Autumn Revelry

After we moved to Portland, I came across a blog post—via BrownSugarToast—encouraging readers to pick three words when entering a new season. Since I was so obviously beginning a new phase of life with our recent 1,300 mile move, it was helpful to think through what my goals might be as we transitioned to life in the Northwest. These words are goals, guides, and ideals for me personally this first year of our Oregon lives: health, small, revel.oct3007

First, I chose health. This was an obvious choice for me since I still have some baby weight to lose from my pregnancy with Brynn (I gained 70 pounds with her—eek!). I also desired to become more active since I value nature and the outdoors more after having lived in the desert. I’ll have to come back to this word, health, in another blog post.

Another word I chose, that has already proved useful, is the word small. I say I want to live small in two ways. First, I want to put most of my time and best effort into the most important people in my life—my family. I tend to easily overburden my schedule with things that are good, but are not best. My focus this season needs to be my husband and my children. Secondly, I want to live small in that I learn to live in humility. For most of my life, I’ve seen myself (proudly) as a know-it-all. God has graciously stripped away my self-importance and has reminded me over and over again just how much I have to learn. I want to listen, to learn, to be a student, and to do it humbly.img_20161004_104617111

Thirdly, I chose the word revel to help me live out the freedom Christ has given to me. To me, revel reminds me to party, to relish God’s good gifts, to “live in the largesse of God’s grace” (as Hannah Anderson describes in her book Made for More—a must read in my opinion!), to dance, to sing, to eat good foods, to soak up the common graces I see all around me. Autumn is the perfect time to revel!

It’s easy to revel in an Oregon autumn. The imported trees in Beaverton turned red early, and now the native yellows have turned and are shedding their leaves. oct3003We’ve been raking leaves and re-learning how to live with rain and cold. We couldn’t be happier. The geese honk overhead as they fly south for the winter. It’s new every time to me.

The leaves on our backyard tree rustled in the wind as the sun shone and bright yellow leaves laid in a blanket over the grass.oct3005

The other day my window panes were streaked with rain due to a typhoon off the Oregon coast. We’ve invested in raincoats and rain boots, so we donned our gear and walked two miles in the rain to fetch Silas from school. We were drenched!oct3008

A couple weeks ago, we were invited to a barn party to celebrate autumn, and it was the perfect fall celebration! We’ve loved making new friends, having them over, being invited out, and sharing the stories of our faith together. We’re building community.

I took the plunge and colored my hair for the first time in my life. I love it! Stephen had been encouraging me to go for it, and after deciding to go darker, I visited the salon for a changed look. This is me reveling!oct3001oct3006

Mostly, I’m reveling in God’s grace poured out on us through our new church Hinson Baptist. The Word preached, the truths sung, the edifying conversations with other believers, and our membership meeting with the elders have been life-giving. We feel like God has enveloped us in a warm embrace of His goodness.oct3002oct3004

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Exploring Oregon

oct2004Brynn was mesmerized by the falling water. Multnomah Falls is a gem off the Columbia River on the far side of Portland that we took the kids to see a couple Saturdays ago. oct2002oct2001As we stood at the observation deck looking up at the two cascades, little Brynn surprised us with her interest in the falls. We hiked up the slippery, switchback trail to the bridge that spanned the gap between the two falls and then ate a family lunch in the quaint stone lodge.oct2003oct2005

Another Oregon beauty we explored that day was Trillium Lake near Mt. Hood. oct2008We hiked around the lake, getting glimpses of the snowy peak at times. oct2006oct2007oct2009Silas, Cooper, and I had such fun finding various kinds of mushrooms in the dense, damp forest. When we caught sight of Mt. Hood along the way, it was breathtaking.oct2011oct2012oct2013oct2015oct2017

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Say, “Cheese!”

Cheese has long been one of our delights, hobbies, interests, indulgences. oct1008Stephen decided to try his hand at cheesemaking, so he ordered a starter kit off of Amazon. Early in September he gave it a go, following this tutorial.

