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

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


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! ❤

Going Places!

19 12 2015

I bought a tablet this week and I’m still trying to figure things out. Like how to save a blog post without publishing it! So, like I was tying to say before, I have finally conquered what some say is the hardest semester of our program! Yay! A great big check on the grad school checklist!

Our cohort had a Christmas party Thursday night to celebrate everything: surviving a grueling semester, completing our first semester of student teaching/observation, making it to the end without any casualties, and reaching winter break. We wore ugly sweaters and ate ourselves silly while laughing at the white elephant exchanges. The promise of two whole weeks stretching before us with no class, no student teaching, no papers to write or chapters to read had all of us giddy with anticipation. (Many of us were going to our placement classes on Friday.)


So now, my fall semester is officially 100% all the way completed. I said farewell to my 5th graders and my mentor yesterday and finished my errands today. I’ve stuffed my suitcase and snuggled my Simba-mutt at every chance. Tomorrow is the day: JBoo and I are embarking on a grand adventure!

Ok, I say that a lot. We like to adventure! And to find adventure in everyday things! Ok, that’s cheesy, but I have to tell myself something good to keep me going. Anyhow, we are in fact going on a mega huge amaze-balls adventure, starting tomorrow, and I have no idea how I’m going to get any sleep tonight!!

WE’RE GOING TO SPAIN! THREE WHOLE WEEKS OF CRUISING THE SOUTHERN HALF OF SPAIN! We start in Madrid, head south towards the coast, and end up in Barcelona. Woooooo!

With no papers to write, I plan to blog our adventures as we take on Spain. The journey begins tomorrow with our first leg from Seattle to NYC – west coast to east coast! Tuesday morning will find us finally in Madrid. Feel free to follow along with us on Twitter and here on the blog!

Editor’s note: big thanks for all the support during this crazy semester! My amazing friends, family, cohort, mentor teacher, and my Justin all helped get me this far. Thank you thank you THANK YOU!

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!

28 12 2014

Another year is almost completely gone! Where did it go? Why do I ask the same question every year? (Insanity is sounding more and more familiar….)

Through the years, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Even when I worked in retail and saw the worst side of humanity. (Grown women throwing blows for a cheap laptop? C’mon people.) The festivity of December just excites me, and fills me with wonder and joy and all the other emotions Hallmark writes about. The lights! and the carols! and the cheer!

cutting our own christmas tree

We chopped our own little bitty tree to fit in our little bitty living room!

This year, we kept it quiet. We learned our lesson trying to travel at the holidays (or in the winter in general…) and just stay home. My heart aches at being so far from my family this time of year, but I’m blaming my extra sadness on the lack of vitamin D. We’ve seriously had maybe two full days of sunshine for MONTHS – I’m so sick of the rain!

We also didn’t get a white Christmas, which was just one more thing for me to be sad about. But as I snuggled with my boys during my full 5 days off work, all I could feel was a heart overflowing with gratitude for the abundance I have to be happy about.

Looking around our tiny little house, the colorful lights reflected off the windows and silver garland, our two-foot Charlie Brown tree shone in the corner, three bulging stockings hung from the shelf, and I was snuggled up between my sweet J and my snoring pup. Our bellies were all full, we were all warm and safe, and the three of us were together. Our own little family.

Christmas on the Columbia, Hood River OR

My boss sent a company-wide email Tuesday afternoon announcing that he was giving all of us Friday off as a paid holiday, giving the whole company 5 days of uninterrupted holiday. J and I went for long walks, took the dog hiking up in the mountains, cooked a Christmas feast together, unwrapped our gifts, and spent hours playing our new board game and helping Simba break in his new toy. It was a wonderful time for us to catch up on “us”, spending quality time with no obligation to rush off somewhere, or get something done.

Christmas tree decorations of love

And that’s all I really wanted for Christmas. To spend time with those I love, re-energize after the “holiday scramble”, and take the time to acknowledge this wonderful life we live.

