Love in the Time of Corona

23 03 2020

These are some crazy times we’re living in. Crazy with a capital C. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve had a hard time processing how I feel about it.

There have been stages. My bestie Ash compared it to the stages of grief, and I have to agree. First the denial – there’s no way this is as serious as some are making it out to be! Its just another flu, it’s a “foreign” thing, we won’t get it so why worry.

Anger seemed a natural follow-up: why is this happening?! In my case, it quickly turned to other people: “What is wrong with these crazy people?? Why in the world would hoarding TP and dry goods possibly help? WHY WON’T YOU JUST STAY HOME?!” I had a really hard time moving past my anger. I skipped the bargaining stage and dropped straight into depression, curling into myself both figuratively and literally. Finally, after cutting myself off from social media and filling page after page in my journal, I came to several realizations that pulled me through to a tentative acceptance.

I had to bring my focus back down to the things I could control, and other people’s actions and responses definitely don’t fall in that category. My frustration came from a place of caring – I was upset because people’s inattention to the advice and warnings of medical experts potentially puts me, my family, and people I care about in danger unnecessarily. But there’s nothing I can do about that. I can, however, control my own response and actions.

Every day life has not drastically changed for me as it has for many others. Z and I still putter around doing our normal things, just without any outings to break up our days. But in 25 years, when we look back on this massive world event and ask, “What did you do? How did you respond?” I want to remember Z’s first watercolor painting, and the hours he spent in his sandbox, and the long walks and long talks with J. I want to smile at the slowing down and refocusing on family, not the anger and outrage at other people.

There’s so much anxiety and unknown that there’s no need to put more on myself. I really worry about all the people losing their jobs with rent to pay and those still working who are potentially exposed. I worry about how we’re going to recover, how small businesses and local economies are going to come back from this. But I try to seek out the silver linings, the sweet messages and uplifting songs and compassionate stories.

And I have my own little ray of sunshine bringing laughter to our tiny house. Z is growing up fast and doing new things every day. He’s starting to play independently and can entertain himself for quite a while. His words are slow in coming but his animal sounds are getting really good! He’s a voracious reader and will sit and “read” his books in the floor or in the chair. He zooms his trucks and stacks everything and plays hide and seek. He copies everything his daddy does and squeals with delight at his own shenanigans. I can’t get enough.

I’ve also been doing yoga to help with the tension and anxiety, and to just generally calm the bleep down, and have returned to a girl on yoga who is utterly amazing: Yoga With Adriene. She has many great quips and mantras, but I love one she says all the time with the breath: breathe the love in, breathe the love out.  So in these uncertain and scary times, I want to offer my love. Obviously, I promise not to breathe on anyone, but I send out my love to everybody. Please stay home and please don’t hoard anything, so that we can all survive this, and please let me know if I can help in any way. Breathe the love in, breathe the love out. Message me, call me, Facetime me, whatever.

And in case you need a little sunshine, here’s a few pictures of what Z’s been up to. 🙂

Maybe if you have some time, read “Love in the Time of Cholora” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Overdrive is an awesome app to get library books on your phone or tablet. And if that’s not your jam, maybe just read this quote by Marquez:

“If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.”

Love in, love out. Namaste.

xo





All of the Things

19 12 2019

A few weeks ago, I nearly had a panic attack that it was already December, Christmas was right around the corner, and I still hadn’t published my blog from October. I need to start my Christmas shopping! I meant to schedule family portraits for fall! I had so many blogs to send out into the Interwebs!

The scraps of my sanity finally reunited and I remembered: we don’t really do Christmas presents, so one trip downtown will suffice. We’re holding out on family pictures since we’ve been in such upheaval. The 6 people who read my blog will forgive me. Though it pains me to admit, the chaos of October really has caused levels of turmoil that just can’t dissipate over night. And since I still feel in recovery mode, I’ll share a few highlights and try my very hardest not to get overly long-winded. Hopefully the pictures will tell stories of their own.

  1. Our little ZTrain turned one! My family came to visit for the occasion, my dear friend Allison drove all the way from Washougal and brought Z his own smash cake, and my sister-from-another-mister Nicole and her sweet daughter also drove over from Vancouver. Z was showered in love, gifts, and blue icing.

Thank you, Allison!!

smash cake, Hood River OR

And he dove right in!

2. My family visiting was really an event of its own. We had an awesome trip to the pumpkin patch, where Z and Hopey had a blast playing in the corn pit, running around the corn maze, and sliding from piles of hay bales. Dad sent Z a rocking horse he made using the legs of my great-grandmother’s rocking chair – Z is barely big enough to sit on it but already loves it. And my mother helped me scrub every inch of our empty house that we were already mostly moved out of.

Pumpkin Patch, Packer Orchards Hood River OR

Some who wander are in fact lost. Especially in a corn maze.

corn pit, Packer Orchard Pumpkin Patch Hood River OR

Z and Hopey really loved the corn pit

heirloom rocking horse

Cowboy Zane and his (heirloom) horse named Dave. Yeehaw!

