Birthday Post Number Two

Jack is SIX!







It seems impossible that this boy could be six, but all signs point towards him being a full-fledged kid. He is doing great in kindergarten, learning new things every day and treating recess like a boss. He’s playing on two soccer teams and loving every second of it. He can often be found in the backyard or driveway kicking a soccer ball around, begging anyone who is willing to play with him for a few minutes.

He loves legos, movies, riding bikes, football, drawing and being read to.

He is so smart, physical, determined, generous, silly, intense, sensitive and thoughtful.


Happy birthday Jackson. You made all our dreams come true six years ago. You made your dad and I a real-live family and we thank God every single day that He chose us to be your parents. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what the next six years and the six years after that bring. Because so far every day with you has been awesome. Even the hard days.

You are a boy so full of potential and giftedness. God is going to use you for mighty things in life. My prayer is that you grow up knowing and trusting in a God who loves you and walks alongside you.

You make us proud every day because you are you. Sometimes being the oldest isn’t easy, case in point, your birthday party just got rescheduled because your brother is sick as a dog, but you, and only you, could be the biggest brother in this family. You were made for it and do it so well. Your brother and sister are lucky to have you and they know it.

Love you so much.

A Couple of Birthday Posts

Scarlet turned two a month ago. We had a quiet day at home celebrating our girl and enjoyed a family party the following weekend. The weather has been downright glorious this fall so we played in the backyard basically the whole day doing a couple of her favorite things: swinging, changing her shoes 17 times, pushing the lawnmower and yelling at the dogs.

All in all a great time of celebration for our girl.

Oh. And pink cake, because I may not be the ‘girliest’ of moms, but turning two definitely requires pink cake and sprinkles.

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Oh this girl. She brings so much joy to our family. I wish I could accurately capture this little nymph. Funny, sweet, stubborn, a shrieker, shy, loving, gentle but spunky all at the same time. She is going to move mountains one day.

She loves to hold hands walking along the curb on our way home from dropping Jack off at school. She carries pictures of the family around, constantly pointing out who is who. She dresses and undresses her babies 100 times per day. She wrestles, runs, jumps and climbs right alongside her brothers. She gets her feelings hurt easily and at the same time is resilient and determined when it comes to accomplishing what she wants. She is a lover; she loves to be held, kissed, hugged and to hold hands.


Happiest of belated birthdays my sweet sweet Scarlet. I hope you read this someday and feel the love we have for you coming off this page. You might be the youngest, and with that sometimes comes hardships or sacrifices, but you are loved beyond reason. And greater than our love is the love of your Heavenly Father. A God who made you, loves you and protects you. He walks with you now and will every day of your life.

We love you darling.

Kinder Transition


The day finally arrived.



One of those cheesy lines about your heart walking around outside your body would be appropriate right here.

It was just so…hard. Good hard, a little yucky hard, but as the week goes on, a little better.

There were tears. A few from him, mostly from me (after I dropped him off…I at least made it to the parking lot). It breaks my heart into a million pieces when he curls up in a chair and begs to not have to go. But today he was ready, no tears, and he played on the playground before school like a boss, lining up for the teacher when the whistle blew.

Luke, Scarlet and I walk home a little forlorn, feeling tangibly that we are missing a crew member.

We watch the clock, Luke asking several times throughout the morning if it’s time to pick up Jack. Finally, the morning winds down and we head out again. This week we’ve had it easy, just half days. Next week the full days begin.


We are greeted by a happy boy. He is thriving already.

And my grief over missing him and worrying about how he’ll spend his days loosens just a bit. So many tiny moments of tender grace already sprinkled throughout our week. Encouraging text messages and phone calls from friends. The discovery of a new friend just down the street. Warm afternoons to play and swim and just be. A kind teacher who is understanding of high-maintenance worried parents.

I saw a bumper sticker a week or so ago that said ‘Fear Not’ with a verse attached (I can’t remember the actual verse. whoops). And at first, I didn’t give it a second thought. People’s religious or political opinions displayed on their vehicles don’t usually get a rise out of me, but for some reason I found myself thinking about that bumper sticker all week.

