Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Outdoorsy attempts 2014

I hate going backwards in my blog posts. But the last few months have been so crazy that I've fallen behind. Actually, I find that when things are really bad or really good, I don't blog as much. The really bad times are few, but the last year I would classify as a good/busy time. So I'm going back to summer a bit and I'll catch up to everything that's happened, like buying a house and moving. Oh, and being pregnant. That doesn't really deserve a post, it just is my state at present.

After camping once last year at the end of summer, we were excited to try to do it more this summer. We are camping/outdoorsy amateurs at best, and we hope that by the time our kids are older we will become seasoned professionals. So we selected a weekend in June and geared up. As the week approached the forecast said rain. But we're Portlanders, right? It rains for a few minutes, clears up and then gorgeous weather appears, mocking those who feared a little moisture and stayed home. At least that's how I imagined the weekend going. Not really imagined as much as expected. I was determined to camp for some strange reason. We got our stuff together, so much stuff--and our new 8 man huge tent, and food and all the clothes we would need for all the different weather we might encounter in the mountains. Choosing to camp in 70% chance of rain was probably our first mistake, leaving our coats on our bed was probably the second. (Note--don't do all your packing the day of the trip.) I luckily had a rain coat that saved my life, Jon had a light rain jacket that made things not terrible. We met David and Vanessa there, and in a tiny window of sunshine set up our tent. Then, it started raining more and to my complete and utter surprise, did not let up. All evening and all night. The Wilkes had bought a canopy shelter on the way that we used over the picnic table, otherwise I'm not sure what we would have done. Eaten hot dogs in our tents? The kids luckily still thought it was fun, running around in their rain boots (I had to buy some ugly ones from Fred Meyer on the way, as I foolishly got rid of mine during a great purge in a past move) and playing in our hotel tent. The campsite itself was really great, very private and woodsy. The adults stood by the fire in the rain all night, shifting every once in a while to drain the puddles on the top of our hoods. I honestly still thought it was fun. I am not quite sure why. Sleeping in a tent in the rain is the best part, because it drowned out any little noise that would wake me and put me in "bear alert" mode. The next morning, we made a fire in the continuing rain and walked over to Trillium Lake, which is a very beautiful place. Apparently you can see Mt Hood right in your face if it's not insanely cloudy. We just saw clouds. We also tried to fish for about two seconds, then packed up our tent in another lucky patch of sun/light rain and went back home. We were all rain drenched and dirty and tired and unpacking that van and hauling it up the stairs to our apartment was where my attitude finally shifted to a more dark place. But luckily on the way home we stopped at an estate sale that was a single woman who was a buyer at Nordstroms and had size 10 (!) feet and a ton of Ferragamo heels. They were actually all a little too big for me, but this event was so rare that I really just appreciated being there. I also got a pair of leather gloves. I usually struggle to even fit vintage gloves over my knuckles so it was a treat. This wonderful woman must have been tall. My odd large extremities were happy. 

Don't look so sad, Theo. It's not raining! Also during both trips I found that all my photos were minimal and poorly executed. Kind of like what you would find in your 1991 family photo album at home, and part of me likes that.

Half of camping.

Nellie here is showing off what was officially our flashlight.

We weren't the only poor souls that camped that weekend, but at least we weren't stuck on a boat during the random and frequent downpours.

Say what you will about Forever 21, but this raincoat was waterproof and saved my life. So did my FM plaid boots.

Theo actually thinks he's doing something useful here.

