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.

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Pumpkin Patch!

IMG_3625This has been the most incredible fall! We are in peak leaf season right now. Every view, even in a parking lot, is breathtaking. It makes me so giddy! I love fall and feel so lucky to live in a place with fall color.

IMG_3615This weekend we visited “our” farm, Gathering Together, for a CSA member pumpkin harvest celebration. It was sunny, about 60 and I was so excited. They welcomed us with freshly made potato donuts, hot apple cider (from a friend’s farm – La Mancha – the best!), chips and house made salsa, coffee, and house-made wine! We saw a bunch of friends, including one of my students. 🙂 Then we gave ourselves a little farm tour (we didn’t wait for the farmer to give us the hayride), walked out to the huge pumpkin patch and hunted around for just the right ones.

IMG_3618It was the perfect day.

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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!

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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A Valentine’s Day full of love

I love celebrations with little kids around. Every thing is such a big! deal! We hosted a little Valentine making party for some of Ruby’s friends the weekend before the big day. There was paint and glitter all over our table, surrounded by very focused little girls.

Ruby made lovebugs.

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We made salt dough hearts that some of the kids painted and glittered for their Valentines. We made a bunch of these years ago that we hang as a garland each February.

We had a little heart tic-tac-toe game out for girls to play when they needed a break.

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And some strawberry ice cream sandwiches to munch on.

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I made Gigi stuffed kitty.

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John got a sleeve to the sweater I’m knitting him and special pencils. He gave me two boxes of cookies from a favorite far-away bakery – so thoughtful and delicious! I knit Ruby a scarf to keep her warm and “snuggled with my love” as she said (heart melts).

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But the best part, by far, were the sweet little notes we all got from each other.

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Abundance

We just got back from a week long trip in Florida to visit family (including my two new nieces!) where we were surrounded by so many people we love and who love us.

Yesterday was my birthday, which doesn’t get much better than when you celebrate with a 5 year old. There was much whispering, running feet, and surprises.

I started my day at the breakfast table with my little family, opening handmade cards from the girls who were so proud. John gave me a wonderful gift and then explained that he wanted to get me something special this year because we had such a stressful summer and I took the brunt of it.

Photos by Melissa Shontz

Partly because I have been in such a tense state the past several months, I am walking around filled with such deep appreciation these days. I love my beautiful family, our bright fall colors, our backyard, a warm cup of tea.

I am a happy girl.