Portland Onward

The incredible journey rolls on!

After our hole up nights in Spokane we ventured onward to Portland for our first ever Life is Good conference. Passing the Multnomah Falls for our first ‘real super tall’ falls sighting was a blast! We also enjoyed the other beautiful sights right around that state park area. 20170525_192210Oregon is just breath taking, in so many ways. The falls, the mountains, the river, and then the ocean! We landed in Portland a few days earlier to spend with a sweet friend from the Peace Corps. She generously hosted us for two nights and we got some nice perusing of Mt Taber where we could spot Mount St Helens and Mt Hood as well. Such a gorgeous day we scored trapsin’ around there. We also visited this cool little bird sanctuary/gardens called Rhododendron Garden. Tons and tons of some really cool ducks, and the greenery ain’t to shabby either.

It was a blast cooking in a real kitchen! Made some Domoda (a West African dish) that is just sooooo fun too cook with/for people who appreciate the dish. The kids and I had been craving it for some time. Being on the road alters you intake quite drastically. We’ve been super healthy. I can count on one hand the number of times we have eaten out in the last months, but that said, if you’re camping stove is tucked away…. you alter what you eat quite a bit. I think I’m about to go completely raw just to alleviate thinking about it any more 😉

Any rate…. we enjoyed cooking on the stove! And next day headed to our LiG conference. It was hosted at an Embassy Suites which you know is like living in luxury. The made-to-order breakfast omelets and the free happy hour are incredible…. but my all-time-favorite is the insanely huge king size bed and blackout curtains! Even my early risers were not waking before 9am every day! We had lots of fun meeting new people, expanding our growing tribe of cool people. It was fun to be amongst this long-standing conference and enjoy their activities. We had lots and lots of fun! Even got swimming and hot tub soaking in too!

20170528_131213It was another amazing birthday at the end of the conference! D turned 13 on us! I can’t believe how much the time has flown. For her birthday, knowing we would be on the road when she decided, she requested to visit San Francisco to visit Japan Town and also a favorited Kawaii shop of a YouTuber she knows and follows. It’s been high on the list for a very very long time, and since we knew were doing the conference in Portland I told her it’d be possible to make the visit. She was ecstatic of course. The store she wanted to visit was not open except for weekends, so for her actual birthday we headed from the conference to the Oregon coast. We stayed in a yurt for two nights at Umqua Lighthouse State Park and spent endless hours on the ocean side. Beach combing, fishing and seal lion spotting. It was such a magical time. It was just so beautiful, and the weather cooperated with us the entire time. Plenty of campfires and cooking, which made us all happy. Super great sleeping, and the yurt was so fun! (Our first experience in a yurt!)

In the midst of all of the conference and birthday hoopla, we celebrated another lost tooth!20170601_115421 Somehow in the mix of adventure, life is still happening! :) From Umpqua we headed down the coast to CA. San Francisco bound we passed this most incredible rest stop…. I was just driving along thinking we would not make our first stop for another hour and a half or more, and then I spot all these people turning off the road, and I glance over at these masses of amazing rock, a climbing hill, and gi-normous waves lapping to the coast. I pop a quick U-y and head back to see the sights. We climbed out and all gasped…. it was such an amazing spot. We trekked all over the place, made some sandwiches, cut a watermelon, and at least two hours later we were ready to depart again.

That evening we made it all the way to the Avenue of Giants. I just had to pass through one of my most favorite spots before arriving in the big city. We ended up boondocking on the Avenue and waking to the Giants early in the wee hours of the morning. It’s such a magical place to visit. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. We took the Avenue straight to 101 and ended up on 101 to SF….. which was so cool cause the last time we did this trek we were on 1, right along the ocean. That is an amazing drive as well. 101 was super cool to experience cause we could see a whole new part of the country, and you get to experience Redwoods for miles and miles. At one point, we pulled off at this super cool gift 20170603_175652post/shop and we were the first people in for the day…. the cool owner let the kids feed the fish their breakfast. I purchased some super cool bumper stickers to add to the bus, and we toured his amazing wood sculptures. It was a treasure trove for sure.

Since we had left so early we arrived in San Francisco by early afternoon. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we landed in Japan Town for a little poking around, and then cruised over to the Kawaii shop. Nothing disappointed! Everything exactly as she anticipated and she thoroughly enjoyed her extended birthday. We enjoyed some Chinese food (another birthday wish) and headed to a hotel. Fortunately, I had a hotels.com credit to use for our hotel this time around cause MAN! SF is expensive! Not to mention…. ‘holy California gas prices Batman!!!’ I will not be sad to depart from the state, merely due to the cost of being here! But happy we got to hit all of our favorites before doing so.