3. And that brings us to our big move: we finally convinced the stars to align and moved back to Bend, Oregon. J got a job, we found a house without the help of any royalty, and we survived the move. Z adjusted like a champ and loves to explore with me. The ducks on the Deschutes are a new favorite, he loved our first big snow fall, and he’s becoming quite the social butterfly visiting all our friends around town.

Welcome to Bend, OR

Already fitting right in

November snow in Bend, OR

Tromping around like a true Oregonian

leaves of fall in Drake Park, Bend OR

Fall fun in Drake Park

Deschutes River Walk near Old Mill, Bend OR

Those ducks are just the best!

4. And to top it all off, we have been rocking these holidays! Z went on his first trick-or-treat expedition; he got a snickers at the first house, dug it out of his bucket, and clutched it the rest of the time. He didn’t even want anything else, but was happy just running after the other kids. Then J’s dad came for a visit right before Thanksgiving, and his sister came the day after to celebrate with us. And even though he doesn’t really understand, this whole Christmas business has Z delighted – between the twinkly lights and the funny cartoons and the mysterious boxes he gets in so much trouble for messing with, its already a ton of fun.

Halloween in Bend, OR

Ma! Put me down! I’m trying to be a fierce ‘gator!

Tree lighting Sunriver, OR

The petting zoo with Pa was a huge hit. He called all the animals “doggy” but that just made it more hilarious.

family rocking chair, Bend OR

Pa sent another family heirloom: the rocking chair fits Z perfect! Too bad there’s nothing good on TV these days…

family Thanksgiving, Bend OR

Then Auntie Em came and we feasted!

We also played lots and lots of board games. Lots and lots. I did not win this one.

Here comes (pantsless) Santa Claus….

These lights are just the best!

That about sums it up. Z is running around like crazy, getting into everything and then sweet-talking his way out of trouble. His smile lights up the whole room. He doesn’t say much yet, except “Hi Doggy!” and occasionally “mama” and “dada.” He loves to sit and read his books, lay on Simba, and stack his cups. He is very busy, and oh-so sweet. My days with him are often difficult but also delightful. Thank goodness we have JBoo to balance it all out.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! Let me know if you want to come visit!  ❤

Lots of love, from our family to yours. xo





House Hunting and African Princes

18 09 2019

It’s finally 100% official: we’re moving back to Bend, Oregon. We’ve talked about it, we’ve waited eons for the job to be posted, and now JBoo has landed the job that will take us home.

Ok, sort of home. I’ve actually lived in Washington much longer than I lived in Bend. But the magical land of Central Oregon has been our home base, where many of our friends still live, and the beginning of the J+K saga. So though it doesn’t really fit most people’s definitions of “home,” it feels like it for me.

The trouble, of course, is that now we have to find a place to live. Unfortunately for us, lots of other people love Bend, too, and so housing is pretty expensive. We’re not there to scope places out and several properties we tried to jump on were swooped out from under us. Ugh. That HAS to be one little 2 bedroom out there, just waiting for us to make it a home! (Preferably within our budget #kthanks…)

The world of online house hunting is also a game unto itself. Checking and cross referencing all the various sites and digging for posted dates and fine print. Dog policies and secret fees and lease terms and blurry photos.

But my favorite part has got to be the scams. Craigslist is the worst/best for finding them. The place looks great: excellent location, all the amenities you could wish for, unbeatable price. The photos look outstanding. You reply, usually by email – no phone number is listed. Within 24 hours, the answer hits your inbox.

The situation described varies but always follows a similar thread. The owner is not in the country right now because of whatever, and there are tenants still there so don’t go look yourself, but if you’ll send your deposit and low low fees today, it’s yours! Or my personal favorite: I’m a Nigerian Prince and just inherited my fortune, so I can’t be there to rent this property to you. Send me the deposit and I’ll send my royal agent to assist you! The terrible grammar and spelling are just the icing on the cake. *sigh* Endless entertainment.

Evenings after Z goes to bed, JBoo and I set up our computers back to back on the kitchen table and start refreshing all our tabs, looking for new listings. We compare notes, make lists, and decide which ones to call on. We submit the necessary applications and email links back and forth.

In the midst of this oh-so delightful process (pardon the sarcasm), I’ve been fighting migraines and other stress symptoms on the daily. So last night, I decided to bring a little humor into the monotony by writing my own scammy email for J. Should you fall for it, feel free to send loads of money to my PayPal account.

Hello from Weest Africa!
I’m am a beautifu l African princesses interestested in moving to AMErica and need your help! Pleasee send all youre monies to my Father so we can immediately began proceedings for me move to your country.

This is house would be perfected for our new lifes together. Please check it out the link and ACT NOW! (Don’t forgot to send all your monies!)

Love all of the yous,
Kalista the African Princess

Image result for welcome to bend oregon sign

 

Please keep your fingers crossed for us and send any extra good joojoo our way. We’re headed to Bend one way or another, so we’re celebrating regardless!!

Who knows, maybe I’ll find a prince’s inheritance along the way….