And now I’m laughing, because I hope the lady that plastered it to the back of her SUV knows that somehow that sticker actually did some good. Because, for me, it’s been this wonderful freeing reminder that I don’t need to worry. I just don’t.

So I’m trying to pray when I start to worry. And then I laugh a little to myself because I think of the bumper sticker and then I pray a little more and all of a sudden I remember that everything is going to be ok.

Jack will be ok. Our family will be ok. Whatever comes: the good and the bad, because there’s no escaping any of it, we will just take one day at a time. And in the midst of the grind and the hard, whether its the good hard or the yucky hard, we’ll just do our best to ‘FEAR NOT.’

Spicy Pulled Pork

Before summer is a distant memory and I have to go digging through my disorganized piles of notes, I need to do a catch-all for a few favorite recipes.


Pulled pork so good you eat it cold standing at the refrigerator when you think no one is looking. This recipe always reminds me of my friend Glory and the delicious dinner she brought us years ago when our kitchen was down to the studs. Her sweet and spicy pork inspired this dish and remains to this day one of my favorite meals.

Full recipe HERE.

Which that reminds me, July marked one full year writing my Kitchen Captivated column for Yakima Magazine. It’s one of my favorite projects, I get such a kick out of people telling me they made a recipe and actually liked it.

Here are a few other recipes from the last couple months:

Spring Green Salad inspired by Shauna Niequist’s Green Well Salad

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie: a recipe I’ve posted on the blog before

On Being Quiet and When It’s Time To Push Through

I’ve let a whole year go by, full to the brim with memories and meals and friends and kids who just keep growing and growing. We are two weeks away from a whole new season around here: kindergarten. New school shoes have been purchased and just today a ‘big-kid’ lunchbox and water bottle.

I have resisted documenting the day to day because I’m hyper-sensitive to the criticism that blogs aren’t an authentic representation of a person’s life. Also, there’s a lot of navel-gazing and it’s as obnoxious to write about as it is to read sometimes.

But I just read about how when you tell a story, you have to narrow the big picture down to one tiny corner. Just describe that little spot in the upper-left hand corner and then go from there.

So here is a tiny corner, a little tidbit, that hopefully someday will jog my children’s memory and cause them to smile:

We are deeply entrenched in summer living. The house is almost always in some form of disarray. It’s cold cereal for breakfast and peanut butter for lunch. It’s too hot to play outside in the afternoon and Legos can literally be found on every surface in this house. I found some in my bed yesterday and stepped on one in the shower. How this happens is beyond me.


The boys are deeply tanned from a summer at the lake, riding bikes and swimming in friend’s pools. Scarlet’s baby-fine hair is bleached out and her cheeks are perpetually sun-kissed.

The wrestling is constant. So is the eating. But when I can step back from the chaos (which I’m not always very good at) I really relish at what good friend’s the kids are. They are happy and robust and so so loud. I beg them to sit down, to chew with their mouths closed, to pick up their shoes. But then they spend hours building legos or making forts or having some sort of complicated war/adventure in the backyard and I just love them so stinking much.


Isn’t that the crux of family life? It can be so constant, so totally taxing yet its the very best thing and when even one of your people is missing, it’s almost like you’ve lost a limb.


We took a day trip to Mount Rainier last weekend. We needed trees and fresh air and a break from the heat. So we loaded the car with water bottles and sandwiches and headed west. In the 9 years we’ve lived in our little Valley, we’ve never ventured there and now we regret every day we DIDN’T go because it was so stunning.

We chose a 1 mile each direction hike and set out. Luke and Scarlet climbed in and out of the stroller. We got in people’s way. There was a fair amount of whining. Aaron and I looked at each other silently wondering if this was worth the 2 hour drive. And then, all of a sudden, the kids spotted a snow field off in the distance and they pumped to see snow in August. And suddenly our little hike turned into a way bigger one but everyone was happy and energized. We made it to that snow, tossing soggy snowballs at each other, cooling down from our hike. We dipped fingers in glacier run-off and scooted back to the lodge for much-deserved ice cream cones.

It was a good good day. One of so many. I just need to write them down more often.



