Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 of 2014

This morning in church, our pastor did sort of a top ten list for the year 2014. It got me thinking that it might be fun to write a top ten list with Matt to wrap up our year as a family, and how fun a list like that would be to look back on. Dang, it was a fairly eventful year for us! In no particular order, here are our top ten highlights from 2014. Is it lame that they're not in order? That's a lot of pressure. Number one will be the best, but everything else is interchangeable.

10. Seeing Jerry Seinfeld's stand up in California, you can read about it here.
9. Moving back to the northwest!
8. Going to the south in September. It was a heavy trip, but we enjoy any time we get with family and friends out there. Plus, we loved getting to introduce Taylor to such a special place.
7. Matt turned 30! He insists this isn't a big deal, but that's a pretty big milestone in my book.
6. Meeting my sweet nephew and getting to see my sister & brother in law all the way from Tanzania. I still can't believe I'm an aunt! I've wanted that title for years.
5. Celebrating thirty years of marriage. I mean three.
4. Hearing Taylor laugh for the first time.
3. Having a stream of visitors this summer. It was so life-giving to us to host family and friends in the city we are calling home for now, If you visited us this year-thank you so much! It meant more than you could know.
2. Brittney's wedding! It was so exciting to watch her get married, but also it was a really fun day for our family and Matt's first time officiating! Also, it was my first time wearing heels in soggy grass.
1. Meeting Taylor. Hands down, best part of our year and pretty much the best part of my life so far.

Considering I only blogged about ten times this year, all of these events are pretty much covered. It was such a whirlwind and it feels like all these things happened in a span of about five years. I can't believe that this time last year, I was halfway through my pregnancy, living in the Clother's house in southern California, wondering if we were going to live in Nashville or Portland by the time The Baby was born. Now here I am, sitting in the living room in our warm, cozy house writing a grocery list with a blinking baby monitor next to me. I am so grateful for how quickly we've settled into this new season and I'm trying to enjoy every day as much as possible. Because who knows where we could be this time next year?

Happy New Year! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A very lengthy catch-up:

I fell into the couch this morning after about 45 minutes of rocking and swaying sweet, nap-resistant Taylor to sleep. I laid there for a few minutes and realized it's the first day in MONTHS without a lengthy to-do list to chip away at. I sipped my coffee slowly until it was gone and shamelessly caught up on Grey's Anatomy, uninterrupted. Besides a few loads of laundry that can't be ignored (like potent cloth diapers...), I'm looking forward to a day full of REST. Part of that includes dusting off my blog and taking time to recap the past couple months of our very full fall. Brace yourselves! (Please excuse all the grainy iPhone photos, I usually only have one free hand available these days so my poor camera is off rotting somewhere.)

At the beginning of September, we celebrated our three year anniversary! We had just gotten the keys to our new place and were too eager to unpack to sneak off for a date. We decided on a glass of champagne with our wedding flutes and a picnic dinner amongst boxes and half-assembled IKEA furniture.

It was so exciting to be in our own place again (that doesn't mean I didn't cry when we drove out of my parents driveway...I've always been a little dramatic about change). After close to two years of moving around and the privilege of living with other people, we got the opportunity to rent a house downtown. We're on the same block as some close friends and about a mile away from Matt's work. It's been so fun! We are in the historical district of downtown Vancouver and have really enjoyed being able to walk to church, coffee shops and restaurants. But, alas, unpacking. Unpacking took forever. As in, I broke down the very last empty box from moving less than a week ago. Having a new baby and a very full schedule left very little time and energy for unpacking! 

Thanks to my very generous mother-in-law, we got the chance to go visit family in Alabama. We had a ten day trip planned and a long weekend to unpack before we left. Unfortunately, we ended up rushing out there sooner than planned as Matt's aunt Neysa lost her battle with cancer the morning before our plane landed. I'm so thankful we were able to be with our family during such a heart-wrenching time and even more thankful for the time we got with Neysa last summer. She had requested that Matt give her eulogy and he was so honored. He did an amazing job and I know she would've loved it. I was so proud of him and am so thankful to be a part of such a strong, loving family.

Traveling with Taylor was way easier than I thought. He was SUCH a little sweetie and put lots of smiles on faces and lightened some very heavy hearts. I couldn't have asked for a more flexible, sweet, patient little man during our trip! We loved getting to introduce Taylor to so many friends and family out there. As usual, our time out there went really quickly but was really full.

Between all of this excitement, my sweet, baby nephew was born! My mom headed out to Kenya in time to help my sister get all settled in after her son, David Atticus, arrived. They are coming to visit over the holidays and I can hardly WAIT to get my hands on him and be reunited with my sister.

Next up: Brittney & Joshua's wedding! Throwing her bachelorette party was FUN, but sorry, you can't hear about it. (What kind of matron of honor would I be if I went spilling all the details?) It was so fun to be involved in their festivities and stand up next to them! Matt had the privilege of officiating their ceremony, which made the day even more special for us. Watching your husband marry one of your best friends to her love? Tear-jerker. 

