Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Baby is 2

For Liam’s 2nd birthday, I wanted to keep it intimate (and easy).  We only invited Liam’s very few friends and their families.  I wasn’t going to even do a theme, but then I remembered how much Liam loves the book ‘Goodnight Moon’.  He has been on a ‘Goodnight Moon’ kick actually, and he’d have me read it almost every night for the past month or so.  I figured if I was going to buy balloons, they might as well be red.  And if I was going to bake a cake, it might as well be a moon cake.  And if I had to put out a few decorations, why not make the colors coordinate with the book and arrange a telephone, a picture of a cow jumping over the moon, three little bears… you get the idea.  Which is how it turned into this little party, which I didn’t hardly even photograph.  I guess I was too busy chatting and eating and picking mulberries off our mulberry tree to take any worthwhile photos of all my efforts.

But Liam deserved to be celebrated, and I am glad I did it.  Liam is a both a heavy bundle of joy and a little troublemaker.  He is independent and stubborn and overpoweringly charming.  He is caught up with his gross motor milestones, but he isn’t one for chatter.  Rather than mess with finding the words to ask for something, he’d much rather do it himself.  He likes to scare me to death by climbing up on the counter and pouring himself a cup of water.  If he wants to go outside, he’ll put on any pair of shoes that he sees and just leave like it was no big deal.  He loves being around people, and I rarely see him playing away from the group.  Right now, he is into anything that belongs to Bella.  I guess he’s also pretty enchanted with Gabe’s things, but since Gabe is much more protective of his stuff than Bella is, Liam has been having his way with all of her makeup and accessories and shoes.  Other than that, he’s all boy and loves nothing more than to squirt us with a spray bottle, poke at bugs, play outside (even in the heat), throw balls, and dance to music.  I love this little guy who can turn anyone’s frown upside down in a matter of seconds with a flash of his mischievous grin.  I love that he loves my singing and cuddles up to me when I do it.  I love that he sits down to draw me a picture and proudly presents it when he’s done.  I am so glad that he came to our family.  He definitely completes our gang.

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This was the last week of his mop of curls.  Now, he has a big boy cut, and it looks so sharp.  I kind of miss those messy baby locks though.

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This is how all of our parties are now.  The kids don’t need or want games or organized activities.  They just romp and bike and chase each other and hit each other with plastic sticks and bats every now and then.  I like it.

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Goodnight baby.  Don’t grow so fast, ‘kay?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rolling Down The River

A little known fact about Jake and I is that we had never dared to leave our children to take a trip, however short, by ourselves.  I am not proud of it.  It’s one of the very few ways in which I have allowed having a child with special needs to limit scope of our lives.  We try, to the best of our abilities, to live a very normal, productive, enjoyable, and fulfilling life, but leaving the kids for longer than just a date night has always been hard for me.

So it’s been 8 years since we took a trip without kids.  And this summer, I decided… it was time.  I lined up two of the best babysitters that anyone could imagine having for their kids, Brittany and Brooke, and with them both staying with my kids together, I was confident enough to take the plunge.  One of the favorite trips that Jake and I ever took was a 2 day whitewater rafting trip down the Kern River in CA. 

In 2005, our friend was a river guide at Whitewater Voyages, and took us on one of the most unforgettable adventures of our lives.  Fast forward nine years, and we were more than ready to return.

We did the same 2 day Lower Kern trip that we had taken the first time, and although the trip was by no means identical, we had an equally amazing experience.  I’ll spare you the full 5 star Yelp review, but you can check it out here if you’re wondering. 

We did the trip in I-K inflatable canoes, that is, with only Jake and I in our boat.  We managed pretty well all things considered, and we never flipped once.  One of our river guides even tried to recruit us to become river guides, which I took as the highest of complements!  I love rafting this river!

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Miles and miles of this gorgeousness.

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Jake and I swam a few rapids just for fun.  I only got banged up the first time.  I had to make a few adjustments in my floating technique so I could hope to be able to sit again.

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I love camping.  I have never had a bad camping trip.  But this one was definitely one of, if not the best of them all. 

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This is where we slept.  I fell asleep to the sound of water rushing downstream.

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This is only a glimpse of what we ate, while sitting beside the campfire.  Tri tip, salmon, chicken, sautéed vegetables, loaded salad, corn, garlic bread, fruit, and cheesecake!  And we didn’t spend a minute cooking or washing a single dish.  We felt so spoiled!

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Literally, our view from our sleeping bags.  The largest moon of the summer shone over the river and us all night long.  If you know me, you know how I feel about moonlight.  I’m obsessed.  This blew me away.

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I will always remember this trip.  It was exciting and enchanting, romantic and thrilling, exhausting and relaxing all at once.  It was worth the eight year wait.  And I can’t wait to take the kids!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Everyday Miracles

Weekly counting of my blessings:

Knowing my kids are in great hands and enjoying their summer to the fullest when I have to leave them every day to take Ari to camp.

Kale from my garden – even in the off-season.

Mom and Dad’s day off at the lake with great friends.  We went wake surfing and tubing like kids all morning.

So this is what relaxation feels like.  No one whined or needed to go potty – not once!  Thanks to my awesome sisters who watched our kids for us.

Reliving our youth at the waterpark in celebration of Jake’s 40th birthday.  Happy birthday baby!

Jake’s birthday Caramel Apple cake – as requested!

Harvest of the day.  Watermelon and apples galore.

Sweetest cantaloupe ever from the garden.

They like us!  They really like us!  Taylor Farms apple butter and apple sauce is getting shouts on Facebook.

Finding golden heirloom tomatoes we didn’t even remember planting.

Neighbor trade.  Apple butter for apple pie filling.  Gotta love good neighbors.

Pretty little artist creating pretty little things.

An invitation to be a vendor the famous Gilbert Farmers Market. 

Little mermaid.

Watching her do her very best.  Seeing her confidence soar as it is rewarded.

My Ari… beautiful inside and out.

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Memorial Day Partay

One might assume that I look for every excuse to have a party.  They might be on to me. 

This May, we had the best weather ever.  I wanted to make sure that we got outside and soaked it up.  Throw on Jake’s famous BBQ and whip up a couple patriotic desserts, and you have a recipe for a backyard Memorial Day party.  I love to watch my littles playing wildly with their friends, and to watch Ari do as she pleases as well… which in this case meant sneaking handfuls of tortilla chips from the buffet table before it was time for dinner.

We throw parties often, but they are not fancy.   We eat on bare picnic tables, play on old school pipe playgrounds, ride bikes and scooters around the lawn without a second thought, eat Mulberries off the trees, and chat about life while the kids make best friends/adversaries/best friends anew.  When we depart each other’s company, we do so missing shoes and hats; covered in sidewalk chalk dust, stickiness, dirt and bug bites; and with our kids unable to discern friends from family.  Of course, I think those kinds of things are lovely.  All except the bug bites.

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