Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bonnie Vance Hall

Bonnie Vance Hall
7 lbs 11 oz
20 inches
Born April 5, 2015 10:38 pm

Bonnie Vance Hall was born on her due date, April 5, 2015 (Easter!). Her birth was a wonderful event that went better than I had hoped. It was conference Sunday and Easter so we had a very relaxing day with the kids finding eggs and Jon making a steak dinner. I had been feeling different for the past week, so although I wasn't quite due I was in a state of expectation at all times. I was really hoping to start labor on Saturday because my doctor was on call, but it didn't happen. I had my usual spell of gloom that happens with each child before labor begins, although looking back now I realize Saturday was my crazy nesting day where I was getting everything ready. On Sunday I started having painless contractions more regularly after conference ended but I mostly ignored them as I had this happen a couple times in the past week. They continued to be about ten minutes apart and after we put the kids to bed around seven thirty we settled on the couch with some homemade chocolate ice cream and episodes of a show. I was highly content and hoping that my contractions would eventually disappear, as I didn't feel like being in labor all night and not sleeping. I had this dream of having a mid morning (after commute traffic, of course) birth that had always eluded me. I decided that I would start tracking my contractions at 8:00 pm, to see if they were still regular or if it was false labor again. Exactly at 8:00 I started the timer and my contractions started being 2-3 minutes apart, and a little painful. I told Jon with disdain that this was likely labor. He didn't quite believe me, but after 15 minutes of contractions two minutes aparp growing in intensity I suddenly felt the need to get to the hospital. Meaning, I needed to actually pack my hospital bag. I finished throwing all my stuff in there (packing a hospital bag is so simple, I don't understand how people do it weeks ahead--it's just me throwing a bunch of toiletries and a change of clothes in there) and called the doctor who agreed I needed to go to the hospital right away. We called Nina to come stay with the kids, who weren't even asleep yet but climbing on the window sill and being crazy, and I paced by the door ready to run out to the car. I guess my internal knowledge that I was progressing quickly didn't quite register outward because Jon asked me several times if I thought I was actually in labor or if it was false labor. But when it's real, you know. I hate traveling in the car while getting contractions (who does) so I mentally told myself that I was going to slow things down to about five minutes between contractions. I guess it worked because I had about three in the 18-20 minute ride. It was about 9:00 pm when we got to the hospital. I started asking everyone to start filling the tub because I knew with Margot I got to the hospital dilated to an eight and this didn't feel too different. But they waited until after being monitored, asked all the questions, IV etc. I was an eight when they checked me and I got into the tub as soon as I could, even though it wasn't very full. I couldn't really find a good position for my contractions—everything felt awkward and I was feeling some aches in my back. Dr Williams who was on call (and I hadn't met of course) made some comments about the baby's position and I started to ask which way she was facing, and inwardly checking my mildly flat looking belly, remembering my paranoid questions to my doctor about what to look for if your baby is posterior--one of them being your bump having a little plateau at the top. Dr Williams stated that she looked like she was trying to turn a corner, as my birth canal is apparently made up of a few hairpin turns. I started to mildly panic, but since we didn't know for sure and I was about to start pushing, I realized there wasn't much I could do. I hit the contraction where I almost felt her crown, and it really felt more intense than anything I had remembered with my other two. I flipped on my back and the doctor stated she would be born on the next contraction. I reached down and caught her as she was born, which was a mixture of instinct and with the intensity the need to make sure that she was really going to be out on this next push, because I had no intent on another. She was placed in my arms and there she had her first breath. She was chubbier than everyone expected and born with a full head of dark hair! I was in a bit of shock about that. Then the doctor informed me that she was born fully posterior (face up instead of down), and I was so glad she kept that fact from me! I was so grateful and amazed that she was born so quickly (10:38 pm) in one push, posterior, with a water birth, and no damage done to me. Jon was amazed we were done already. I knew it was fast but I would not have wanted anything any longer! Jon was the perfect partner, offering me water constantly, which is about my only need in labor. I love seeing the doctor hand Bonnie to Jon for the first time as they cut the cord and move me from the tub to the bed. It's such a special moment and he looked so happy. She latched and nursed amazingly right away. I couldn't sleep much that night due to my delivery high and those crazy uterine contractions that really do get worse with each child.