Cheese curds were a lot of work! He used one gallon of milk, and created a fun homemade snack for us. Since I wasn’t really involved in the process, I’ll just give you a rough outline of how it goes:oct1001

  1. Heat the milk.
  2. Add the culture and let it ripen.
  3. Stir in the rennet and allow the cheese to coagulate.oct1002
  4. Cut the curds.
  5. Boil down the whey.
  6. Drain the curds from the whey through a cheesecloth while forming cheese into a ball.oct1003
  7. Slice the cheese.oct1004
  8. Salt and eat!oct1006oct1005

Mozzarella is next on his list to make. I wholeheartedly approve of this new hobby.oct1007

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Dear Stephen,

I wish you were here every day. Thank you for working so diligently to provide for us. Thank you for your perseverance under pressure. But still, these babies are so precious to watch every day. I wish you could experience:

  • the crooked path Cooper takes to get from the family room to the front room
  • Silas singing to Brynn as he tries to keep up with Andrew Peterson’s songs
  • the lilting lisp of Cooper as his wide mouth tries to navigate consonants
  • Brynn’s wide-open baby yawns

I found this post sitting in my drafts, dated September 4, 2015. Thought I’d publish it today. This is one of the reasons I blog, because if I didn’t, I’d forget these tiny moments. Thankfully, we are now blessed to have Stephen working from home almost every day.

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Kindergarten: A New Legacy

Kindergarten seems like a normal part of childhood, doesn’t it? Turns out, Silas will be ahead of both his Daddy and his Grampy when he graduates from kindergarten.sept6001

Stephen managed to attend about six weeks of kindergarten before he dropped out. He couldn’t color in the lines or take a nap, so one day, his dad told him on the way home from school, that he was just going to stay home for the rest of the year. Little Stephen never did finish K5, and after a year and a half, he just sailed right into first grade.sept5010

Apparently, Dad Moody didn’t attend kindergarten at all. He told Silas on the phone the other day that he was too smart for kindergarten, so he skipped it.sept5009

Here’s hoping Silas makes it through the entire year! We don’t have a good track record in our family.sept5020

Silas was thrilled to begin school, and informed me that he wasn’t nervous at all. I took him out for a little mommy-and-me time while we shopped for back to school supplies. sept5001At Bethany, most of the supplies are communal—for the entire class to share. sept5005So, we found our local Fred Meyer (Kroger) store and stocked up on paints, markers, pencils, etc. for the class, and Silas chose a backpack and some cool dino folders for himself. I had to smile when he chose to ride in the car cart, knowing he wouldn’t want to be a little boy for much longer.sept5002

Labor Day was our last day before becoming a “school family,” so Silas and I trekked to the mall on a quest to find a photo booth and create a back-to-school photo strip. We practiced our faces at home, and here’s what we came up with. sept5003Afterwards we hit up a Lego re-sell store where Silas picked out a minifig for his collection.sept5007

sept5008I was a mix of emotions in the weeks leading up to kinder, and definitely the week of. I felt much like that freshman feeling you get at college—bewildered by all the newness—knowing you’re sticking out because you don’t know where to go and what to do, but there’s nothing you can do about it. I was nervous to be a mom of a public school student, but Silas did great! sept5013

The morning routine on the first day went fairly smoothly—starting with sprinkle pancakes—but I learned what not to do in a few cases too (tip: pack his lunch the day before). sept5011Our K5 student and his brother rode their bikes while the rest of us walked to school. It was a rainy morning, and at one point, I just had to laugh at us! Cooper was crying because he was tired of walking his bike up the hill, cars were coming towards the intersection where we were, a gust of wind blew rain from the tree leaves down on us, and Stephen was stressed. I could just imagine the parents in the cars passing by thinking, “Look at those chumps. Must be their first kid in kindergarten!”sept5014

We made it to Bethany in one piece (though Brynn was still in her jammies) and walked Silas into his classroom. sept5004He sat down at his spot, and we gave hugs goodbye. Silas Clark started kindergarten, and we are very proud.sept5015sept5016sept5017

Thankfully, Stephen had taken the morning off from work, so he and Cooper stopped at the playground on the way home. We settled our nerves by playing play-doh with the littles and eating lunch together.sept7001

It’s been an emotional, but good experience starting school. We’ve eased into a routine of sorts. Stephen and Silas bike to school each day, and the littles and I walk/ride to pick him up at the end of his day. sept5019sept5018I’ve enjoyed meeting other parents and members of the PTO. Bethany has many parent volunteers, and everyone has been welcoming and friendly.

Silas is loving it!sept5012

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Silas’ Expedition

This is the big year—the year Silas goes to kindergarten! sept3005After lots of thought and prayer we enrolled Silas at Bethany Elementary, our excellent neighborhood public elementary school. We’re prayerfully sending him to school while seeking to build our relationship with Silas in such a way that we hear and know his heart and shepherd him to look to Christ in everything.

Silas’s Expedition was one small step in that direction.sept2001

Sometime early this year, I stumbled across Brad Hambrick’s blog where he described taking his sons on their own “rite of passage” trips before each of them began kindergarten. I loved everything about the idea: concentrated one-on-one time for Silas and Stephen, a chance for Daddy to treasure his son and invest in his heart, opportunity for Silas to grow and try new, brave things, and a milestone marking this new phase of Silas’s life. Stephen was totally on board.

