Summertime in the PDX

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Just a little bike ride

Just a little bike ride

As usual these days, it’s been awhile since my last entry. A lot has happened since Peanut’s passing this spring…vacations, camping, work and, well, summer.

Summer in Portland is frenetic. I’ve come to learn, and not necessarily accept, that summer does not truly begin until the 4th of July. Up until then, the weather still remains partly cloudy, with the occasional sun break and temperatures ranging from the 60-70s. Definitely not splash park or outdoor pool weather, and even camping is risky. A couple years ago, Curt, Laird and I went camping the last week in June and were more than annoyed when it rained the entire night and morning. And so when summer does finally arrive in early July, we (and the rest of Portland it seems) put it into overdrive and cram every activity that can be done in warm weather into two months before the thermostat goes down yet again in September.

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Potato sack races at the campground

At the beginning of June, we headed to Orlando, where we met up with my family who flew from Hawaii. While there, we soaked up the shockingly not-too-humid 80-deg weather and exhausted ourselves on roller coasters, water rides and theme park food. Laird seemed to have a blast at the hotel alone and almost overwhelmed at the sight of Dr. Suessland at Universal Studios. We jumped aboard an airboat to spot gators and headed to the coast to meet up with friends and beach comb for shells. Poor Leini was immediately hit with a stomach bug on arriving in Florida and really only enjoyed the last half of the trip.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Hawaii cousins

Hawaii cousins

Crashed on the couch the day after coming home from Florida

Crashed on the couch the day after coming home from Florida

For the 4th of July we finally made it back to Nebraska and Iowa to visit Curt’s family. The day we left for Omaha, little Leini decided she was giving up crawling and began to walk 100%. She hadn’t shown much interest in walking prior, so I thought for sure she would be crawling her way to preschool. Within just a few days, she had the toddling-thing down. No doubt trying to keep up with her brother and tag along with all her cousins. Our 10 days there went quick visiting family and friends and relaxing on the Iowa farm with sweet Grandma Rose (who almost outdrank Curt till the early morning hours!)

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Senibar serves nightcaps until 1 am

Laird enjoying a little treat from Grandpa Paul

Laird enjoying a little treat from Grandpa Paul at the Omaha Zoo

I can walk, no problem

I can walk, no problem

Hangin' with cousins :)

Hangin’ with cousins 🙂

The rest of our summer agenda will likely include a couple more camping trips, bbq-ing and swinging in the hammock. Portland really is the most perfect place to be during the summer.  Please visit us sometime!

Cooling off by the Missouri River

Cooling off by the Missouri River

Just another day in an Iowa cornfield

Just another day in an Iowa cornfield

Blueberry picking

Blueberry picking

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Leini turns 1!

One already

One already

I look back 2.5 years ago, when Laird turned a year old and laugh at all the time and effort we put into throwing him a 1st birthday party.  I say “we,” as if the idea to throw a completely unaware 1-year old an actual birthday party was also Curt’s, but of course it wasn’t.  He would’ve been fine with our little family celebrating over a home-cooked meal and a simple birthday cake.  It’s not that Laird’s party was anything extravagant.  We invited other 1-year old friends of his that he, of course, didn’t know, laboriously prepared a bunch of food for adults and kids and the pressure I put on myself to decorate a visually appealing cake made me realize that when Leini turned one, we weren’t doing it again.  Not for a one year old.  As a first-time parent, the first birthday party is an especially meaningful celebration and I think all parents should throw one for the experience and to also learn a lesson.  The lesson that it is not necessary.  The kid is too young to understand and they don’t remember any of it.  So, with our second child, by not discussing it at all, we decided to celebrate Leini’s birthday with just our family, plus Grandmoo and Grandpoo who flew in as our guests of honor from Hawaii.  Low key, low stress, but perfect and memorable.

Spending time with Grandmoo

Spending time with Grandmoo

For Leini’s Valentine’s Birthday, I decorated with some colorful flowering plants, made a tissue paper pom pom thingy I saw on Pinterest, and cooked up pink heart pancakes with homemade whipped cream and strawberries for breakfast.  During Leini’s nap, Laird helped me bake some cheesecake raspberry cupcakes for our birthday girl.  And, boy, did she love them.

Valentine's Day breakfast with Grandpoo and Grandmoo

Valentine’s Day breakfast with Grandpoo and Grandmoo.  I think someone thinks it’s his birthday.

