Tuesday, November 11, 2014


We had a really fun day with Gus and Greta yesterday. In the morning we greeted them with a rousing and off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday," then taught them to answer "How old are you?" by yelling, "TWO!" My dad and Hassie were in town, and we had everyone over for pizza and cupcakes. All in all, a very low-key but wonderful celebration. Pictures below.

We tried to recreate the first year photograph series, but as usual they would not sit still in the same place, so we had to settle for individual shots.

Eric took some cardboard and cut out the number two for a photo prop, and you can see how much that impressed Gus and Greta. Greta kept pointing at it and saying, "Five!" which is actually pretty smart when you consider she was looking at the 2 backwards. No wonder she was confused.

 Eric and I got them brand new, exceptionally shiny low-rider tricycles. They were a huge hit.

 Photo credit Grandma Hassie.
Off roading
 Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Stephen in party hats.

 Everyone except me.

Family portrait with Gris, our au pair. Gris will return to Mexico in February. After two years, it feels like losing a family member. We are so sad, but looking forward to spending these final months with her and excited to see what life has in store for this amazing woman. 

I took Gus and Greta in for their 2 year check-up (all is well) and was surprised to learn that there is not another well child visit until 3! So many things like this leave me feeling like I graduated to the next stage. We are so excited for our journey into the unknown!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Four Years

Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of Seamus' death. It was a tough one because the twins are now older than he ever was (more on that later!) and my memories of him feel so much farther away as the twins start to surpass him in size and abilities. BUT... we are so grateful to have two year olds. I actually woke up at midnight today, looked at the clock, then the baby monitor, and thought, "We made it!!"

My Dad and Hassie are in town and we are planning a small get together with our family later today. I'm sure there will be birthday photos. Here's hoping the twins cooperate!

Thanks to everyone who has reached out and for all your lovely and kind words. It helps so much to know that others are thinking of Seamus, too.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I don't think we will ever top last year's costumes in terms of raw cuteness, but I am doing my best to savor this Halloween, too because I suspect that this is the last time Eric and I will have carte blanche to choose their costumes.

We didn't take the twins trick-or-treating this year, but we had some friends over whose children were kind enough to do some recognizance for us so we know which houses to hit up next year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Uncharted Territory

Well, the twins are now officially older than Seamus ever was. It's a bittersweet milestone, equal parts scary and exhilarating.  So much of parenting these two has felt like falling back into a familiar groove, which has been wonderful in that we have felt reasonably competent and confident as parents, and there have been many healing moments where something the twins do triggers a memory of Seamus. The down side is that our familiar groove comes to an abrupt end right about now. As soon as the twins hit 18 months I felt this horrible dread set in. It has been a constant challenge to relax and remind myself that death isn't something that inevitably happens at 22 months, 15 days.

At the same time, I'm exhausted. Six years of parenting children under 2 has taken its toll - babies and toddlers are so hard! I am ready to experience the next stage. We are already noticing the twins surpassing Seamus in some areas.

Gus is pretty much on the Seamus track - he's extremely physical and interested in running, jumping, climbing, conquering. Maybe it's having a sibling, but he's also a lot more social than Seamus ever was. He talks to and waves at strangers all the time. He approaches other kids and starts "conversations" with them. He loves making people laugh and will frequently hurt himself trying to entertain us or get our attention.  He's talking a lot but so far we haven't heard any spontaneous sentences from him. All in all, I'd say that Gus is still pretty much in our comfort zone developmentally.

Greta, on the other hand is already so far beyond where Seamus was verbally that she blows our minds on a daily basis. A perfect example is from yesterday morning. We had gone to the pumpkin patch on Saturday (pictures below), which laid the groundwork for our conversation on Monday morning:

Me: "Do you remember when we saw a tractor at the farm?"
Gus: (jumping up and down) "Tractor! Tractor! Tractor! Tractor!"
Greta: (brow furrowed, concentrating very hard) "Tractor ride. Tractor bumpy ride. A green tractor. And another yellow tractor."
Me: (dumbstruck)

a few minutes later:

Me: "Do you remember when we saw animals in the barn?"
Gus: (jumping up and down) "Animal! Animal! Animal! Animal!"
Greta: "Bunny eating. Bunny all done. A cow. A goat. Llama go night night."
Me: (dumbstruck)

I just can't wait to have conversations with these 2. I know they have so much to tell us! Here are some pictures from the Pumpkin Patch. Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grand Tetons

I'm finally getting around to posting some vacation photos. In August, we took a road trip to Victor, Idaho, which is in the Teton Valley about 20 miles from Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National park. We rented a big beautiful house with our friends from Seattle, and spent a week enjoying some truly spectacular scenery, from the porch to the hikes to the mountain lakes - it was absolute heaven and more than worth the 14 hour drive each way. (Though that drive did suck!)

We tried to break up the drive as much as we could, including a pit stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument. It's a pretty cool place.

After hours and hours of sitting, we were all ready to run!

The house was on 2 acres with tons of outdoor space for the kids to run around. They are in some weird phase where they actually like wearing hats, so expect to see lots of "toddlers in hats" pictures. Gotta get them before they are back to "hats disgust me why would you ever put a hat on me now I will scream and cry."