Today we depart the comfort of the hotel and make the trek to LA to visit my brother and family for the evening. From there the trek through AZ and finally to NM. We are all kind of excited to have a spot to land for a few weeks. And to have time to plan future treks. But I, for one, am already relieved that the trek has taken a slower pace and the trek is ours to command now. Time is on our side and we can venture at our own pace.

AND…. sunshine!!! I’m welcoming the warmth and long-overdue sunshine! (Never enough if you ask me 😉 )

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5th Birthday

Rounding out our year of kid birthdays is our precious M. She turned five today! My first homebirth baby, and quite the ball of sweetness and spitfire all rolled up into one. Her smile and laugh is contagious. You can’t help but fill with joy when you see her happy.

Summer_Maeves bday_2015 556The day started off with a weird kick to it. The littles got out of bed early as usual but baby C climbed back into bed with me, nursed and we both dozed back off…. not waking till 10:20AM!!! Geesh. Have not had that kinda sleep in a long, long time. I rise feeling pretty fresh and exercise routine was to do my 5 mi run today, but I was also awaiting to hear what the bday girl chose for her big day adventure. (Due to the events that transpired I decided to do my run tomorrow so we could get on with the birthday festivities!)

Sibs made her mashed potatoes for breakfast (one of her favorites!). And during that time it seems overly apparent that birthday girl is not feeling all that great. Perhaps a nap is needed to fully enjoy the rest of her day? The choices of agenda for the day were apple picking, The Grove, or the zoo. She really wanted to do two events in the day and driving from the city on up to near the WI border was just not going to be able to happen…. especially since the decision process was so insanely trying for her that she had a major meltdown and crashed to nap mode for a good 30-45 minutes.

Not leaving the house till well after 2pm, it was opted to do the zoo and then we could go apple picking this upcoming week. She seemed appeased with that plan and was feeling loads better after that quicky cat nap.

We head out to the zoo, have an enormous blast! Loads of fun. And I come to the realization that my home/unschooling path has been FAR different with this set of littles than it was for my older kids when they were my littles. Times have changed, a LOT! And I plan to rectify that right-quick. We did have quite the chuckle when K points out the rhino and S replies, “I did not know they had dinosaurs at this zoo!” Eeeps….. time to step it up mama!!!! 😉

After closing out the zoo we had back home to make the requested favorite dinner: tuna casserole. Her all-time-favorite. She had been opening gifts *all* day long. Her sibs got her tons of stuff, and then her cousin/aunt/uncle combo from CA sent her a lovely box, and of course SBJ and myself had a bag of goodies. She was head-over-heels in love with ALL of the gifts. Got some super sweet pics.

Chocolate cake at nearly 10pm was the topper. She was about ready to pass out, but we enjoyed a very yummy, sweet, moist cake made by big sister D. It was such an amazing evening. I was even able to recount her birth with her as she lay in bed trying to chill and regain herself. We share a bed that rests in the very spot where her birthing tub was just 5 years ago today. And she emerged in that very tub, where she now sleeps five years later. This evening at exactly 8:21pm we were in a position to stop and take note that this was the exact time of her birth and it was all very special.

Being five will be an interesting adventure with her. I can tell she’s a whole new ballgame as it comes to personalities in this family. She has a brand new adventure in store for me and I’m excited to see just what that is!

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1st BDAY

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This baby….. THIS baby…. she just R.O.C.K.S.!!!! She is a little ball of spitfire. She is determined, funny (hilarious actually), cuddly, smart as smart can be, active, walkin’!!!, talkin’!!!!…… DANCING and SINGING kinda baby. She is everyone’s pride and joy. These siblings…. they just eat her up ALLLLLL day long. She’s a blessing among this already A.M.A.Z.I.N.G bunch of kids (if I do say so myself 😉 !!!

