Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Memories

Oh, wait, I have a blog you say? Yes, sorry about that. Instead of trying to backfill posts from the year to fill you in completely, below are some of my favorite memories from 2013. I still may plug in some more holes, but hope this will suffice for a bit. Overall, the year has been wonderful, though I'm still grappling with the idea that my baby is a bonafide toddler.

February: Lil’ O turned one and was dedicated at church! We hosted a fun, little Lego-themed party, but I think the most memorable part of the party was Lil’ O’s reaction to his first taste of pure sugar. Those cupcakes were amazing, but he showed jaw-unhinging delight. That same weekend, Lil’ O was dedicated at church. It's such a blessing to be part of our church community and share the joy that our little man brings.
May: My lovely sister-in-law married her prince charming! The wedding was beautiful, she was stunning, her groom is a wonderful man, and the couple honored us by not only having Husby and me in the wedding party, but also by inviting Lil’ O to toddle down the aisle. Sadly no pictures of his long walk, but, trust me, it was adorable.
Photo by Christopher Keels
July: Husby got a scholarship and started an MBA program. Nicely done Husby! The beginning of classes wasn’t a big celebration like some of these other 2013 highlights, but it certainly caused some adjustments for our little family. I’ve taken on a bit more around the house, while still working mostly part-time and our puppy, Knute, gets a bit less attention on Mondays. Husby is doing great with his classes and could be done toward the end of 2015. Thanks to some credits applied and six months of classes, his first year is now complete! I'm proud, but clearly his first master’s degree wasn’t enough. Over achiever.

July: This month also marked Husby and my first getaway without Lil’ O. We went to Sonoma and it was beautiful. But, it was also really, really hard to be away. I definitely overestimated my ability there. In hindsight, we should have planned an overnight trip to work up to this sort of thing instead of starting with a four-day, three-night excursion. Delicious food and wine, but lesson learned.

September: My wonderful, caring father-in-law retired after 40 years of ministry, more than 30 of which have been leading the congregation at the church where Husby grew up. He finished well and all of us in the family are so proud of him and constantly learning from the example he sets. Love you G’pa.
Summer/Fall: Lil’ O is talking! Gulp. It started slowly and then something connected. Now, his vocabulary just grows with each new day. Some words are still hilarious and need a Mommy Decoder ring, but overall it’s so helpful to know what’s on his mind. Hint, we hear a lot about trucks. My favorite “word” remains how Lil’ O says spider: spee-oh-wee. Hehe!
October: Halloween costumes were epically adorable this year. Thanks to outfitting by my mom, G’ma, we had hand-knit Gryffindor scarves for our little threesome and Harry Potter glasses for Lil’ O. He made an adorable Harry Potter, and Husby and I tagged along as Ron and Hermione. There was also a crazy cute lion outfit worn earlier in the day. See? Epically adorable.
Spring and Fall: Work trips this year included some quick stops in a couple cities I’d not been before! I got to take a quick spin around the outskirts of Portland and see the California capitol city, Sacramento. Portland was so lush and while in Sacramento, I even got to see a long-lost friend, weeee!

December: Christmas festivities! I’m happy to report that I did much better with my stress levels than last year. It got close a few times, but I successfully planned ahead and started prep in November so we could have family photos; get Christmas cards designed, printed and sent; make adorable DIY ornaments as gifts; request and receive a knitted stocking for Lil’ O from my mom, G’ma; do all my gift shopping; and do a little bit of baking. Whew! Now, I’ll admit a lot of these things were done in the wee hours of the night, but I paced myself and am proud of all I accomplished to make the season festive for my little family, especially considering we left early for Christmas in Ohio with the extended family.
Now, on to 2014! I aim to be a bit better about blogging in the New Year, but have yet to compile my full list of resolutions, so stay tuned. Have a safe and blessed New Year!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Dose of Real, Real Craziness

In case anyone thinks I only post beautiful experiences, let me set the record straight that life is crazy here. As a sample scenario, here’s a peek into our last week. It’s gotten to the point that we just have to laugh. Because, yes, it really is that stressful/insane/unfair, aka real.

