Friday, December 20, 2013

Linnea and Peter’s snowy day

We’ve had snow forecasted twice this month, and today it actually came! We woke up to a beautiful blanket of white, and scrambled outside after breakfast to take advantage of it. Tim headed off to work with the chains on his tires, but the roads weren’t too bad. I was hoping for more snow so that he could stay home and play; maybe next time.

To my surprise, Peter wasn’t super enthralled with the snow (last time it snowed, he was a newborn), and after stomping around for a bit he hung out on the porch. Then he asked to be let inside. ;) I did let him go in by himself for a few minutes while we finished our snowman. Carrot nose, dried flower centers for eyes, gravel and raisin buttons, with an assortment of accessories. No romp in the woods this time, as it started raining after lunch and poor snowman did a face plant in the yard. We still have snow on the ground but I’m sure it will melt off this weekend. Pretty close to a White Christmas! It was lots of fun.

(We had so many birds around the feeder today…mostly under it since the Steller’s Jay always knocks seed out of the feeder. About 15 juncos, 2-3 towhees, some sparrows, a chickadee, and a varied thrush made up the party. It reminded us of the book The Party That Grew which Grandma Mary gave Linnea for her birthday. We need to take the screens off the porch windows to get a better view, but it was fun being outside with them too! We were mere feet away and they still foraged happily. I sprinkled bird seed on and around the snowman and that’s when the thrush was lured out. We have seen him once before. And boy did they all scatter when the snowman fell over!)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Peter!

Our buddy is 2 today! We celebrated with a special concert for kids at the Seattle Symphony, followed by lunch out, a nap, presents, homemade pizza and cake & ice cream. We’ll have a small party with a few friends tomorrow. It was a VERY cold day with a couple unexpected hang-ups but everyone ended up having a great time, most of all the birthday boy!

Here’s an album with the day’s photos…

Symphony, were the kids got to play some instruments in the lobby beforehand (Linnea even made a sound on the trumpet!) and do a snowman craft

Pete’s gifts after nap

Some family photos gone wrong…still trying for the Christmas card!

Birthday cake and ice cream!

Thank you to everyone for the birthday calls and messages! We came up with some favorite things about Petey at dinner, and here they are:

--his obsession with John Deere tractors (Tim)

--how he thinks about things (Great Grandma Jean)

--kisses and hugs (Linnea)

--how affectionate he is with everyone, family and friends (me)

--saying “Naina” and climbing up in her lap (my mom, Naina)

--saying “mama!” when I wake him up in the morning (me)

--saying “great grandma Jean” (GGJ)

--sitting and reading with mama (me)

--his mouth like Papa’s (Naina)

--our goofy jokes about him being a duck & a pepperoni pizza (Tim)

We are super thankful for Peter and just what a fun, lively, compassionate, sweet guy he is. He really is a treasure and we love him so much! At cake time, he said excitedly, “It’s my birthday! That’s my cake!”

We love you buddy! Happy 2nd birthday, Peter!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our friend the grouse (and other stories)

Meet our neighbor, The Grouse.


I know that picture is a little blurry, so here’s one from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:


(copyright Tim Lenz,

This guy is our buddy. We look for him every time we go outside, since first seeing him in a rush of wings when Mary was here and we were dragging the tarp full of leaves to dump down the ravine. He’s a Ruffed Grouse and frequents the buttercups that grow near our holly tree in the back of the house. Kind of like a chicken, the grouse bobs his head as he walks along, nibbling his lunch. We’ve seen him 5-6 times now, usually close to the house like this, but once in the woods too. I’d love to find the nest (though, as I’ve been saying “he,” we really don’t know that for sure…) and some others, if it has a family. But I don’t want to scare it/them away, so right now we’re just excited observers – though we can get really quite close and he doesn’t seem to mind!

Ah, yes, the local wildlife. (I did look up how to roast grouse, by the way, and the ruffed kind is supposed to be creme de la creme of game birds. But now that we’re on a first name basis I just couldn’t do that.)

We also have a mama and grown baby deer that like to come visit. This past Thanksgiving weekend we saw them twice, once right in the driveway. We went out onto the porch and they stood and looked at us for a while before nibbling their way back into the woods.