After that less than ideal trip, I wanted to try camping again, but in great weather. I couldn't end the summer with our only camping experience being a sogfest. In mid July we decided to start the process of buying a house, and five days later, we were sitting on an accepted offer and I was freaking out a little. Then the inspections and more inspections and blah blah blah... it was Labor Day weekend and we moved. (And Mackenzie's baby was born the morning of our move--it was a lot!) But I still wanted to go camping. So Jon booked the only site available in mid September and we and the Wilkes decided to try our luck again. This time, trying to pack ahead of time (almost did that, ish), going for two nights instead of one (never do one night unless you don't have kids, it's way too much stuff and too much work!). Still didn't get running water and flushable toilets, but oh well. (Not really, I'm not doing that again...) Our campsite was right on the Clackamas river, which is a wonderful whitewater river that provides the most amazing white noise at night. We even bought a little camping hammock and after the first night I sat in it and read while our kids played. The weather was beautiful, even a little hot. Margot and Theo had never ending enthusiasm for grilling hot dogs over the fire and roasting marshmallows for other people and just eating the raw ones. Margot got amazingly dirty, the kind of dirty I used to see in other young children camping growing up and dreaded. She looked like a coal mine worker, but they had a great time. Night time was full of Theo and Margot playing in her pack and play and goofing around, but ended up sleeping relatively well. The second night Theo was having a hard time sleeping because our rain fly was off the tent and the trees above looked all shadowy and spooky in the remaining light. I went in to see what was wrong, and he told me was scared, and then he asked me if we could pray so the Holy Ghost could come and protect them and make him feel better so he could sleep. He gave the sweetest prayer and then went to sleep. He had such a pure intent faith that it made my heart melt. The second day we went to another part of the river and tried fishing again (I wanted to get a little use out of my license I bought). I really had high hopes I would catch something, but between the hot weather and the tubers floating down the river, we got nothing. Maybe next year. I'm not sure what we would do if we actually caught a fish anyway...

Second try, Clackamas River. I forgot to mention the morning we were leaving we had to go home a back way because the road by us was blocked due to a huge forest fire we had seen on the hill the day before. A little scary!

Crawdad! Theo kept yelling, "Lomster! Lomster!"

Get in a hammock, and this is what happens 90% of the time.

Jon reading to the kids. Theo in his sleeping bag, Margot in a wearable one.

Our sling shot finally got some more use!

Nellie and Vanessa are also in this photo. David's brother came and showed us up with his super deluxe double hammock.

Vanessa took this of me fishing. I am so good at not catching anything. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Like weeds, I tell ya!

Margot is two, Theo is four. We have a family with a couple of full-on children!

Margot at two is probably one of the most enjoyable things I have experienced. She is the bittiest, talkiest, sassiest, snuggliest and sweetest little girl. All notions of her calmness and extreme ease has been forgotten. She loves to sing (Let it Go of course, with all other Frozen songs mixed in by memory, lots of church songs, ABC's, you name it) and I have noticed she is awake from her nap more than once by hearing an extremely loud, shrill, high pitched voice launch into whatever song is her favorite at the moment. She will still have moments of shyness with strangers (and she has yet to sing a word in nursery), but today a guy asked her about her name, and while Theo has always answered for her, today she said "umm... umm.... I Margot." While the term "ear piercing" is a common term, it honestly describes Margot's scream the best. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to black out when I'm getting blasted by her siren. She loves telling you what she wants, when she wants it, and who it belongs to (always, MINE!! and "I had it, FIRST!!"). While this can cause some tension during her playtime with Theo, they have been playing very well together. They love to play hide and seek, or push each other in a car or their Thomas push toy, and play "What you having?"--where Theo and Margot ask each other the question, the answer is food of some kind, and they run off and come back and pretend to deliver what they wanted. It's very cute. Margot is very interested in Theo's Legos, although at first she would chew on them a bit and even stuck a tiny cone-shaped one up her nose that we had to shoot out. Using the method we learned during the great pinto bean episode, of course. She takes great pride in doing things herself lately, like putting on a dress, buckling her car seat, climbing into her carseat (sooo slowly!), and carrying around Theo's backpack. She only likes the frosting off of cupcakes and cookies. She eats well generally but has been skittish around trying new fruits and vegetables. Well, she doesn't eat a lot of different vegetables right now actually. She only drinks milk in a bowl with granola in it. String cheese might be her favorite food. Her curly hair makes me so happy, as well as her excited cries of "Mommy! It's MEE!!" when I get her out of her crib. She still uses a pacifier to sleep with, but after she wakes up quickly says "night night, pop" and drops it in her crib.

