Friday, July 31, 2009

Joys of parenting

We are leaving in the morning for our vacation. Six days in a rented house with family. Miles of trails for walking and biking, a river to glide down in canoes, late nights playing games and watching movies and of course, lots of laughing, silliness, and memory-making. In the meantime, I filled this post full of stuff, from all sides of life. Enjoy and be back next week!


It's hard to describe the joys of parenting until you are in it. A lot of people see the fussy child in the store, the toddler who refuses to sit down during dinner in a restaurant or the 4 year old who becomes obstinate and yells at you for not buying the toy he wants. Everyone knows that side of a child. What they don't see is the piece of cake being shared between brothers... the "thank you for making me dinner" nearly every night without fail, the late night cuddles in bed, the hours and hours spent rocking a little one to sleep kissing their warm head and whispering prayers over them. And the trust they have that Dad will always catch them...


Yesterday, the boys and I were watering the raspberry bushes and noticed that there were a lot of bumblebees bouncing from bloom to bloom. We've seen them every year but this year they seem to have doubled. I realized that most of them had pollen on their back legs that they must have been collecting over the morning. It was fascinating to see up close. I grabbed my camera and got a good clear picture of one of them. I left the picture big so you can see the pollen on his hind leg (click on it!).


Like I would imagine most 4 1/2 year olds, Ian is completely won over by any type of superhero or gun-toting, sword-wielding person in a mask. He pretends to fight, he carries 3 different types of "guns" (different fingers you see), and is always wanting us to play dead. It's always a little shocking at first when your sweet little toddler suddenly becomes fascinated with weapons, especially when you've done what you can to keep them from seeing even remotely violent movies or cartoons. But... it's normal. It's a boy thing. And we've chosen not to fight it. We try to make sure he doesn't whip Sawyer or shoot him and we try and direct his weapon use to "snakes" or "small vermin" but it's really only because I don't want him to get over-excited and hurt his brother... not because I think he will actually become a serial killer.

He's never seen a Spiderman or Batman cartoon or movie, yet he knows who they are and what they do... somehow. Now my BIGGEST problem with this is that I really don't like him falling into the hands of marketers and wanting to buy every single toy ever made with their logo on it. I don't buy into Disney either and I really don't like him watching kid commercials because they elicit that response to consume and to always want more.

So I found an alternative that is really appropriate and funny. It's Superhero ABC. A great book with superhero personalities like Bubble Man who shoots bubbles out of his mouth and Vomit Man who vomits on villains. (Seriously... Ian loves that page). So if you're looking for a good alternative Superhero book then I recommend this one.


Lastly... I wanted to link to a post my sister wrote earlier this week. I would love to sit and expand on it, I may, one day soon... but for now I'll link to her. She speaks her heart about gentle parenting. The comments are really honest and from all different point of views. Jeremy and I decided early on that, for example, spanking as a punishment was not what we wanted to do. We really felt like God was showing us something different and even though we aren't perfect, as you can see from the comments, we see the difference in the boys. We see how they respond to us and how peaceful our house is because of it. The post is written so graciously ... let me share one of Tonia's replies to a mama regarding her child:

"it's difficult when you are in a mind set of "power-over" or "control" parenting to accept these kinds of things, i know. we are taught that the child's obedience is the most important thing...if i am just distracting the child, i am not teaching them to obey me. (and in this kind of parenting there is tremendous pressure from other parents and christians. if my child is not obeying it is because i am not doing my job. every childish behavior is a small condemnation of my skills.) but in gentle parenting, we believe that obedience comes out of relationship. the relationship with the child is the most important thing, and so we cultivate an atmosphere of trust and value. the child has her own worth; she is a full person just as i am and does not deserve to be smacked for learning and exploring and discovering boundaries...

... again, for a certain mindset, this sounds ridiculous. it sounds as if we are catering to the children instead of our children conforming to our schedules and our family requirements. but when you consider the commands in scripture to prefer others before yourself, to lay down your life, to serve sacrificially, and when you understand that the scriptures apply to children as well as adults, it becomes easier to see."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Marionberry love

We got up early one morning last week and made our way to a little farm to find marionberries. We had to walk a bit to find the berry patch but then we saw the thin vines wrapped in circles, red and black berries dropping from all sides. Really, quite beautiful.

My Grandma came with us and they all got right to work picking berries off the vines.

She gave the boys tips on picking the ripest fruit and how to carefully pull them off the vines. She grew up picking fruit and berries all summer long as a girl on her family's fruit tree farm in Idaho. She knows her varieties and when the best time to pick them is. She knows how bruised fruit can change a canning batch. And she has story after story of the women in her family getting together to can all summer long.

I realize how much of this information is lost when it's not passed down. Invaluable skills and experience about home-keeping, canning, and gardening. All that has nearly been lost because of convenience and fast food. At least around here, there seems to be some grass-root efforts to get this information back and to teach it, person to person, community to community. So it was really, really nice to learn hands-on from my Grandma and to see her teaching my boys.

After a little mishap where my clumsiness got the best of me (dropped the whole box on the ground!), we split our pickings and said goodbye. Hot marionberry crisp with cold vanilla rice ice cream for dinner... er... dessert.

And then I canned two little jars of marionberry jam with a little left over to eat from the pan. Delicious... and definitely worth a day's work.


Thank you for all the anniversary wishes! We had a wonderful time. And the only thing I will say about us not looking like we've changed much... well... the photographer used a lot of air brushing in that last photo. :-)

Friday, July 24, 2009

A decade!

Ten years ago today on July 24, 1999 at 6:00 in the evening, I married my best friend. What I couldn't have known then was how much more in love I would be with him now. Even though life has been rough at times, we are happy, very happy, and that feels so good.