Finding Peaks: Part 2

12 09 2019

A few weeks back, we finally got a chance to take on our second peak of the summer. Well, “peak” is pushing it. We climbed a hunk of rock and stood on top of it, so I’m dubbing it a peak.

We’ll go with the 3rd definition…

As we got our stuff, Simba pouted and glared, as he did not get to join us for this particular hike. We loaded the car and headed west, down the gorgeous Gorge. Despite making this drive twice a day, 5 days a week, for the last 3 years, it still brings calm and joy to my little heart. Its just so spectacular.

We did have to skirt a parade marching through Stevenson (J wouldn’t let me join in) but finally arrived at the trail head. I had mentally prepared myself for the crowd – this close to Portland, right on the highway, we would not be seeking the solace and silence of the woods and rock. Today was a different mission.

Today we climb Beacon Rock.

Beacon Rock, WA hike

The big volcanic plug on the left. Climbed it!

Ok, let me clarify that a bit. We hiked the trail to the top of Beacon Rock, we did not strap on our harnesses and rock climb the basalt. Both are options, but Z isn’t quite there yet. Back in 1915, a dude named Henry Biddle bought the big monolith for one, single, solitary dollar and built a trail to the top. We tipped our hats to good ole Henry and headed up the well-worn path.

J was sporting the Ergo this time, with a happy little Z kicking his feet and talking to the rocks. Now, you might remember my freak out rant the last time about how proud I am that I can hike with my enormously chunky baby. As we got out of the car, I prepared my argument, when J took all the fight out of me. “You always get to carry him…” J said matter-of-factly, looking me dead in the eye.

Was this a ploy to carry the baby in what he considers safer conditions than if I carried him? Maybe. Did it work? Yes. I relinquished the pack and then smiled when I realized how obnoxiously adorable my hubby is all strapped into the Ergo with a giggling baby bouncing against his chest. Right…Z is his baby, too.

hiking Beacon Rock trail, Beacon Rock State Park WA

Like father like son…

So off we went, up the trail that was remarkably not as steep as I thought it would be. Ramps and hand rails and switchbacks really make it a pretty easy hike. Its just over a mile to the top and the heavy traffic offers lots of people-watching. One beast of a girl was hiking on crutches and smiling the whole way (you get it, girl!). Three bros were coming down blaring music from a portable speaker and almost received a rant from JBoo. Their tiny tank tops were frightening but the music was just rude. I think Z saved them. The folks at the top that went around the safety railing to climb out on the edges also almost got a talking-to from J, as this is a huge problem for him – but a quick reminder that he’s not at work (and it won’t be his search and rescue call…) helped turn his head and smile for my group selfie.

top of Beacon Rock, WA trail

View upstream – so lovely. ❤

It was quick and crowded but the views really are gorgeous. The Columbia Gorge is such a unique and stunning landscape, I feel like we can never explore enough of it. Z fell asleep quickly once we got back down to the car and J bought us tacos on the way home (bonus treat!). I’m glad I finally got to experience this on foot after driving by it so many times. The only problem now is….what other Gorge hikes do we still need to cross off the list?!





Finding Peaks, Part 1

23 08 2019

It may come as no surprise that it’s important to me to give Z time outside every day. We stroll the neighborhood with Simba, cruise the waterfront for ducks and blackberries, and wander downtown window shopping and meeting friends for lunch at outdoor patios. Sometimes, we never make it farther than our own little patch of grass, but even there we can explore the strawberry patch and poke in the dirt under the tree and laugh at the butterflies.

play in the yard, PNW summer

Sometimes the yard provides plenty of entertainment.

But on the rare occasion that JBoo gets a day off work and we don’t have something else going on, we try to escape to the woods and mountains. And Z absolutely loves it, laughing and babbling the whole way. We’ve even managed to get Z to the top of a couple pretty cool peaks.

Back in June, after school finally let out and I said good-bye to that portion of my life for now, I asked J to take us into the mountains for a quick fix before we went to the flat expanses of north Texas. Off we went, J and Simba in the lead, Z and I huffing and puffing right behind, as we took on the beautiful peak of Sleeping Beauty outside Trout Lake. We’ve climbed this trail a couple times, but Z is topping 22 pounds these days and I was sweating like crazy up the steep inclines. J is patient and understanding, but I was determined not to slow us down too much so we still made decent time. The forest there is beautiful – lots of big trees and hanging moss and pretty undergrowth. Z and I discussed it all as we passed.

Sleeping Beauty trail 37, Trout Lake WA

And these are called TREES!! Hug them all you like.

The top of the trail emerges out of the trees as the rocky outcropping of Sleeping Beauty’s face. From afar, this ridge and peak look like the figure of a woman lying down, and there are legends in the native cultures about who she is and why she’s lying there. That day, we were simply there to tread upon her upturned face to enjoy the incredible views of all the mountains.

Sleeping Beauty Peak, Trout Lake WA

Yay Baby Z, we made it!