I sincerely hope yall had a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate. I’d give every one of you a hug if I could, so hug yourself for me. And may 2015 bring all sorts of wonderful things your way!


we wish you a Merry Christmas

Back on the Open Road!

22 11 2013

We have a guy, a girl, a dog and a truck – all the components of a country song! Except J left his guitar at home, and no one was drunk or cheating, so … all the components of a Great American ROADTRIP!

J and I made plans to visit J’s dad in Denver for the entire  week of Thanksgiving. I immediately started stressing out about plane tickets and carry-ons and the price of checked luggage and where Simba was going to go for an entire week. Then we came up with a way better plan: let’s just drive!

Fast-forward to this morning. All packed up, J played Tub Tetris to get all of our stuff to fit into two plastic tubs to brave the elements in the back of the truck. I prepped the massive amount of food I had bought (just in case we got in a zombie apocolypse on the way) so we wouldn’t have to stop as much and so we wouldn’t gain 50 pounds a piece gorging on fast food before Thanksgiving. All the while, Simba paced nervously, knowing we were going somewhere, but not sure if he was included…

Finally, everything was ready and I lifted Simba into His Spot for the trip. What a happy dog! He snuggled down, ready to go. The morning is frigid yet painfully sunny. We only turn around once for a forgotten item and off we go!

roadtrip to Denver, CO

Family roadtrip! Everyone say CHEESECAKE!

Simba travels so well. He just seems so happy to be going! He’s funny – he likes to curl up facing the back of the cab, not asleep, just hanging out, staring at nothing. Once, I look back to find him with his head propped up on the ice chest like a pillow. Silly pup.

We cruise up the Gorge and I’m taken back to our roadtrip this summer to Texas. But this trip has one gigantic difference: JUSTIN. I don’t have to do all the driving, so I can spend my time observing, writing, petting Simba. And J has much better conversation skills than Simba. We discuss SO MANY THINGS! Travel, past and future; geology and super-volcanes and hot spots under the earth’s crust; the history of the Gorge; upcoming events; roadtrips we took as kids; ALL OF THE THINGS! We pass the huge tree farm and try to guess how many trees are out there. We talk about our hobbies. We sing along with the Spanish radio station and munch down on the snacks I dig up from behind my seat. And Simba watches all from his bed right behind J. Family bonding!

tree farm in Eastern Oregon

Tree farm along I-84 in Eastern Oregon. SO.MANY.TREES!

We fly across Eastern Oregon and are in the Blue Mountains before we know it. Such a nice break from the flat, open emptiness. I give a nice “Whoop!” as we pass the 45th Parallel – half way between the equator and the North Pole! Simba yawns from the back as J tells me all about the Wallowa Mountains, a range of batholiths, already snow-capped.

I take a turn at the wheel, find a country station and my candy, and get us to Idaho. I thought one main reason I disliked Southern Idaho last trip was the scorching heat and the smell that came with it. Unfortunately, I’m still not impressed, even in the absence of the heat. Twin Falls isn’t a bad area, though, and I would love to stop at Shoshone Falls some day when water is actually raging over it. I84, though, has got to be one of the roughest, terribly maintained stretches of interstate I’ve ever been on! Simba and I reminisced and told J stories of our summer trip along this same highway. Right about Twin Falls, we watched the brilliant orange sunset as the ball of light dropped below the ledge of the big plateau. Too bad it was only about 5:00. We decided to make it to Salt Lake City before crashing for the night, so we trudged on. Once again, I wish I could have seen the northern stretch of Utah in daylight – even more, I wish J could have seen it in the daylight.

Idaho sunset

Orange behind us, pink ahead of us. About 20 minutes after this was a brilliance my stupid phone just couldn’t get….

We stopped for gas (again) in Ogden. Despite the beef jerky and crackers and hummus and oranges, we were mesmerized my the purple neon of the Taco Bell…and we broke. I hope we don’t both get sick from eating it after staying away from fast food for so long, but it was heaven on earth at the time. About 40 miles down the road, near the Salt Lake City  airport, we found a nice little Super 8 that allows dogs. J is lost over there somewhere on the other side of this outrageously huge bed, Simba is snuggled down on his bed snoring loudly, and I am totally exhausted after a day of doing nothing.

dog-friendly Super8 Motel, Salt Lake City UT

Possibly his first time in a hotel, but his bed and toys took all his stress away! Nighty-night!

