Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Maybe a week behind, but it's never too late to put pen to paper (or in this case, finger to keys) and focus on our many blessings, especially during this holiday season.  While I've never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving, (I know, somewhat strange but true) I love the sentiment behind it.  I love the feelings of gratitude, the emphasis on the positive and the gathering of friends and family to celebrate.  It is often easier to focus on the small things that aren't exactly perfect in life, but during Thanksgiving and the weeks that surround it, our blessings seem to be brighter, more at the forefront of our minds.  I love that.  I love hearing what people are thankful for, love to see the sweet artwork that the kids bring home (Carter wrote that he was thankful for our family and then drew a sweet, stick figure portrait.  Kennedy placed her brother, grandparents, mom, dad and rabbit on her thankful tree), love reading the amazingly poetic blogs of friends expressing graditude, I love it. 
Here are just a few of the many things that I am thankful for this season...

Two healthy kids who continue to grow, learn and challenge

A loving husband who also happens to be the world's best dad

Supportive parents

A perfect and faithful God

Dear friends

An encouraging church family


Our home and the love that fills it

Fall leaves

A good cup of coffee on a cold morning

Good books

Inquisitive little ones

Small hands to hold

"Mommy, I love you"

New opportunities

The promise and joy of Christmas

I am truly thankful...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weekend in Arizona

This past weekend, I made a quick trip down to Arizona for the wedding of my childhood friend, Jenny.  Lucky for me, it was also my mom's birthday, so I was able to be there to celebrate with her, as well.  It was a good visit, but 48 hours just wasn't enough!
 My mom and I before the wedding on Saturday night.

 The beautiful bride, Jenny.
Jenny and I first met each other in dance class when we were three years old.  We were in school together from second grade through our senior year.  After graduation, she headed down to Arizona State (which is where I was originally registered to attend college, as well) but we've stayed in touch throughout the years.  I feel fortunate that we are able to see each other on a fairly regular basis - at least once a year.  She is smart, funny, full of energy, adventurous and successful.  I wish her and her husband, Collin, a lifetime of love and happiness.  They sure seem to be a perfect match! 

My Aunt Sandy hosted a lovely birthday dinner for my mom on Sunday evening.  It was so wonderful to see everyone and visit.  It really made me miss the kids, though, as I know they would have loved to have been there. 
My mom and aunt have always been so close...their relationship is one of the main reasons I've always wanted a sister.

 My parents - married 39 years this month!
We gave my dad a hard time for his outfit (I told him he looked very festive, kind of like a big Easter egg), but I love his attitude towards it all and that he certainly doesn't shy away from bold bright colors.  Adds a little something, I think.
My family
Not often that we are all together, it made for a very special day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hat Day

Kennedy had hat day at school last week and wore this cute little cherry beret.
Isn't she a doll?

Friday, November 11, 2011

First Tooth

Carter reached a big milestone on Sunday with the loss of his first tooth.  It was a big deal.  Before the tooth actually left his head, I wouldn't have thought it was such a momentous occasion.  But let me tell you, as the tooth came out, I felt giddy, sad and hopeful all at the same time.  It was nearly equal to those first toddling steps that he took four years ago. 
To be honest, this first tooth might have meant more to me than it did to him.  I was so excited and (weirdly) proud of my little man.  And he was proud, which was so darling to see.
He had an audience...we were at the Phelan's for a family birthday dinner, and Papa convinced him to tie a little thread to his wiggly tooth.  With the thread securely in place, Carter was free to pull and pry to his heart's content.  I wouldn't have dreamed that he'd go for it.  I figured that tooth was going to be, literally, dangling for days before it came out.  Boy, was I mistaken.  Not more than five minutes after the thread was tied, the tooth was out.  With a little help from Daddy and a big tug from Carter himself, the tooth was in hand and everyone was cheering.  It was a big deal.  I quickly set aside the dishes that I was washing and rushed to get the camera - as I said, I really didn't think it was going to happen.  I don't know that I'll ever forget the smile of pride that was beaming from my little guy's face. 

Look, Mom, no tooth!

It only bled the tiniest bit, so I guess it really was ready to come out.  See the permanent tooth already up behind it?  Hopefully it will move it's way forward now that there is room.
First lost tooth
Feeling around and celebrating
A cold wash cloth did the trick, stopped the bleeding quickly and made for a silly picture.The tooth fairy came in the night and left $5. I was awakened by Carter's feet running down the hall and then he nearly shouts, "The tooth fairy brought me 5 bucks. And it's paper money! 5 bucks!!!" Hope he doesn't come to expect that each time the tooth fairy makes a visit - this was a special first time rate!
We had a few interesting conversations regarding the tooth fairy the following day. I think he had a hunch that the tooth fairy wasn't real, but he did a good job of convincing himself otherwise. We talked about it for a bit and then he decided, "she must be real because I would have felt you put money under my pillow. She must be very, very tiny to be able to sneak under my pillow without me noticing." I like that, don't stop believing in magic quite yet, Carter, you're growing up too fast as it is.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pinkalicious - The Musical!

On Saturday, I took Kennedy to see Pinkalicious - The Musical downtown.  Lindsey and Lauren joined us and it made for such a special day.  The girls were very excited for the show and did so well.  It was a cute performance, (definitely geared towards little girls who love pink!), and just the right length.  The girls did wonderfully and didn't make a peep during the show.  Kennedy was bobbing her head and dancing to the music. 
When it was over, they both asked when we could go again. 

 They had a little photo op station set up, so we go this darling picture of Kennedy and Lauren with the Pinkalicious cupcake!
 Everything was pink - it was so girly and great!