Theo right now is very vibrant and imaginative. Imaginary play takes up almost all of his time, and while he loves his Cranky crane and Matchbox cars, he got a small Lego set for his birthday and they are played with more than anything in the house. He's learned how to follow the instructions and make cars and helicopters by himself, which for me as the initial main builder is a relief. Although I secretly love to put them together. It might be strange to hear but while growing up around my brother's Legos I had no idea they had instructions to make certain things! I thought they were just random blocks that my brother magically made into jets. I made them into large stable rectangles and houses of varying sizes. I think they might be his next new "thing" and will probably be around for a long time. Theo loves playing with his friends. His best friend Elli recently moved away, which has been sad but we still have been able to see her a couple times in Hood River. He has a couple other friends from preschool and church that he gets along really well with, and they all cause their teachers some frustration together sometimes with their rowdiness. Theo is fairly confident, even on a playground with older kids he hasn't met. His favorite color is still pink, and I let him pick out some pink flip flops the other day. I'm not sure how long his pink obsession will last (although it's been a long time) and I really enjoy watching him derive a lot of pleasure from liking the things he does based solely on his own thoughts and feelings. I get worried about the peer pressure of others and dread the day he comes home telling me pink is a "girl" color (it's not!). He is very aware of "boy" and "girl" differences, things I don't tell him but he somehow picks up from other kids or shows or something. He's starting three day preschool soon and I know he's going to love it. He is in a gymnastics class now with just boys, and they have started working on more advanced exercises. He loves his teacher "Coach Dale"--he's a middle aged guy with the energy of the six 4-year-olds he teaches. Making him proud and earning a high five really makes Theo's day. Theo loves to snuggle in the morning still and will often tell me, "Mommy, I love you so much." He's so sweet and has the cutest little freckles on his nose that match his boyishness exactly. His long hair is gone--a few months ago after struggling to keep it out of his face for gymnastics, he refused any sweatband or hair tie ("it's for mommies and Margots!") and asked to get his hair cut. He became more aware the most boys didn't have hair like him and so we took him to get it cut. He looked so different it was like his first hair cut all over again! I loved his long hair so much but I also love being able to see more of his beautiful face. Theo loves babies lately and will always want to lightly touch them and remarks on their cuteness. He keeps asking me for a baby!



Preschool at teacher Missy McConkie's-- From left Jacob, Theo, Truman, Rueben, Gabe 

Margot's birthday at the farmer's market

Mini Olympics with Teacher Jane

Made Margot a birthday dress

We have had a lot of warm days to swim in our pool this summer.

Theo's birthday party at a splash pad park, I got hardly any pictures but it was a bunch of friends squirting water at each other and eating pink cupcakes. 

Seriously, this was about they only blurry picture I took during the party. It was too much fun!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Us update

I guess it takes a lot of motivation to blog when your previous post was about Hawaii. Children's birthdays and subsequent updates are upon us but I decided that an adult update should come first.

I know I spent almost a year on a desert island where time was seemingly abundant and people un-abundant, but for some reason my personal development/hobbies were severally lacking. Maybe it was the infant baby, maybe the two year old tantrums, maybe the sadness--in the end living to see another day and catching up on hulu seemed to be my main goal most of the time. I did through necessity develop my cooking skills and knowledge, but I didn't feel hardly any desire to start any big sewing projects or try something new. (I think just living in the desert wilderness could have counted as something new--as well as cactus needle removal and snake avoidance.) I did knit, however, thanks to my sister! I know they (meaning Mary Engelbreit) say "bloom where you're planted," but I felt like I was a flower planted in the completely wrong climate. But now that I'm back in a nice, rainy, temperate zone, I feel a desire to branch out and develop those parts of myself that make me, me. I have felt much more motivated to become involved in things that make me happy. I made Margot her first dress ever for Easter. After sewing so many things over the years I can't believe I hadn't made her a dress yet, but I never felt like doing so until now. I also made a dress for myself, and have a goal to make at least 3-4 shirts for summer. I've been learning Spanish almost daily via an app on my phone for over six months now, and I'm still not very good at all but it feels really good to be able to speak very broken Spanish with Jon. Lately it's "How many patients did you see today?" Jon got me a mandolin for my birthday, and I'm working through a beginner book. I love learning a new instrument, especially one that comes pretty naturally after the violin. Pretty soon I'll be bluegrass jamming all over the place, if one can do that. I've also had many opportunities to play the violin in the church, including pieces that challenge me to practice regularly and often to develop a technique further than I ever have before. I've eaten a bunch of strange things (and liked them!). I tried a new weight lifting class (liked it!). I tried another fitness class that felt like interpretive dance (kind of liked it!). I started regularly washing my face. I had four houseplants. Now I have two, but I still want to try and have more. Ironically, probably more cacti.