Tomorrow will be a day for fun adventures NOT in the vehicle – stayed tuned!!


Move Over, Katniss

6 07 2012

Ah, Independence Day. A day to celebrate our great nation and the many freedoms we the people enjoy.  A few of my favorite freedoms to enjoy are the freedom to eat copious amounts of meat straight off the grill, to drink any and all alcohol in sight no matter the time of day, and to wear as many pieces of red, white and blue clothing and accessories as I can manage without falling over.  This Fourth, we really did our country proud.

However, we also did our District proud. Confused? Took a vacation under a rock for the last year? Live in a tiny, remote corner of Washington state? Well, you’re missing out.  I don’t have time to explain it – read for yourself! I’m not a freak-out fan, but it was a good book and a well-done movie. I couldn’t let them down.  Here’s how it went:

A couple people decided to throw a huge bash for the Fourth, and to celebrate their freedom to celebrate any way they chose, they made it a theme party. But this was no uncle-sam-loving, red-white-and-blue-cupcake-eating, watermelon-seed-spitting-contest kind of party. Oh no. This was a Hunger Games-themed party.

Dress the part and bring some booze – all welcome! They even celebrated the Second Amendment proudly and allowed – encouraged even! – weapons of all kinds. Man oh man, this was one party we just coudn’t miss!!

So, after stuffing our faces in fine fashion at a little afternoon bar-be-que, it was time to prepare. Out came the costume boxes, the props and the Google searches – what the heck did those people wear??  (We saw the movie, but the wardrobe choices weren’t exactly what stuck with me…)

Everything really turned out great. We both came up with good outfits, Justin armed us, and off we went to make some new friends.  I was so impressed with the people at this party!! Almost everyone dressed as citizens of the Capitol – and looked fantastic! Color everywhere! And the hosts did an amazing job decorating their yard with lights strung around, seating, tables of drinks and snacks – very well done. Then, of course, was the dance floor, complete with live DJ! Best party I’ve been to since living here!

I hate to admit that I did not win the costume contest. I did, however, get to do a live demonstration of my working bow and arrow. Everyone asked where I found such awesome props and I just pointed to J and said, “He just made them. About 15 minutes before the party.” I got legit street cred for that. My arrow had an obsidian point J had made, real feathers on the end, and was tied together with sinew! I’m telling you: LEGIT.

Katniss costume Hunger Games party

Katniss costume, ready to party!

I’m really bummed I don’t have pictures from the party to show you some of the other costumes. I was not the only Katniss, though I might just have to say my outfit was a teeny bit, well, better. No one else had a hand-made bow and arrow, that’s for sure! Unfortunately, I was also out-done in the weapon department by none other than Justin himself. But his flaming nun-chucks are hard to compete with, especially when he starts spinning them around…

The best part of all: I walked away with a handful of new friends. That’s even more exciting than a wonderfully executed last-minute costume.

Oh, and Jennifer Lawrence? Better watch out, girl. Once this picture gets out, they just might want me to do the next movie instead of you. Just saying…


Wrapping up 2011

29 12 2011

Can you believe 2011 is almost over?  Done-sies, the end, fin, gone, OVER.  Crazy how fast it seemed to fly by….

