Sunday, June 7, 2015

Our sweet, little man turned one! We took a risk on the fickle northwest weather and reserved a picnic shelter at a local park. Matt smoked a pork shoulder and we invited friends and family out for pulled pork sandwiches and sweet tea. It was a bit cloudy, but still warm enough for lawn games! I left my phone at home the day of the party, but luckily I have a few photos from my Canon to share. 

Having so many dear friends and family come around us to celebrate our first year of parenthood meant a lot. We have such a great support system and truly could not have made it through the past 12 months without them. Taylor was a little uninterested in all the birthday attention, like his dad. But loved having permission to tear through tissue paper, devour strawberry shortcake and clapped whenever we sang him happy birthday.

At one year old, he's cruising around furniture but not walking. He has 8 teeth with his molars on the way. He weighs 21 pounds and has an off-the-charts head circumference. He's so, so active, curious and, sigh, mischievous. It's been a great, full first year. He's lived in two homes, flown on an airplane, been to four states, had surgery, been to two funerals, one wedding and met his baby cousin all the way from Tanzania. We love him so much and feel entirely grateful that we get to be his parents.

Thank you to everyone who gave us a hand the day of his party, drove from out of town, snapped a few pictures and loved on our boy! It really does take a village...and we have a pretty great one.

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.