My two bakers helping me make Leini's cheesecake cupcakes

My two bakers helping me make Leini’s cheesecake cupcakes

OMG, my first cupcake!!

OMG, my first cupcake!!

Hmmm, not sure I like this.

Hmmm, not sure I like this.

Oh wait, I do like it.

Oh wait, I do like it.

If it could be guaranteed that our next baby would have the temperament of Leini, I might have a few more.  Not that Laird was difficult to deal with, but most people that meet her comment on how mellow and easy going she is.  And truly, she has been a really easy baby.  She sleeps like a hibernating bear sometimes, she never really fusses unless absolutely tired and she is just, well, sweet.  As long as she has her Blankie nearby, she is generally in good spirits.

Who came to visit me today?

Who came to visit me today?

Currently, she has just learned how to cruise, mainly along our coffee table.  And after a recent visit from Grandpoo, who specializes in teaching babies how to climb stairs, she is fearless when it comes to ascending our long staircase.  Coming down is a different story however.  She continues to use her potty and has saved us from cleaning up many poopy cloth diapers.  Although she hasn’t said any identifiable words, she loves to babble, point and gesture.  “Hi,” “bye bye,” “clap clap,” “night night,” “Blankie,” “potty,” “blow kiss” and “banana” are all words she knows and responds to.  Just like her brother when he was a baby, she hates being held down to have her teeth brushed and would prefer to brush her own teeth with the wrong end of the toothbrush.  As far as eating goes, she loves, loves, loves bananas.  Especially with peanut butter.  Other favorites include quesadillas, peas, bread, cheese, Mac and Cheese and oatmeal.  Just like every other kid I know (and adult, for that matter), she’s a carb-lover.

Sweet Leini

Loves those bananas

So far, sibling interactions between Laird and Leina have been generally pleasant.  Occasionally, Laird will snatch a toy from her and, in the past, she hadn’t really cared and he was able to get away with it.  Until recently, when she actually got upset at him and fussed enough that he gave her toy back on his own.  Most of the time though, the two have fun with each other, Laird fetches Blankie and toys to keep her happy, while she adores him and can’t wait to see him in the morning.  If only this could last forever.

Where did everybody go?

Where did everybody go?

Although I was a little reluctant to start working again recently, I feel that the timing was perfect.  I was able to spend almost every minute of every day with my two babies this past year.  There were definitely those days that I wished I could run away and hide and I felt anxious that I was forgetting everything I had learned about ortho.  But most days were filled with spontaneity and play, doing whatever we felt like doing that day, be it going to the zoo or meeting friends for playdates.  And now that I am working again part-time, Laird is in preschool and Leini has gotten used to being in the care of others, I feel that we are all in a perfectly balanced place.

I still can’t believe that a year has passed since our little Leina entered our world.  So much has happened since then.  The only thing that keeps me from lingering in the past, is anticipating what the future has in store for her.

Our forever valentine

Happy Birthday, Valentine

26 hours of service

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If you’re like me, all you could really think of this weekend was the horrible massacre that happened in a small school on friday.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, as the thought that someone could actually gun down innocent children in cold blood was beyond my comprehension.  How could anyone so viciously and callously take the lives of children?  I cried as I pictured parents crying out for their children and imagined frightened kids encountering a deranged killer in their own school.  My thoughts immediately went to Laird and Leini, envisioning something so horrible happening to them brought me to my knees in tears.  I spent the rest of the evening in disbelief and sadness.

After having time to process the tragedy, I began to question how the God I believe in could allow something so horrible to happen to these children.  The left side of my brain has always questioned God, His existence and His motives.  There are things in the Bible that seem so far-fetched and unlikely to me that everything in my brain tells me it can’t possibly be true.  But when I begin to think about how hopeless and insignificant my life would be if it ceased to exist after my physical death, I can’t help but believe that there is a greater purpose, that there is a God in heaven somewhere and someday my spirit will live on with Him.