Dating: September 1998, I was 20 and Jeremy was 23

A year later... leaving our wedding reception

And now, 10 years later. A little wiser, definitely some grey hairs and more laugh lines than I'd like to admit but I'm looking forward to what another 10 years will bring.

We are leaving in a little more than an hour to drop the boys off with my sister and then spend our first night away since Sawyer's birth! We are really excited to sit down at a nice restaurant, talk uninterrupted, and go back to a nice quiet hotel where we don't have to worry about who's jumping on the beds or running too loudly. Time away, just the two of us. It's very much deserved and we plan to enjoy each moment together until tomorrow afternoon when we pick up our boys and bring them back home to our normal life again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kitchen fun - making nut creamsicles

We got down to business in the kitchen yesterday. We were desperate for something cold and sweet to eat so we made berry nut creamsicles. The boys got elbow deep in water to wash the popsicle molds.

Since we can't have dairy, and I don't like the taste of soy ice cream very much, we're always looking for healthier alternatives. We have a raw 'ice cream' that the boys and I love and it makes perfect creamsicles. They scooped out the avocado and put handfuls of cashews in the blender. I bought a Vita-Mix a few months ago and while I told myself for years that I didn't really need one, I can't imagine my kitchen without one now. Besides making our "ice cream" in a matter of minutes, I make our own gluten-free flour, green smoothies, and it can even blend up compost from the kitchen! I love this machine.

We enjoyed a little cup while the creamsicles were freezing.

Berry Peach Iced Nut Cream

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 large orange, juiced (or 1 cup orange juice)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 ripe avocado
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 to 1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen peach slices

If you own a Vita-Mix you can blend all the ingredients in it (adding more orange juice as it's needed). Otherwise, use a blender to blend until creamy and smooth the cashews, orange juice, and vanilla.

Then transfer the cashew mixture to a food processor fitted with the 's' blade and add the avocado, frozen raspberries, frozen strawberries, and frozen peach slices then process until smooth, thick, and creamy.

Serve immediately, or freeze for later use. To serve frozen nut cream, let stand at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes then place into the food processor and process until soft and creamy.*

*This is my slightly modified version. The original recipe is from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.

Monday, July 13, 2009

House trimmings

Our house is getting a little makeover this month. We've known for the past year that the house needed a fresh coat of paint. It's been more than 15 years since it was painted this grey and it's definitely worn in many areas.

Our house was originally built in 1932ish but caught fire sometime around 1990 and was significantly damaged. The owners decided to rebuild and more than doubled the size. I was told by a neighbor that the original house was one of the smallest on our block. Now it's about 2200 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 2 full baths upstairs and an office and full bath on the main floor. While I love it's quirkiness (the front half of the house is original and the back half and upstairs is the new part), it lacks that 1930's character that a lot of classic Portland homes have. We are slowly trying to add some of that classic feel back in a little at a time.

In addition to painting the outside, we decided to have some custom molding put in around the windows and doors. Since then we've noticed that a lot of newer homes are built without this added detail and it's such a shame! Most older homes were built with a lot of attention to the detail, size, and shape of the molding giving each house a unique look. But now it seems to be considered something unnecessary that most home builders cut to save money.

We are so happy with the trim and details the men put into it. I was really nervous at first since they had to cut into our siding to fit the trim in but they did a beautiful job. And now I can't wait to see it painted. If only we can decide on a color! Green? Cream trim? Maybe a third color in there somewhere?? We're hoping to get samples this week since the painter has already begun his prep work.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hello July!

I decide to spend a couple of weeks away from blogging and being tied to the internet and the next thing I know nearly a month has gone by! We had a wonderful June and July seems to be heading in that same direction. The boys are loving every minute of outdoor sunshine and we are trying to take full advantage of it. Jeremy is able to work from home 2 full days a week now and is usually home in the afternoons on the other days... and we wouldn't have it any other way.

I've done a lot of thinking in my less-internet time. Lots of life thinking. Dreaming big about what we want to do and be as a family. There are so many amazing things to look forward to, so many hopes and dreams that we want to see happen. And really it all comes down to family. To being together, experiencing life together, slowing down together. Not letting things we want, get in the way of us, as parents, as partners, as kids, as brothers. What a gift life is!

I've had thoughts of closing down the blog. I started blogging 4 1/2 years ago when Ian was born. It was a picture blog to keep family on the opposite coast in touch with our life. Then 2 years ago I decided to branch out and actually write here in this space. It's always been something that I've enjoyed but always felt it was for others, rather than myself. And I just wasn't sure I wanted to keep up with that (or why anyone other than family would care to read). I would much rather be a mom then just sit around talking about it. So I went back and forth until I realized pretty quickly reading through my past posts that I've been writing a journal this entire time. Not just filling in other people about our life... but reminding us of all the things we have done. I've mentioned before that I don't scrapbook and I don't hand write journals either. So this is it really... a place I can put down my thoughts and tell of the things the boys have done... things that would otherwise easily be forgotten and have been forgotten until I reread it here.

So I've decided to stay on. I really do hope to share my heart a little more on what we are doing and I hope it comes across as a little insight into our lives, rather than a proclamation of how we do things. We are simple homebodies at best. We spend more time in these 4 walls (or in our own backyard) than any other place and that's how we love it. I hope, if you do read here, that you can enjoy some of it too. It's my goal as a mama to enrich our lives and spend each day living, not just getting by. I think the boys are enjoying the journey too.

(Eating newly-discovered gluten-free bread from Great Harvest Bakery... delicious!)