Our friends invited us to spend the morning with them at the Aquarium (thanks, guys!)
Most of the Aquarium is inside or in tunnels where it's poorly lit (on purpose - then you get to see the bright colors and cool glow of a lot of the fish!) It is poor lighting for photos, so I didn't take many. I thought maybe we'd try for one of the four kiddos together, looking all happy and such...but it just didn't work. Some days are like that (most days!) - so here is a shot of the four of them, doing their "thing" - Sawyer and Forrest looking like "why do we have to stand here for this?" Sawyer making some sort of strange noise - really loud - and the littler ones, I think they had dropped an animal cookie through the cracks and were looking for it. Even if they don't look thrilled - they all had a really good time ;)
I accidentally paid the max amount of parking time, so when we were done visiting with the fish and sea animals - and our friends had to head out - I decided to take the kids to Ivar's - to EAT some fish ('n' chips). My mom brought me here when I was little, and her mom brought her when she was little. We've been to other "branches" of Ivars around the city, but this one is the classic - on the waterfront.
Feed the Seagulls, Please!
Quote for the day from Sawyer -
"I really don't want the seagulls to EAT me, Mommy.
(pause, a moment of thought)
Maybe they won't - because I'm TALLER than them!"
oh, and I don't want to forget the moment of the day, either -
Forrest loves to run his fingers through Aspen's hair. It is cute and sweet - and sometimes she doesn't mind, and sometimes she does - but it's pretty hilarious to see a 3 year old putting "the moves" on an 18 month old :) I always wonder if one day Aspen will have crushes on her brother's friends. As long as he keeps having such good friends, I'm okay with that ;)
(and tried to keep the slugs away from them, I should add)
The glorious sun beckoned to them - and,
For some reason I am still totally amazed that our garden grew and is producing actual food to eat. I guess it's not that hard to do, with a little time, attention, and love - but still, I am amazed how these perfectly lovely little herbs (oh how I love fresh cilantro and basil!) and veggies are popping up all around our garden.
It makes me so happy!
We picked some green beans and then made pan roasted chicken with lemon-garlic green beans for dinner. Topped off with some left-over red velvet cake from dinner at my sister's house last night (thanks Kate & Tay!) it was quite the little feast for a Monday night meal. Yum!
The finishing touches have finally been made, and after over a year of working on it, the nest for my little birds is complete.
Here's a little tour:
thoughts on the process:
Just because I have a boy and a girl, didn't mean I wanted to get stuck decorating their room with yellow and green (aren't most of the "unisex" things you find those colors? ugh!) SO. I opted for a pale yellow, gold, gray, and then splash of ballet pink and robin's egg blue. This room is our happy place - it gets the best light in the house, and I love how calming it is to hang out with my two little kidlets in their little nest (we gave them the Master bedroom since we spend way more time playing in their room than in ours).
I sold a few items we didn't need/use anymore on Craigslist and used the money to splurge on a couple of things (dwell crib sheet for Aspen, knock-off Eames rocker, and the ultra cool Roadster car,new bookshelf, and a fresh coat of ceiling paint).
UPDATE SEPT 2011: by request, I am including the paint colors - the room itself is "Lily" by Sherwin Williams. The play kitchen is "Robin's Egg" by Benjamin Moore. ;)
The retro play kitchen...well...this one is a treasure. A serious treasure. It will be an heirloom, for sure, in our family. I did some work for some wonderful family friends - The Flanders Family (they really are just like family) and in return, they built this for us. I had been gathering and collecting the supplies for months (tracking down mini bar faucet on ebay, splurging my birthday gift cert. for the anthro knobs, picking out the perfect color, etc.) but about two days before Jacob and I were going to rent the equipment to try our hand at wood-working, we came up with the trade arrangement and it could've have been better timing! I was getting really nervous about the prospect of me and Jacob with nailguns in our hands. So, I did their family photos while in Oregon in July, and then Dan built it - he even designed the refrigerator from scratch and from a picture in my mind I had, and did it just perfect! Lori painted it. My mom delivered it a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend I spent an HOUR in the fabric store picking out the perfect fabric for the sink skirt and then I stayed up REALLY late one night last week sewing away at the sink skirt and little tea towel. I never had a play kitchen growing up, so I have to admit, this is just as much for me as it is for the kids. I am SO in love with it! It is just perfect! I can never thank the Flanders enough for this special treasure. I spent many many hours babysitting their children as they grew, so it is extra special that they made this for my own children. (thanks you two!)