By the way, Christmas was good!  How was yours?  Were the halls decked with holly, and twas the season jolly?  Better yet, did Santa bring you all that your little heart desired?!  I came pretty close.  J and I made the trek back to Bend, of course.  Ashlee always jokes that I didn’t actually move, I’m just commuting.  I’m starting to believe her.  I’m also beginning to think a pilot’s license and a private jet would be terribly handy…

Anyway, Christmas in Bend was pretty awesome.  We stayed with my sister this time, although she had to work both Saturday and Sunday, which was a bummer.  Ashlee let us hang out at her house as much as we wanted, and we spent a good amount of time with her and her Momma.  Both of them feel like family to me, which really helped ease the pain of not being with my own Momma on Christmas.  So a great big shout-out and thank you, Momma Ellen, Ashlee, and Morgan, for including us and letting us have “family time” with yall.  It’s a big deal to me, even if I’m terrible about expressing it.  And don’t worry, folks!  I am heading down to Texas to see Momma and Daddy for a belated Christmas at the end of January.  “Christmas” to us is a very flexible holiday and hasn’t landed on December 25th in quite some time.  It’s more about the ability to get together, to eat and laugh and talk and eat and drink and eat; to catch up and pass around pictures and hug a lot.  We really don’t even do presents anymore.  I’m heartbroken that Brea won’t be able to go with us this year.  Circumstances have made it pretty impossible for her to be able to afford a plane ticket, which just makes me outrageously angry at everything – the circumstances themselves, myself for not being able to buy the ticket for her, the government for not being able to fix the economy, and Al Gore for obviously causing global warming.  But that’s life, and the world will continue to spin.  It still sucks.

Back to Christmas, I was tickled pink to get to see my best friends and stuff our faces with Nicole’s heavenly homemade cookies while chatting.  J and I got a wild hair and went to the movies on Christmas Eve and saw Sherlock Holmes 2.  (Its pretty good, you should go see it.)  We did presents with Brea that night since she worked Christmas morning (angry face) and took nice long walks in the lovely Bend weather.  A few gifts here and there, lots of laughing, lots of eating and drinking and merry-making.  You know, all the things Christmas should be.  Delightful.

Up next: New Year’s!  I’ll admit, I really like this time of year.  Not the party and ball drop and staying up past my bedtime – I’ve never had much luck with that part.  I’m more partial to the introspective part, looking back over another year gone, looking ahead to new adventures, new plans, new anything!  I love the fresh feeling of waking up January 1st, the feeling that a new slate is before me, ready to be filled.  Of course, I’m fully prepared with countless pieces of scrap paper and sticky-notes proudly listing goals, projects, ideas, places, sketches, dreams and plans.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I can’t get into the tradition.  Resolutions are too confining for me.  To me, a resolution is something you want to change – lose weight, spend more time with the family, stop picking your nose – and that has negative connotations to my brain.  I don’t want to resolve to do anything.  I just want to plan and dream of all that I could do.  Besides, lets me honest, who ever actually follows through with their resolution?  I much prefer my to-do lists.

Looking back is entertaining, as well.  Look at all we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished!  Due to my unnatural obsession with lists, I like to bust out a blank page and jot things down – new friends I’ve made, new places I’ve seen, new skills I’ve learned, new schemes I’ve hatched.  I’ll even throw in things like projects I never finished, people I’ve lost touch with, items that never received their scratch-through on the to-do list.  I get a real sense of relief by doing this, by reminding myself that I’m not a wart on the face of the planet, stagnant and ugly.  No, I’m living as I want to, most of the time, taking a stab at all this journey has to offer.  And even when I don’t do all the things I want, or forgot to finish something, or never gathered the courage to tackle that belly-dancing class, I can still see that I am moving, pulsating with life, challenging myself to push my own limits.

And that makes me feel good and alive and excited!  I can’t wait for another year to forge ahead, see what experiences I can rack up for next year’s lists.  How utterly awesome to have so much before us, the choices and decisions and unexpected! I can hardly wait to get started!

Oh, and we’re going up into Canada to Silver Star Ski Resort for a little mountain action to ring in all this excitement.  My new snowboard is at the shop right now, getting a nice wax job.  (Not me, just my board.)  Don’t worry, as much as I hate it, I did buy a helmet for this year and plan to at least take my wrist brace with me.  I’ll try real hard to keep all bones intact and other injuries at bay.  Cross your fingers for me….

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?  Do you make new year’s resolutions – what’s yours for this year?  And do you have any plans for the big transition to 2012??  (I really do want to know!)

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