Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

For the past four years it has been our Thanksgiving tradition to spend the long weekend at the beach. This year was different because my dad and Mary couldn't join us. We thought about staying home and having Thanksgiving in Eugene, but my dad insisted that we go. 

Once we arrived at the beach house and the kids tumbled out of the car into the sunshine, I knew that my dad had been right to send us. We all needed this.

You never know what kind of weather you'll get on the Oregon coast in November. For once, Sawyer's shorts and teeshirt combo was the right choice.

In 37 years I had never once been in charge of the Thanksgiving meal. We've usually done non-traditional fare like pizza or salmon, but last year Mary made cornish game hen and Jack talked about eating the drumstick for weeks afterwards. This year he requested a Thanksgiving dinner "like you see in the movies."


So the vegetarian was in charge of cooking a turkey, but as Brent pointed out, with the internet anything is possible. He was right. There was some initial confusion with the neck and the gizzards and the tying of the legs and tucking of the wings, but we managed to pull it off. I am pretty proud of my first turkey, even if I didn't eat any of it...

Confession: we did not actually sit down to Thanksgiving dinner until almost 8:30, but all those hours of turkey roasting led to a pretty rockin' kitchen dance party which I'm hoping we'll incorporate as a new Thanksgiving tradition in the years to come.

Especially since more calories burned dancing before dinner means a bigger piece of pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

Nick and I have been on this Yoga Meltdown kick which involves us flopping around the living room, toppling over onto each other, and cursing at Jillian Michaels while sweating our asses off.
Sawyer chants half-hearted words of encouragement at us from his vantage point on the couch and occasionally joins us for downward dog. I thought all his enthusiasm for our success was charming until he informed us that he really wants us to get to level two so he can watch Jillian in her blue sports bra.

I am hoping to get myself back into shape before Christmas so I can totally binge on holiday food. Thank you, Jillian Michaels, for making my pigging out dreams a reality. Probably not what you had in mind when you launched your line of yoga videos, but oh well.

One more night of Phase-10, a hot tub under a blanket of stars, growler fills from the Yachats Farm Store, Nick's famous Bloody Marys, frisbee on the beach, sand between our toes, and overindulging the kids so that we can have some quality adult conversation.

This weekend was not exactly what we were expecting, but I guess when life hands you a turkey, you should just go right ahead a make Thanksgiving dinner. Or something like that.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Upside Down

There have been so many highs and lows in our lives lately that I don't even know where to begin. We have been experiencing a serious health crisis in our extended family for the past week which has wedged some perspective into our busy days.

Life is full of surprise early Christmas presents.

And soccer friends turned basketball buddies. We've juggled siblings on narrow wooden benches while these tiny people attempt to hurl the ball into the basket. When someone actually makes a basket, the whole crowd cheers no matter which team you're rooting for.

Clementine doesn't care if the typewriter was for the boys.


Of all of Brent's hobbies over the years, I like his bread baking the best.

And amid all of the typing and hoops and bread loaves there is the nagging thought that your life can be turned upside down at any moment. Thankfully we have people we love to turn it right side up again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Two days before Halloween I realized that we hadn't made it to the pumpkin patch. It was a sunny Monday afternoon and I must have caught Brent in a moment of weakness because he actually seemed excited about hauling the kids out to Lone Pine.

We had never done the corn maze before, and to be honest, I thought it would be boring. But the kids raced ahead of us, shouting directions to each other, shrieking at dead ends, and trampling through mud and fallen corn stalks while we hung back, following their lead. It was peaceful in that corn maze as the sun passed quickly overhead, illuminating the brilliant fall colors around us before sinking quietly into the horizon.

We could have just stayed home, I kept thinking. I could be folding laundry or making dinner right now.  Instead we stayed later than we should have, basking in that perfectly autumn sunset and then had to scramble to get to Sawyer's school for a Halloween party. Once there, the kids scarfed up a bunch of candy since we hadn't made it home for dinner. We came home starving and past bedtime, but it was totally worth it.

Halloween 2013. We are so totally outnumbered by the kids.

But at least we have this guy.

And then there was the annual Play in the Rain Day at Mount Pisgah (we have been four times and it has never once rained). I texted a friend to see if she and her kids would be there. Our exchange went something like this:

Me: Are you guys going to Pisgah today?
Friend: Yes! But first to the Laboratory for the Bloody Mary bar. Join us?

Approximately ten minutes pass before I see this reply. I can't hear my phone over the howling of simultaneous time outs and babbling baby. Everyone is still in their pajamas. Brent is hiding in the backyard under the pretense of doing yardwork.

Me: Kids are too crazy. Don't think we're gonna make it.

And this is where I realize that it really does take a village to raise children. It takes a village because what my friend texted me next was a quick slap upside the head that pretty much saved the day.

Friend: NOOOOOO! You must leave the house! I promise it will all be better if you just LEAVE THE HOUSE. I will buy you a Bloody Mary...

Thank you, village.

Were my kids still crazy when we got to the restaurant? Yes.
Was the Bloody Mary bar everything I had hoped it would be? Yes. And more. Bacon?

 I could have stayed home to fold laundry. Thank god I have my priorities straight.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Dear Clementine,
I felt you missing long before you were born. I couldn't put my finger on it right away, but somehow, as years passed, I knew that there was a little girl out there waiting for me. And then you came and instantly our family felt complete.

You are loved by so many people. Sometimes that love is a bit overwhelming for you, but I trust you'll grow to appreciate the spotlight you were born into.

You are our sweetest baby. When the boys were your age, I felt like they were on a mission to destroy the house. You just want to look at everything.

My aunt Bobbi sent me this funny doll that my mom made long ago. It's a cloth mama doll with all her babies in a basket and they all have these weird pinched faces. I studied this doll and her accessories and had to wonder what my mom was thinking when she made this. I didn't know what else to do with her and so I put it on the shelf in your bedroom.

And then I saw you playing with her, you would take the babies out and inspect them before placing them back into the basket. Somehow it all made sense to me in that moment. My mom made that silly doll for you.

We had your birthday party at a bar because that's the kind of family you were born into. You didn't seem to mind. You weren't even really that interested in the cupcake we gave you, but when you received a soft white stuffed bunny, you were absolutely thrilled.

You came into our family at such a perfect time. There is so much kid energy in our lives right now. You fit right in.

You took your first steps today. You are well on your way to becoming a toddler and I know that if I blink too many times, you'll be in kindergarten. And while I can't wait to see what kind of five-year-old you will be, I do want these baby years to slow down, please. You are my last baby. Please don't grow up too fast.

Happy first birthday, Clementine.

Your family loves you so.