The discipline of Thankfulness

I love that this time of year, fall is by far my favorite season, it represent change and reflection: time to cozy up and rest.

During November, I see many people doing a daily post on social media of what they are thankful for.  I think this is awesome, and if you can keep it up all month even better.

I’ve learned for me, this is not a November activity. I need this to be a year round practice. Every Single Day.

Before bed, instead of thinking about tomorrow’s busy schedule, or what is left on the list from today. I try to think of one hand: 5 things I am grateful for, from that day:big, little, anything.

This changes my perspective. It is how I stay focused, content. That is how I find peace to rest at night, and joy with the next day.

Now, please notice the word “try” above, this is not always an easy to keep up. I can tell when I get out of  practice. I feel a rising gloom-cloud of discontentment and resentment. All of a sudden I hear a voice complaining or whining, and it takes a while to realize: that’s me!  The gloom-cloud, that voice, they are  my blinking yellow caution lights that I need to get back into the discipline of thankfulness.

That is what it is: a discipline. I have to do it, everyday, always, to keep my focused, on what is going well and on the big picture. I get so caught up in details,  n the tasks in my organizer, the stress of my current circumstances or season, that a discipline of thankfulness keeps me in check.

This discipline reminds me not to get caught up in what the media says I want, or need or should do. Not even caught up in my unrealistic expectations of myself and everyone around me. It reminds me of what really matters in life. (Which is ultra-difficult to do this time of year).

Once I really get into a good pattern, this thankfulness overflows through out the day into compliments and affirmation for my family and friends. The words come out naturally and unrehearsed because I’m already thinking of them, already thankful for them. But I know they need to hear it, just as I do.

One hand-five, things, to be thankful about everyday.

How about you? How do you practice thankfulness?


End of Summer

We are well into October and I realized  . . .  it has been a few months since I have posted. eeek! It was one busy summer (and now fall). I promise I will share some of what has made it all so crazy busy soon. But until then I know I am well overdue to share about the end of our summer.

In August we went camping. It was not only Zach’s first time but also Kira’s.  Nap and bed time routine was a bit rough. But Zach loved spending so much time outside in the dirt, playing with sticks and climbing in and out of the tent. Kira enjoyed being outside with all of us but definitely fought the idea of sharing the campground with others.

We had a great campsite tucked away, plus it had a place we could set up my hammock. Thankfully our campground did not have a burn ban, so we were able to do hot dogs over the fire and Zach tried his first bite of S’mores (he only shared one with Mom).

On one day, we drove up a long windy and bumping forest road to an amazing view of Mt. Rainer. At the top, we hiked along an old forestry road with amazing views.

On another day we took Kira home so we could explore Mt. Rainer National Park. We drove ALL of the southern end and around several campgrounds. That day we had a picnic lunch at Paradise, the top point with a lodge, visitor’s center, and great views of Mt. Rainer. While there we went on a short hike along the meadows to a small waterfall. It was a good first camping trip since moving back to the west coast.

We spent Labor Day weekend and NaiNai and Papa’s and went to the Portland Zoo. Zach enjoyed the underwater view of the seals and sea otters and got a chance to pet rabbits, a tortoise and a few goats at the petting zoo. Later in the day we watched the Elephant show, the giraffes, and saw a few other safari animals. It was a great family outing

At the end of August, we attended the jump start for our church’s young family group. They had several inflatables up in the gym for the kids.  Zach LOVED the bounce house and slide so much he barley ate dinner and went straight back to it! He is such and active little man.

Now fall activities are in full swing. This year I am helping out as a table leader at MOPs. So, Monday nights Zach and I go to the church while Luke is attends Forestry stewardship classes. And now starting in October every other Sunday we are apart of a young family ministry small group as well. We are happy to be settling in and getting involved in our local community.

More on how our little guy is doing coming soon too!

Hope you all had a great summer and are enjoying the changing of seasons.

Fourth of July Vacation

This year we spent the fourth of July with my parents in Florence Oregon drinking coffee, eating cookies, staring at the lake, and catching up.

But we did have a few other highlights:

On the fourth of July we walked around downtown Florence to see festivities but after a wet walk we went to Moe’s for chowder.

That night back at the house we had hot dogs, corn on the cob, chips and made a homemade berry cobbler for dessert.

We decided not to go to the fireworks show downtown. It was too late at night for Zach who had had a full day. But we did watch some in the distance and a few from docks on the lake.

Last year Zachary was too young for a boat ride, but my mom was prepared with a life jacket for this summer. We got him all set with sunscreen, swimsuit, hat, sunglasses, and even let him try on the life jacket before heading down to the lake. We decided for his first boat ride he would sit with Grandma in front of the tandem kayak while Grandpa steered and rowed.

Zach was very calm on the ride around the banks of the lake. On the way back to the house, my mom held onto him tight as he enjoyed putting his hands in the water.