The Expedition was set to begin on a Thursday afternoon, but when a work emergency came up for Stephen, the guys had to wait until that night. We attended Bethany’s back-to-school night, saw Silas’s K5 classroom, and met his teacher. sept3004sept3006Afterwards Father and Son headed for Silver Falls State Park to spend the night in one of the park’s rustic cabins.sept3001sept2004sept2002Here’s Silas in his natural state—a whirling blur of arms, legs, laughter and energy!

They cooked over a campfire, drank coffee together like men, sept2005sept2006hiked to Silver Falls, sept2008sept2009sept2011and called home on a pay phone. Silas loved being grown up! The next night, they stayed in our brand new tent, and managed to stay dry despite the rain. sept2012sept2013They played Battleship (one of Silas’s favorites, but a very long drawn-out ordeal with a 5 1/2 year old learning how to read a grid), and Silas entertained himself by digging at the campsite with Stephen’s old shovel.

As with all things in life, reality hit, and the guys had to roll with the punches. The last day Stephen’s Vibe broke down. Some kind souls carted them back to the ranger station where they were able to get a message through to me and to call for a tow back to Salem, OR.sept2014

Thankfully, they were safe, and the kids and I met our men in Salem where we finished Silas’s Expedition with a seafood dinner from Red Lobster. sept3002sept3003It wasn’t the trip we had planned, but it was so very valuable and precious!

Time spent with our little man before we sent him off to school was worth fighting for.sept2010

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A Bit of Magical Beauty

If you need a smile today, if you need a bit of beauty in your life, take 17 minutes to watch this short clip called The Gnomist. I stumbled upon it by accident today, and it’s captured our imaginations.

YouTube Preview Image

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Growing Up


As Dad Moody noted when he and Mom visited a few weeks ago, Silas seems to have forgotten about superheroes the moment we set foot in this house. August1100002While superheroes are fun for little boys to be into, and while I do miss seeing him in costume, I’m happy that the outdoors and nature have captured Silas’s imagination so much that he doesn’t look to superheroes for that outlet anymore.August1000006

The first few days in our new home, Silas played with his Lego bricks quite a bit. Now, he occasionally plays with them, but mostly he’s outside climbing trees, hammering rocks, having imaginary adventures with neighborhood friends, and getting scrapes and bruises all over his little 5 year old body.August1000005August1000010

Silas has also managed to teach himself how to ride a two-wheeler. One day he wanted to show me how he could ride the bike without the training wheels touching the ground. I was amazed that he was actually doing it! We hadn’t worked with him at all, so we were impressed. We’re thinking that his razor scooter helped in the process since he had to practice his balance on the scooter. YouTube Preview ImageGrampy rewarded Silas with a brand new two-wheeler!August1100001


Cooper’s big news is that now—for the first time—he can correctly pronounce his name! YouTube Preview ImageI’m so very proud. Cooper has had trouble pronouncing consonants in the back of his throat. At first, his name came out a little like “Pepper,” but then switched to “Tooper.” His ‘c’ sounded like a ‘t’, his ‘g’ is a ‘d’ sound, and his ‘y’ is an ‘l’. So, he was “Tooper” who ate “doldfish” and liked the color “lellow.”August1000001

Monday of last week, he came into the back yard and told me that now he could say, “Cooper.” I couldn’t believe that he was saying it correctly! He explained that our neighbor helped him learn. Our neighbor is a speech pathologist for disabled children, and she taught Cooper one little trick that enabled him to pronounce the ‘c’ sound. I still have to remind him to say it correctly sometimes, but he’s even said the ‘g’ sound when asked. That first night I went to bed with tears in my eyes, thankful that my little dude could finally say his name.

We bought Cooper a new yellow bike that fits his height better. He still uses training wheels, but is balancing very well on Silas’s two-wheeled scooter. August1000018

We’re seeing his imagination develop as he writes letters to friends and narrates his playtime. And surprisingly, he may just be a bit more fantastical in his imagination than Silas is!August1000009August1000002

Cooper’s been growing in courage in new situations. Just this past Sunday, he walked up to a teacher at a new church we were visiting and told her he was looking for his class. I had to catch up with him! This is a big development from him bursting into tears when I’ve dropped him off.August1000012