I can't say I'm doing an adult update and leave Jon out, even though he prefers to be mentioned on this blog as little as possible. He is really enjoying his work at the clinic, and his patients have seemed to double since he started. I'm really proud of the work he does and the people he has helped who come to him in pain and distress. While he enjoys his work we all really enjoy his four day workweek and spending extra time together. He still runs as often as he can. He's the number one supporter and helper in my homemade ice cream/waffle cone habit. Jon also makes a delicious batch of stovetop popcorn, and his signature orange julius.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My new happy place.

I don't really know where to start when describing our vacation to Hawaii last month. Jon's parents had found a truly amazing house on the ocean in Lanikai, which is the windward side of Oahu in a reefy stretch next to two small islands. It was filled with terrible art, but when I fell asleep listening to waves crash over the sound of my sound machine all was forgiven. Now, I'm sure everyone knows how much I love to shred up the waves in a boogie board (and I do! Small to medium easy to catch waves are my specialty)--but the calm waters were perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, and for the kids. The beach was uncrowded and filled with white, powdery sand. It was pretty much perfect, even with the rain and wind that we got on a few of the days. I was so relaxed I hardly thought about the world that existed outside the island, got to read a lot, and didn't even get a tan. So my ideal beach vacation.

We had fun exploring other parts of the island also. The snorkeling at hanauma bay was a standout experience for me. It had been many years since I had snorkeled and I declared that I was terrible at it. And while snorkeling is very easy, I was still amazingly proud of the fact that I dove deep underwater, came back up, and did not choke. It was something I never thought I would do. It's nice to set the bar low for yourself. I had been to Pearl Harbor before but it was more fascinating than I anticipated. I also instantly identified the narrator of the movie they showed as the First Lady from the West Wing. Unfortunately Jon is the main benefactor of my avid voiceover identification hobby, but he humors me. I have to tell someone or it doesn't count!

Theo and Margot loved the beach. (Pearl Harbor...was not their best day.) Theo started a little apprehensive of swimming in the ocean but by the end swam underwater like a fish. They also loved playing with their cousins so (so!) much. Margot was obsessed with Paige especially. They endlessly played in the sand and one day caught a small crab and kept it in a bucket for a little while. That was easily the highlight of Theo's life. Paige named the crab Theodore Crab (so sweet!). Hollyn, who is nine, taught me how to do those elastic band bracelet things with your fingers, and I got pretty into it.

We loved catching up with family, as well as taking advantage of the available babysitters as Jon and I got to do some exploring on our own. We kayaked out to the Mokulua islands, seeing several sea turtles and also from the house to Lanikai beach. We got the whole family in the two man kayak a couple of times, which they loved. Margot loved being on the "boat." We frequented Island Snow nearby, Obama's favorite for a reason--it was the best we had on the island. I hope I don't anger people by saying Matsumotos' ice was much more course--but that was our highly scientific analysis. But I think Matsumoto himself offered to take a group photo of all of us, so he gets nice points.

It was so hard to leave! The beautiful green mountains and scenery actually made Oregon look a little bleak when we came back. Sorry kids, maybe we'll never go to Disneyland. I'm looking to spend all our vacation dollars here.

On both plane trips, the kids watched movie trailers for hours. Usually the same one over and over. 

Margot got really excited about chasing a bird and ended up far, far away. Can you spot her?

Of of the kids' favorite activities at the house was finding "coconuts" and throwing them over the wall into the ocean.