We’ve seen wrens, a hummingbird, a bunch of robins, Northern Flickers (a kind of woodpecker), chickadees, and some other birds around our house. Now that it’s Project Feederwatch time I pay extra close attention. We don’t get any at our feeder except the hummingbird at the nectar feeder, but hopefully changing out the seed today will change that. Here in Duvall we see a lot more birds of different kinds, but the irony is we don’t have as good a view from the house as we did in Kirkland. Stay tuned for more birding adventures!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm popping in to wish family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! We'll be hosting dinner with dear friends and thanking of family all around the world. We sure have a lot to be thankful for. God has given us such rich blessings this year. We are grateful. Amen!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I can’t make this stuff up

Here’s the true story of our trip to San Jose.

It was a last minute trip. I didn’t find out Tim needed to travel for Google training until our moving day, Oct 4. It wasn’t good timing – I was emotional about the move, our house was cold(er), he was sick, and it was not a great surprise. He has never traveled a single day for work, so maybe I’m spoiled, but I do rely on him to be home at night. So we decided the kids and I would go with.

California! A vacation after the hard work of moving! We hardly did any prep for the trip, just kept aside some shorts for the kids and found all our stray bottles of Dramamine. Motion sickness happens for me in pregnancy, and has plagued Linnea on long car rides. We were going to be prepared. Ahem.

We packed, we drove to the airport, and everything was fine. Our flight was during Peter’s nap and he fell asleep in my arms on the plane. He seemed warm and a little off, lethargic or something, and I worried he was getting sick. But nothing happened. We had plans to visit friends in the Bay Area for dinner and loaded up the rental car and headed their way. But just as we were popping the chicken nuggets and french fries en route – we had pretty much missed lunch – Peter started throwing up in the car.

Bummer. So he was getting sick.

It is such a heart-wrenching thing to watch your child vomit helplessly from the front of a car. He’s strapped in, miserable, and alone back there. We pulled over on the highway and I stripped him down while Tim cleaned the car seat with baby wipes. Poor buddy didn’t cry or anything – that is, until I told him he couldn’t have any more chicken nuggets – and I’ve been a parent long enough to know to travel with a change of clothes. So we got him strapped in again and headed back on the road. I felt bad about potentially bringing germs into our friends’ home, but really he had no other symptoms, and they were so welcoming and understanding. Our mini reunion with them over delicious dinner and great conversation was a great end to the long day of travel and unexpected sickness.

Then, the rest of the trip happened. It all goes downhill from here.

Tim was excited to start at Google, and because he wanted to be on time and stuff, took the rental car that first day. It was sunny and there was a playground at the massive apartment community where we were staying, so we walked around, played, hit up Starbucks, and came back to the apt for lunch. Then it was naptime. We have almost always gotten Peter to nap with motion. For about a year he slept in his stroller (this was from about 9 months on, once he stopped nursing to sleep at naptime, until this past summer), and that was awesome. Now, we drive him 10-20 minutes and bring him inside, lay him in his crib, and he’ll sleep about 2 hours. I usually have to wake him up so he doesn’t mess up his bedtime. IT IS AWESOME. LINNEA DID NOT DO THIS. Anyway, no car.

I figured I’d be flexible, it was a surprise weird week after all, and try to get him down in the pack ‘n play at naptime, like he goes to bed in his crib at night. A half hour of screaming and crying later, I gave up. I may have tried walking him around in the stroller too, but it had been so long since we’d done that, he screamed even harder. That meant that for the second day of our trip he had basically no nap – which I define as 0-30 minutes of sleep. The rest of the afternoon he was tired, irritable, and running into things. I don’t know what it was about that apartment, but the walls and furniture seemed to jump up and hit him. He literally had a line running from forehead down to cheek that week because he ran into the corner of a wall. It was bizarre.

We were all a little stir crazy by dinnertime. I think I tried a movie on my laptop but it didn’t really work. We are not used to a small apartment with no toys – I thought we’d be going places and doing things (therefore I brought next to nothing to entertain them), but we were out in the land of 6 lane thoroughfares, palm trees, tech companies and vacant lots. Nothing to walk to, except that same playground. And I was too pooped to attempt that twice in one day. I think that night Tim may have gotten my first “why did we ever come here?!” sentiment. (Sorry, honey.)