It all began last Tuesday...

Last Tuesday: While hosting Bible Study, a member asks if we have any small pets. “No, just the dog, who you can hear whining the entire study. Why do you ask?” “Are you sure? There was just a small animal running by.” We check it out and nothing. No worries. I stayed up later working, just to be visited by a mouse! Twice! Ick, mice!! I refrained from jumping/dancing on our bed to wake up Husby and make him be the big, strong man of the house. Instead, I wrote an urgent note for him to set traps FIRST thing in the morning, which he did.

Wednesday: Come home from work with Lil' O and we caught a mouse! Wow, so gross, I’m still squirming. Made Husby deal with that grossness. I'm not normally a damsel in distress, but figured it was ok to be so every now and again. Mice definitely warrant damsel status in my book.

Thursday: No mice caught…Crazy cleaning to hopefully avoid mouse invasion.

Friday: Still no more mice caught. Getting nervous, though, as droppings continue and bait is eaten clean from traps. There’s never just one mouse I’m told.

Separately, while Husby was walking Knute, doggy got scared and somehow managed to wiggle out of his leash and into the street. All the cars graciously slowed, and Knute was more scared than in danger, but Husby’s adrenaline was pumping when he came home!

Saturday: All hell breaks loose. Lil’ O falls with an empty shampoo bottle in his hands, hits his tooth and now has a tooth bent at a 45* angle inward. A front tooth, classic. One ER visit and a dentist call later, we know it’s stable, but to feed him mush. Gee, thanks.
Aside from the new snaggle tooth and bruised gums (poor lil’ guy!), once Lil’ O had a nap and snack he was acting totally fine. Totally fine! So, we stuck to our plans for a coveted evening out. Parents of the Year Award?

Husby purchased a new mouse trap during the day (before Lil’ O’s tooth incident) and three mice were caught in the evening before we even fell asleep. ICK!! But, yay?

Today/Monday: After tag-stalking the pediatric dentist, who we’re told by our family dentist is the best, we have an appointment for Lil’ O first thing tomorrow. Huzzah!

Come home with Lil’ O after hearing about the great concern they have for him at daycare, and Husby shares that he thinks Knute has an ear infection. Sure enough, pup is squirming and whining if we so much as pet his ear. Great.
Then, in the midst of fact-checking this blog post with Husby, a wine glass falls to its death, shattering into a crazy amount of glass shards and pieces. No joke! Thankfully (?), this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve done this twice in the past few months. Who knew when my mom called me Eagle Eye as a kid that it was an actual life skill? Not me.

Hopefully, this peek into the craziness has provided a laugh. That’s all we’re doing; there’s no other cure for coping.

Oh, and in the midst of this crazy week, I got promoted last Wednesday. Promoted to VP. Maybe the biggest single promotion of my career. But, it’s cool. We didn’t really celebrate, because we had all of this craziness to deal with. Sigh. It’s not normally like this, and of course parenthood takes precedence and I love it, but sigh.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introducing Puppy + Baby

One of the (many) things keeping me busy over the past few months has been our new puppy! Husby and I had a moment just following Christmas where we caught our breath and took a collective sigh of relief. In that moment it was clear we could add one more thing to our plate. And, somehow that something became our new addition, my and Lil’ O’s first pet ever, our new puppy Knute (pronounced kah-NEWT).