Island humidity did amazing things for their hair.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monkey Marg

Yesterday, Margot and Theo were playing around on the computer desk while I was cleaning up the kitchen, and I heard a loud fall followed by The Cry. You know, the one that instantly makes you drop everything and run? Margot was on the ground and as I picked her up I saw drops of blood on the back of her hair, getting on my hands, drops on the floor. It's hard to describe the panic I felt but I'm sure you could imagine. I ran for a compress, asking Theo what had happened. My entire body started sweating all at once. Jon got a phone call that he dreads, which is me freaking out in a warbling voice and repeating myself. Luckily, this story sounds a lot worse than it was--Margot hit her head on the bottom of a chair when she slipped off of it, causing a cut on her scalp that was not too large or serious but bleeds just enough to scare. Theo found my sucker stash in my purse, turned on a TV show for her and was extremely calm the whole time. Margot, pacified, soon stopped crying and the bleeding stopped too. She had ice cream after dinner as well as a bowl of tortilla chips. She had a marshmallow this morning before breakfast. My poor little darling, I'll do anything to make her feel better after something so scary!

In other less traumatic news, Margot is a constant thing of cuteness. She seems to say everything. She puts new words with familiar objects constantly. She rote counts to six, then sticks and eight in there--it's her favorite number. She always asks me to draw an "A." Tonight I randomly asked her, "Margot, what's your favorite color?" And she replied, "Yellow." It might represent all colors to her right now, but the way she says it is adorable. She loves doing whatever Theo does. We went to an open gym day at his gymnastics place and she loved jumping on the trampoline and in the bounce house. Margot calls me "Mom Mom" right now. She says " eYo!" for Theo. She says "Uh huh!" affirmatively to all questions in the most dramatic, valley-girl-esque way. She loves to scream really loud if she thinks Theo is in danger of taking whatever she is playing with. She is obsessed with babies and points them out everywhere we go. She loves chocolate, cheese, not milk, chips, cheerios, and cucumbers. She has backed off of a lot of vegetables as finger foods, but does a good job with soups I make. Today when I picked her up from childcare at the gym she ran up and said "I play!" She asks for Daddy most mornings, he usually leaves before she wakes up but she is so excited to see him when he gets home. Margot still is a wonderful snuggler. She loves to sing songs. She loves my phone (of course) and goes from app to app, playing the games. But her favorite is the PBS kids app where she can watch clips of shows. The intro songs are her favorite part. I can't believe that she is so close to being two! She still seems like my little baby, my baby that now can rock a single ponytail. We all love her so much, even and especially Theo, who of course she fights with at times but play together more and more every day. I'll let them tear up the house if they are playing happily together. It's worth it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


In Portland, gentle flakes of snow falling from the sky only have one message--batten down the hatches and grab all the food you can, your whole world is going to shut down!! Hours before the snow arrived we found out the van battery was dead, but luckily Jon had the day off so I got one more gym visit before we became shut ins. It was a good thing too. Have you ever sat inside for five days, watching snow fall and figuring out what to do? Here's what you DON'T do (if you're me)--anything productive. No clothes were washed, nothing cleaned beyond normal. We ate the contents of our freezer and from a large box of Valentine's candy and Girl Scout cookies from my mother in law. (Say what you will about mother in laws, but mine hates chocolate but does not hesitate to send a lot of dark chocolate our way on Valentine's.) We went outside each day with the kids, but between our lack of snow gear and Margot's 10 minute cold limit, we spent most of it inside. I made a big batch of play dough without any food coloring, which makes it look like well, dough. Margot ate a lot of it. Jon got out on Saturday to get a car battery and a few things from the store and called me that a certain delicious bakery was open and my response was "BUY IT ALL!!!" Oh, and we didn't even try and jump the van, it was too hard to get to and we couldn't drive it out on the roads (there was so much snow!) so we just figured it was a goner and bought a new one. Because we are, above all things, practical American.

One of my favorite things we did was make a lot of indoor forts with our couch, chairs, and a walking stick from New Mexico. I had reading constantly on my mind as that is all I do when it snows, so we put a sheepskin rug and pillows in there. I told Theo we would make it all nice and cozy, and he internalized that phrase as "cozy and sweet." So he kept saying, "It's so cozy and sweet!" "I'm going to make it nice and cozy and sweet." When I hear the phrase "cozy and sweet" I feel very afraid because it is so adorable it instantly makes me want to have a million more babies that will make up more phrases just like that.

Some people got a little stir crazy but I have to admit I did not. Jon happened to have Thursday off by a miracle, work on Friday was cancelled, it was the weekend, and then he went into work late on Monday. And the Olympics were on. I would have liked to sled or something if the opportunity arose but I was perfectly happy eating homemade chicken noodle soup wrapped up in blankets reading books on my couch, all cozy and sweet.