Sadly, we didn’t get the views, as storms were rolling in and the cloud cover concealed all the mountains except for the base of Mt. Adams right next to us. The wind picked up a bit and temperatures dropped a few degrees. J was proud of me for reaching the peak and prepared to switch loads so he could carry Z down the rocky switchbacks and I could take the pack and Simba.

Mt Adams from Sleeping Beauty, Trout Lake WA

That, Baby Z, is Daddy’s mountain, hiding in the clouds. Locals call it Mt. Adams.

Um, excuse me? I shook my head incredulously. I climbed up here with Z, I could climb down with Z. But JBoo didn’t understand. I could barely see my feet (he said) and the trail was potentially dangerous through the rock (he said). Why wouldn’t I let him take the baby?? But I held my ground and said I was confident I could do it and would never do something I thought would endanger my sweet child. He finally relented, though begrudgingly, and watched closely as we descended. I did just fine thankyouverymuch though J said I’m stubborn and ridiculous and probably several other things. And Z just laughed and fell asleep as we reentered the watchful trees.

The trip down, of course, was must faster, though my knees protested heavily as I tried to eliminate my natural bounce so Z could sleep. I sang him lullabies and told him new tales of Handsome Prince Zane and his trusty sidekick, Prince-Prance Simba. I tell myself he absorbs the stories, even in his sleep. Once back at the truck, it was clear J had forgiven me and the calm presence of the trees helped soothe his frustrations with his stubborn, brick-headed wife. The mountain air did wonders for us all and deep snores reverberated from crib, bed, and dog pillow alike that night.

views from Sleeping Beauty, Trout Lake WA

Just a couple of super happy brick-heads.

When asked, I really struggled to put into words what came over me on the top of that rock. Why was I suddenly adamant that J let me carry Z down the rocky trail? What did it matter? J’s brain always scrolls through risk analysis and worst case scenarios, and he was only trying to help. Was it pride? Lunacy? Serious mental breakdown due to mom hormones? A deep-seated need for bragging rights? Probably all of the above. I’m in touch with my limits enough to know what I can handle, and Z was never in danger, though I felt quite put out that J didn’t believe me. Thankfully it didn’t morph into anything ugly and we moved past it quickly as the tension and emotion dissipated in the trees.

On a totally different note, I hope Z develops his own love and appreciation for the forest and will hike and camp with gusto. I don’t want it to be something his parents force upon him, but a love affair that grows once he is old enough to choose his own hobbies. Any advice or tips on how to gently nudge him towards this without making him hate it (or me for pushing it)?

Stay tuned for Part 2: The second peak!!





I’m Sorry, What?

10 08 2019

Um, apparently its August already?? I blinked and suddenly I’m theme-hunting for Z’s first bday party, a new school year is almost upon us, and I can’t even pee alone anymore because Z is so mobile. I apologize for the cliche, but…when did that happen?!

I mean, “Mom Brain” is a real thing. My watch has to tell me what day of the week it is and I accidentally called JBoo Jason the other day. I don’t even know anyone named Jason. My days run together in a delightful haze of ZTrain activity, exclaiming in astonishment as he learns something new every single day. Yall, he figured out how to clap his own hands all by himself, so we’re pretty sure Harvard is the only logical next step.

It must be the August Phenomenon that’s throwing me off: the signal that summer is drawing to a close and real life is about to resume. The itch to get to my classroom and arrange the furniture 84,928 times and catch up with my pals and get my little alpacas laminated and ready for the names of all my new 4th graders. I really love my alpaca board – its only gotten better with each passing year!

Image result for alpaca drawing

Mrs. Ewer’s herd of 4th graders

….Except there is no furniture to arrange or bulletin boards to prep or activities to devise or shining fresh faces to anticipate. I’m not going back to the classroom this year. And I feel like I nearly ripped myself in two over the decision and then repeatedly did so again and again in the months following my resignation.

What a weird world we live in. This shouldn’t be so complicated. But I cried the whole way home the day I submitted my official resignation paperwork. I cried again the day I stopped actively seeking a new position elsewhere. And I cried yet again the first time someone asked, “But shouldn’t you be grateful to get this time with your baby? You’ll never get it again.”

Of course I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay home with ZTrain. So many women don’t even get the option. But now I feel guilty for even wanting to continue working. Of course I’m devastated to leave my career, however temporarily, when I felt like I had just found my groove and was so thankful to have a job I was so passionate about. So now I feel guilty about all the students I might be letting down, and for depriving myself of that passion and purpose.

So. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I made a list of all the logical reasons that taking off next year makes sense and how everything will be ok. JBoo helped with the list, being the logical-minded half of our partnership. My amazingly supportive friends helped, too (thank you thank you). I can read over the list when my mind starts dangerously spiraling again, take a few deep breaths to get myself back under control, and scoop Z up for a bath after his swim in the toilet while I panicked.

