My Birthday Week

I just love celebrating special days surrounded by little kids. All week, there has been whispering and planning and little scurrying feet running around gathering supplies for secret projects. The girls and John made my birthday so special. Ginger was sad that it was a school day on my birthday, but kindergarten is a pretty fun place to be on a birthday.

IMG_3876John asked Ginger what she wanted to give me for my birthday and she said a book, since I love books. He asked her what kind of a book and she suggested a craft book. How thoughtful! She got me a soap making book and train stickers (that she insisted I share with her). Ruby made me a fabric covered book that she and John bound together. She included a sweet dedication that is so touching. She worked really hard on this. John bought me the most awesome bag from Irenes’ made by Appetite. I just love it.

I got to chaperone with Ruby’s class on their field trip to the pumpkin patch.  The next day, I took my own class to a different pumpkin patch where I got to drive the hayride tractor out to the field! On the bus with Ruby, we sat with one of her new friends. They whispered and giggled the whole way there, it was too cute.

IMG_3698It was an amazingly beautiful week full of sweet small moments. I am a lucky girl.

Cupcakes!

A friend recently traveled to San Francisco Miette and brought me back a treat. I thought it was cookies, but when I looked in the bag, I was pleasantly surprised to see a cake pan! Miette cakes are baked in 6″ pans and I haven’t been able to find one in town. So I baked the tomboy cake, which is on the cover of the Miette cookbook.

IMG_3337The recipe makes two cakes and enough raspberry buttercream icing for both. I only had one cake pan, so I made a batch of cupcakes and froze them along with the leftover buttercream.

We’re having our first stormy weather of the season – leftover of a Japanese typhoon! I thought some cupcakes were in order to cozy up by the fire. I thawed them out, whipped up the frosting and piped it on the cupcakes.

IMG_3582The moist chocolate and raspberry pairs so well together.

Jumping in

Well, this big school year has begun! Ginger is enjoying preschool. When I pick her up, the teachers tell me how sweet she is. We were nervous that she would have a hard time in the morning and anticipated some tears, but she has been very brave. She even counted to Spanish in front of the class one day!

gigi-firstday-1Ruby has a wonderful teacher – all the families that had her before can’t say enough about her. Ruby loves staying at school all day and eating lunch there. She keeps talking about how much bigger she is now and can’t wait to meet the kindergarteners and see how little they are.

ruby-firstday-1We have “gentle start” for kindergarteners here. The first week of school, the kinders visit school for a half-hour with their families to meet the teacher one-on-one. On Monday, I have half my class, on Tuesday, the other half and Wednesday is our first day with everyone together. So, I’ve met all my students and have a lot of really sweet kids. I can’t wait to get to know them better!

We were all exhausted after the first week. John is dropping off the girls at school in the morning and has to get them ready by himself. I leave for work not long after the girls are awake. That is no small feat! So we’ve all had big adjustments, but things have gone as well as we could have hoped so far.

10 Years!

Newport Bay

Newport Bay

John and I recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary (!) by retracing our steps of our honeymoon. We both grew up in Florida and lived there until 8 years ago. Neither of us had been to Oregon, but we both had a pull toward it and decided to travel here on our honeymoon. We actually stayed a night in the town we now live in because John thought there was a chance he would apply to grad school here.

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Boiler Bay

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Bob Straub State Park

My parents came out for a couple of weeks and John and I left the girls with them – our first trip away from them – while we drove up the coast, ate our way through Portland, and spent some time in wine country. It was my first vacation away from the girls. I went away for a few days to visit friends several years ago, but I’m not sure if that counts because I was pregnant and sick the whole time. 😉

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Bob Straub State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

We stopped on a whim at Cape Lookout State Park and hiked along a steep, rainforested cliff hoping for a clearing and view of the ocean. It was one of my favorite things about Oregon – the wet, green forests full of ferns and moss that open up into incredibly dramatic views of the ocean.