I had thought about printing an image of each of my children, or one of them together, on a large, gallery-wrapped canvas, but then decided against it. You would think, for someone who takes lots of photos, I would have more on the wall. But I actually think it's a little strange to have big pictures of yourself hanging by your bed. I don't want to encourage narcissism or anything. I wanted to keep things simple. So I printed just their silhouettes and a little reminder of who's children I am really raising nearby (I am a Child of God). I did a 5x7 more recent one of each of them, just to have a print on the wall, with a little reminder for them (Love one Another.)
This is their room, and also the room we spend lots of time playing in. My goal was clean lines, contemporary, minimal, yet with personal touches. Not only did I do a lot of it myself, or have a few pieces from special family friends (my sister Jamie made the ceramic piggy bank and the crocheted teddy bear on the shelf) but there are a couple of pieces from my childhood there, too. Most of the little golden books are mine (well, my twin sisters, too, but she doesn't mind...) and the vintage golden book encyclopedias were my Grandmothers that she gave to me when I had Sawyer (funny enough, he has loved reading through those encyclopedias - as un-"PC" as they are, since he was a year old! He seriously has them memorized.)
I made: Sawyer's toddler bedding & bird pillow, the bird mobile and prints, painted the birdhouses, the fabric poms above Aspen's crib, her blankie, the silhouettes, and then I pulled a bunch of "wishes" that I have for my children together from other sources and designed the print that hangs adjacent to the rocking chair(last photo). I tried really hard not to over-do the birds. I wanted it to be part of the room, but birds are a bit trendy right now and I tried to use them more as a soft touch to the room rather than the primary "theme". If there is a "theme" I wanted it to be "come, relax, be yourself, and play here with us. Feel free to dream and let your imagination run for a while, or just sit and read with us. Or sleep for a bit and dream sweetly." I wanted them to feel surrounded by "things" that were carefully placed, carefully thought of, and made with love.
Which, it was.
I had fun doing all the little things that made this room complete, but what really makes it complete, are the two little people sharing it. Oh, how I love my Sawyer and my Aspen!
Before heading to a school yard this morning to meet up with a bunch of friends for a bike play date, I had to snap a couple pics of the kids in their new helmets.
If a bike helmet can be somewhat cool and maybe even adorable...these are :) Gotta keep the kidlets' noggins just as safe as can be, right? These will certainly do the job well - and in style, to boot!
When Jacob saw the new helmets, he said:
"Can I get one, too?"
The man does, after all, commute to work on his bike every day - 14 miles round trip.
We love blocking off our driveway with cones and letting the kids go wild on their wheels. Sawyer has gotten good enough that when we walked to the park a week or so back, we let him ride along with us on the busy busy street. (sidewalk of the street that is). He got the hang of coasting and it was so fun to see him go! I think my next test is to see if he can ride around Greenlake while I run (about 3 miles).
I hope everyone is having a happy, safe, week! Enjoying these last days (hopefully weeks) of summer to the MAX!
Coming home from a photo shoot this evening, I pulled into the driveway and saw this:
While all the chalk drawings were nice, these words jumped out at me and gave my heart a nice big tug...and squeeze...
At times I have mixed feelings about my "job" away from home - it is very part time in terms of the time I am actually away from my family (about 4-6 hours/month usually) but it does steal many late late nights. I feel super blessed to be able to have a little something that I can contribute to our family's needs and goals - especially since I quit grad school with 6 months left of my clinical internship. Everyone said I was crazy for quitting when I was "so close" but what they didn't realize is that my dream job was to be a wife and a mother. I vowed when I started grad school that if the opportunity arose, I would quit and put my focus where my heart had always been. Of course, half way through grad school I started dating Jacob. And I realized my biggest dreams were about to come true. After doing a lot of calculating, we realized that if I wanted to be able to stay at home with the kids I would have to quit - if I finished, I would have to work to pay student loans for a long long time. So, I quit. I went back to nannying, and we pretended we only had one income. Jacob did a lot of freelance, as well. And AMAZINGLY, 13 months later - and the week before Sawyer was born, we had paid off $80,000 in student loans from my my expensive, private, unfinished graduate education.
There is a little joke from that time - we were visiting with some family and Jacob was drooling over an avocado. We told them we didn't buy avocados because we we were paying off student loans. Later, that same family member (you know it, Kara!) handed us a handful of avocados to take home.