My list is long and comprehensive and includes wisdom, insight, and a missing corner that Z ate. Things like “its just a year, I can return to teaching after that” and “I’m more than just a teacher, this doesn’t mean I’m not me anymore” and “being a mom is a superpower and a full-time job in of itself.” I confirmed with JBoo that he will in fact still love me even if I am no longer contributing financially to our family. He’ll even continue to love me with baby crunchies stuck to my arm, a suspicious stain on my shirt, and an unidentifiable substance clinging to my hair. Several friends reassured me that being a stay-at-home mom does not mean I can’t still be a strong, independent woman. Even though I have more conversations about poop than anything else, I’m still intelligent, creative, and worthy to hang out with. All good things.

Many things are up in the air for us at the moment, but I do plan to sub in the local school this next year. I’ll reread my list whenever I need it, but hopefully I’ll need it less and less. I’m trying to see the opportunities in this life change. I’m hoping to redirect some of my passion to other things now, and I’m excited to see how I can slowly involve Z in some of those things. JBoo is amazing at helping me reconnect with the optimist inside myself, and we’ve become good friends again. She’s bringing a lot of sunshine into my perspective. Thanks to J for relocating her.

Blogging is hopefully one of those things that I will get to put a little time into again, so stay tuned. I see nothing but blue skies ahead. 🙂

PNW baby at Elk Lake OR

My little PNW baby, eating a pine cone and digging in the dirt.





Our First Christmas

1 01 2019

One of the super fun parts of having a baby is getting to see everything in a new light. The little tot is experiencing the world for the very first time, and we get to witness that. For the first couple weeks especially, one of us could be heard exclaiming, “Aw, it’s his first time ________________!”

Some of these things were memorable enough to land in his baby book, like his first outfit, his first bath, his first (intentional) smile, his first hike.

baby's first bath

First time in the tub – not sure about all this splish-splash business…

baby visiting Natural Bridges, Gifford Pinchot

First family photo while on our first walk in the woods!

baby's first hike to Falls Creek Falls, WA

Snuggling with Auntie Em on his first hike to overlook his first waterfall! It was a big day.

Some were not so note-worthy, though at the time, equally exciting. His first diaper blowout, his first solid 6 hours of sleep, his first trip to the grocery store, his first selfie, his first time spitting up down the front of Momma’s shirt…twice in a row.

baby sleeping at Mexican restaurant

First time to Momma’s favorite Mexican restaurant…only 5 days old! Momma was hungry…

baby's selfie with mom

First selfie with Momma – obviously not impressed…

stroller ride on the waterfront, Hood River OR

First stroller cruise on the waterfront in Hood River – slept through the whole thing.

Just as everything is brand new for him, the whole parenting thing is brand new for J and I. We often look at each other with matching “what now??” expressions on our faces, usually followed by a Google search of whatever just happened. But so far, we have successfully kept everyone alive and even feel like we’re starting to get the hang of it. (Well, most days, anyway…)

That said, I was not prepared for the delight that was Baby’s First Christmas. We did just fine at Baby’s First Halloween – he wore a pumpkin onesie and hat to his doctor’s appointment! Baby’s First Thanksgiving was wonderful with the visit of Auntie Em and all our favorite holiday foods. But nothing spectacular or earth-shattering made these holidays any more exciting than they ever were, so I assumed we would glide right past Christmas with the same ease and normalcy. Oh how wrong I was.

baby pumpkin costume

I’m sorry I didn’t get you a lion tamer costume complete with a real lion – but you make a super cute pumpkin!

siblings together for Thanksgiving, Bingen WA

Yay for stretchy pants on Thanksgiving!! Little Z’s just mad he can’t eat any of it.

Something about the magic of Christmas for our little family just caught me by surprise. It didn’t happen during our hunt for a Christmas tree (“He hates the snow hitting his face!! HURRY!!”)…

Christmas tree hunt, Trout Lake WA

What is this cold wet stuff hitting me in the face?! Make it stop!!!!

It didn’t happen during the Christmas parade or our quick visit with Santa (“Whoa, not impressed, hurry before he screams!”)…

baby's first Santa, Hood River OR

Really guys? I just want some milk and a nap.

It didn’t even happen when we attempted to make Christmas cookies (“Just smear some icing on and eat it, I gotta feed the baby!”) or at the several Christmas parties we attended (“Who wants to hold the little elf?!”)………

baby in Christmas lights

Ho Ho Ho, let’s party!

I don’t know what changed, but tears filled my eyes as we snuggled together Christmas Eve in front of the stove in our matching jammies. Just the four of us, with some hot cocoa and Bing Crosby, everything seemed utterly perfect.

family matching Christmas pajamas

Yes, Grammy even sent pj’s for Simba. ❤

baby and his dog, best friends

Brothers and best friends.

Even though Z isn’t old enough to be all excited (or even really know what’s going on), our lives have changed so drastically since his arrival. We’re wearing matching pajamas, for one thing. Packages kept arriving full of baby items from the grandparents. The focus has shifted and J and I had several conversations regarding the traditions we want to start/keep/ditch for our own little family. And Z was just so enamored with the Christmas lights!

baby and Christmas lights

JUST.SO.SHINY.