As I walked the half hour to church today, my thoughts were engulfed with the people that died on friday and I still tried to make sense of it all.  What purpose did the death of these people serve?  What good could possibly come of this?  I lingered in these thoughts as I walked; questioning God’s motives, trying to understand why this was allowed to happen and also empathizing with those who lost their loved ones.  And, as I typically do in these circumstances, I began to think of ways that other people might use these tragedies to create good.  You know how a victim’s family member might become an activist and end up on Capital Hill testifying for changes in policy and laws, etc.  However, I caught myself doing this and realized that I was pawning this responsibility of creating good from evil off on others.  Why couldn’t I be the one to create good in this circumstance?  Well…maybe I could spend 26 minutes in silence for each person’s life.  However, 26 minutes seemed a pretty insignificant amount of time considering the extent of the tragedy that occurred.

Eventually, I felt that God was telling me that I needed to devote more time, more of my energy to honoring those who had lost their lives and use this to help those in need.  I eventually decided that I would devote 26 hours in service to others, 1 hour for each person’s life that was cut short in this tragedy.  I have no idea how long this will take, with two kids and a part-time job starting soon, it may take me awhile.  But, I will do it, as I truly want goodness and love to come of this and for someone in need to indirectly benefit from this horrific tragedy.  More than anything though, I cannot bare the thought that these innocent children died in vain.

I want to add that I did not write this post to toot my own horn and boast about what my plan is, but more to encourage others “to be the change you want to see in the world.”  To not let other people be the ones who create good out of evil.  We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our world, no matter how insignificant it seems.

If you would like to join me in serving others for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, please just email me.  My hope is to serve a variety of groups of people in different capacities.  I would love to have company and even more love and kindness could be shared.

This is a list of all the victims.  Please continue to pray for their loved ones that they left behind and all those affected by this senseless and tragic shooting.

Stage fright!

Laird is really not the quietest kid around.  In fact, somedays I wish I were deaf (ok, not really).  But, he talks a lot and generally isn’t afraid to approach new people.  So, it came as a shock to us when he suddenly developed stage fright while trick-or-treating this Halloween.  As we walked to the first house, we prepped him: Ring the doorbell and when the person opens the door, you say “trick-or-treat.”  Yet, house after house, he would say (or yell) “trick-or-treat” while ringing the doorbell and instantly become mute when the door suddenly opened.  Just like a deer in headlights.  In his defense, I can only imagine how, as a kid or someone who has never experienced trick-or-treating before, ringing on a stranger’s doorbell for candy might seem a little odd…actually, really odd.  Who came up with this tradition anyway?–and can we make it a weekend only holiday?

Nevertheless, I think he had fun picking out his candy, marveling at all the Halloween decorations and playing with his newly-acquired glow stick.  We didn’t make it very far as Laird was pretty tired and preoccupied with wanting to eat all of his candy.

Baby L, our skunk, seemed to enjoy her stinky little self too.

Trying to interpret and carve out a face from Laird’s drawing

The shy lion pre-trick or treating

Laird: Mommy, I can color the whiskers on Leini’s face!
Leini (thinking): I’ve seen his coloring books, keep him away from me.

Lion & Lil’ Stinker

Someone’s getting tired…

Me: Laird what do you want to be for Halloween?
Laird: A lion.
Me: Why?
Laird: Because I want to say ROOOAAARR!

