Friday, July 31, 2009

Grace's Party at the Park

We celebrated Grace's birthday with a party at the park which turned out to be a lot of fun. We invited a few friends to join us and my Mom and brother were able to make it as well. We let the kids play on the playground and we ate pink cupcakes and opened presents. I forgot about the library events at the park on Thursdays so it was a happy accident that Grace had a children's comedian at the park for entertainment. The girls watched him for about 15 minutes before losing interest and went back to playing on the playground equipment. I lucked out and Grace's "Birthday Girl" shirt from last year still fit so we got two years out of it! Definitely a good purchase.

Grace spent her birthday morning at Vacation Bible School and on the way home we stopped at the Dollar Store so she could pick out her birthday balloons. Are you surprised that she chose two of the exact same princess balloons? I didn't think so.

I forgot to take a picture of the cupcakes at the party so I snapped a quick one this morning of a leftover cupcake. Grace picked everything about it out. She chose chocolate for the cake and wanted pink frosting with the sprinkles she chose at the store. I brought a pink candle for her cupcake but unfortunately the lighter we brought didn't want to light. We sang Happy Birthday to her anyways and I didn't feel too bad since she blew out candles in Idaho last week.

Grace had plenty of pink presents to open and was pretty excited about them all but when we got home she kept asking if we could go camping that night because she wanted to sleep in her new purple sleeping bag. We weren't in the mood for camping in the backyard on a weeknight so we told her we'd put the tent up and practice camping this weekend. She settled for sleeping in her new sleeping bag on her bed.

Thanks to our friends and family that came, Grace had a great time!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Fourth Birthday Gracie!

Today my little girl turns four years old and I can hardly believe it. Most days it feels like I've been on this parenting journey forever and it's crazy to think that it's really only been four years. So much has happened in the past four years. She's learned to sit up, crawl, walk, run, jump, and dance. She taught me the patience required for a nursing relationship to survive 16 months, has always thought peas are disgusting, loves to eat garlic bread and red grapes, and has the same raging sweet tooth as her mother. She's mastered potty training, sleeping in a big girl bed, climbing to the top of the play structure at the park, and how to ride her red tricycle. I still can't believe she starts kindergarten in a year, I'm nowhere near ready!

Grace is a very sweet little girl with a very big sweet tooth. She loves ice cream, candy, chocolate, cookies, and anything sweet. I have no idea where she could have learned that!

It's fun to watch Grace's personality develop and see how alike and different we are. My daughter doesn't have a shy bone in her body which is a big departure from her parents. She has no fear of strangers and has no problem playing by herself and keeping herself occupied. I'm thrilled to see her confidence and hope that we can foster that trait in her.

We have her party this afternoon at the park and she's really looking forward to it. I'll post pictures of it later!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Catch Up

Sorry I dropped off the face of the planet for awhile. July is always a whirlwind of activity for us and this year is certainly no exception! In the last 7 days we drove 9.5 hours home from Idaho, drove 90 minutes up to Portland for my 10th High School Reunion, celebrated David's birthday by going out to brunch with my Mom and brother while still in Portland and then had friends Pat and Katie over for dinner and ice cream sundaes that night, took pictures/wrote descriptions/listed 68 Ebay auctions, volunteered for check in/check out duties at VBS this week, prepared for Grace's birthday party tomorrow and baked/decorated cupcakes, took the kids to a friend's house last night to run through the sprinklers and eat ice cream, ordered a new flash for my camera, visited Corvallis to scout out locations for a senior photo session this Saturday, and fit in a trip to Salem to go to the bank and ran to the grocery store twice. Not to mention that it's been super hot (106 two days in a row!). If that has your head spinning I'm not surprised because I can barely keep up with myself!

Let's break it down a little into the important events.

The drive home from Idaho went pretty well considering it was 9.5 hours long and we had two kids under 4 in the car with us. Grace is actually a really good traveler and the only complaint I have with her is that she frequently waits until we're 2 minutes outside of a town with 45 minutes until the next potty to say she has to go to the bathroom. I can ask 16 times as we drive through a town and she doesn't have to go until the opportunity has passed. She almost had to pee in the bushes next to the freeway but was saved by a well placed rest area 20 minutes outside of Hines, OR. Ethan did pretty good but was completely DONE rear facing by about Bend. He threw a huge fit and when David asked if he wanted to watch the movie (he could barely see it by craning his neck around so he knew it was there!) he immediately stopped crying and nodded his head yes vigorously. We took the hint and when we stopped in Sisters for gas David flipped him forward facing. I had wanted to leave him rear facing until he turned 2 this fall but he's definitely a lot happier and the last 3 hours home were much more pleasant without the fussing.