She was such an easy-going, fun bride, despite the uncooperative weather that day. It rained as she walked down the aisle, but honestly? It was so romantic and beautiful. The sun broke through just in time for their vows and we warmed ourselves up with lots of dancing under clustered paper lanterns in the barn. My dad was a HUGE help that day with Taylor and since he had a part that day as well (he emceed the reception), and my mom was in Kenya visiting my sister, we all played hot potato with poor Taylor. He was SUCH a good sport. I didn't hear a peep out of him all day. At one point, I spotted Matt defrosting a frozen bottle of milk in the hot water of a chaffing dish from dinner. Later, we got desperate and dunked a bottle in a cup of hot coffee. There was a lot improvising but we made it through! 

After Britt's wedding weekend was over, I hit the ground running getting ready for Visible Grace's annual auction and dinner banquet. I'm trying out working part time for Visible Grace from home and so far, it's been a great fit. I was thankful to be able to jump in for the last few hectic weeks of planning for the auction; a (large) part of me actually really enjoys event planning! Things did get a little interesting balancing it all with a baby, but again, he was a trooper. The night of the benefit came up quick and Matt and I decided it would be best if he stayed home with Tay and we gave his ticket to Bethany so I could still have a date that night. My responsibilities ended after everything was set up and guests started to arrive, so it ended up being a fun night out for me. Bethany was a top-notch date and Matt got some quality time with Taylor and then some much-needed down time. Everybody wins!

After the auction, we had a few days to get ready for some house guests! There's nothing like expecting company to get your house in order, you know? Maybe that will be my trick from here on out: plan a party or invite people to stay with you shortly after moving. It was quite motivating. So Wednesday night, a mere four days after the auction, I put the finishing touches on the guest room and proclaimed our house FINISHED. It feels so good! One of my favorite parts of our house is the office area. Working for Visible Grace gave me the perfect excuse to have a desk, so Matt set up a little work area for me on the other side of his office downstairs. It's really nice to have all my craft supplies in one space and have an organized area to work, create, write, read, hide, etc. This house felt like home very quickly and I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to enjoy it now that our schedules are slowing down.

I came back to this post a few times today, between reading, making chicken stock, coffee-sipping, wreath-making and baby snuggles. Oh, the baby snuggles. We have a slow, open week ahead of us before Thanksgiving next week and I intend on taking advantage of it. 

Whew. That's a fairly rough catch-up of our life the past few months, minus our time with our dear friends over this past weekend! That deserves it's own post, really.

Is it seriously almost Thanksgiving? Sheesh. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebrating Miss Larson

A couple weekends ago, I got the privilege of joining together with a couple other girls to throw a party for our beloved Brittney. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the planning process went. I mean, threes a crowd, right? But I think we were just all eager to celebrate and serve our friend who has celebrated and served us so well over the years.

We gathered on a warm summer evening for mimosas, good eats and great stories about the bride. Everyone in the room sounded like they were Brittney's best friend. I mean, I know it's customary to rave about the bride whose shower you're attending, but this wasn't just your average "I love you so much, cheers!" toasts. These people love this girl and have been LOVED by this girl abundantly. She really is one of the greatest,  loyal and most thoughtful friend to me and it was amazing to sit in a room with a bunch of women who can say the same thing. 

The bride-to-be and her hosts. (We got the memo....)

Ah, I love this lady.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bits & Pieces: July

June was a lovely, quiet month full of baby snuggles, trial and errors of cloth diapering and much picture-taking as I waded slowly into the life of motherhood. Our weekend away over the fourth of July was a kickoff to a much busier month. 

We enjoyed a few visitors from California who made time in their trip to Oregon to swing by and meet Taylor. So fun getting to show people our life up here! 

We road tripped-down to Eugene to celebrate the birthday of our favorite set of twins! Let me tell you, those kids really know how to eat cake. You would've thought they did a practice run or something. They went all-in, face-first, no hands allowed. I was proud.

It was so fun to finally introduce Taylor to the Blake family. (The last time I saw them, I was hours from going into labor, tromping around the park with their family in hopes of breaking my water. It was a lot better being on the other side of things and a lot easier holding both the twins on my lap!)

Taylor and I made a mid-week trip out to the beach to join my family on their annual vacation. They've been renting the same beach house for 20-ish years, but I haven't been out there since high school. My brother and his lovely girlfriend Casey were there too so it made for a pretty fun reunion. It was kind of surreal playing cards in the same spot of the living room floor that we did when I was 16, except this time with a baby in my arms! (I won, just for the record.) 

In honor of tradition, my mom and I dragged my dad to the outlet malls. I managed to walk away empty-handed, but Taylor made out pretty good thanks to his generous Grandmama.