Now, just to be clear, if you’re eager for balance and streamlining activities, combining puppy and baby is not a good idea. Oblivious to all the work that a puppy, or even a dog for that matter, requires, I was eager for the addition. I’ve never had a pet. Nope, not even a fish. And, by getting the puppy now, Lil’ O would grow up with it. And, at least in theory, the pup would be fully trained before Babe #2 (this is a hypothetical babe, not an announcement). It all sounds lovely and would complete our happy little family. Well, we do adore Knute, but he is certainly a lot of work. Especially in that first month when he wouldn’t sleep through the night and wasn’t yet potty trained. It really is like having another baby! Except feeding is a lot easier. And it was a lot easier to be stern. And he got the whole potty training thing faster. Goodness, we haven’t even started that process yet with Lil’ O! So, easier than a baby, but still soooo much work.

The good news is that Lil’ O and Knute get along quite well. They don’t really know how to play with one another yet, so we often have to separate them, but they so clearly want to play with one another. It’s adorable! And, after a few months and clearly establishing our dominance as alpha, we’ve mostly fallen into the groove of being pet owners. Husby has done a wonderful job of training Knute and he is a very sweet dog.

For those who are wondering, we got Knute from a lab rescue group in town. We don’t know what his mix is exactly, but suspect some combo of lab with pit and/or boxer. There could be more in there, but there’s no real way to tell. Regardless, we think he’s a cutie!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dedicating Lil' O

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Ours was a bit clouded by Husby running a fever and being sick, but we had a wonderful celebration nonetheless. It was just quieter than planned. Still, it was fun seeing Lil’ O “hunt” for eggs at church (he likes the orange ones and doesn’t understand why you’d want more than two since that’s one for each hand), and a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all we’ve been given by God.

For us, that includes Lil’ O. Ever since our little man was born, we've known we didn't create him, God did. Creating another life is altogether too much for a person to do and we give the credit to God. We see ourselves as stewards of Lil' O and know we are truly blessed by him. He is such a joy. Oh, he's plenty of work too, but it’s so incredibly worth it. To cement and declare our decision to bring up our Lil' O in a home that believes in Jesus, we recently had the joy of dedicating Lil' O to God at our church. It was a beautiful opportunity and we’re so grateful to everyone who made it possible and who joined us. Thank you!

The Fam: Grandpa, Meema, Husby, Lil' O, me, Grandma, Sistah, Granddad

(Explanatory Side Note: Many choose to baptize their little ones, and it is a beautiful thing. Our church leaves baptism for adults who have chosen Jesus as their own. Children haven't yet made that decision for themselves, so dedication shows the parents' desire for the child or children. It also serves as a public commitment by the congregation to help the parents raise their little one for Jesus. Hope this helps provide the back story behind this tradition and to our celebration.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lil’ O’s First Birthday!

Lil' O back when he was just a lil' guy.
Somehow my baby boy has turned one! It seems just yesterday that I felt as big as a house and we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the little baby that would become Lil’ O. But, it also feels that it’s been ages since we were footloose and fancy free of the stresses and obligations that parenting brings. We wouldn’t change the chaos of our life for anything and Lil’ O brings so much joy into our home and our lives.

To celebrate the all-important first year, we threw a casual gathering for family and close friends. Since all the boys in the family, but especially Husby and his brother, love Lego, that became the theme of the party and my excuse to buy lots and lots of Duplo “as decoration.”  ;) 


We kept it casual with food on the grill and easy sides. No matter what we served, we knew the highlight would of course be Lil’ O’s first real taste of sugar. No surprise, it was a hit! We did have to feed him a taste before he realized the cupcake was something worth eating, but then he stuffed as much as he could in his mouth and barely bothered with chewing.


We had a blast, though we did have a lower turnout than expected as a few whole families were sick. Seems our minor bought of sickness concluded while other families were just getting started. Bummer for everyone. Boo! On the positive side, it did make the shindig more casual, which I appreciated. The party was wonderful, but was just one piece of a celebratory week, which also included celebrating Lil’ O’s birthday on his actual day with banana bread for all the kiddos at daycare and reprised with family that evening, lots of gifts, hosting my in-laws (from Ohio) for a week-long visit and visiting the zoo. So much fun!