This is a blurry picture but still captures everything that was wonderful about fort time--pajamas, blankets, babies, books. And pretzels.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

19 and 42

I think I'm about ready to admit to myself that I have a child and a toddler, not a toddler and a baby. Exploding is the only term I can think of to describe Margot's verbal awakening in the world. She has new words every day, said with insistence--bread, car, no!!!, cheese, I want that one. After screeching a command at me I ask her, "Ask nicely," and she responds with a gentle, "pease, nana?" I've completed my suburban mom trifecta of minivan and school drop offs with a gym membership and after a few times she now walks right into the childcare, not looking back. When she asks for things I have the hardest time saying no--I have thrown away all leftover candy. Her canine teeth are taking the longest time to break through so I've been a little overindulgent to her, and she has her pacifier constantly. But she's the lucky second child, so I know that these things happen for a season and then we will both move on and change. But hopefully she always still snuggles me as much as she does.

Theo is more insistent as well with what he wants getting closer to four, but his tantrums overall have decreased significantly. We can talk things over and come to a calm resolution, usually. If he's tired, well... it gives me good tantrum coping practice. He usually starts the morning snuggling with me until Margot wakes up (which is getting earlier, boo), sometimes falling back asleep. He asked me to get up with him the other day and I said, "But I love snuggling with you!" And he responded "But I love standing up with you too!" Got me. He love going to gymnastics class, his teacher talked to me last week because she wants to move him into an advanced class for kids who are "talented and focused." Honestly I knew he was doing well but still thought he was as squirrel-y as the other three year olds (his favorite thing right now is to swing back and forth on the rope swing instead of once in an obstacle course) so I was a little surprised. That lasted for a half second and now I am completely overcome with Mom Pride. And now I want to share his little achievement with everyone--family, friends, neighbors, the guy who pumps my gas.

At one point of the day when the three of us are squished into a chair reading books, I am the most content person in the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A blog tutorial!

One Sunday at church, I had to change Margot's diaper and she absolutely wouldn't let me leave her in nursery. So I stayed with her, and watched the kids play while she clung to me. All the kids were restless at the end of the day, and after "Ring Around the Rosy" they started playing one of their favorites, "Sleepy Bear." I started watching with interest as one or two boys (Theo and his friend in the lead) lay on the ground, pretending to be asleep. Then the rest of the crowd of kids come creeping toward them, yelling "wake up, sleepy bear!" until the "bears" spring up, growling and awake. Everyone squealed and ran away. They were having a lot of fun and had obviously played this before. At least, I knew I had--no one else in the room knew that I made this game up.

My method for making up kid's games is simple. Try to think of anything you can do to pretend to be asleep. "Sleepy Bear" started when Theo wanted me to get out of bed in the morning, and I was much too tired and comfortable to even think about moving, so I made staying in my bed the more fun option. I would pretend to be asleep, closing my eyes and snuggling in my comforter, and Theo would call out, "wake up, sleepy bear!" Then I open my eyes, make a weak "roar!" Then we play another round, not moving at all from my warm cave. Win!

Other renditions--"Sleepy Monster," (pretend to be asleep in bed while the other person rides up to you from the hallway on a scooter--our master bedroom is at the end of our hallway so it works well) Hide and Seek (play hide and seek, but your only options to hide are somewhere under the covers), and my personal favorite "Mommy needs energy to take you to the park later so I'm going to give you the iPad and you're going to let me take a nap."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Idaho Christmas

 It's a busy time of year--Christmas, New Year's, Margot is 18 months old, our marriage turned seven! I'm going to just ramble about all of these things (or whatever I have time for while Margot sleeps) because I don't know how to separate them. I was in Boise with the kids for a little more than two weeks, and Jon came right before Christmas. For those of you who know Boise, or just know the tiniest bit about Idaho, there isn't a ton to do there if you aren't into say, hiking or hunting. The best part about that is I get to spend a lot of time reading, pushing my kids onto their grandparent's care, have my kids play with cousins, hanging out with my family, and more reading. I think I took five phone photos.

