Thanksgiving 2014

We went to Holly and Jansen’s for Thanksgiving because no one makes a holiday prettier than Holly. The food was amazing, of course; Jansen and Holly made the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, and a scrumptious apple crisp. I made mashed potatoes and parsnips, broccoli casserole, cranberry raspberry sauce. Christopher made a pumpkin pie and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and pecans. A family from Jansen and Holly’s church came, and they brought an amazing salad that made Gavin say, “I never liked beets before I ate this salad.”

Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday, because what’s more awesome than counting your blessings while feasting on the amazing food we always have access to? It’s really quite amazing. I rarely walk into a grocery store without taking a moment to marvel at the bounty at my fingertips. And forget about Costco. Can you imagine? It’s a warehouse of food, water, clothing, and household items. I’m also thankful for clean water, clean air, a home, cars, education, books (a library!), my Christian faith and a church community that practices what they preach. My family. Healthy kids. Life.

We were very grateful to spend Thanksgiving with Jansen, Holly, Lucy, Mia, Hank, and Charlie. (And the Garcias!)

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Pre-Thanksgiving

Christopher took the three big kids to Front Sight. The trip got rave reviews, especially from Ben.

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They spent the weekend running around the desert, and when they got home Christopher left again for Poland. When he got home I took Megan and Gavin on a fun date. We ate sushi and watched Big Hero 6.

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When Christopher is in town, he works from home a lot, so we moved all the boys into one bedroom so Christopher could have an office again. So far it’s working out, and Gavin was fine with it at long as we bought him a trunk with a lock on it. It only cost us $40, so money well spent.

(Gavin has the top bunk, Logan the bottom bunk, and Ben the captain’s bed)

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Post Halloween

What have we been doing the last month? Survival mode, I think. I told a friend the other day that the older I get, the lower my expectations are.

Enjoying the fall weather:

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Being sick, a lot. A random fever bug caught all four kids, and then we ended up in the ER when Logan got croup:

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Halloween!

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Although Logan is not in preschool, his schedule is pretty full. M/W/F he plays in the church gym while I do Zumba. Tuesday he has a playdate with Brooklyn, and Thursday he has a playdate with FOUR of his friends. Five toddlers is busy, but nice since we rotate and get four weeks off!

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Primary program. You aren’t really supposed to snap pictures in a Mormon church, but I couldn’t resist getting a shot (or two) of Megan’s last primary program. Gavin was standing behind a darling girl whose mom played college volleyball. So I couldn’t really see him.

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Crying a whole lot, exacerbated by the time change:

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Attending an international food festival at the middle school. It’s amazing to me that my kids are surrounded by first-generation Americans whose parents come from China, India, Vietnam, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, etc. It’s amazing how Microsoft has transformed this community. It’s a great experience for us all, and it makes me feel pretty ignorant that we only speak one language in our home. Most of our neighbors speak at least two and sometimes three or more.

Oh, and they did a flash mob dance in the gym. That was the highlight for Megan.

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Great Grandma came to visit from South Carolina. She visited her sister in Oregon, then came up here and stayed with Shay. We enjoyed our week with her.

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Finally, I started exploring a possible Master’s degree in Social Work. I visited a class at UW and got CPR/First Aid certified so I can start volunteering once a month at an emergency shelter for foster kids. I’m looking forward to it!

Enjoying the Fall Routine

We are chugging along in our new school routine and enjoying the autumn weather. We enjoyed Lucy Richins’ baptism and General Conference. Megan went to the State Fair with Orchestra. Gavin is doing swim team and Scouts. Ben is figuring out this kindergarten thing. Logan is loving his days with Mom.

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Skyline Homecoming Parade

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I can’t seem to keep the little boys out of my bed

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Fun with cousins

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Caught in the rain

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This boy belongs in the woods

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Lots of playdates with Brookie

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Camping at Ensign Ranch

Christopher spent a week in Poland and it was rough, especially with the kids still adjusting to the new school schedule. I knew the kids needed some extra family time when he got home so we went camping for a night at Ensign Ranch, about an hour away. The weather was gorgeous but it was cold at night so we huddled together in our smaller four-person tent. The kids were just thrilled to be outside playing with sticks, rocks, and fire. We rode horses and went fishing, although Logan preferred to throw rocks in the water, which scared away the fish. I was impressed by Megan and Gavin’s fire making ability. Both can start a good fire using a flint and steel fire starter, kindling, and wood. Logan’s job was to feed the fire with pine cones. And Ben seems calmer outdoors. It was a good night.