My high school reunion was interesting. I still think it was pretty spendy and could have been done cheaper but it was still fun to see everyone. I didn't stay in contact with many people after I went to Idaho for school so it was fun to see everyone and find out what everyone is up to and where they landed. I missed seeing a few people I would have liked to have seen.

Sunday was David's birthday which was a fun day. We had breakfast at a place near my Mom's house that we have never been to despite passing it a bazillion times since we moved to Clackamas in 1987. Turns out it was a pretty good place to eat! While waiting for a table we checked for any nearby geocaches (another activity we've recently taken up!) and found one about 15 feet from our car. Even funnier is that we recognized our friend's name (who live in Monmouth) on the list of finders! That night we had Pat & Katie over for Pizza Mac and an ice cream sundae. It's been so hot and we weren't home for me to bake a cake so I jazzed up the ice cream sundaes with crushed candy bars and new toppings. It was pretty tasty!

This week we've been doing VBS at our church. Grace is in the preschool program and seems to be having a great time. I volunteered to help check in/out which has worked out pretty well since I have to be there to drop off/pick up Grace anyways. Ethan "helps" me but is usually not willing to be far from my lap in the mornings. In the afternoons he is very content to play with a ball next to me.

Tomorrow is Grace's 4th birthday. I'll blog more about that tomorrow. Grace deserves a post to herself! I did make the cupcakes this morning to her specifications: chocolate with pink frosting.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Snake River Stampede 2009

The Snake River Stampede Rodeo is done for the year but not before we had a chance to join in the fun! We attended three evening performances in a row, no small feat with two small kids. Of course my mother in law, the kids, and myself only made it through saddle bronc each night before we headed home which is about halfway through the performance. Bareback and saddle bronc are my favorite events so I'm glad I get a chance to see them. We also got to see the steer wrestling and team roping in addition to the first round of chuck wagon racing. And of course we saw the Stampeders at the start of each performance, the highlight of Grace's evening. We miss tie down (my least favorite event), barrel racing, and the bulls. I like to watch the bulls but since very few cowboys seem to actually ride for all 8 seconds it's not worth keeping the kids up until past 11pm. Oh well.

I realized that the last time I saw a rodeo in it's entirety was June 2005, a month before I gave birth to Grace. Oh I've been to lots of rodeos and even stayed through their conclusion, but I always miss part of it by standing in line at the port o potties, walking behind the grand stands with a toddler who can't sit still one more minute, or nursing babies as discreetly as possible next to hot dog vendors stands. That's on top of the general fun of keeping children under the age of four entertained for three hours in the hot sun on metal bleachers/stadium seats that they don't weigh enough to keep down. I'm actually glad that my children have had a chance to enjoy rodeos from such a young age but I'm looking forward to the day that we can sit through an entire rodeo from start to finish without a meltdown or crisis of some sort. Of course that would mean my children are grown up and I'm not ready for that to happen yet. So maybe I don't mind missing out on an event or two or even the sticky cotton candy fingers. No, I don't think I mind it one bit.

Here's a picture of the Stampeders. They do their horse routine in the dark with Christmas lights to decorate the horses and riders. It never fails to impress, especially if you're Grace! She waves hello to them the whole time they perform.

Ethan sitting with Opa during a break in the action.

Grace managed to sneak a turn on Opa's lap too.

Totally scored a nice picture of David! Mostly because he was smiling at someone else and didn't notice the camera aimed in his direction. Otherwise he would have been cross-eyed.

Ethan watching the horses.

I ♥ Faces Photo Contest Week 28: Feet Week

This week's photo theme is Feet and I immediately thought of this photo I took of Grace wearing her new pink dress up shoes as she tried out her brand new shiny red tricycle at her third birthday party.

For more cute feet go to or click on the button below:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fishy Fun

I know we went to the Newport Aquarium two weeks ago and you're probably all expecting cowboy pictures because after all, we are in Idaho for three nights of rodeo action. That will come later, mostly because it's a little difficult to control two small children in a stadium hours past their bedtime. You try it some time and see how many photos you take!

