Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snowshoe Adventure

Before the holidays, we made our first snowshoeing foray of the winter. Our last attempt last winter was a dreadful failure (much too cold and snowy for an infant in the backpack), but this adventure was a "moderate success." We got to make some fresh tracks, got the dog some exercise, and Owen was generally happy for about an hour. We learned our lesson and made the turn around BEFORE he started getting crabby, but still had about 10 minutes of angry kiddo before we could get him back in the car for some snacks and warm air. We're hoping our next adventures go even better since Owen got snow pants, snow boots, and warmer mittens for Christmas.

Out on the trail:
Yes, I am carrying Owen instead of Scott - he was on dog assignment, which is actually a much harder job. Can you even see Hudson in the picture below? We put a red dog jacket on him when we're out - partly to try and keep him warm, but mostly so we can see him better in the snow.

It's always a special treat when you get to make fresh tracks. Pretty easy to find your way back to the car when this is your trail...

Happy back in the car:
Here's to more adventures in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Calla Update

Calla is doing better and gets to go home tomorrow. All the tests for nasty bacteria or other major illnesses have come back negative. Looks like Ryan and Sara will just have to watch her for seizures associated with fevers while she's in the baby stage. Scary, but good news that it's not something more serious.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pray for Cousin Calla

Niece Calla is at Children's Hospital for the next few days. They're still running tests to try and figure out what caused her fever spike and seizures today. I can only imagine the worry that Ryan and Sara must be experiencing. She's only 9 months old. We are praying for Calla and Ryan and Sara... healing, good test results, some rest tonight, and piece of mind.

Holiday Cheer

We got back last night after five days full of holiday cheer in Seattle. It was great fun to see both our families and friends and brave the crazy snow around Puget Sound. I only have a few photos, but am hoping to get more in the mail/email over the next couple weeks.

We were lucky that our travel plans coincided with a lull in the weather. We took a gamble that Owen would sleep through the drive if we drove at night, and it paid off! Minus a couple quick pull overs to rescue a binky tossed under a seat, a 40 mile (planned) detour due to construction, and 30 minutes wandering through Toppenish looking for an open bathroom at 11 PM, we had a very uneventful drive. We got to my parents house (all the way up, up, up, up their hill) at 1:30 AM, and had Owen back asleep by 2:00. I didn't get much sleep that night (does a hour dozing on the blue couch with Owen aleep on my shoulder count?), but at least we were there. By 6:30, our car had another 3 inches of fresh snow on it!

Christmas Eve was with the Boettchers. My brother hiked up the hill through the snow and was rewarded with Rock Band for his Xbox. That kept us all rockin' for the rest of the evening. After Owen crashed (a hard day of playing with mom's old toys will do that to you), my dad barbequed steak in the snow and we broke out the Wii for some tennis (I put a dent in the wall...), golf, bowling, and boxing (my best game). We opened presents Christmas morning, had french toast, and then Scott had to put on the chains to get us down the hill.

We braved the snow through Seattle to reach the Maxwells for Christmas afternoon and dinner. The whole family was there and we had a great time opening gifts, catching up, playing more wii, and devouring prime rib and potatoes (and a few more snacky foods along the way!). We kept commenting that Christmas is a lot more fun with little ones around. Owen and Calla were so cute with their matching Tonka trucks.

It was great fun to see how much Calla has grown and share mommy stories with Sara. Calla is 9 months old and such a happy baby. Now that her eczema is under conrol, she is very content and generally happy. She loves to study faces and is such a talker - she babbles as falling asleep, after eating, etc!! She and Owen are like matching opposites. Same shape, opposite personality. We're looking forward to many years of holidays watching the cousins together.

On Friday, we had our montessori group brunch (25+ years and counting) and then took Owen to meet Scott's grandpa. It was a special opportunity to see him, as he is in hospice care. We got to take a "four generations" photo with Bill, Jeff, Scott, and Owen.

