening present after present while all the other kids sit and watch.  So much pressure and attention for the birthday kid (which may be fine for some, but Scout could hate that!).  Also hard as every kid wants to give their present, all the kids are talking at once, and there is potential for feelings to be hurt, especially with littles who are just learning about the etiquette.  We let each kid just come up and give their present to Scout, when they wanted to, while the others played.  She opened it, admired it and they talked.  Then she'd say thank you.  Some kids did theirs back to back (when they saw her opening one, they wanted her to open theirs too).   Others were more shy and waited until she was alone and then gave her their present.  It seemed to allow more opportunity for kid to kid connection, she really knew who gave her each present, and each kid got recognized and thanked for giving their gift.  I liked it!
One last view:  All decorate and ready to go!
It went super smoothly and I would totally repeat it again.  Felt like a nice play date with a lot of friends.  She ended up having 8 kids over: Levi, Miles, Gwen, Chloe, Junen, Navarrone, Lily (with 2 sisters), and Gabe.  Plenty to feel like a party!
Trampoline jumping!
The only glitch was a funny one.  After planning the entire party, Scout declared that it needed to be a surprise party and she would wait until her friends were all there and she would come to the party and they would yell surprise (another tv idea I'm sure).  This sounded rather ridiculous to us.  But she persisted in it.  And we decided that this was for her and not for us.  So just before 10 she went and hid in her bedroom and we said we'd come and get her when all her friends came and they would yell surprise.  She lasted about 15 minutes, and about 5 kids were here when she started sneaking out, peaking and wanting the surprise to happen.   So we got all set up, I went to get her, and then she got nervous to be the center of attention and started crying.  So I went back out and we called it off.  But it took me about 5 minutes, and the promise of otter pops to hand out to friends to get her over her nerves.  I think she was excited about the idea of a surprise party, but when she peaked and saw so many adults and kids in the yard all ready to stare and yell at her she just got too nervous.  Then she was afraid she had ruined the party.  Luckily, the otter pops saved the day and gave the kids a chance to stare at each other while they warmed up to playing.  By 10:20 or so they were all running around like a pack of crazies having a great time!
A little bit of present opening, a new Tinkerbell dress!
"Blowing" out the candles....which wouldn't light because of the breeze.
Eating cake...and her current cheese face!
Enjoying her birthday presents that afternoon!