The day after, we went on a dune buggy tour. Rushing across the sand in hats and sunglasses, we learned about the wildlife, vegetation, lakes, and how the sand forms with the shifting winds. We also watched ATV’s doing doughnuts and revving engines across the hills and around corners.  Zach enjoy it all but the bumping and rolling near the end, led to a short nap on the drive back.

On Friday, we went to the shore of a neighboring lake.  Luke went swimming while the rest of us played in the sand. Zach did get in the water with Luke in the shallow area, swimming happily but shivering at the same time.

That night, Luke and I were blessed with a date night to ourselves. We went to a new Hawaiian fusion place for sushi, then saw the newest Marvel movie, and finished our date with BJ’s ice cream downtown as sunset. It was the best date we have had in a long time.

On Saturday morning my Mom and I went to get a pedicure downtown along with coffee. When we came out of the salon we were greeted by very sunny skies. We decided to stay for a few more hours before heading home.

So my parents took us only a half hour or so away up a windy road. We parked at a little cove hidden away behind carved out of the rocks. Zach was excited to explore and took off walking for the ocean. We put his water shoes on and guided him towards the tide pools. There with his Dad, Grandpa and myself, he was introduced to sea anemones starfish, hermit crabs, barnacles, oysters, and other sea life hiding the small pools in the rocks. He loved sitting in these shallow pools and watching the tiny fish and shrimp scuttle by.

We left my parent’s place after dinner getting raspberry milkshakes on the way home. It was a great trip.

Turning 30!

That’s right. I am now in my third decade. I didn’t think much of turning 20, but 30 hits a little harder. You look back on the past ten years and see how far you have come and consider all the next ten have in store (with a little more clarity then that of 20). And there is so much to look forward to.

I am grateful and blessed to have great family and friends who made my 30th birthday a real celebration. My in-laws came to town on Saturday.

We spent the afternoon at Penny Playground in Chehalis, first time Zach was able to explore and enjoy the swings, slides and climbing up and around. You are never too old to enjoy a well designed playground with the children in your life.

Then to cool off we went to Fiddlers for coffee. We then came home and almost everyone decided it was time for nap. After an afternoon snooze we had a late BBQ dinner: Teriyaki Kebabs and Corn.

The next day was my birthday party! We met a few friends at a local coffee shop: Station Coffee for a Paint and Sip event put on by Merlot Canvas. We got a back room of the coffee shop all to ourselves. After talking, ordering drinks and settling in we began our group painting class. Our painting was of a misty forest at sunset.

We all did the same painting with instructions from our host. But it was amazing to see how each of our own personalities and styles came out. Everyone’s paintings turned out great and unique.

After this, we went out to dinner and came home to check in on the in-laws and Zach. We put Zach to bed then had ice cream and root-beer floats.

On my actual birthday. I got my free Dutch Bros coffee and went to the park to enjoy it while Zach was in a swing. That night we went out to eat for dinner, then went to a MOPs ice cream social at the church with our friends.

At the social my friends spoiled me with a giant chocolate cupcake filled with cream cheese and beautiful summer flowers. That night before Zach went to bed Luke gave me birthday presents including a new black fossil purse and a jewelry box.

Not a bad way to celebrate 30 years. Thank you to everyone who made it special.

Birthday Fun

On Zachary’s birthday we were blessed to be invited to the Hands on Children’s Museum in Olympia. If you remember we went with our MOPs group in February. For more see Zachary: 9 months This time we went with one of our friends, her son, nephew, and niece.  During lunch in the café the kids sang happy birthday to Zach. He seemed confused that everyone knew the song except him, but he enjoyed it.

Zach loved “snug harbor”: throwing balls and carrying stuffed animals around.

He saw the bigger kids climb the tree jungle gym and decided to do the same. Now, we don’t have stairs at our house, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Zach crawled up the landings and pulled himself to standing to look out the top. Then without hesitation he walked right over to the slide and sat down. Fortunately I was at the top of the gym. So down the slide he went, for the first time by himself.

At the bottom he was grinning widely, very pleased with himself. My friend Rebecca asked if he wanted to do it again. Immediately he stood up, reach for her hand, and with her help walked back over to the landing to do it all over again. It was a good day.

On Saturday we celebrated Zach’s first birthday with a Very Hungry Caterpillar front yard Picnic. It was beautiful, sunny, and we were excited for friends and family to eat, play and have fun!

We started with a picnic of: PBnJs or cold cut sandwiches, chips, goldfish crackers, and a few fruits and snacks featured in the storybook. The red gingham tables were decorated with clear plastic pails filled with rocks and pictures of food from the story sticking up out of the plastic grass.

After lunch it was play time!  Several large picnic quilts each had a basket full of activities: bubbles, bouncy balls, hungry caterpillar color pages and crayons, sidewalk chalk, and more.