Baby Girl has been uncharacteristically fussy these past two weeks. August1000013She’s been through a lot of transition with our move, Mommy and Daddy’s trip, and a week with Grammy and Grampy. On top of that, she has 4 molars coming in right now which contributed to a fever last week. I’m sure her mouth is incredibly sore. August1200001When Mom was here, she got Brynn to babble and use baby talk to ask for things. I’ve been working with Brynn to use words or baby sign language when she wants or needs something, but for now, crying seems to be her preferred mode of communication. I’m also cutting out her morning nap, so Brynn has several reasons to cry of late. We’ll get her evened out eventually. I guess I can’t blame her for being Moody. (sorry, just had to throw that in there!)August1000004August1000014

Brynn is skilled at going up and down stairs. She took a few tumbles down the stairs at first, but now has gotten good at managing them. YouTube Preview ImageShe’s also climbing up on the couch and stepping down the sidewalk curbs pretty well. August1000007August1000008Forks are one of Brynn’s favorites, and she’ll eat almost anything as long as it’s on a fork. YouTube Preview ImageGrampy taught her to love the park swings while he was here.August1000017

Stuffed animals are finally finding a place in our home now that Brynn has arrived. She loves to cuddle with her stuffed penguin at bedtime, and loves to hug the bears and animals we have around the house.

These little kids are keeping us on our toes!August1000015

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage {Part 2}

We sailed Glacier Bay on the 10th anniversary of our wedding day. A romantic setting, on a romantic day, with a romantic man.August700004August600014August700010August700007

Even the journey up to Glacier Bay the night before was memorable. It was awe-inspiring to walk out on deck and be stunned by the grandeur surrounding us. August600010Those mountains were surprisingly close!August600012

August600019The morning was very cold, and we were thankful for the fleeces and raincoats we had purchased specifically for this trip. The bow was opened for viewing the glaciers. August600020Because glaciers had carved out deep fjords, our giant cruise ship was able to sail very close to the glaciers and snow-topped mountains.

The ship did a couple 360 degree turns directly in front of Margerie Glacier. The rugged terrain of the glacier with its peaks and crevasses was incredible to see so up close and personal. August600018August600016August900003August600017August700005We actually caught a little bit of glacial calving as we stood on deck! Even small chunks of ice echoed loudly as they calved into the sea. It was hard to capture on video since it happened so fast, but you can see a bit of calving at the beginning of this video. YouTube Preview ImageStephen and I spent a while standing on the bow, soaking in the majesty.August700009August900005August600015

Friday, we stopped in Ketchikan, Alaska, where my sister Charis had lived and taught for a school term four years ago.August700002 August600013We first wandered the streets of the quaint island city, taking pictures of totem poles and the famous Creek Street boardwalk shops. August600001August600002August600004It was fun to text Charis to find out some of her favorite spots and to let her know we were visiting “her city.” Stephen and I took in the local tourist-y lumberjack show. I have to say it was very entertaining, and “our” lumberjack team won the competition.August600005August600003

We weren’t sure just what to do after the show, so Charis arranged for one of her friends to meet us. Angela was gracious to spontaneously become our personal tour guide to Ketchikan for a few hours. August600007She showed us Charis’s former school and church, and then took us to Totem Bight State Park. When I asked Angela what a “bight” was, she explained that it’s an inlet that basically looks like the ocean took a bite (or bight, as it’s properly spelled) out of the land. She even told us the story behind the totem poles in the clan house. August600009August600008Embarrassingly, I peppered Angela with questions as I was so intrigued to be talking to someone who lived locally in Alaska.

Before we knew it, we were back on the ship and headed to our final port of Victoria, British Columbia on Canada’s Vancouver Island. This time we decided to brave our own shore excursion instead of booking one through the cruise line. It was a success, largely because we were one of the first people to disembark. There were nine of us that banded together on our own private bus tour of the city. The tour guide/bus driver we hired was a native of the city who took us first to Craigdarroch Castle. Though the castle was closed, it was gorgeous to view the architecture from outside.August800009August800010August800011

Buchardt Gardens was the next attraction on the tour. These world famous gardens encompass 55 acres of incredible garden beauty. August800002August800003August800001What a romantic way to end our cruise as we strolled through the sunken garden, rose garden, and the Japanese and Italian gardens.August800006August800004August800007August800012August800005August800008

Finally, we ended up in downtown Victoria in front of the Empress Hotel and the parliament building. August800013August800016Street entertainers and their watching crowds filled the night with music and laughter, the city lights shimmered off the harbor waves, while the lighted outline of the parliament building kept watch over the bustling streets flooded with tourists. It was a bit magical to be deposited at the city center in the midst of it all. August800014August800015Victoria had a London air about it. I licked my maple gelato cone as we window shopped and explored the city after dark.August800017

By the end of the cruise, I was ready to be home and to hug my babies again. The kids had a special week with Stephen’s parents as Grammy and Grampy lovingly spent an entire week with our little peeps.