Tuesday was looking better. We had the car again and were going to meet the same friends at a park a ways north, and then go out for lunch. I was a bit worried about the car, in case there was a bug traveling around, with vomiting symptoms aggravated by driving, but both kids were fine. I thought we were in the clear.

The park and the lunch place – which was actually one of those family fun center type places with arcade games and a gym and an under 5 area with a huge inflatable slide – was awesome. We all had a great time. It actually felt like a vacation. We have missed these friends who left the area for a year to be with extended family. I was in pretty high spirits as we were driving back to the apt at Peter’s nap time, just praying he’d actually fall asleep this time.

He fell asleep on the highway. I thought we were golden.

And then. Then, Linnea said she had to go to the bathroom. I was on some California highway following my GPS with obviously no way of taking her into a gas station without waking Peter up. If you hadn’t noticed, nap time is pretty important to me. I don’t really mean this, because I LOVE being a mom and really cherish my days with my kids, but nap time is a little like panning for gold – it is the sweet shining nugget of rest and relief in the middle of a day stuck in the dirt. Some days really do feel like that. Most do not. But, truly, we all need a break. And at this age, Peter truly does need a nap. So I protect them whenever I can, of course allowing for flexibility because yes, we do have a life. Anyway, after two days missing it, I really hoped he could have a nap. We would just sit ourselves in the car with the A/C and allow him an hour. But now Linnea had to pee.

I tried to think quickly and then decided we’d just pull over. I got off at the next exit and to my delight, it looked like a sleepy country road through some farms with lots of trees. All I needed was a wide enough shoulder to pull over on. At first, I tried a cul-de-sac, but walking around on the asphalt, as nonchalantly as you please, was a flock of turkeys. That’s right. Gobble gobble. The were wandering all over the road and obviously trying to find something to eat, like chickens scratching in a barnyard. Linnea seemed a bit distressed and pressed for time, so I considered stopping there, but I had a vision of them flapping over to us and my trying to shield her from pecking beaks and wagging wattles while she squatted – not exactly mom of the year material. We turned back to the main road and I looked for another place.

We pulled over again and I had resigned myself to using a fair number of baby wipes to, well, replace a bathroom. She seemed sick to her stomach, not just filled up on fluids. But you know what, poop is a part of my everyday life. Now, don’t read it like that – I assume it’s part of everybody’s. I mean, seeing it, cleaning up after somebody. I have little kids. No skin off my teeth. So out came the pack of baby wipes and I had her squat next to the car. Thankfully, Peter was still asleep. But again we had a problem. She couldn’t go. Again I had a vision – this time of a REAL emergency 4.5 seconds down the road and needing to pull over again to finish the job. But what could I do. We got back in the car, and I just tried to stay positive, though it was obvious she wasn’t feeling well.

We were back on the highway when Linnea started crying. Her tummy hurt. Oh geez, I’m thinking, starting to panic. We HAVE to keep driving. I think I told her, Linnea, I’m so sorry, I’ll try to drive smoothly, but there’s  nothing really I can do. We have to drive home. If you get sick, I’ll clean you up.

Very reassuring to my four-year-old, I’m sure. And then she started vomiting.

Chunks of hot dog and french fry were all over the car – all over her, her car seat, and the floor. It just kept coming. Again that feeling of heart-wrenching pity at not being able to do anything about it, not even hold her hair.

Was she sick? Had she gotten something Peter had? (And would I? And Tim? Happy first week of work, darling.)

Was it these roads? They were GARBAGE. Bumpiest roads I’ve ever driven in my life (that is, consistently bumpy, like nobody bothered to repave them in the last 100 years). We were in a low Corolla and they were used to a minivan. Who knew what the problem could be.

Again I found an exit and some kind person tailed me off it, with Linnea still vomiting. Her whole lunch and then some. It was pitiful to see. I found a parking lot next to some fast food Mediterranean place and got out the baby wipes again.