We are so grateful for our dear friends and family that celebrated with us and more importantly who help us care for Lil’ O (and stay sane). Special shout out to my dad and Ms. E’s husband for taking such beautiful pictures at Lil’ O’s birthday party. Thanks guys!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Parenting Through Cold & Flu

Well, seems we’ve all been hit. All parents. All kids. Everywhere. Everyone seems to have been sick this winter and I’m so glad we’re finally getting some sunshine and health! January and into February everyone in our house was sick. It. Was. Miserable.

First up, I got sick. Just a common cold, but taking care of a kiddo while sick is a whole new ball game. Sharing is caring, so then Lil' O got sick. Sigh. Thankfully Husby stayed well long enough for me to get mostly better. We tag teamed taking care of Lil' O based on who felt more healthy throughout the month. Lil' O got mostly better, then Husby got sick with a different bug. Both fully recovered, and then I fell sick again. It seems I perhaps didn’t give myself enough time to get well the first time around, because it was the same cold, but more persistent the second time around. Well, life doesn’t go on hold and showers don’t throw themselves. Alas.

A new twist that I knew about intellectually, but wasn’t quite psychologically prepared for is that regardless of who is sick – me or Lil' O – I had to take off of work. It’s evidently frowned upon to bring kids to daycare if you so much as suspect they have a cold, a sniffle, a cough. Hard part is how does one determine if babe is teething and that’s why there’s drool, coughing and fussiness, or that they’re really sick? More than once I’ve wished there was a button or clear way to sort between the two. Or, as we call it in our house, WTF for “Why The Fuss?” Having a funny name helps us defuse the situation and laugh a little despite our frustration.

Lil' O had a fever one night and it was crystal clear that he wasn’t well. He wanted to cuddle. I loved that part, but since he’s more of a go go go type, we knew something was up before confirmation by thermometer. (See picture below.)
Other than that, though, each morning was a kind of guessing game. Is he was well enough to go to daycare? Should we stay home because he's actually that sick? Or, do we need to stay away from the other kiddos at daycare as a precautionary measure? Not sure I made all the right calls, but we got through it and now Lil' O is healthy and fussy for all new reasons. Yay? More on that soon.

All this to say that parenting through cold and flu season is hard, I’m still catching up from the one-two-three-four punch, and I have new appreciation for parents everywhere, especially where there are actual seasons and sicknesses seem to last longer.

Any tips from more seasoned parents, grandparents and caregivers out there for getting through the dreaded cold and flu season? All I’ve heard so far is to pick up Hyland's Tiny Cold Tablets whenever and wherever I can find them and hoard them until needed. (Evidently they sell out quickly this time of year.) I was skeptical of a homeopathic solution, but with limited options we gave them a try. I will note they worked pretty well and were certainly better than nothing. All other tips welcome! Thanks!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lulu’s Book-Themed Baby Shower

Throwing a baby shower can be a lot of fun, whew, but it’s also quite the undertaking. Ms. E and I were thrilled to throw a shower for our dear friend, Lulu. We jumped at the chance and planned for months. Once the time came, though, I was especially super glad we were in it together. We decided early on to divide duties according to our interest and strengths. She managed all of the food and I got to decorate! The shindig was also being held at my place, so I cleaned up, but that’s less exciting. Neither of us were quite sure what to do about games and we were super excited and relieved when another friend of Lulu’s, and a fellow bridesmaid to her, wanted to be involved. We delegated games/activities to her and didn’t look back. I sent out invites and managed overall direction and coordination to be sure we were all in sync across our assignments. Happy to report all went off without a hitch, well, not any noticeable hitches. ;)

Beyond determining roles, next up was finding the perfect shower theme. Lulu let us know she wanted something with lots of color and that the nursery would loosely be themed around The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We didn’t want to focus the shower on just The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but thought that was a great place to start. After much research, we found it! The perfect theme to fit our friend and that we could all rally behind. Books! In my décor research I found a shower that was themed around a few different books and we were sold! From there we picked our books, largely on what we thought would fit a colorful décor scheme and based on which books we most enjoy reading to our sons. Our top five picks, in no particular order, were Curious George, The Little Blue Truck, Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, of course.