Christmas morning was relaxed and quiet, with a few small gifts exchanged and stockings emptied. The magic from the night before seemed to have dissipated a bit in the morning sunlight. Maybe I was still a bit hormonal, or maybe there really was a little magic in the air. Whatever it was, I hope it comes back every year.

And now we head off into 2019 with a whole lineup of adventures in store. First up: figuring out how to function as a human and return to work with a baby who can’t sleep through the night yet!

Here’s hoping for another wonderful year! ❤





And Then There Were Three

7 12 2018

Every year around this time, I get nostalgic and reflective on the past year and like to think back over the changes that have happened. I don’t know…maybe all the family time puts me in a sentimental mood. This year, stopping to reflect has been easier than usual, as I had, arguably, one of the largest changes yet lying in my lap: I had a baby!

I gotta say, it was no easy feat. It felt like I was pregnant for YEARS. I ended one school year pregnant, survived a hot summer pregnant, started another school year still pregnant. I traveled pregnant, went hiking pregnant, walked a 5K pregnant, camped pregnant, marched a picket line pregnant, and squished into a swim suit pregnant. I finally went on maternity leave and my mom arrived from Texas, but that sweet baby was just too happy in his little womb-home. Giant and miserable and bursting out of even my largest maternity clothes, my doctor finally scheduled my induction at 41 weeks…and my water broke the night before we were to check into the hospital. My baby laughed in the face of my relief and still put me through 45 hours of labor before making his appearance – 8 days late.

pregnant profile

Whoa baby!

My long labor meant about a day and a half on the epidural, which equaled a day and a half without real food. No one warned me about that. The combo of drugs and IV fluids caused my legs to swell from the thighs down, turning them into mega tree trunks that devoured my knees and ankles and scared the bageebees out of me the first time I saw them. No one warned me about that. And after my labor progressed slower than a turtle crawling through molasses in winter time, my doctor declared it time to push – and I pushed for TWO WHOLE HOURS before she said he just wasn’t coming out and prepped me for my C-section. Which meant my body needed to heal from both types of labor afterward. NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT THAT!!

new baby born

Poor child was battered and bruised from his fight into this world

But appear he finally did. I vaguely heard the doctor saying she was ready to pull him out, and despite warnings that he might not cry due to the trauma of his labor, his scream sliced through the medicated fog shrouding my brain. I immediately started sobbing. Thankfully, the drugs kept me from actually moving, but in that moment, I was flooded with so many emotions at once, I thought it would surely knock me off the table. (Instead, I fell asleep…) And people did try to tell me about that. How the first cry would be emotional and the first sight of him would be love at first sight, etc etc etc. And it kind of was, though I had to emerge from the morphine haze a bit before I could register what was happening. I didn’t have any idea what to expect regarding the C-section….I had never entertained the possibility that I would need one.

But thanks to modern medicine, I was fine, and baby was fine, and the weird shape to his head went away in just a few days. He latched right away and nursed like a champ from the get-go…once I was coherent enough to nurse. As I watched in amazement at this ancient, instinctual act that I was now capable of, I realized the time had come: we had to pick a name!

He stores up his sass in those cheeks

My whole pregnancy was filled with the Great Name Debate. J loved to scour the internet for Worst Names Ever, and I quickly created the hashtag #NOTYARGLE to add to my request for name suggestions. All our friends and family were in on the search, and even when we narrowed the list to actual possibilities, J and I decided to keep them a secret. We had two names that finally passed, and decided to choose which would be the first name and which would be the middle name once we met him in person. Although I had grown really attached to calling him Smudge, I knew we made a good decision when I saw it written on our door by the nurse: Zane Elliott. Perfect.

baby in a bear suit

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. He shall be my Squishy. ❤

Now I have this bundle of chubby cheeks and double chins to spend my days with. He is a fascinating creature, I must say. Every day he’s learned to do something new. Every day is a new experience for him. He makes funny faces and has no control of his flailing limbs and pees on me when I change his diaper. (I’m getting faster!!) Its an indescribable experience that leaves me exhausted and elated and constantly in awe of new life.

I’m even starting to get used to the more undignified aspects of new motherhood, like noticing my entire left side is soaked from leaking breast milk…while standing in line at the grocery store. Or opening the door for a friend who stopped by and realizing I haven’t showered in, well, I don’t even remember. Or finding myself smelling the mystery spot on my shirt to try to decipher it’s possible origin. Or making up song lyrics and wild dance moves to try to placate my screaming cherub at 2 am. And my favorite: changing a diaper only to have liquids start shooting out of one place or another…and catching them in my hand to try to keep the changing pad cover clean because I JUST washed it. Again.

new fatherhood

“Dad Talks” – deep discussions of the mysteries of the universe.

Despite the challenges, my heart bursts to pieces as I watch JBoo cuddling our tiny creation, explaining the world to him, or introducing him to Bob Marley songs. I never doubted for a second he would be a wonderful father, but seeing it in action really gives me all the feels. This new journey has already proven to be quite…an adventure. And its barely begun!!