Plus I had time to finally finish editing the Aquarium trip photos this afternoon while Ethan napped and Grace went on a movie "date" with her Uncle Sam. I had a ton of fun taking pictures of the Oddwater exhibits. If you get a chance to visit while the Oddwater exhibit is still there it's really fun!

The jellyfish are always my favorite exhibit. They're just so graceful.

I think this one is a cow fish.

Can't remember this guy's name but he sure cracks me up!

Aren't seahorses cool? I was fascinated by them.

Another seahorse. They seemed to like wrapping their tales around the glass sculpture in their tank. All the tanks had gorgeous glass sculptures, really pretty!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We're here!

It took a lot of patience and just a little bit of screaming, but we made it to Idaho in 9.5 hours. Can't even begin to think about the return trip next week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Playground in our very own Backyard!

Our friends Seth and Julie offerred us their hand-me-down child swing set (they received it from another family in our neighborhood) and a little over a week ago David and my father in law hauled it around the block to our backyard. We surprised the kids with it the next morning and they immediately ran out in their pajamas to try it out. Needless to say, it's been a hit!

The swing set has two regular swings and one double swing (what are those called?). Ethan can't figure out how to sit on the regular swing but loves to climb up on the double swing and push the other swings around. Grace wants nothing to do with learning how to swing by herself and asks me to push her endlessly. I do have a stopping point and then we all crash in the grass in the little shade we can find (if it happens to be late afternoon, our usual outside time). Occasionally I'll pull out the sidewalk chalk or the kids will pick me wild daisies growing in the weeds behind our yard. Mostly we just enjoy the fresh air and cool grass.

I just noticed that Grace has her shoes on the wrong foot. You'd think that she'd get her shoes on the right foot 50% of the time but it seems like she puts them on the wrong foot much more often. Why is that? And Ethan is barefoot because the kid has developed a severe case of "can't stand shoes or socks" itis. I hope he's cured by the time winter arrives!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

They Say It's My Birthday

Today is my birthday and so far it's been a very good day. I have an iphone on order (!) and I got the Twilight books from David and the kids which I'm super excited about. I've also got enough money scraped together to buy a used flash for my camera which I'm also excited about, though not completely birthday related! I'm stalking several on Ebay right now, hoping to catch one in my price range. I brought the kids to Salem this morning to ride the carousal and hit up Kmart for their big toy clearance. I scored a Fisher Price Little People Construction Set for Ethan for $5 which I'll put away until his birthday. We met up with my brother at Muchas Gracias and had a nice birthday lunch before I headed home. We went through West Salem on the way home to use our free car wash coupon we got in the mail last week because our car desperately needed it. Now we're home, Ethan is napping, and Grace and I are relaxing. I'm not sure what our plans tonight will be but if all else fails there are still two pieces of cherry pie which will work just fine.

Birthdays have a different feel to them after you become a parent. At least they do for me. I know that when my kids have a birthday I definitely think about the day they were born, being in labor, and that fabulous moment when I finally held them for the first time. It's amazing how fast time goes by to realize that the tiny baby is now the child blowing out birthday candles! So now I think about my Mom and what my birthday means to her. Thanks for all the hard work giving birth to me Mom, now that I've done it twice myself I know how hard you worked to get me here!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I happen to love cherry pie (yes I know I love almost all pie but cherry is definitely in my top 5!) and one of my goals this summer was to find and freeze enough pie cherries for some pies this fall/winter. Mostly to share with my father in law since David doesn't even like them. Crazy I know. Over the weekend I noticed an ad on Craigslist advertising U-Pick pie cherries for $2 per plastic grocery bag. Sounded like a deal to me so I emailed the lady and arranged a time to go and pick. In 45 minutes the kids and I managed to pick ten pounds of cherries and Ethan managed to take off his socks and shoes. We all got super sticky and dirty but the picking was pretty easy and Ethan turned out to be a pretty good cherry picker. Grace was much more interested in picking dandelions, but at least she kept her shoes on.

After we got home and had lunch and Ethan went down for his nap I spent all afternoon pitting 10lbs of cherries. Turns out 10lbs of cherries is a LOT of cherries to pit! I baked two pies and have enough cherries in the freezer for a couple more. (Note to my father in law: I'll be bringing some cherry pie for the rodeo!) I gave one pie away to our neighbors and the kids and I are working on the other one. We're halfway through it and I anticipate that it will nothing but crumbs by Friday. Turns out my kids inherited my pie loving gene!