Well, we still very rarely buy avocados - and it's not that we don't like them. Now, instead of school loans, there is preschool (oh my goodness who knew preschool tuition would cost more than my first semester at BYU!) and health care and dentist visits and swim lessons. I'm sure there will always be something.
And now, I'm rambling. But I'm reminiscing a bit, I guess, super thankful that we are debt free. Super grateful that somehow I have been able to magnify a talent and something I love to be able to help our little family to grow. I am so lucky I get to spend each day with my kids and super lucky that I only have to go to "work" in as many hours as some moms leave their kids in childcare at the gym or for a girls' night out. Of course, they notice I am gone when I am gone - but I am also lucky they are spending some quality time with their dad the 2-3 hours at a time I am gone for a session. Sawyer is old enough now that he knows why I go take pictures of other people's families sometimes...like tonight when we were going to pick up Jacob from work so I could drop them all back home (we have one car) and then fly across the 520 bridge to Medina for my session. He knows we're saving our pennies for a mini van. And for a new brother or sister to (someday) join our family (he for some reason keeps saying he really wants another sister, just like Aspen, but there are no guarantees - and we are not making any announcements...just carefully planning, saving, and calculating the costs of adding a third child to our family.)
And he's excited about it - all of it. And so are we!
I likely won't be doing this "work" forever. But it's nice to know I'm missed when I'm gone. And that they love me! It's nice to know that by contributing a bit to the hard work Jacob does in supporting our family, we can remain debt free - which is freeing in oh so many other ways.
I sure love my little hooligans.
And, their Daddy - who takes such great care of all of us.
Friday morning, we packed up every inch of our Honda Civic with gear, grabbed our passports, and headed for the Canadian border...
We joke around that we went "fake" camping.
Truth is, we pitched our tent in a huge, grassy field on the edge of an RV park in Surrey, BC (called Hazelmere if you ever want to check it out). There are RVs, yurts, and tent camping. There is a swimming pool, a playground, and miniature golf. So - not in the middle of the forrest, hike-in type camping, but kid-friendly camping :) They were super excited to just go camping and sleep in a tent!
Once we set up our camp site, we took full advantage of pool time! And then, the playground, which was an old-school playground with a big, looooong metal slide that the kids loved :)
So - sort of "fake" camping, but it's oh-so-real! We got the kids each their own sleeping bag for Christmas last year and they were excited to sleep in them, in the tent. We don't have any blow-up mattresses or anything like that, so in that sense, they def. got the sleep-on-the-ground camping experience.
Sawyer was especially excited to get bundled up for bedtime.
I wish I could say Aspen was equally excited to sleep in her sleeping bag. We should've known better...
Pretty much, we all laid there pretending to go to sleep (saying "Aspen, lay down and go to sleep!") and she literally ran around the tent like a little hooligan from the time we tried to go to bed (around 10pm) until midnight. We were part amused, and part frustrated. Somehow Sawyer fell asleep while she kept running across our legs, tripping, falling down purposefully, saying "tickle tickle" and then trying to jump on our legs while singing, "no mo momees umpin bed!!!" (her interpretation of "no more monkeys jumping on the bed". Hilarious. At first. But at midnight, we were glad we had brought the pack n play as backup, we set it up and put her in and in 5 min. she was asleep. sigh.
Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed the next morning!
(half way through the night I was worried Aspen would be too cold in the pack n play so I let her share my mummy bag...good times ;)
Amazingly enough, our neighbors didn't want to strangle Aspen in the morning...in fact the two kids and their Dad, camping literally like 20 feet from us, were actually super excited to come over and play the next morning.
The girl was 6 months older than Sawyer, and the boy was 6 months older than Aspen. We played together for a good two hours, playing impromptu games of soccer and then Sawyer and his girl buddy having balance bike races while the younger tots cheered them on.
After breakfast was consumed (and shared with our cute neighbors) and we freshened up a tiny bit, we drove about an hour north to Lynn Canyon and the suspension bridge. There were lots of trails (luckily the further you went, the less the crowd) so we ended up hiking around the trails a good 3 or so hours.
I was proud of our generally-cautious boy, for wanting to walk across the scary-ish suspension bridge. It feels like those shaky playground bridges, only a bit more pronounced the more people that are on it - and WAY WAY WAY higher.
I felt great to take our time and hike to our hearts content with our two little kidlets. Good times!
Later, we drove back to White Rock, this cute little beachy town near our campsite. We walked out on the promenade and pier and watched fishermen, sailboats, and got to see them pull in some fresh crab.