Today…. today we celebrated her first birthday! My mind is simply blown just how quickly this year went by. I do literally feel like I was *just* pregnant. This pregnancy was a very very special one in my journey as mother and woman. Having had two miscarriages prior to her pregnancy, AND having the birth experiences I have had, I felt I was in a position to have an unassisted birth with her. I remember vividly the summer before her birth, our trip, our endless time on the beach and the many visualizations I had to prepare myself for such a pivotal point in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading my PART ONE and then my PART TWO. What a vivid amazing tale this family has created on our adventure through life!!!

chyler1YR_3Today was the perfect chill kinda day….. exactly like the day of her birth. I got out for my run this AM and this very cool/chill breeze blew across my face. I was immediately brought back to the time in my birthing tub. I had labored in and out of water that night. In the wee hours of the morning I felt compelled to get in the water. And I remember getting so insanely hot I asked the fam to open the windows. As they sat there chilled to the bone I felt this cool crisp breeze across my face and it was exactly what I needed at that very moment. It was not much later than that time did C come into this world to meet us for the first time ever.

After my run we enjoyed a very late breakfast together…. again much like the day of the birth. Since she was born just before 5am, we had all climbed back into bed…. all together actually…. and enjoyed an extended morning sleep. K and D prepared breakfast for us that morning. It was such a special moment for us all. Quiet, at home, enjoying our brand new member of our family.

After breakfast (which was more like a lunch/brunch), C was ready for a nap. While she slept we got to play some Wii and enjoy time together. Before SBJ went off to work, we had birthday cake and presents. She was not the biggest fan of the cake as she does not seem like to like cakey or bready things. But she did like the icing. One of her gifts was a CD of Meghan Trainer songs/album. She is one of the biggest fans. So, inevitably we had a dance party…. of course. And, to stay in tune with our Saturday night family movie night, we watched Wall-e. A truly chill, fun, and amazing day to celebrate this pretty awesome human being.

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Birthday Fun

Yesterday we celebrated a big ’12’!!!
Mr. K has deemed everything leading up to yesterday part of his birthday celebration 😉 Last week we had a huge venture to see Blue Man Group. What a fabulous show! A lot has changed since I went with SBJ about 13 years ago! And yet much similar as well. It was awesome that we actually got to sit in the exact same front row seats as SBJ and I did 13 years ago! What fun!!!

Then for the three days leading up to his birthday I took off with the kids to Milwaukee for some exploring and hotel pool fun. We visited the Milwaukee Public Museum (which really was a great place!), downtown Milwaukee, and Jelly Belly on the way home. It was a chilly getaway, but the amazingly warm indoor pool and hot tub at our hotel more than made up for it.

We arrived home yesterday in time to cook the birthday boy his favorite his favorite hand-picked meal. D made her big bro a cake (VERY yummy!), and we got to enjoy the evening with SBJ who was finally given some much warranted time off.

K received some pretty awesome gifts. This has been a year of stop motion/animation exploration. He has found a new love/hobby/passion and has been taking part in all aspects of movie making. He received some more modeling clay, wire working materials, and a full animation kit with camera and software to boot. He’s set to really come full circle with all he has learned so far and take things to a whole new level.

It’s been an amazing year of growth for this young man. It’s truly breathing taking to me to just take a step back, breath and truly see this human evolving before your eyes. Motherhood just cannot be encapsulated in words to best describe the experiences, emotions and adventures, but nothing could be less than saying how proud I am of who this young man seems to be growing and evolving to. The physical, mental and emotional growth is a breathtaking feat. I try to recall my time as a 12 year old, and I certainly was not as well-rounded or self-confident as K. He, as everyone does, has their moments of doubt. But to see how he handles situations and learns and is willing to talk to me about just about anything to truly understand situations and circumstances is not something I could have done at that age.

He has had a great year. Learned a ton. Grown a ton. He’s found new passions and adventures, and self-discovered things that make him happy. He is a sweet and passionate person who I am honored to call my son. I hope and wish for the very best for him for many many more years to come.

Happy Birthday K!!!

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Winter Fun

Found all of these pictures laying around and figured I’d share them somewhere! I used to be so awesome at printing pictures and putting together albums. *Actual* picture books! K has several large books birth through about 3-4 years, D has a few till about 2-ish years old. But beyond that…. everyone is digital. I have fear that I will somehow loose all of these because they are not printed yet. I try to often remember to back-up, and then back-up the back-up. How many external drives has SBJ broken? Too many to count. I have mine secretly stashed away, but even that does not feel very safe to me. What if some day I plug it in and it chooses not to work for me? I really need to do something more. I joke with the kids that when they are all grown and leave the house…. leave me all alone to wallow in my aloneness, I will finally print all of these fabulous photos and make amazing albums. Reliving their childhoods and sobbing in my aloneness. Then they promise they won’t leave me…. better be careful with what you say I learn :-)  Joking!