Zach had also just been given a water/sand table. I filled it with plastic caterpillars and butterflies hidden among plastic Easter grass. The kids used plastic cups and bowls to hunt for the bugs. It was quite the hit.

After some outdoor fun it was time for cake.  Zach’s smash cake was so cute with a big hungry caterpillar colorful candy dots and of course a candle with the number 1. To go with, everyone else enjoyed matching cupcakes featuring dot sprinkles and white chocolate green leaves with a hole through them, just like in the book.

Zachary was hesitant but with encouragement from mom and dad he soon dug in. Not long after his highchair, body, and the balloons tied to the back of his highchair, were covered in cake.

Zach was definitely more interested in tissue paper then his presents. But more than that, of all of the celebration he enjoyed balloons most of all.

For weeks after his birthday he played with the mylar balloons -I’d say favorite toy of the month.

Thank you everyone for a great first birthday and party. Zach had a great day full of fun, family, and friends.

Zachary: One year old!

Well it’s hard to believe, but our little man is now a year old! This will be my last monthly update on his growth, changes, exploration, and adventures. Don’t worry there will still be plenty of blogs and pictures of our adventures as a family (just not monthly ones of Zach).

This month Zachary loved the spring and summer weather. He points outside and says “outside” or “swing” to let us know he want to play in the front yard. He also still loves going on walks with his Dad through the property and throwing rocks (gravel) around Dad’s Tractor projects.

Zachary has also gotten taller this month. We had to adjust his swing and car seat. He can no longer stand under tables and chairs without bumping his head, which is frustrating for him. We also have to be careful about the tops of tables and counters- on tip toes he can grab anything close to the edge.

This month we also started swim class. Aqua play at the kiddie pool at our Gym introduces the water and water safety basics to little ones like blowing bubbles and floating and putting their faces in the water. So far Zach has had to warm up to the idea but loves it when Dad swings him around through the water. Last week he floated on his back (with support) putting the back of his head and ears in the water.

This month our final front tooth came through on the bottom. And then to our surprise we discovered Zach was also working on his top first molars early! So right now the teeth count is 8 but will soon be 10!

Zachary enjoys feeling more independent and helpful. He is able to brush his own teeth and drinks out of non-handled sippy cup. He helps Mama around the house by turning on and off light switches, pulling or pushing doors or drawers, and he loves pulling clothes out of the dryer and pushing the dryer or washer “on” button.

For play time Zach loves  a soccer bounce ball NaiNai got for him and is beginning to pretend play with the tractors and dump trucks he got for Christmas. Zach will hold things up to us and ask what it is or to show us what he had and is playing with. He will also hand Mama books when he wants to read and cuddle.

Zach is confidently standing on his own. He is not sure yet about walking without help. With encouragement he will to take a few steps from one person to another. When he is holding onto his walker or the couch he will stomp his feet and sway, dancing to music.

We are looking forward to celebrating Zachary’s birthday with family and friends this weekend.


April Travel: Gaslamp District and USS Midway

This is the last blog of four about our travel to California in April. For more see: April Travel: San Diego Old Town and Zoo or April Travel: Downtown LA and April Travel: Baby Shower and First Flight

Sunday we took the morning slower, met with Luke when his conference ended, had lunch with family and then said good bye to my parents. We spent the rest of the day enjoying downtown San Diego.

Luke showed me where his conference was all weekend and we got frozen yogurt then took a stroll along the park near the port.

In the evening we went to Spaghetti Factory right by our hotel. It was familiar and kid friendly. Zach loves noodles, and got mac and cheese and applesauce. He also enjoyed the eclectic lamps and other decorations.

The next day we packed then went down to the pool. Zach was unsure at first but after a slow ease in started to enjoy himself. When he got cold so we moved over to the “not so warm” hot tub and turned on the bubbles. By the end of the half hour, Zach actually went underwater three times.

That afternoon, we checked out of the hotel, left our bags at the front desk and took the light rail to the USS Midway for a tour of the aircraft carrier. Luke loved exploring the fighter planes and helicopters, hearing about their take off and landing procedures.

The top deck was impressive, and it gave a great view of the ocean, even though it was very windy. I found the museum below deck more interesting, seeing the culture and everyday life of such a large vessel was fascinating to me. Everything from laundry, to meal service, entertainment, sleeping quarters, and a jail-it was a lot to take in.

They said it takes about three hours to see it all we took all that time for sure. There were definitely a few restrictions having a kid with us, as well as for a stroller, but it was still worth it.

After this we got on the light rail back to the hotel just in time to get all our luggage from the front desk and into our shuttle to the airport. Our flight was delayed so we were able to eat dinner before going through security.

We had a late flight back to Oregon, fortunately we had a gracious person sitting next to us who had her own kids and with Luke’s help we kept Zach entertained. We got home very late and went straight to bed. It took a good week or more to re-organize and adjust from the trip but it was all so worth it.