Happy Birthday Luke

Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.   ann lammott, Bird by Bird


We celebrated our Lukey today with friends and water balloons, a big pile of sprinkled donuts and a slip n’ slide in the backyard. We ended the night with pizza on the grill, grandparents and chocolate cupcakes.


We just came off a week away as a family. Seven full days and nights as a family of five. We played hard; riding our bikes and walking all over the small town, swimming in the cold mountain lake, and taking boat rides whenever we could.

Our last night, Bopa (grandpa) bought a tube for the boat and everyone excitedly loaded up in the boat to go tubing. As each person took their turn, getting dumped in ‘whirpools’ and skipping across the lake, Lu’s face was priceless. He was worried, horrified, frightened and in complete awe watching his brother, dad and uncles get whipped around the behind the boat.

As his brother took a spill out of the tube, Luke shook with sobs. Worried Jack might be hurt or in danger so perfectly illuminated Luke’s personality and heart.

Tender-hearted, good-natured and easy-going for sure, but in the same breath he is tenacious, determined and flat out stubborn. He is charming and witty and gregarious. He knows how to talk himself out of trouble and is constantly sneaking out of timeout. He is a lover, often climbing into bed with us for a snuggle and tells all of us he loves us throughout the day.


I want to remember.

I want to remember the callous on his left thumb from sucking his thumb and the little chip in his front tooth. I want to remember that he was klutzy, constantly tripping and banging into things, covered in bruises. I hope I remember the way he lays on the kitchen floor cuddling Sadie and absently pats Rem’s head while he sits at the bar eating.

I want to remember how he was always the last one to fall asleep, always needs one more kiss or a drink of water. He loves cereal, snacks, ham sandwiches, hummus and any kind of fruit.


He taught himself to ride a bike this year, refusing our help and advice, slowly figuring it out for himself and building confidence along the way.

And Jason, the beloved imaginary friend, he still comes around nearly every day. I hope he stays a little longer.


Happiest of birthdays Luke Michael. You are a treasure and a joy. You were the surprise of a lifetime and every day I wake up wondering how I won the lottery with you.

I love you.

I figure I have 10 minutes max before my dilapidated laptop crashes on me, but one of my resolutions this year was to write again and four months into the year I haven’t done a thing.

I decided my desk in the kitchen is no longer good inspiration. The debris from daily life is too distracting. So I unplugged and went outside. I even took a picture for proof…or maybe as a reminder to try this again another day.


A mom at preschool drop-off this morning asked the ever-loaded ‘what are you up to these days?’ question. Why does such a simple question feel like a punch to the gut some days?

‘Just momming,’ I answered casually.

But it stopped me in my tracks. What am I doing these days? Mothering. Cleaning. Pushing swings, wiping butts, countertops and toilet seats. Driving my car, reading stories, cooking food, saying no, saying maybe, doling out timeouts, jobs, discipline, hugs and kisses.

Also, I’m working out. And as I was running today, the thought occurred to me that for literally six years to the month my body has been working hard at sustaining other people’s lives. I have literally been pregnant or nursing with only a tiny 3 month window from January 2008 through January 2014.

And when my body was working so hard during that time I was proud of it. All those flaws that bothered me faded to the background just a little bit. That stuff that eats at me when I look in the mirror and echoes in my brain; it was just background noise. I had this intuitive respect and kindness for my body. It gave me three precious babies and I fed them with my own body, watching them grow and thrive. You can’t hate yourself when you have such tangible proof of its usefulness.

And then that season came to an end. As it was supposed to. My baby and nursing years are over. And I’m all wrapped up in relief and grief. What is my purpose now? Of course it’s to continue mothering…

But I am connecting how much I appreciate the feeling of my body at work. And so instead of growing babies, I’m hitting the pavement. Slogging along, huffing and puffing, feeling equal parts deflated and elated as I compel my body towards strength, resilience. The soreness in my legs and the burning in my lungs, pushes all those thoughts into the background. Those flaws melt away just a little and I’m simply me. Breath in. Breath out.

All to say, I’m not really sure what I’m up to these days. It’s a loaded question. Surely the sweet spot of balance is out there somewhere, maybe I’ll find it this year?

October 2014
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