It’s challenging to articulate my feelings and reflections on reaching our 10th anniversary. Perhaps I can formulate my thoughts into a future post. For now, I’ll just say that it’s humbling—a mix of feeling accomplished that we’ve made it this far (only by God’s grace) and also feeling like a beginner at this marriage thing.

Mostly, I’m thankful.August700003August700001

Thankful for Stephen’s stubborn love for me. And thankful for God’s faithfulness to us both.August900001

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage {Part 1}

August300001Our 10th anniversary cruise to Alaska was everything we had hoped. It truly was a second honeymoon. Knowing my man so much better and fuller, and having weathered some storms together, made the trip sweeter than a honeymoon.August300003August300004

We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl out of Seattle on a Sunday.August300010 August300005August300008August400001August300009Monday was a day at sea, which we loved.August300012August300013 It allowed us to get acquainted with the ship, take advantage of the overwhelming amount of activities and entertainment on board, work out in the fitness center, read, watch the waves, eat way too much food, and spend meaningful time together. August300007August400003One of the attractive features of a cruise is the lack of cell service and internet access. That translates into beautiful focus on each other and conversations free from media distractions.August400005

Our tiny inside cabin was perfect! There were so many things happening on the ship and various comfortable viewing areas available that we didn’t mind not having a balcony or window in our room. Though, it did make for some very dark mornings with no natural light.August300006

There were several complimentary restaurants available, but we found the buffet was our favorite. August300019August400002August300022August300014It took a few days to decompress and learn how to be Husband and Wife without being Daddy and Mommy.August400004 I had so few things to carry and no one to look out for but myself. I loved being able to hold Stephen’s hand instead of corralling our little people and juggling baby and diaper bag!August400006August300023The weather was usually chilly, so we didn’t get in the pool even once. But we did enjoy the hot tub a couple of times. We were literally “up to our necks in hot water” while being sprayed in the face with an icy glacial wind.

Juneau was our first port, and our favorite too. August500001On the passage up to Juneau, we saw a school of dolphins, and several whales. I even caught sight of a whale’s tail through the binoculars.August300017August300025 Once in Juneau, we began to spot bald eagles left and right. I was shocked at how much Alaska delivered on the wildlife sightings! We hopped on the bus to Mendenhall Glacier. August300026While setting foot on the actual glacier required a helicopter, we were able to hike up to Nugget Falls and get a good view of the bright blue ice caves and crevasses on Mendenhall. August400008August400009We filled our water bottles with ice cold glacial water and then hiked back just in time to see a mama black bear fishing for salmon in the nearby river.August300030 YouTube Preview Image

It was incredible that she wasn’t bothered by the hundred tourists on the bridge just overhead. Stephen even got a selfie with the bear.August400010

The salmon were running, so the river was quivering with life. Our tour guide explained that Alaska has five types of salmon that can be remembered by using the fingers on your hand. Thumb (fat finger)—Chub Salmon, Pointer Finger (can poke someone’s eye)—Sockeye Salmon, Middle Finger (tallest finger)—King Salmon, Ring Finger (Silver Salmon), Pinky—Pink Salmon. I was suprised to see that the salmon don’t swim in a consistent upstream motion. Instead, they swam to maintain their current position, and then suddenly jumped or darted upstream where they again swam “in place” to hold their spot in the river. It looked impossible.YouTube Preview Image

Back in Juneau, we rode the aerial tram up Mount Roberts and then sampled salmon and bought souvenirs in the shops. August300033August300039August300036August300034The funniest moment of our trip happened on the tram. Another tourist, who wasn’t in our tram car, was taking a picture of our car heading up the mountain. Stephen saw him about to take the photo and smiled wide. The guy suddenly realized Stephen was smiling for a random stranger’s picture, did a double take, and then snapped Stephen’s picture anyway. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. August300035August300037Our time in port flew by, and before we knew it, we were back on board headed to Skagway the next day.

Skagway is an even smaller city than Juneau, and it’s home to the White Pass Railroad.August300002aAugust300047 We took the three hour train ride up the White Pass where gold seekers in 1898 picked their way up the treacherous mountains during the Klondike Gold Rush. August300040August300041The train ride was impressive itself with several trestles and tunnels, but my favorite part was seeing the tiny, narrow (now mossy) trail that the gold diggers hiked up boot to boot.August300043 Our tour guide explained that if a man stepped out of line, he might wait 2-5 hours before someone would let him back in line. Pretty cutthroat!

After our train ride, we shopped in Skagway and rented a tandem bike to pedal over to the historic cemetery and hike to Lower Reid Falls.August300045August300046

To be continued…August300044a

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