Plumpers Pumkin Patch

At the last minute, we decided to go to meet our friends at Plumpers Pumpkin Patch last Saturday morning. The day was sunny, and perfect for a visit to the farm.oct5001

Apparently, everyone else thought so too, as it was challenging to find parking. After just a little slippage in the mud, our  Rendezvous was parked, and we tumbled out to explore in our rain boots. Best decision ever. The mud was crazy!

We bought our tickets in the farm store where they were selling all sorts of autumn delights—like caramel apples, fresh cider, and local jams and honey. oct5002The kids had a blast on the tire and tube play structures. oct5003There was a hay fort, rope spider web, rope maze, and a petting zoo. oct5004oct5005oct5006oct5007We tried our hand at the pumpkin bowling and also watched pumpkins being launched at vehicles via pumpkin cannon. oct5008

Both boys came home with a caramel apple and a small pumpkin each. Stephen and I tried the farm’s cider. Then we drove for a bit, taking in the beauty of Oregon in the fall.oct5009oct5010oct5011

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The 4T Loop

oct4002There are many ways to explore Portland, and the 4T Loop combines four transportation possibilities in one swoop: Trail, Tram, Trolley, and Train.

Last weekend, two of Stephen’s co-workers from Phoenix were in town to meet with Stephen and his boss for a leadership weekend. On Saturday, they invited us to join them for the 4T Loop. Honestly, we misunderstood and thought we were visiting the zoo (since we were to meet at the zoo), but I’m proud of us for completing the loop with our three little peeps.oct4006

Thankfully, Stephen had Brynn strapped on his hip, and I had packed water bottles and a few snacks for the kids. It was a very rainy, windy day since we were experiencing the effects of a typhoon that headed inland after hitting the Oregon coast. We came prepared with our rain boots and rain jackets.oct4001

We met the gang and set out on the trail that was 3.5 miles long. The first part led us through the rain forest and up to the top of the mountain where the cell phone tower was. oct4008oct4011Looking down on Portland from that height was beautiful—especially with the fall colors. oct4012
oct4010I spotted a giant slug on the trail that turned out to be a banana slug. The boys kept their eyes peeled for more banana slug sightings along the way.oct4013

After a very long hike (especially for little legs) down the other side of the mountain, we arrived at the aerial tram station. Brynn slept a lot of the way, and no amount of jostling and reshuffling seemed to bother her. Silas took a few shoulder rides from the guys, but Coop decided only Mommy or Daddy could carry him.

The tram was cool as the ride gave us an amazing view of the city, the bridges, and the river, though the fog hid Mount Hood from view. oct4014oct4015oct4016At the bottom of the tram, we found a street dedicated to our family and then ate Mexican food for lunch. We were ravenous after that hike!oct4017

The next “T” of the loop was the trolley, or the street car. While waiting for the trolley, we were caught by a couple microbursts of intense swirling wind, presumably from that typhoon that was coming in. oct4018The kids loved the trolley, but mostly they were excited that we were going to visit Powell’s Bookstore. oct4019oct4020Silas wanted to see what a million books looked like—since the store itself takes up an entire city block. I think Powell’s actually has more like three million books, including a rare book room and a coffee shop.oct4021

We hit the coffee station first and then took the kids to the children’s section where the boys spent some of their Christmas/birthday money on a book each. By this time, it was nearing suppertime, and we were exhausted. So, the gang boarded the train which took us back to our car.oct4003

It’s not an adventure I think we would have chosen just yet with the kids being so little, but I’m glad we did it! Hiking that trail was a bonding experience with Stephen’s co-workers.

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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

Posted in elisabeth, meta, oregon, thoughts | 2 Comments

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

Posted in cooking, food, stephen | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in baby, brynn, cooper, music, parenting, preschooler, silas, toddler | Leave a comment

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

Posted in community, education, grade school, oregon, parenting, silas | 1 Comment

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!
sept2003

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

Posted in education, meta, oregon, parenting, silas, stephen | 3 Comments

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

Posted in community, imagination, parenting, video | 1 Comment

Growing Up

Silas

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

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

Brynn

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

Posted in brynn, cooper, just life, parenting, preschooler, silas, toddler, video | 2 Comments