So as of late…. this starts with SBJ’s birthday. A wonderful, quiet night at home, with us reminding him it was his actual birthday! And then some bowling fun, and Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier (where, this year,  M graduated to being able to do several things “by herself” aka, with S along with her), and then our annual homeschool kids craft fair, and today’s Winter Festival at EHS.

 

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Mama’s Whirl-Wind

This weekend was such a coaster ride! Started off with a wonderful Friday where I felt like the whole day was Saturday, and accomplished a ton of stuff both with the kids and for myself, and then realized, “Yay! It’s really Friday and I get to do Saturday all over again!” Saturday was a blast. Many doubters that we would even be able to host our first soccer tournament of the HYSL fall season, but the skies cleared and the sun even came out that morning. We had a huge number of kids come on out for an amazing tournament. It’s such a glorious sight to see the different color jerseys and seeing this all come together so nicely.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch out and then a really fun family movie night in the evening. On the way home I swung by my favorite spot to get my lotto ticket, and decide, “hmmmm…. I’ll get a scratch ticket today.” Guess what? I won $100 on my ticket! ; ) Yay ME!

That evening we watched Cast Away, one of my all-time favorite movies and actors, and they really seemed to enjoy the whole entire movie! It was really a fun day. Today we headed out to Golden Rule, and had a really nice morning. Only S and D made it there with me. M seemed to be a bit too congested and needed a day at home rather than me dragging her around. K over-slept and did not seem like I could get him out of the bed to go. It worked out ok as S and D wanted to birthday shop for their baby sister who is turning two year old this Tuesday!

After GRSS, we headed to get little M’s birthday balloons (a tradition we have in our house), and after a stop at the pet store for guinea pig hay, we headed to Target for birthday presents. We had a really nice time picking things out and were more than ready to head home. I think we were all pooped because it was a busy weekend. And… the kids were excited to wrap up M’s presents…. AND…. G’pa was coming over to pick up his doggy that we were dog-sitting for, and to celebrate Miss M’s birthday.

Well, while we were in the store, S figures out how fun it is for him to ride laying down on the bottom of the shopping cart. I imagine that felt quite cool as it would probably have a flying sensation as he sailed across the floor. And he was being quite safe about it all through the store… that is until we reached the parking lot. We were no more than 15-20 feet from the car when I feel this bump, freak out thinking he’s under the cart, and see him pop out from under with his finger kinda mangled. I’m sort of looking in shock as I am not even sure what I’m looking at! His nail was pulled completely off, and skin all around it rubbed clean off. It was dirty and bloody…. though, quite honestly, not nearly as bloody as you might anticipate.

D looks at me and says, “Oh! What do we do?” I tell her to run to the car and grab me some napkins. I calmly (hopefully) tell him all is going to be just fine. D gets to us before we get to the car with the napkin I requested. I hold onto it and really, it’s not really even saturating the napkin. But he’s all wide-open with skin exposed and nail dangling, so we just squeeze it tight and try to wrap it enough to get home. D unloads the bags to the car and I look at the damage, and it seems ‘ok’….. I mean as ok as it could be for the circumstances. I feel like a trip to the ER would merely have them remove the dangling nail, clean and wrap him up…. so I figure we’ll do that at home and see how he is tomorrow.

The whole time I’m trying not to show my complete shock. He was such a trooper. He cried over it, for sure. But he was able to calm himself, and we hugged a lot and talked about it so that he felt ok talking about it. We got home and he’d have random cries about it. I happened to have Motrin on me in the car, so I gave that to him immediately because I was sure that the burning and pain of it was the worst of it all. When we got in the door and settled, we took off our make-shift bandage (aka napkin with strip of duct tape) and took it to the bathroom to attempt to clean it up a bit. There was no way I was getting any sanitary stuff on there (soap) because it was just wide open. But we took the nail off completely (it was just hanging by a hinge), and then we tried to at least run it under water. That caused quite a few more tears. Surprisingly, no more blood though. It clotted really well and really fast. We ran water over it for a very short bit, blotted it dry as possible and wrapped it up. Once he had that secure wrap on it, and the Motrin clearly kicked in about 5-10 minutes after that, he was back to himself. He even enjoyed the early birthday party with G’pa and M and seemed in really great spirits.

Oh, the roller coaster ride of mama-hood. The weekend was fast, and the whirl-wind it always seems to be. Just feel blessed that he is such a strong boy who handled it SO well because I felt like I would have crumpled. Oh sweet S.

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