This time it was really nasty. And it was really sad stripping her down in the bright sunlight of the parking lot to clean the sticky vomit off her chest and legs. I had an enormous pile of wipes and chunks going and just added her clothes too it. I kept telling her, I’m so sorry, Linnea, and she didn’t really seem sick, but now – yes, I have a limit – now I was starting to be grossed out.

I thought of Peter’s clothes, still in the McDonald’s bag in the trunk, that needed to be washed from his carsick/who-knows-what-sick episode two days prior. And now hers, so much worse. Washing them out in the apartment toilet or tub. Blech. It was getting to be too much. The car seat was slick and slimy and I couldn’t get all the chunks of hot dog off the floor.

And then Peter woke up screaming.

I kind of lost my sense of judgment then. I sorrily but necessarily forced my nearly naked daughter back into her smelly, slimy car seat while I ran the pile of nasty wipes and clothes to the trash can in front of the restaurant. I considered calling Tim, but what would I tell him? I needed to just do what I needed to do. And in that moment, I decided that what I DIDN’T need to do was clean a second set of nasty clothes with chunks of vomited hot dog and french fry on them. It was understandable; I had reached my limit. It was a cute outfit, it was too bad… but into the trash they went.

Peter was still screaming when I got back into the car and I remember not being particularly patient with him. I said something pretty unreasonable like, “Buddy, I’m sorry you got woken up early from your nap, but Linnea is sick and we are driving back and there is nothing I can do for you.” Needless to say, I was frazzled.

He calmed down relatively quickly and a small part of my hoped he would go back to sleep, when Linnea started vomiting again. This time it was all bile, the foamy yellow fluid running down her bare chest. My eyes watered and I tried to call encouragement over my shoulder while I navigated the unfamiliar roads back to the apartment. When we arrived I put her in the stroller and covered her with a sweater while I carried Peter on my hip and went up the elevator, then down the long, long hallway to our door. I put her in the bath, and honestly have no idea what I did with Peter during that time. My surprised memory tells me he laid quietly on the couch under a blanket. But that amazing act of obedience did not take place before Linnea, who as always been particularly resilient, told me, “Mommy, remember, THAT BAG has my clothes in it. Don’t throw it out. Wouldn’t that be sad?” And she smiled, indicating the McDonald’s bag from the trunk that had PETER’S clothes in it.

Lamely, I replied, Yeah, that would be sad. Yep, that’s the one with clothes.

Oh no.

I bathed her and inwardly berated myself. Linnea is four years old! Not two! How in the world did I think she wouldn’t miss an outfit? Why in the world did I throw it in the GARBAGE?! I pictured myself calling Tim and him coming home early from work to take the car on a secret mission to find the unnamed restaurant on a road I did not know, near a highway I did know, to find a pair of barfed-on clothes in an outdoor trash can. I texted him but he didn’t reply. I got Linnea dressed and laid down in bed, did something with Peter, and imagined myself telling Linnea what I had done.

No. I just couldn’t do it. And I wouldn’t lie to my daughter.

So I did what any reasonable parent would do. I started searching online for a “mediterranean restaurant” near hwy XXX. I called them on the phone.

“Hi, are you the mediterranean restaurant near highway XXX?”


“Okay, this is a bit weird, but my daughter was car sick and I cleaned her up in your parking lot. I accidentally threw her soiled clothes in the trash can outside your restaurant. Do you know how often the trash is emptied?”

The guy didn’t skip a beat. It has occurred to me now that he may have watched the whole thing.

“Well, I think it’s every morning. But don’t quote me. Hang on, I’ll go check for you.”

And to my amazement he put me on hold, to ostensibly poke his head down in the trash can and see if Linnea’s cute clothes were in there. He came back on the line. “In the McDonald’s bag? Yep, they’re still in there.”

“Okay, uh, thanks.”

And then, I did what any reasonable parent would do, and to preserve the happiness of my sweet daughter, put her and Peter back in the car to go retrieve the vomited upon and thrown away clothes.

I didn’t tell her where we were going, just that it was an important errand that couldn’t wait. Inwardly I reasoned that if she threw up again (God forbid!), I would be a man, er, mom, about it, and gamely wash the second soiled outfit. I could do that much for her. And oh did I pray and pray that she would be fine in the car. It was only 6.5 miles.