Once we landed on the theme and books, Ms. E and I met to brainstorm food. The final menu and Ms. E’s adorable names for each dish are below. It’s totally inspired.

The Food
As already noted, Ms. E managed all things food and it was wonderful! I’m so grateful I wasn’t in this shower thing alone, she loves tackling party food – as she reflected on in her recent blog post ( – and she’s totally awesome at it! She made everything! Even the adorable names for the dishes.

Curious George:
Curry-ous George Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Man with the Yellow Hat Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Where the Wild Things Are:
Wild Rumpus Veggies and Dip
King of the Wild Things Fruit Salad

Good Night Moon:
Gouda Night Moon Cheese Plate

Little Blue Truck:
Read to Pop-Corn

The Very Hungry Caterpillar:
Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

The Décor
I love decorating! It’s fun and parties are a unique opportunity to explore since the decoration is meant to be short lived. We included copies of each book as part of the table décor, and I tried to have a decoration for each book as well. Thanks to our sons, we had a lot of the books already and were even able to use some of their toys for decoration. Resourceful, why, yes, we are, thank you. ;) The décor items and books mostly accompanied the adorable food that Ms. E prepared. In addition, I tried to bring in a lot of color since that was specifically requested. Lulu, our mama-to-be, already knows my place and I was hoping she would walk in and feel like the home was remade to suit the shower. So, I took down curtains and family photos to make room for decorations and hung lots of plastic tablecloths to bring in bright pops of color above windows and over the food. It took a bit of time, but the cut tablecloths that hung over the food might have been my favorite. I found the idea somewhere along the way while researching, but can’t seem to find the source blog now. Sad. Regardless, I love how it came out and it was an inexpensive way to bring in color, color, color!

My other favorite décor item and labor of love was the diaper cake. It seems like baby showers these days require a multi-tiered “cake” made of diapers, and we wanted to be sure ours was up to the fun as well as serving the functional need of providing our mama-to-be with diapers for her coming little guy. Since we knew Lulu was going for The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the nursery, I played it safe here and got a Hungry Caterpillar toy as the cake topper and decorated around that color scheme. The cake was “frosted” with blue and green plaid (I love plaid!) receiving blankets and the top of each layer was covered in red crinkle paper to hide the diapers below. I hid a few functional surprises within the center of each tier too for Lulu to find as she dismantles the cake to use those precious diapers. It might seem silly, but the cake is a fun centerpiece for a shower and dismantling the cake from my shower provided us with quite a few much-needed diapers! So, I was glad to share the joy of diapers and pass it along.

Ultimately, the shower came together well and Lulu seemed to enjoy it. Our only real glitch, I think, was that we weren’t quite ready when Lulu, her mom and mother-in-law arrived. Woops. Ms. E and I had been juggling prep with taking care of our little ones, Lil’ O and Lil’ Sir, plus my new puppy. (More to come on life with little pup in a future post.) Thank God my mom was with us to help us juggle – she pitched in taking care of the little guys, watching pup and generally helping us with some of the prep tasks. She was so helpful! Once the shower actually started and Ms. E and I came down from our prep frenzy, I think all went well. Lulu at least seemed pleased, and at the end of the day it’s all about the mama-to-be. :)

Love you, Lulu.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baby Shower Prep & Planning

This week has been all about baby shower prep as I and few fellow gal pals gear up to throw the ultimate shower for our dear friend Lulu. As we all push into overdrive, I’ve been so grateful for the planning that’s already been done and is now bringing all of our elements together. We considered a few themes and did much research. So, while there will of course be pictures of Lulu’s baby shower, below are some of the themes and inspiration that we looked at while on the planning journey. I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together, but planning can be such fun as you try on all sorts of possibilities to see if each is a fit for the unique event you have in mind. And, if more than one is a fit, then determine how to mesh different things together to create a one-of-a-kind, signature party. Below are some of my favorite party themes that we encountered. Enjoy!