 Before the show
 Kennedy and Lauren
 The girls
 Outside the theater. 
The show was at the Newmark Theater inside the Portland Performing Arts building.  It was a great venue and easy for the girls to see everything.
 Pink.  Wands.  Yipee!
I can't tell you how thrilled I was by the price of the souvenirs.  So much better than the $20 glow stick that Carter wanted at the Imagination Movers concert!  Nice work, Oregon Children's Theater.
 Right before show time...getting so excited.

 After the show we had planned on getting the girls a special treat at a cupcake shop.  Cupcake Jones was sponsoring the play, so I figured we'd go there.  Lucky for us, we all got free cupcake coupons after the show, so it was a win win.  Both girls opted for chocolate cupcakes instead of the special Pinkalicious ones.  Eh, who am I to judge, I chose a pumpkin cheesecake mini, and it was heavenly. 

Pinkalicious - November 5th, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Harvest Party

Kennedy had her first school party on Halloween and I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer in her class.  It was so fun to watch Kennedy go throughout her daily school routine and see her interactions with her classmates and teacher.  It was a very special day.

 All dressed up and ready to head to school.  Of course we had to try to snap a few cute pictures before we left.

 Kennedy was the calendar helper, so she put the date on the calendar and helped lead her classmates in counting all the way to 31!

 Circle time

 Doing the "Rainbow Pokey" - have I told you how much I love preschool?  Yet another time I wish I could press that pause button...It's such a great atmosphere for learning and growing. 
 Lining up and trick-or-treating to the other classrooms.  Behind Kennedy (in the lion costume) is Jillian.  Her brother, Brooks, was Carter's closest friend in preschool, so it's been so fun to have the girls together now.  They both have a lot of sass, so it's hilarious to watch their interactions.
After a lesson on good oral hygiene from the Tooth Fairy, the kids got a tooth brush and floss.  Great idea, I'd say.

 Class picture attempt...getting eight 3 year olds to look at smile at the same time seemed like an impossible feat.

 Playing Halloween bingo in the Gummy Bear room
 Special snack and a pumpkin story
The 3 year old classes don't go on the pumpkin patch field trip, instead they get to 'pick' pumpkins in the narthex to take home.  Kennedy was thrilled with her choice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Traditions

I am one who loves traditions, if it works once I like to do it over and over again.  I think it gives me a sense of security - knowing what's coming and how to prepare for it.
Although Halloween is definitely not my most favorite holiday, I do enjoy some of the traditions that we've established as our family has grown.  I thought I'd share a few...
 Carving pumpkins
We are fortunate enough to be invited each year to our neighbors annual Punk-o-rama pumpkin carving party.  It's a huge event and is such a fun way to get people together to celebrate, without the stress of costumes.  Thank you Trisha!  Our whole family loves this party and Carter really got into the idea of carving a prize worthy pumpkin this year.  We carved one at home before the party (because once we walk through our neighbor's door, the kids are off having a blast running and playing with all the other children).  Carter wanted to do an "O" for the UO Ducks.  Great.  Easy enough.  He drew the O and Kyle wielded the knife.  Neither Carter nor Kennedy would have any part of the touching the insides of the pumpkin.  Really, who can blame them?

 Go Ducks!
(Please pardon our disaster of a garage...just another thing that seems impossible to keep organized)

 Poor Kyle, always tucked away in a corner of the garage working hard to produce an impressive pumpkin.  I admit it, we lack the needed creativity to pull off a prize, but we really do try.  This year we wanted to do a Harry Potter themed jack-o-lantern, but I never made it to the costume store to pick up the accessories.  Instead we decided to carve a silhouette of Hogwarts.  I scanned a DVD cover, enlarged it and then printed it out.  It provided a nice pattern for Kyle to work with.  I thought it turned out amazing!  Kyle's getting good!  Don't think we got a single vote.  Sad.

 Here's how they looked all lit up

 Before the kids headed out trick-or-treating, I decided to make an entirely orange dinner.  Harvest tomato soup, pumpkin and bat grilled cheese sandwiches, oranges and carrots.  Easy and festive.  The kids loved it.

 A few quick pictures on the porch before they bolted.  They were so excited to start getting candy!

First house of the evening
I like to go with them for a few houses but then head back home to hand out candy.  I just can't be that house that has their light off.  Guilt, it's a powerful feeling!
We capped off the fun and excitement with a viewing of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  Another tradition that I've come to count on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

then and now

30 years or so ago, my Gram made me a Raggedy Anne costume for Halloween.  I'm not sure how I came to have the costume in my possession, but I've had it for many years and had hoped that one day I would have a little girl who could wear it, too. 
Wish granted.
On Monday for Kennedy's Halloween party at school, she wore my old costume.  It made me think of my Gram and miss her presence in my life.  She was always one of my biggest fans and I never questioned her unconditional love.  She always made me feel special and I love that she was such a big part of my life.  Her death was a defining time for me and an event that left me with such sadness that I didn't quite know what to do.  I had never experienced a loss, certainly nothing could compare.  It took years for the hurt to lessen to a dull ache and where I once never let a day pass without thinking of my Gram, now days or weeks can zoom by without a memory.  It's sad really, but also a blessing, because sometimes those memories can hurt.  I felt tears sting my eyes when I dressed Kennedy in my old costume.  I know my Grandma would have loved my kids, seen some of my feisty-ness in my daughter and smiled.  Thankfully I know she is looking down on us and smiling still.   
 Here I am, circa 1981 or '82. 

 And here was Kennedy, October 31st, 2011
A simple outfit filling my day with memories of my dear Gram.