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks

We stopped for the night in a small, loveable coastal town in a motel that looked out on the ocean. We were charmed and dreamed of having a place of our own on this coastline.

Manzanita

Manzanita

I missed the girls terribly, but enjoyed the spontaneity, leisurely pace, and ability to do things that we couldn’t have done with the girls tagging along. I’ll try to post more adventures from Portland soon. These photos were all from the first day!

Link love: kid activities

Ahhh, summer. Our mornings are so much more relaxed these days, but there is also so much more time to fill!

Here are some sites to inspire:

photo by Kate from An Everyday Story for Playful Learning

photo by Kate from An Everyday Story for Playful Learning

I’ve linked to Playful Learning before, it’s a wonderful site full of authentic activities your children (and you!) will love to experience together. The page of Activities for Kids has all kinds of fun inspiration – from art activities to well being.

Did you press flowers as a kid? I did and loved finding forgotten flowers as I was reading the books I used to press months later. Here’s a little tutorial to walk you through the process.

photo by Skip to My Lou

photo by Skip to My Lou

Skip to My Lou is a fabulous resource of parenting activities – including tons of great gift ideas for teachers! I love this list of literature based activities, especially this lupine seed packet to partner with a reading of Miss Rumphius.

When the weather is beautiful, we like to move our everyday activities outdoors. The girls love to paint outside and the clean up couldn’t be easier. We love using natural materials for stamping or painting.

This just seems wrong, but the girls got sick this week. Ginger seems through the worst of it, but I’m still constantly worrying about Ruby’s cough. We use many of these home remedies for the girls to help them get through their funk. Fingers crossed they’ll be back to themselves quickly, especially because Grandma and Gramps are here!

Any fun activities or helpful sites you can share?

Ruby is six!

I can hardly believe that I have been Mama for six years. I am insanely proud of this girl.

IMG_3012Ruby’s birthday fell on a school day, but John took the afternoon off to help us celebrate after she got home. We baked cupcakes and opened gifts – including the card that Gigi wrote by herself and the gift she gave Ruby – noodles. “Because I know that Ruby really loves noodles.” Ruby was gracious as she opened each gift, oohing and aahing over everything; appreciating the thought, time, and effort that went into choosing and making each special present for her.

IMG_3017The next day, we hosted a small birthday party for her – a pink and purple ice cream cone party at her request.

IMG_2703She painted ice cream cones for the invitations.

IMG_2812We hung giant ice cream cones on our front porch to greet Ruby’s friends.

IMG_2801The kids dressed up their ice cream cones with seriously delicious toppings that Ruby picked out at Trader Joe’s (easiest party idea ever).

IMG_3030Then outside to burn off some sugar and enjoy the perfect weather! The girls took turns racing each other with “waffle balls” balanced on top of ice cream cones. Ruby is concentrating very hard.

This kid is growing up way too fast for me. Ruby still loves to snuggle up and read with me, but she is somehow old enough to have two wiggly teeth too. She has taught me so much, these past six years. I’ve learned more about love and letting go than I imagined possible. She has always had a fiercely independent spirit and challenged me to honor that. Ruby observes and memorizes details, loves to play with Ginger, and speed read her chapter books. She is thoughtful and wise and my hope is that she holds on to her strong sense of self while remaining compassionate towards others.

This is one special six-year-old.

 

Three!

My sweet little Ginger turned three! IMG_2538

We had a quiet celebration with the four of us at home. (We had big plans, but alas, Ruby was very sick and on breathing treatments every four hours. So sad! Plans are postponed.)

Ginger’s only requests were for treats. She named everything she could think of in the weeks leading up to her big day. In the end, I decided for her and made a chocolate cake with chocolate filling and cream cheese frosting.

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She was thrilled.

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Gigi is a silly little girl, always making funny faces and jokes. She is super smart and already starting to read! She is the absolute sweetest kid. She’s the first one to cheer someone up, crawl into your lap for a snuggle, and give sloppy kisses. I couldn’t love her more.

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