Curious George Party

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Baby Shower

"In Full Bloom" French Garden Party Baby Shower

Nautical Birthday Party

Which is your favorite? Or, even better, what are your favorite places for party inspiration? I'd love to learn of some new sites and blogs for great party ideas. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christmas Grace & Resolution

Well, December has come and gone and I’m still catching my breath. I came to the realization this year that I put a lot of pressure on myself, especially around the holidays, and so want everything – the house, décor, food, Lil O’s first Christmas, party apparel, and so on – to be perfect. Clearly that’s not possible and I struggled all month to let things go and have grace with myself. Sometimes I did well, other times not so much. It was a narrow miss, but I did manage to avoid the dreaded “mom meltdown” that one friend confessed has become an annual Christmas tradition in her home. Sadly, I avoided the meltdown by not doing a lot of traditional things such as going out to see lights, taking an official family Christmas photo or sending out Christmas cards. Sigh, maybe next year.

To prove we still had a wonderful holiday, though, I’m peppering this post with images of our family’s Christmas joy from this past December. Think of it as your belated Christmas card. ;)


And, to help streamline the holiday season next year, especially all that comes with Christmas, below are some ideas I’ve heard from others and hope to implement, plus a few that worked well this year. Since it’s now January, I’m thinking of this as a sort of resolution and way to make next December less hectic and more enjoyable.

Early Brainstorming and Listing: An area where I fell behind this year was pulling together or even brainstorming wish lists and gift giving ideas early. I was down to the wire trying to think of a gift for Husby and my old-fashioned email wish list nearly caused a miscommunication among different family branches leading to the dreaded double gift. Next year all wish lists will be shared via Amazon, where I can post content from all over the web and it’s treated like a registry, making it near-impossible for family to unknowingly purchase the same toy for Lil’ O. Though, double toys, just mean a bigger stash at G’ma and G’dad’s place.

Online Shopping: Nearly all of our shopping is done online. It’s so much easier to browse and find good deals from my home without the headache of mall parking and traffic. Plus, free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime is simply amazing. Even last-minute gifts easily come in time and that quick shipping is free. Glorious.

The Rule of Three (Gifts): Jesus received all of three gifts, not a heaping pile of toys under the Christmas tree. To help keep Christmas gifting in check and teach the Christmas story, a family at our church gives their kiddos one gift from Santa – whatever they ask for while on Santa’s lap – and an additional three gifts from them, representing the three gifts Jesus received from the wise men. I love the idea that this can help kids (and parents) reflect on the Christmas story and keep us as parents from going overboard. We stayed in check this year since we knew Lil’ O wouldn’t know the difference and would be overwhelmed by it all, but I’ll be coming back to this one next year.

Wardrobe Refresh: Instead of rushing out to the chaotic mall to get new clothes for holiday parties, I really tried this year to refresh what’s already in my closet with new accessories. Especially since a fun new accessory can much more easily be purchased online (no dressing room needed!), this saved a lot of time and headache. This strategy worked especially well this year as I’m rediscovering my pre-maternity wardrobe. Hopefully avoiding last-minute party apparel shopping can become a new tradition.

Christmas Cards: We’re now into January and resolutions that we’ll hopefully keep. Next Christmas I resolve to get a family photo I’m proud of and send Christmas photo cards. And, if there’s no family photo, then a great shot of Lil’ O will do. Regardless, I’ve come to the realization that pictures are the way to go and what folks are most interested in receiving. In tandem with this resolution, I further aim to request addresses early, maybe mid-November, so when I finally sit down to address envelopes I’m not stumped and frustrated.

Do you have additional ideas or tips that help you streamline the hustle and bustle of the holidays? I’d love to hear them and learn! Please leave a comment and share.