It was pretty great being reunited with the Oregon coast. I prefer a still lake over the waves of the ocean, but I forgot how beautiful and unique the coast is here. I left a sleeping Taylor behind with my mom and sneaked out for a few hours of card-playing, frisbee-throwing and iced-coffee-drinking on the sand. The only thing that was missing was Matt!

A few days later, we excitedly welcomed Matt's Grandma and brother from Alabama. His mom's visit in June and their visit this month was a much-needed slice of home for Matt, who hasn't been with them in over a year now.

As tempting as it was to spend all our time with them on the back deck, sipping tea and listening to Grandma's stories, we decided to take them out for some sight-seeing. Competing with the summer crowds to get a good glimpse of Multnomah Falls and the Gorge wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. Taylor, of course, slept through most of it.

While Matt was at work, I had Grandma all to myself. Highlights included homemade blueberry pancakes, bottomless cups of coffee and endless stories about Matt's dad, Taylor's namesake. Kelsay was a really good sport about being stuck home with his sister-in-law and a baby, but hopefully his outings with Matt in the evenings made up for it.

July was good to us. Busy! But so, so good. Matt and I said good-bye to the last of our visitors for the summer (more on their trip later) and have a few weeks of down time before we move! It'll be a bittersweet change for us, as we wrap up our time at my parent's house and move into our own house downtown, closer to Matt's work and our friends. But for now, I'm savoring our time with my family and trying to relax as much as possible before the seasons change, inside and out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

2 months old

I can't believe our little love will be two months old on Friday. He is starting to grow so much! It felt like he was the same size for about a month, and then suddenly during week 5, he had a major growth spurt and quite literally grew out of his clothes over night. And man, that growth spurt? That was a rough week. During one of his three-hour crying spells, I was bouncing him around in one arm and frantically googling "colicky baby" on my phone with the other hand. Like clockwork, he was back to his normal self at the end of that week. I, however, aged about ten years (and have the gray hairs to prove it).

About a month ago, our friend Joshua came over to the house and took some pictures of Taylor. He also did our maternity shoot and is quickly becoming responsible for any and all family photos we have (outside our iPhones) since my camera has been tucked away the past couple months.

Taylor was on his best behavior, so the shoot went quickly. Joshua did a great job of improvising with the "props" I pulled out (aka the bean bag chair I covered with a sheet...) and caught some really sweet moments for us. He is so talented!

I'm sure I'll look back on these pictures fondly of what youthful, vibrant parents we were but I can't help and think we just look so tired! Luckily, Taylor is sleeping much longer stretches at night and still taking some lengthy naps during the day.

Everyone that sees me with Taylor, whether it's an old friend or a Target cashier, asks me how I like being a mom. I sheepishly admit that I love it and it's so much more fun than I thought it would be. Is that terrible? I knew I would love him, I never doubted that. But I think culture can do a pretty terrible job presenting motherhood. The "mom" character on sitcoms is always exhausted, desperately trying to keep up with her kids and rolling her eyes behind her husband's back at his laughable attempt to parent his children. I remember when I was pregnant, women would always warn me that my life was about to be over. And they're right, it definitely is, but rarely did people tell me how great my new life would be. This might be the iced coffee talking, but I just can't believe how fun being Taylor's mom is. 

When I was a nanny, I would count down every excruciating minute of my shift. Watching a four month old squirm around on a play mat was cute and everything, but how many times could you read a cloth book aloud before your brain shut down? (For me, it was about six.)  But I have clocked in countless hours just staring at Taylor laying on a blanket. Or sleeping. Or sitting in his car seat. And it's fun!

Of course, there are not-fun days. Of course, he cries. Sometimes I join in. During that growth spurt, I think I mentioned putting him on Craigslist. (Luckily, my mom happened to be home and looking slightly alarmed, offered to take him for an hour and gave me a much-needed break.) But even at the end of a really hard, long day where I can't remember the last time I ate a meal or went to the bathroom, I am in disbelief at how much I am enjoying it.

I love this little darling so much. As he becomes more alert each day, we get to know his personality a little bit more. He has started recognizing and smiling for his dad and his grandparents and thinks being kissed on the mouth is pretty hilarious. He loves hearing other languages and accents! He laughed for the first time when his auntie Kat spoke to him in Spanish and was mesmerized when my friend from Australia spoke to him.

He is still the most serious baby I've ever met and already has worry lines between his eyebrows, but is so playful and vocal first thing in the morning. I'm claiming that as my one and only contribution to his DNA-being a morning person! 

 Every morning, Matt pulls him into bed with us and I wake up to the two of them snuggling before his alarm goes off. On Saturdays, we lay in bed with him until about noon, trying to soak up every moment of this sleepy-newborn stage.

Our life is so enhanced as we enjoy being a family of three. We don't know what we ever did without him! Sleep more, I suppose.

Thank you, Joshua, for capturing Taylor so well!