Earliest Adventures

1 08 2018

I have to admit, I have become very lax in several areas of my life. Blogging for instance. Regular, vigorous exercise. Staying up past 9pm.

But the one that really gets me is the distinct lack of hiking and playing in the woods. I mean, c’mon, it’s my favorite thing, and I’ve lamented on multiple occasions about how great it feels when I get back to nature.

Though it was a pretty tough school year for me, and J and I had a ton of things going on, there is another huge game-changer that made an appearance in early March: a little hazy smudge on a grainy sonogram. We still affectionately refer to him as Smudge.

first sonogram

The doctor says its a baby, so I believe him. Welcome to the party, Smudge!!

So the school year (finally!) ended and my schedule cleared. But instead of mapping out backpacking trips and listing new trails to explore, I was organizing my baby registry and assembling furniture. I sorted through teeny tiny clothes and researched different diapering techniques. I sat on the phone with the insurance company discussing what they would cover and signed up for child birthing classes. And of course, I usually took a nap after each of these activities. But I really, really did want to get outside! I want Smudge to get that fresh mountain air and all the forest goodness as soon as he possibly can!

Memorial Day weekend, several of my besties drove up from Bend to hang out. One is a recent transplant from Texas, so I thought it would be fun to take her and her husband out into the wilds of Washington to demonstrate why I love it so much here. J said he knew of a secret waterfall that was a pretty short hike, so off we went. The hike turned out to be quite treacherously steep, but we somehow survived and the waterfall was definitely worth it.

secret waterfalls of the PNW, Washington Gifford Pinchot NF

Smudge has the best aunties in the world ❤

The last week of June, my parents and Hopey came to visit. My mom just couldn’t take it anymore! I could not WAIT to have my mom’s help getting set up for Baby Smudge and to get some quality time with the family. They decided to road trip the 2500 miles up here, and Hope declared everything was the biggest adventure she had ever had in her life! So, I decided to take them on an adventure of our own! Loaded with snacks and adventurous attitudes, we hiked the mile and a half or so back to Falls Creek Falls in the Gifford Pinchot. It was beautiful and exciting and so very fun. We had a few more adventures out in the woods, exploring the Ice Caves and Natural Bridges near Trout Lake. I’m fairly certain Smudge loved every step, every deep inhale. Gimme more, More, MORE!!

Falls Creek Falls trail, Washington, Gifford Pinchot

Chasing waterfalls

So after all my family goodness, we switched gears and drove down to California to see J’s family. We stopped along the way near the border of Oregon and California to camp one night, at a beautiful little spot with almost no one else around. We were next to a peaceful reservoir full of birds under the shade of big Ponderosas. It was a delightful night and I realized how much I missed camping, even if we were just car camping.

Topsy Campground, Keno Oregon

Edgar, the body pillow, joined us to help me sleep. He’s so sweet. Thankfully, we managed to find room in the tent for J, too.

Then I realized that if I’m truly going to raise a boy of the Pacific Northwest, there’s one more thing he needs to experience. It’s something I’ve not been able to fully embrace and in fact, I can barely do at all: swim in the frigid waters of a glacier-fed body of water.

The weather the last couple weeks seems to have been on my side in this decision, because temperatures have soared well into the 90s and even over 100 degrees several days in a row. By Saturday, I was ready to pack my bags and my dog and move to Antarctica. I DON’T LIKE THE HEAT. It’s uncomfortable enough to be 8 months pregnant, but now I’m also sticky, stinky, and grumpy. So when J suggested a hike and a swimming hole on Sunday, I couldn’t get in the truck fast enough! I even shimmied into my Easter-egg bathing suit that I look SUPER CUTE in and prepped Smudge for the exciting adventure ahead.

We hiked a section of the Salt Creek trail first, and I was a little put off on my body’s response. True, I’ll admit I nap more often than workout these days, and my body has been doing other things recently, like growing a tiny human. But hiking is just walking with a back-pack on! I can do that! But the amount of room Smudge is now taking up constricts my breathing a bit more than I would like and I have 25 extra pounds sticking out in front of me, throwing my center of gravity off. J was super patient with my many rest stops, and he even brought snacks! So by the end of the hike, I was filthy, super sweaty, and oh-so ready for that swimming hole.

We drove to the next spot and parked. J turned to me with a warning: this would be off-trail bush-whacking, and the way down might be a little steep. Did I still want to go? HECK YES – the best spots are always secret and hard to get to! So we grabbed our towels and headed down the slope through forest, prickly wild roses, various bushes and other undergrowth, and finally reached the water we had been listening to for most of the descent. There was a little sandy bank on the other side where we dumped our things, stripped off our outer clothes and dove in!

secret swimming hole, Gifford Pinchot NF Washingtion

Ok, so by “dove in” I really mean we waded in to get our ankles wet then raced back out as fast as our numb feet would take us….

Brrrrrr – even on a hot day that water is too cold. I can only stand it for a few minutes. I thought about sitting down in the stream but never worked up the courage. But I’m convinced Smudge will be able to handle the freezing waters, just like he’s going to be a champ at hiking through the woods and scaling mountains. Right?