The trip there was my first alone with both kids. I was nervous of course, mostly because Southwest canceled their nonstop flight from Portland to Boise so we were left on an Alaska prop plane, the kind you walk outside to enter and are as loud as...loud.  And we had to pay to check a bag, so we were hauling all kinds of carry on luggage. The flight was great. I handed each child their own electronic fun device (Margot does not understand sharing in the least) and read The Economist. But that was after I mopped off gallons of sweat from at times, carrying, pulling, cajoling, and probably a bit of panicked barking. Theo had a new suitcase that he or I can pull, or he can use as a ride on toy. While he did ease the load at times and happily scooted through security, getting a three-year-old to consistently scoot himself about a mile to a distant terminal is almost impossible. Margot decided she wanted to walk the whole way herself, and when that wasn't possible to squirm and squeal and make herself as difficult as possible. And the coats! Carrying winter coats through an airport is pure drudgery. Normally the terminal path is all motorized walkways and flat lanes, but since we were going on a small airplane powered by pedal strength and faith in the least used obscure terminal, we had to walk it ourselves (!) and then hit an escalator. I guess I had forgotten how long it had been since Theo had ridden one, because I went first holding Margot, our coats, a large backpack, and carry on and expected him to follow. He freaked out and refused to go, and as I was already a third of the way down and now panicking myself, I SPRINTED up the down escalator carrying the aforementioned items. Then my coat and his suitcase went down first, alone. Luckily a nice man could easily see how crazy things were getting and caught those things for me. I ate three bags of snack mix on the plane, easily Alaska's main strong point as they include things that are similar to Corn Nuts in the bag.

When my twin sister Mackenzie and I are in the same place, which is not often since she lives in Pennsylvania, we think of many time consuming projects to complete. We usually don't finish them all, but that's part of the ritual. I actually brought an embroidered ornament to finish from last year--still didn't get finished. We probably scaled it back this year, focusing on making a Stump de Noel from the Baked cookbook (a sick child is sleeping, so I have no time for links, sorry). It's a yule log set on its end, only fatter than a normal yule log. All the reviews of the recipe basically said "It's amazingly delicious! But the most time consuming, intensive cake recipe I've ever made!" We were sold. It took almost two dozen eggs, lots of chocolate, and Whoppers. It took most of the day, but it was all enjoyable except when it got a little stressful for me at the end when we were rolling the thin cake and it started breaking on us. Luckily it is the kind of thing that is worth all the effort and five sticks of butter (in the frosting alone). I love it when a new Christmas tradition is born. Next time we will do the meringue mushrooms, we didn't have the willpower left to make those.

Theo and Margot had a great Christmas, Theo especially was so into all things Christmas this year. At our extended family party there was a general call for random talents or songs to be sung and Theo immediately shot up his hand and proceeded to sing a Jingle Bells solo (I helped a little, in the way a sitting Mom tries to pretend she is singing at regular volume but is whisper singing to bolster confidence) with a grand bow at the end. He got a Postman Pat van and figurine and lots of other things he loved. He loved all Margot's presents too, like her baby doll and stroller and tea set. I admit to looking forward to Margot opening up her carefully chosen baby since her birthday, so of course she acted afraid of it and ignored it until we got home. The stroller and doll bed were waiting for her after Christmas so I'm happy to say she is now enjoying putting her baby to bed and strolling it around. She showed everyone her loud and assertive side while we were around my family, squealing and screaming loudly and chasing my sister's dog around yelling "Gigi? Gigi! Gigi!" She also learned how to nod her head yes to a question after shaking her head to every question which is huge. I feel like our communication and understanding have increased ten fold.

Even though its wonderful to spend such a long time with my parents, brother, sister and their families, it felt good to be home. I really like feeling excited to be home.

Postman Pat! And matching hats by Auntie Kenzie.


After Christmas Eve dinner, we sent the kids downstairs to watch a movie while we cleaned up. Theo fell asleep and never got to hear the Naylor Sibling Violin, Flute, and Trumpet Christmas Eve Concert Spectacular.
Celebrated seven years by escaping the kids at Hotel 43 and stayed until the last possible minute, just sitting and watching crappy cable TV. It was bliss.
Margot still loves to do this in the airport. Our checked bags are always alone and deserted on the carousel by the time we get there.