My mom (Grandma O) was able to join us for a few nights. She taught Gus and Greta this neat trick where we give them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they pull the sandwich apart and lick off the jelly, then ask for a refill. Being Grandma, she obliged. But now we can't get the twins to eat a sandwich because they think of the bread as merely the delivery system for the meal. 

 I think the original Grandma O would be proud of this trio.

Gus loves being a cowboy.

 Channeling Seamus in the driveway puddles.

The house was equally cozy on the inside.
Cards Against Humanity faces.

I call this "Peekaboo Tetons" - the view from the porch at sunrise.

Our traveling companions - we love them. They share our appreciation for good food and beer/wine; they are always up for an adventure, they babysit, they play Cards Against Humanity and they did not seem to be phased by the grimy toddlers who woke up at 6am each day to commence yelling.

Our twins (21 months) and the Gilbert twins (14 years).

Eric and I hiked Cascade Canyon while my mom watched the twins for a day. It was jaw-dropping scenery every step of the way. Definitely one of the most spectacular hikes of our lives.

I seriously can't get enough of those mountains. 

I had never been to Antelope Flats (aka Mormon Row) before - it's a very popular spot for photographers and you can see why.  There are a bunch of historic buildings from Mormon homesteaders who settled in the area in the 1890s. It's crazy to imagine living in that place without modern conveniences - equal parts brutal and glorious.

 Family portrait

We went for a "hike" with the twins and Aunt Linda, who joined us for a few days toward the end of our week. To toddlers, there is nothing better than a rocky shore. We "hiked" about 1/2 mile to this place and spent a good couple of hours throwing rocks in the lake and exploring.

 Chillin with Linda

Another family portrait.
Our last night in town, the big kids watched the little kids so the adults could go out to dinner in town.

Kids posing on our last day. So so sad for our vacation to end! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Catching up: Birthdays, Beers, Beaches and Berries!

It's been a very busy summer! Thought I would catch up by way of a photo dump. Enjoy!

Eric celebrated his 40th birthday on June 30. As luck would have it, the Annual Organic Beer Festival happens in Overlook park on the last weekend of June every year. So we managed to make it both Saturday and Sunday, as  did a handful of our friends and family. Eric was very explicit about not wanting a party, so I exercised (nearly) all my restraint. (I did orchestrate an epic text bomb in which he received 100+ "happy birthday" text messages from strangers over the course of the day.)

Gus was waaaasted.

Matt came down from Seattle to raise a glass. Selfies were taken.

Family portrait.

His actual birthday was on Monday, so we both took the day off work. I dropped him off about 20 miles east of Hood River, and he got to kayak down the Columbia, meeting me in Hood River at about 3pm. I got to go shopping and running in Hood River. Win win win win. 

We went to Yachats for the 4th of July. It was the twins' first trip to the beach and we all had so much fun! Greta needed to warm up a little - she was scared of the ocean, scared of the sand, etc. As you can see, she eventually came around. Meanwhile, Gus would have run right into the ocean within the first 5 minutes if we weren't there to stop him. The kid is absolutely fearless!

When the tide was low, there were these little pools left behind which were perfect for the twins to play in. The water was waist-deep (for them), so it was like having our own private wading pool.

 Gris ensuring that Greta's feet were far away from the scary sand.

 We stayed at the Yachats Inn - still our favorite place on the coast. The big lawn and the unobstructed views of the ocean are pretty incredible.  

 Dancing in the ocean

 Greta modeling a hat from her Great Aunt Bonnie - finally it fits! 

 Gus has so many amazing talents - here he is jumping while eating a Dorito. 

My favorite place to eat food is the Green Salmon Cafe in Yachats. I can't even begin to describe the deliciousness of the food here. It makes you stand in line for 45 minutes with 2 hungry toddlers, and eat all the food immediately without photographing it. That's how good it is.

It's so difficult to photograph them together. This is one failed attempt.

Post-beach ice cream.

 Did I mention the view?

For the first time in many years, I was awake for the fireworks. We had a great view from our balcony. The twins had been in bed for a couple of hours when the show began, and we thought they were sleeping until we heard Gus yelling "BOOM BOOM BOOM" after the explosions. It was adorable - luckily they didn't seem scared at all and so we let them enjoy the show from their darkened room and we all got a good night's sleep afterwards.

Greta got her first haircut - I can't believe how different she looked afterwards. I am trying to avoid cutting her bangs because they comprise about 2/3 of her hair, but they insist on going right into her eyes so we'll likely be keeping her in ponytails for the foreseeable future. We're moving away from mullet toward more of a bowl cut. I think it's an improvement!

 Last weekend, we went to Sauvie Island to pick berries. It was perfect timing as raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, marionberries and currants were all peaking. The twins didn't really understand the concept of picking berries and not eating them immediately, but we did the best we could to bring some home.

 Greta was eating the raspberries faster than we could pick them.

 Gus found a pile of dirt and was happy. 

Stephen and Laura joined us for the morning, and we all had a little picnic lunch afterwards. 

I thought we might have to freeze some of the berries but we managed to eat them all in less than a week. Guess we'll have to make another trip!

Back at the home front, we've got some seriously tall sunflowers growing on the side of our house. Eric planted them as seeds in April. They are nearly twice as tall as him now!

 Today we went to Jamison Square Fountain to cool off.

Surrounded by signs saying DON'T DRINK THE WATER. Too bad Gus doesn't know how to read.

Hooray for summer!!