I’m convinced we have no choice but to raise a nature-loving, tree-hugging, mountain-climbing, adventure-seeking little explorer, just like his daddy. Hopefully, we’re off to a good start!!





Just A-hiking in the Woods

27 07 2017

It’s no secret how much I love to hike. Outdoor adventures are the usual topic of this blog. And with school out, I have all sorts of time to head out into the woods!

The last month has seen more outdoor time than the previous 6 months combined. Oh, how lovely it’s been! The fresh air, the blood pumping through my legs, the quality time with my wiggly mutt…so good! Here’s a quick peek at some of our recent adventures.

Wyeth

Right before school let out, Simba and I needed some nature time, and J was busy working. We set out with a map and a few suggestions from our housemate to see what we could find. Our first attempt was to climb to Indian Point from the Herman Creek trailhead, but the overflowing parking lot sent us high-tailing to our second choice: Wyeth. Both are right down the Gorge, meaning everything would be gorgeous. We poked around the awesome creek that – of course – tumbled in several rapids and mini waterfalls. Ferns, moss, towering cliffs, swaying trees – a typical gorge hike. We really live in the coolest place.

Emerald Falls, Wyeth Trailhead Oregon Columbia Gorge hikes

Simba “swimming” at Emerald Falls – next time we’re climbing UP STREAM!

Green Point Ridge trail Columbia Gorge hikes Oregon

Lunch break about 3 miles up the trail. Shared a few nibbles with this handsome mutt.

The trail, which is actually called the Green Point Ridge trail, traverses the cliffs and flattens out pretty nicely after the initial climb. It was nice and peaceful once we tuned out the road noise below, and the lack of fellow hikers was a real plus. And since it parallels the Columbia River, the views are outstanding no matter where we looked. So awesome.

Trapper Creek Wilderness

J has been working his rear off this summer, so I’m really thankful I can tag along with him. Its perfect: he gets work done, I get to hike in the woods, and I squeeze in time with my Boo. All the things I want! A couple weeks ago, J invited me along for a trip to the Trapper Creek Wilderness, one of my favorite places. This particular area is unique in that it has old growth forest untouched by the logging industry. Most of the northwest has been logged at some point or another, but not here! The result is gorgeous, old growth forest, complete with monster-huge trees, lack of dense undergrowth, more diverse species of plants and trees, and the presence of old, gnarly snags that provide habitat for cool wildlife. If you’ve never hiked through an old growth forest, I suggest dropping everything and finding one immediately. Go!

Trapper Creek trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA GPNF

Simba, charged and ready to go!

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA

Don’t forget to pause and look up. The colors of the forest get me every time.

Trapper Creek Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Dropped off trail to take a break by this babbling brook. Cold, refreshing, lovely.

saprophytes Trapper Creek in GP Forest WA

Saprophytic plants – just a sample of the awesome flora to be found. These little guys don’t produce chlorophyll!

trail work, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA

My local ranger hard at work fixing some trail tread. ❤

Gifford Pinchot NF, Trapper Creek Wilderness hiking

And of course, #SelfiesWithSimba – the best hiking buddy around!

Cascade Creek

For the 4th of July, we knew we had to get out of town. Far, far out of town. Simba is terrified of fire works and its hard to watch him panic every time one goes off. We headed into the woods with the truck loaded with camping gear and found an awesome spot on the banks of Cascade Creek, right by its joining with the White Salmon River. Since the actual holiday was during the week, we lucked out and had the whole place to ourselves! We didn’t do much actual hiking, but we did a lot of unplugged, kicked-back relaxing and it was amazing. I didn’t take many photos, since I really did turn my phone off, leave it in the truck, and enjoyed time in the woods undisturbed. Glorious.

Cascade Creek, Gifford Pinchot NF WA

Glamping!! Who wouldn’t want a campsite where someone left a giant “Race Base” sign?! (Don’t leave your crap in the forest. K thanks.)

camping in the GP, WA

I can’t help it. Our selfie game is just so ON POINT.
#SelfiesWithSimba is now a thing.

Wyeth (full circle)

And then with JBoo in tow, we hiked Wyeth again. Not quite as far, but more playing in the creek. The hiking experience is totally different for me if I’m with someone, compared to being alone. After all this time, J is still my favorite hiking companion. ❤

Emerald Falls, Wyeth, hiking in the Columbia Gorge

Emerald Falls….again

Wyeth trailhead, Columbia Gorge

He wasn’t even working this time!!

And after a nice long hike, Simba likes to partake in post-hike snuggle time. He’s such a cuddlebug. I love it.

snuggle puddle

I apparently make a pretty good pillow.

This turned into a longer post than I intended…thanks for coming along for the ride! Our other big hike is getting a post all of its own, and of course Simba and I have daily expeditions exploring the neighborhood. More big adventures are in the works, stay tuned!!

Anyone else out enjoying the great outdoors? Suggestions for other places in PNW I should explore? Tell me all about it!!








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