Most of my time in the hospital was spent quietly looking at Bonnie and trying to catch up on some sleep. Theo and Margot came to visit with my parents and they were so sweet and just loved her immediately. Margot was content to eat a cookie instead of hold her at first, however.

I was so glad my parents came for two weeks. Watching the kids is such a big task and while my recovery was overall great I had some bad mastitis that hit and I was so glad hey were both there to help me get to extra appointments and take care of everything. And weed my yard. So amazing! My mom hardly had help with twins and a toddler of her own, and instead of passing on a "I did it with little help, you should too" mentality, she helps in every way she can and it was truly needed!

Bonnie is a cute little girl with the best chubby cheeks. We love her so much. She might be our most temperamental baby, and after two weeks has colicky episodes in the evening. I'm glad to have Jon help so much when he can. I might be sending Theo off to his preschool carpool in a bathrobe most mornings, but we are all slowly adjusting to this life with three children and love our little Bonnie. Or "Bon Bon," as the kids call her. Jon was the champion of her name, as usual. She was almost named something else but he always felt like her name would be Bonnie, and when it comes to names, he's always right! I chose Vance as her middle name as my grandma Naylor and all the wonderful loving memories of her have been with me throughout this pregnancy, and Vance is her maiden name.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


It has been about five months since we bought and moved into our new home. I was feeling behind about writing about it but I have needed a some time to emotionally settle in and really be very content and excited about our new house. Our search for a home began and ended within a few days, not the leisurely pace I expected, where we would see enough houses to really feel comfortable and know which one was "the one." The real estate market in Portland is very strong and and so a well-priced home will be gone within hours, with multiple offers, above asking price. My exact nightmare scenario for purchasing a home. When we walked through our eventual home I felt more of a sinking feeling, knowing that this was the one, but not in an excited way, but in a "Oh man, we are going to probably buy this house and I have to decide right this second" kind of way. I don't process large change very well--I get overwhelmed easily and was essentially in shock. After it was done, I couldn't even remember the details of the house. I did not take any "before" pictures--it felt silly and like taking a picture of someone else's house. Also, the owner was always there and liked to make things awkward at all times. The original wood floors were in terrible shape, it needed all new plumbing, and all the finishes were either outdated or not to my liking. It's easy to picture changing everything when walking through a house, but after closing it suddenly felt like too much to handle. I also found out I was pregnant right around all of this so I was essentially a crazy person. However, before we moved in we refinished the floors and removed some popcorn ceiling and it really started feeling so much better. The floors came out beautifully and they are my favorite part of the house. We were really ready to get out of our condo and let the kids be loud and run around without sharing walls with angry neighbors. Even though we all share a bathroom now. But we have a garage! It may not have automatic closing doors or drywall but its practical storage is beautiful to me.

After my parents visited and we coated all the interior walls of the house in a nice bright white (my dream for so long!), my mind really started settling. Many months later, we are still configuring and reorganizing and I have loved doing things that feel more permanent and grounding than when we rented. More importantly than scheming about new kitchen renovations, we have moved into a great neighborhood near some good friends of ours and kids Theo's and Margot's age nearby, a great school within walking distance, and a closer proximity to anywhere we want to go. I also have a very nice maple tree in the backyard that just makes me happy. Jon is doing big-boy things like entering crawl spaces, buying small power tools and replacing small appliances (with help). We are the most inexperienced and unknowledgeable DIY-ers in the world but we are figuring it out one doorbell replacement at a time. I'm so glad I had Jon to hold my hand through this process and trust in his confidence that this would be a great move for us. It has been, and we are excited for everything the future holds!

Closing day selfie

Floors before, small example of the discoloration, gauging and staining

After sanding

Finished! I love all the different colors and character in the wood grain.

We got a pretty new dishwasher installed

The first night in the house we ate ice cream on the back porch.

Margot decided to start climbing out of her crib the first weekend we moved in. It's tradition!

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.