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Christopher and I recharged with wake surfing at the salmon bake, and later our belated anniversary dinner at El Gaucho.


First Day of School

Starting school in Seattle is a slow wind-up. We have all these business days at the school before Labor Day, then the day after Labor Day we meet the teacher (in elementary school). Gavin and Megan started school the Wednesday after Labor Day, and Ben didn’t start until Thursday. Logan is wondering why he hasn’t started yet (September 16!) but he did have an open house at his preschool today so that seemed to be good enough for him.

Ben was all smiles as he rode off on the school bus today, but I am nervous about the report this afternoon!

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Labor Day 2014

The kids have all had colds, so Labor Day 2014 started with a Ben and Mom hike. That kid left me in the dust for two miles, and we only headed back to the car because I was getting tired. He could have run for two miles more.

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In the afternoon I took Megan and Gavin for a little back to school shopping. We didn’t buy too many clothes this year, since Megan got some clothes this summer and Gavin still fits into everything. The shorts he is wearing are a size 5-6 (he is 9 1/2!) and are looking old. I finally found him some size 8 shorts at Target, that when cinched to the max, don’t fall off. And a few new shirts. Gavin said, “Mom, I’ll wear whatever you bring me home that fits, but my old clothes are fine. Really.” Low maintenance, that one.

After we got home the whole family hiked from the top to the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls. And back up again.

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PS The funniest thing happened while I was in Target with Megan and Gavin. While we were looking at shoes for Megan, Gavin wandered off. He didn’t reappear before we checked out, so I walked over to Guest Services to ask if they would page him to come to the front. They said, “He’s NINE? That’s under twelve. That’s a code yellow.” They essentially put the store in lockdown. In seconds security guards stood in front of the exits and red-shirted Target employees stood at the end of aisles. After about 10 seconds they said, “We found him on the LEGO aisle.” (duh! I should have looked there) About five team members surrounded him until Megan and I walked back to get him. And that’s the Target security procedure for a child up to age ELEVEN.

Vasa Park

With the lack of swimming pools here it always makes me happy to visit Vasa Park on Lake Sammamish. With waterslides, diving boards, and a decent beach, the kids don’t get bored. We arrived around 9:30 and were the first on the beach. Later it got super crowded but we stayed until past one.

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Grass Lawn Park

After a dermatologist appointment for the boys in Bellevue, we stopped in Redmond to explore a new park. Logan scared me when he was able to climb the tallest tower, and Ben met his match in the sand pit, when he repeatedly threw sand at a dad named Robert, who eventually said, “Is that how you want to play?” and threw it back.

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More summer fun

Megan went to her first boy-girl birthday party since she was about three. They played in the backyard and watched an outdoor movie. Although Megan is starting to be interested in the opposite sex, we have had many, many conversations about how it is wise to cultivate lots of friendships with lots of boys, and put aside any romantic feelings until she is much, much older. I shared with her that I liked the same boy from 4th grade until I graduated high school. But because I was anxious to be “boyfriend and girlfriend”, I ruined what could have been a really long and fun friendship. Looking back, I would have much rather had him as a friend than as an on-again off-again boyfriend, which eventually created lots of hurt feelings and awkwardness. I blame the media. When did boys and girls stop enjoying each other’s company and start viewing each other as only prospective love interests? For me, it was a steady dose of Saved By the Bell and The Babysitters Club. Oh, the drama.

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We finally took Ben to a psychologist to be evaluated. In addition to a high IQ (of course), he shows signs of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and ADHD. The good and bad news is that the treatment for ODD is called parent child interaction therapy (PCIT), which is basically “you’ve got a challenging child and it’s tough to say whether you caused it or whether they just came that way, but now we are going to teach you how to be a good parent for them because you’re really blowing it”. We are going to go slow with the diagnosis process, only sticking him with the label if it will help him gain allowances at school. I am hopeful he will do just fine in kindergarten, especially with enough challenging activities and motivational tools.

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We “took care of business” at the middle school. Megan is excited to have a top locker this year.

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We went to Pine Lake Park to meet the new principal at the elementary school. Ben was only interested in throwing rocks in the lake and creating general mischief.

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Our orthodontist hosted a patient fun day at an indoor trampoline park. The kids were in heaven, even Logan.image