Oh yeah, and the train goes right by here.
Oh yeah. And we went out to pizza for dinner one night. It was a joint that had huge screens with sports on. There was a football game on - and we realized our kids have never seen a football game (we don't have tv in our home, and even if we did we'd never watch football). When the players would get tackled or fall down or throw themselves on the ground, our kids would shout, in unison "fall down!" and then laugh laugh laugh. They thought it was sooooo funny!
Aspen was so funny on the board-walk. She didn't want to step on the cracks, and then she kept bending down to look through them and see the water. I'm not exactly sure what she was thinking, but it was pretty funny to watch. Sawyer, on the other hand, loved running out to see the fishermen and sailboats. It's a beautiful place to watch the sun set.
Overall, we had a wonderful 3 day weekend. Always a lot of work packing up and then unpacking, but always worth it, too.
The second night was better with Aspen since we used the pack n play. But it did make us re-think the 5 day trip we had planned in a few weeks - half of the time which would be backpacking in - no way we would bring a pack n play. So, maybe we just need to come up with a different plan or a different trip until we do a few more "practice" camping test-runs. Wouldn't hurt if the kids were older and could carry a few pounds of gear, either :)
It is always so refreshing to just get away and be unplugged from everything for a few days.
Hooray for camping!
ps- good thing our swagger wagon account continues to grow...we have pretty much outgrown our Civic even with just two kiddos!
This past week I have been doing a lot of Fall Shopping
(ie Sawyer now has clothes to last through next summer
Aspen will have something to wear besides summer clothes this fall)
Sales at BabyGap (I'm SUCH a sucker for their beautiful dresses!), Mini Boden, and H&M have been my best friends.
I like to buy the kids' clothes off-season, that way I get super awesome deals, and super awesome clothes (hint hint, summer clearance now is next summers wardrobe) I have found many times that I can get pretty much the same price waiting for off-season sales as I could shopping at the consignment store. But I get more selection, and everything is brand new. I like to stick to good quality brands, that way the clothing will last through more than one kid - or I consign it and get some $$ back.
Anyway - all that aside. Aspen has only had one pair of shoes this summer - her white salt water sandels, which are awesome because they go with everything and she can wear them from church to the beach.
I actually picked up a pair of on-sale pink crocs - the smallest size they make - for her dainty little feet - last week thinking they'd be good for our upcoming camping trips as they'll cover her toes and can go in the water (I had sworn never to buy crocs, I think they're ugly - but she loved them so much she wore them to bed twice last week!)
But..she needed some "real" shoes for the fall...and yesterday when we were at H&M, well, she spotted these beauties - in the boy section, no less:
The girl was going crazy "shoes! shoes!" she cried, reaching out of her comfy ride in the BOB revolution to try and grab a pair of the gray sneakers.
And then she wouldn't let go.
The girl has a thing for shoes, I tell ya.
So, I decided since she seemed so in love with them, to buy them for her -why not? They were $12 and she can run in the mud or whatever in them. I wanted to get her some super snazzy cute See Kai Run sneakers (shh I still might) but honestly, she'll probably be happier in these anyway.
Our little tom boy, sweet as can be - and proud new owner of some gray sneaks to go with all of her dresses :)
I just love our Aspen Jane to pieces. She cracks me up all the time. She is soooo go-with-the-flow. Easy going and happy. And she'll trick ya, this girl will. You see, people come up all the time to comment on how adorable she is (I know I am biased but it always pleases me when strangers call my daughter beautiful and it confirms that she's cute to people besides her parents). Anyway, she's this petite little darling 18 month old girly, with these honey-blond curls. (I like to call her "goldilocks" and Jacob calls her "sweet pea") She is often wearing a cute little dress (that I of course couldn't pass up at a BabyGap sale :)
don't let it fool you.
She will come running up with a cute grin - and then start roaring like she's a dragon. She will flap her wings and fly and run and fling herself to the ground and make very boy-ish noises. We can thank her brother for that. She even makes race-car noises, and airplane noises.
but it's all good. It makes for such a good laugh when people are commenting on her cuteness and she comes running up making these boy-noises.
I suppose a combination of girlyness+cuteness+loving the things her brother does makes for one cute little tomboy. With a shoe fetish. With boy sneakers.
Don't worry, I got her some super cute brown suede "big girl" boots and some black patent mary janes as well. The girl is now stocked up with shoes!
And she, along with her brother, help me stock up with smiles, giggles, and hugs every single day.