But it was now rush hour. And apparently 6.5 miles was enough to unsettle her stomach. She threw up again.

We reached the parking lot and I once again cleaned up poor Linnea with some baby wipes. I wondered what was worse, throwing away my daughter’s clothes or forcing her to get car sick again to retrieve them. But here we were. With Linnea sufficiently cleaned up (and the car seat looking beyond repair), I marched over the the trash can. I peered inside. Of course, it had been an hour or two and there was other people’s trash in there now. But I just saw the edge of it – the McDonald’s bag. And then… the flowered shirt. I reached in with my hand inside a plastic grocery bag I’d brought for this purpose, and pulled up the wad of clothing and baby cleaning wipes. I tried to dump off the excess trash but at that point, everyone inside the restaurant had a front row seat to my dumpster diving, and I wanted to hurry things along. So I stuffed the shirt and shorts in my bag and went back to the car.

I confessed to Linnea what I had grabbed. I tried to word it to hurt her the least – Yes, I had knowingly thrown away her clothes, and it was a mistake – and not lie. But we had them now and I was sorry and we were going back to the apartment, where I would wash them and make them good as new. She made the car ride back without throwing up again, and once again I changed her and maybe bathed her too. Then I finally heard back from Tim in response to my text message. And I felt no love for Silicon Valley.

The rest of the story is just the denouement. We didn’t go anywhere the next day. Thursday I gave them dramamine, and we drove to the downtown children’s museum, which was great. We flew home without incident. Peter did get one nap. And I’ll never be taking my kids to Google training again!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lunch at Google

Today we had lunch with Tim at work. The cafeteria was cozy, homey, and the food was free (which is why only two guests are allowed per month; we counted Linnea and Pete as one-- it's on the honor system-- based on what they actually ate). On our plates were things like hamburgers, steak sandwich, herbed roast chicken, roast lamb, mashed parsnips and a cabbage & fennel saute. It was all delicious. Peter was attracted to the gas fireplace and the spiced pear donuts. We may have made a few trips to the dessert area for the dark chocolate-white chocolate pretzel bark also. And I have some photostrips from the Google photo booth of Tim with each of the kids, too. We're already looking forward to next month when we can go back again!

Happy November!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Reformation Day!

A fairy and a Dalmatian. We all got to walk around downtown Duvall for trick-or-treating at local businesses, and there was even a kid party with crafts in the Centennial center (super cute historic library building on Main Street). Living where we do, we'll never have to hand out candy. Beats buying the giant Costco bag every year for only a handful of kids in Kirkland and staring down leftovers for months. (That is, Tim was delighted.) Our crazy full month of changes has come to an end!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tim the tool man

To compensate for my last post:

(Like the 90s sitcom reference?)
Tim fixed our leaking stovepipe. He is great.
The end.

Raking leaves

I may or may not be procrastinating on a post about our trip to California. I could say I just want to block it out of my mind, but the real reason is I have some fun photos to share (we lived to tell the tale AND, yes, did have a bit of fun) that require, yet again, use of my actual computer. So we all know how fast that's coming down the pike. :)

But more recently, this afternoon actually, Linnea, Peter and I got to have some fun in our (chilly! Moist but sunny! Nothing like Silicon Valley!) outdoors. We got the three big rakes, since I don't know where the little one got to -- it feels like forever ago that we actually moved but I'm still having moments like, oh yeah, I wondered where those clothes had been, in some box that I pass by every day, that remind me to cut myself some slack on unpacking.

This was our first experience raking our own leaves, EVER in Washington state. Yes. Unless you count the part of the driveway with the giant copper colored maple leaves Tim did with the kids when we first moved in. (Definitely actual leaf raking, but not on grass, which is what I remember from growing up). In our old house, the only leaves we ever got to/had to rake came from our neighbor's tree. Yep, thanks a bunch. In Queen Anne, waaaaay back in 2007 when Tim and I  first got married, I spent quite a long time raking leaves at our rental house and worked up a good sweat. As I recall, it was right before Jane came to visit and I had let them go for some time. I suppose I didn't want her to think we had a nasty yard or something. Haha. But those weren't technically our leaves, either.