An interview with Laird

I’ve seen a couple blogs where parents interview their children every year at their birthday and thought this was a fantastic idea.  I wish I had done this when Laird turned 2 and I could compare the change in a year.  That was my pre-pinterest era.  Anyway, the other night I asked Laird, “Would you like to read a book before bed or have an interview?”  “Have an interview,” was his response.  I’m 100% sure he had no idea what that was.  So I got my computer, we hopped on his bed and snuggled up while I fired away questions at him.  I wish I had videotaped it actually.  His facial expressions were priceless.
  1. How old are you? 3
  2. When is your birthday? September.  September what?  I don’t know
  3. Who is your best friend? Elsie
  4. What is your favorite thing to do?  Go potty.  Really?  Sitting down or standing up?  Standing up.
  5. What do you not like to do?  Markers – sometimes they get on my hands
  6. What is your favorite color?  Pink
  7. What is your favorite food?  Oatmeal
  8. What food do you not like?  Bugs.  Bugs?  You don’t like to eat bugs?  No.
  9. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Chocolate
  10. What is your favorite animal?  Elephant
  11. What is your favorite toy?  I don’t know
  12. What is your favorite treat?  Chocolate
  13. What do you like to do with your family?  Hug them
  14. What do you want to be when you grow up?  I think I want to be a monkey.  A monkey?  Why?  Because I like them.
  15. What makes you happy?  When you smile (and here the tears started flowing)
  16. What makes you sad?  I don’t know
  17. Where do you feel safe?  In our house
  18. What makes you scared?  A gorilla
  19. What is your favorite book?  The princess book
  20. What is your favorite show to watch?  Um, tigers. Curly does too (curly is his fav stuffed animal).
  21. What do you love to learn about?  Preschool
  22. What is the best part of your birthday?  Eating my cupcakes
  23. Where do you like to go?  To the zoo
  24. What do you think about before you fall asleep?  Something scared, like a gorilla
  25. What do you pretend to be?  A jellyfish
  26. What is your favorite song?  Jesus died for all the children
  27. Who do you like playing with?  Elsie, Alyssa, Henry, Curly (turtle)
  28. Where is your favorite place to eat?  I think the zoo.  What do you like to eat there?  Oranges.
  29. What do mommy and daddy do after you go to bed?  Close the door
  30. Who is your daddy?  Curt.  What does he do?  I don’t know
  31. What does daddy say?  Gooo tooo bed.
  32. Who is your mommy?  You’re the mommy.  What does she do?  Um, make rainbows
  33. What does mommy say?  Um, please don’t touch the computer (smiling)
  34. Who is your sister?  Baby Leina
  35. What do you like about her?  Giving hugs
  36. Who is your favorite person?  Um, mommy.

Anything else you want to say?  Um, jellyfish.

Spoiled rotten: A visit from Grandmoo and Grandpoo

Grandmoo & Grandpoo with L&L

I’m not sure how Laird came up with those names, but those were his nicknames for my parents when they recently came to visit us.  If you’re lucky enough to know L, at some point you will be called a name that is not your own.  Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it’s simply annoying.

The title is a little misleading, for although they desperately wanted to spoil L&L (mainly with sweets), being the mean mommy that I am (and a dentist), I had to set some restrictions.  Left to their own (and grandpa and grandmoo’s) devices, those two would be stuffed full of m&m’s and sugar.  Trust me, Laird still got his fair share of frozen yogurt buffets and Leini even got a few licks of ice cream at a ridiculously young 7-months, so don’t write me off as being completely cruel.  Who knows what else they got when I wasn’t around. 🙂

Hot chocolate for a chilly morning at the Zoo.  Not to brag, but I also gave both of them haircuts.  So much you can learn from youtube.

Anyway, back to the point.  My parents visited us for a couple weeks and still managed to come in time to enjoy some of the country’s most beautiful weather.  Anyone who has visited Oregon during the summer knows that there is no better place in the world to be.  Warm, dry days and crisp cool nights.

Look at me!  Biking in Eagle Crest, OR.

So for two weeks we strolled the farmer’s market, visited a few jungle gyms, watched L ride his bike in Eagle Crest, celebrated two birthdays, went to the zoo and even managed to sneak in a Timbers game.  Whew.  I think the rule of “nap when your kids are napping” still applies though, and we had ample time to lay in the hammock and watch football.  Sadly, all good things must come to an end and they headed back to Hawaii.  But hopefully they’ll return soon and, more than likely, Laird will have made up new names for them.

Here’s just a glimpse of our quick time together.

Funny faces. Not sure what L is doing here. Being funny, I guess.

Cuddle time. Someone was running a fever and feeling lethargic. Thank goodness for Grandmoo.

Teaching L to climb at Smith Rock. He’s a natural.

Our view of Smith Rock that day.  I confess, the slab of rock we were climbing in the prior pic is actually that rock just above the trail where the river runs off the right side of this pic.  Camera tricks.  🙂

I know this looks a little frightening. It was just a split second and she is still alive. 🙂 I thought it was a pretty cool picture and kind of a lucky shot, as I had my camera settings all off.

See, she’s fine 🙂

Meeting a horse, of course.

Typical Laird = Ridiculously silly

At the Oregon Zoo for his 3rd birthday. I seeeeeee you….

I have to give props to the Oregon Zoo, Laird is about a foot and a half away from this cheetah. I’m not sure of many zoos where this is possible.  If only I had remembered his zebra backpack.

Stopping to sniff the roses at the Rose Garden

Laird and Grandpa going to get some snacks at the Timbers game

My family (minus Curt). Thanks for visiting us!  Come again soon!!