I shared my recipe for Almost Perfect Pastry on the Food Love blog (check it out, I've scored some super good recipes from this group of ladies!). Here's my cherry pie recipe (a la

Cherry Pie

2lbs of sour cherries, pitted
1 1/8 cup sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp almond extract

In a sauce pan combine cherries, sugar, and cornstarch and let sit for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for five minutes or until juices thicken and become translucent. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract and butter. Mix thoroughly and put in a pie shell. Cover with crust and cut slits. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth of July Festivities

I feel so behind in blogging. I have tons to talk about and pictures to share but no time to edit photos or write!

David's parents were here visiting us this Fourth of July weekend which was a lot of fun. We went to the beach on Friday and spent the afternoon at the Aquarium in Newport. Lots of pictures but they're not edited yet. Sorry.

Saturday morning my Mom and our friends James & Jessi met us at our house and we drove to Monmouth for the Independence Day Parade. My Father in Law brought two big stand umbrellas and we packed a cooler with cold drinks and lunch so the hot parade was really quite pleasant this year. Having shade and cold drinks does wonders! David walked with the kids in the Kids Parade and then they circled back to join us for the rest of the parade. Grace had a great time gathering candy but by the end of the parade she was exhausted and would only bother to pick up candy that fell within her reach laying down. It was heavenly to come back home to air conditioned comfort and we played a few games before it was time to barbecue.

We hauled our barbecue goodies over to the neighbor's yard for a backyard cookout and we ate like kings! David grilled up hot dogs and hamburgers while our neighbor grilled up two kinds of chicken skewers. Delicious! The food was tasty and plentiful, an excellent combination. We had a few more neighbors and friends join us for dinner and fireworks and the following Outdoor Movie (National Treasure). By the end of the movie the crowd had dwindled to a small handful and by the time we helped put away the equipment it was almost 1am. Late night for sure! No wonder Sunday was mostly spent napping and resting on the couch.

The kids riding in the Kids Parade in our beautifully decorated red wagon

Grace watching the parade

David and Nate firing up the grills

What a spread!

Watching the beginning of our firework show

A little later into the firework show. And no, that's not a firework we set off. It was pretty close though!

This is the sort of firework display we put on. The ladder makes the fountain fireworks much cooler!

Check out more Patriotic Photos by clicking on this button:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Quick trip to Seaside

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately but it's been a busy week. I've been furiously working on editing wedding photos from the wedding I did last Saturday. I shot the formals/ceremony in RAW and I'm glad I did but the processing took twice as long! In the meantime we visited my brother during his week's vacation at a condo in Seaside, made a trip into Salem to pick up my brother's mail and renew our Costco membership, cleaned the entire house (it was DIRTY!), did a zillion loads of laundry, planned our 4th of July barbecue with the neighbors, went grocery shopping, baked two batches of Strawberry Lemonade bars, made strawberry muffins, took some headshots of my friend Kathlynn, and even squeezed in a quick afternoon romp at a friend's house where the kids ran through the sprinkler. Yes it's been a busy four days.

So now that you know why I haven't had time to blog you'll also understand why I'm sharing these five photos with you. Because they're the ones I had time to edit. Someday I'll get to the ones where we were swinging but if I wait for that you won't hear from me until next month!

We were only at the beach for about 24 hours but we visited the beach twice, swam in the pool once, and walked down to the candy store where Grace stood enthralled before all the varieties of pink colored candies. It was a horn of plenty and I let her pick out a handful of pink salt water candies (bubble gum and cotton candy), a pink sucker, a small package of Smarties for Ethan (hard to find toddler appropriate candy!), and a package of Zotz for me. Love those fizzy candies!

Ethan didn't freak out about the sand this trip which was a blessing. You'll notice he's not wearing a sweatshirt in these pictures and that is not because it was warm because it wasn't. The zipper broke on his sweatshirt when I put it on him and he wouldn't keep it on unzipped. He mostly enjoyed squealing at the seagulls and flinging rocks and sand. Grace didn't need her bucket and shovel at all. She just needs a patch of sand to roll in. That girl loves sand!

What an incredibly sandy face! Can you tell she was swimming in the sand?!

He looks cleaner but that's just because he has to warm up to touching the sand.

Grace could run and jump in the sand all day long.

Ethan venturing off the blanket!