So this was really fun! Linnea kept trying to jump on the pile, even though we didn't completely finish the job so it wasn't that huge. The big rake was too hard for Peter to manipulate, so he played with the old croquet set under the cherry tree and then tried to run away into the woods. At one point I climbed up into an apple tree and tried to shake loose some of the apples that ripened in the last two weeks, but only two came down. They bruised from hitting the ground but were still good cut up. I skipped the driveway under the oak tree because I was worried about messing up the gravel, and I think it looks pretty with all the leaves strewn about. So we ended up with two pretty good piles and a fun time just being in our YARD!

Hmm, all this minutiae might be boring even me. I suppose I could have just said, We raked some leaves today! and left it at that. Maybe I need to get out more. Except that now, home is my favorite place to be. :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

A craft and an outing

Sometimes I take photos of things we do and then forget to share them for a while. Actually, that's the norm. The first week we lived in our new house, I found some craft supplies stashed in the playroom and we did a quick and easy craft. It was on my homeschool calendar, and I didn't have to buy anything special for it. Plus, it was a welcome break from all those boxes.

They are called decoupage candle holders, and basically all you do is attach tissue paper leaves to a votive holder with a glue mix that's half elmer's and half water. The trick is to then paint glue paste over the leaves after they're on so they stay. Even Petey got in on the fun and we've been enjoying the "fires" lit inside them, as he says, at dinnertime. :)

Also, Linnea and I had a special date planned for the Saturday one week after our move. A visit to the symphony! Last year we subscribed to some plays at Seattle Children's Theatre, but the offerings weren't stellar this season, so on recommendation from friends decided to try concerts instead. We loved it. It's quite a drive for us now, but that makes it even a little more special (though will certainly limit our  involvement in the future, I think-- there are eastside performing arts to tap into). Linnea was excited to wear her Christmas dress from last year, which still for owing to the huge size I bought, plus a hair bow, braids, bracelet and necklace. I vetoed the headband on top of it all. :) She is starting to really like accessories! Anyway, the Mother Goose-themed concert was adorable and featured a brass trio from the Seattle Symphony. There were kid sized instruments to hold and play before the performance, as well as coloring pages. The next concert is actually on Peter's birthday, so it will be a family affair. I'm thankful for some special outings with my girl!

**Sorry for the way my phone front loads photos on posts. I wish I could intersperse them with text but no can do. If I had to blog from my laptop, it wouldn't ever happen! And the mobile view is messed up, I know. If I had a web manager, he'd be right on that. :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin patch and the aftermath

Here's what I was doing while Tim made the applesauce: carving pumpkins. He absolutely refuses. I have no idea why. The smell, the slimy pulp, something about it bothers him. Hence it's been about 10 years since I've carved a pumpkin, maybe a little less if I carved the one I got with my friends during senior year while he was in Boston. People, I've been deprived. So last Sunday Linnea and I carved pumpkins, and Peter colored his with markers. We got them at our favorite patch, Jubilee Farm in Carnation (part of our new neighborhood here in the Snoqualmie Valley), after church. Plus veggie quesadillas and pony rides. It was Peter's first time on a pony and he loved it. Linnea remembered that last year Grandma Mary, Great Grandma Enid, and Aunt Jane were with us to get pumpkins. I wanted to get 5, like how we got 4 the year I was pregnant with Peter, but in the end opted for size over quantity. Oh, and Peter loved the "John Deere tractors!" Wonder where he got that from. ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's a girl!

Tim lost the bet. (He insisted we make one.) (He is also still insisting there are two baby boys hiding somewhere behind this little sister.)

We are all very excited to welcome a sweet baby girl to the family this winter!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sauce boss

With a little help from the Joy of Cooking (my go-to cookbook for recipes I've never tried before; some duds but mostly gems) we made applesauce today. Well, Tim sorted, quartered, simmered, processed (in food mill), and sweetened the applesauce, and I tasted it. Sounds like a good partnership to me. :)

We got about 14 cups with most going in the freezer. We're currently reading The Long Winter (Little House series) and it does feel a bit like squirreling away some provisions for the cold!