On Saturday, I connected with Amy (and Sam - nearly 2) and Katie (with Billy - 10 months). The three boys tore Amy's house apart and us gals got to catch up after way too long. We also had a major Wouters Family (Scott's mom) gathering on Saturday afternoon with all four Wouters siblings and Scott's cousins. 20 people in all makes for a full and loud house!

As if that weren't enough, Scott and I ducked out Saturday night, left Scott's mom monitoring the sleeping baby, and met Spencer and Jonny (and Beth and Amy) for a few beers and a rousing game of Apples to Apples. If you live in Seattle and haven't been to Cooper pub on Lake City Way, it's worth a visit. Beer and Board Games - great combo!

On Sunday, we were privledged to attend Calla's baptism at UPC. For such a large church, it was a beautifully intimate ceremony. We had to dash out of the reception a bit early to hit the road, but we're glad we were able to be there for Calla's special day.

Our drive home was quick (only 6 hours!) and my mom was with us to help entertain Owen.

If that's not five days of Holiday Cheer, I'm not sure what is. After all the fun, we are glad to be back home. We're paying for all the fun with a few yucky head colds, but it was worth it!

For those still reading, here's my favorite shot of the festivities...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Came Early

Since we are planning a trip to Seattle for Christmas, Santa came early to our house again this year. Unfortunately, Owen is fighting a crummy cold, so he was a bit of a miserable, snotty mess for most of our celebration. He and I stayed home from church this morning, so he could take an extra nap, and "Santa" made his visit during Owen's afternoon nap. He was a great trooper opening gifts, and was genuinely excited.

For the last week or so, we've been checking the stockings every day to see if there was anything inside, so I think he understood that it was special to find something inside this afternoon. Owen's big gifts were a Little People airport (to drive his cars on), new toddler dishes, snow pants/mittens, and some fun books. (Want, Need, Wear, Read) Santa also brought him a big train set (thanks Ikea!), that was a wonderful distraction from the sniffling cold.

He's really got the train noise down. You can see the "Choo, Choo!" in this picture. =)

We're looking forward to our trip to Seattle, but sending our strongest hopes that the weather will cooperate. We're hoping to drive up there after work on Tuesday, but not if we're experiencing a "WINTER STORM WARNING!" The weather is supposed to get better later in the week, so it may be early Christmas in Bend and late Christmas in Seattle. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to tire out a toddler...

Plan a swim day with your play group. Get bundled up for the drive to the pool. Open the garage door and realize that it's not super cold and actually sunny. Let Owen play outside in the snow for a 1/2 hour while I shovel the driveway. Spend an HOUR AND A HALF in the pool with our friends. (Usually, Owen's teeth are chattering after 45 minutes, but the water was super warm today and we had good company.) Get home and realize this sunny weather might not last - spend ANOTHER half hour outside in the snow before lunch.

Snow - Swim - Snow...
Owen was practically falling asleep while eating his lunch. I'm pretty pooped too, but we're off to the library to see the holiday trains this afternoon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Days!

We FINALLY have snow pictures!!

Our snow was so late this year, that we finally packed Owen up two weekends ago and drove up to Mt Bachelor to try and find some winter. Even at the ski area, they only had a few inches, but Owen decided he liked the taste of it.

Here are my two guys at the mountain...

On Saturday we got some real snow at our house. Scott had to shovel the driveway for the first time this year, and we discovered that beach toys work in the winter as well. Unfortunately it was SOOO cold, that we could only play outside for a few minutes and the show was too dry to throw snowballs or build a snow man.

We've had snow flurries over the last few days, but today the heavy snow really hit. Our temperatures are back up around 30 degrees, so it's perfect for playing. Owen and I went to the gym this morning (which was surprisingly busy) and then came home to play in the snow before lunch. I worked on shoveling the driveway, and Owen "helped" with his beach shovels. He thought it was so fun to toss snow in the pile or have it fly in his face. He kept laughing and threw a pretty big fit when it was time to come inside. Thankfully, Owen's big thing right now is "helping" take jackets and hats on and off, so being inside was okay once he realized that meant helping take off all our layers and lay the hats and gloves in front of the fire. That and some warm chocolate milk made giving up the snow okay. For now... if it's not crazy cold tomorrow, I'm sure we'll be out again - maybe a snowman next time!

A little deeper today...

It was snowing so hard, that the driveway was already covered again by the time I finished shoveling. The white area behind Owen is where I started shoveling. Needless to say, Scott had to do the driveway a second time when he got home from work.
No snow in this photo, but I just love the close up of a happy kiddo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


We finally got our first snow over the weekend, but the pictures are on the other computer. I'll get them uploaded (and maybe video) sometime soon. For now, we are just trying to keep our toes from freezing off. We went from a prolonged fall to the dead of winter in about a three day span. When we left for daycare/work this morning, my car said 0 degrees. Z-E-R-O. That's too cold. Schools were closed yesterday, not due to snow or ice, but because they couldn't get the buses running - the fuel was gelling in the cold!

The sun came out today and it warmed up a bit - all the way to 14 on my drive home... I like winter, but you really can't enjoy it at this temperature. We need 20 more degrees, so we can go outside and play in the snow. (And we need it to be safe to drive up to Seattle for Christmas next week. We'll be keeping our eyes on the pass cameras.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Traditions

A while back, I posted about our gift giving plan for this year – Want, Need, Wear, Read. I’m almost done with my gift purchasing, and it’s been really fun.

Now that we’re into the advent, I’m starting to think more about ways to celebrate the season. In fact, our family will be lighting the advent calendar at church on Sunday, and part of that responsibility is to share with the congregation about or family’s holiday traditions…hmmm. Better figure that out.

When I was growing up, we had one Christmas Eve tradition that was unique to our family. Since we weren’t a churchy family, we would go over to my aunt and uncle’s for their open house/dinner and then come home for… Elves Party! I’m not quite sure how it all started, but I remember that one year my mom made us all little elves shoes (slippers) and hats with bells to wear. Each year, we would pull them out, dance around to Christmas music, drink hot chocolate, etc. We also would open one “family gift” that was always a board game to play that evening and finish the night by reading The Polar Express and setting out cookies, carrots, and milk for Santa. It was totally silly and corny (and embarrassing to admit as a teenager), but also incredibly creative, lots of fun, and a tradition that belonged to only our family. Anyone else grow up with an Elves Party?

Since Owen is so little, we haven’t really established many rock-solid family traditions, but I’m reading with interest what other families are doing and starting to plan for the future. Here are some of my recent favorites:

My friend Phyllis
always does month-long activities with her toddlers. Each night, they get a small gift that relates to a story about Jesus. They also read the advent story each night and add a new figure to their nativity scene. For example: (DEC. 2 - In the stable there was a MANGER, filled with hay . . . and DEC. 3 - . . . for the animals to eat. There were animals like a CALF . . . ) I love that!

I also read about a family that always put a big emphasis on Saint Nicolas Day (December 6). They always let had the kids open stockings on that day and talked about who Saint Nicolas (the Turkish Bishop) was and what he did to help people. Annie
wrote that they always grew up knowing that Santa was a story, but Saint Nicolas was a real person that they could be inspired by.

is using December to teach her 4 boys about serving others. They're making a paper chain all month long with one loop for each "service" thing they do. Wouldn’t it be cool to meld those last two traditions? Open stockings on December 6 and kick off a month of service by talking about Saint Nicolas?

I also read about a family that is giving their kids 3 gifts each. Jesus got three gifts, we get three gifts. I could get inspired by that.

I guess we have a few years before Owen will be ready for these things, but it’s fun to ponder. I know our traditions will always evolve and it’s not something you can really plan for. They just develop over time until you (hopefully) look back fondly at the things that your family does to celebrate the season.

P.S. Thanks to Phyllis for the great tip on how to add the falling snow. We don't have any falling in Bend yet, so I'm loving having it on my screen (easier to drive in this way, too).