Sunday, November 15, 2009

Enjoying Our Last Few Sunny Days... And a Visit with the Grandparents

Winter is quickly descending upon us, but there are days when the sun pokes through for a few hours. We're trying to enjoy those days. We went to Lewisville Park last week, and then this week, we enjoyed hanging out with Grandma Janet and Grandpa Lyn (and Whiff, the kids' favorite dog!). We all enjoyed the great visit! Ascha took to calling Grandpa "Pum-pa" or "Bum-pa." She loved sitting and reading books with him. She (and Mom!) loved having Grandma feed her and dress her and play with her. The boys enjoyed the time playing games and assembling puzzles together. As usual, the week passed too quickly. Thanks for visiting, Grandma and Grandpa! We hope to see you again real soon!

Ascha's First Baking Experience

Last week Aric and I made whole wheat pretzel dough while Taylor was at school. Aric pulled a chair over to the counter and a few moments later, Ascha was right behind him with a chair of her own which she'd pulled over. I guess she thinks she's big enough to bake. We put the chairs together and corralled Ascha on the inside. She loved being able to "help." She contributed by pouring the teaspoon of salt into the dough, then she happily sorted and stacked measuring cups and spoons to her heart's content while Aric and I mixed up the dough. Later, after the boys had finished shaping the pretzels and gone back to playing outside, she climbed up again and spent another half hour or so enjoying her newfound toys.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Fall

We love carving jack-o-lanterns and this year, we decided to toast the seeds. Of course, we started by taking out all the slimy pulp:

Then we rinsed the seeds:

Now they're soaking in salt water.

Here are our finished lanterns:

And here are our subjects (insert sound effects here: Ahoy! ARGGGHHH!! Nowwww! (Ascha's cat sound starts with an "n" and skips the "e.").

Jeremy and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in July. My sweet hubby valiantly attempted to plan a secret re-creation of our honeymoon trip through Banff and Jasper National Parks in British Columbia, but I wasn't at all cooperative. He eventually spilled the beans on the "surprise trip" that just wasn't working out because of my continued insistence that I couldn't possibly leave Ascha overnight. We decided we'd postpone our trip until fall and I'd do my best to prepare both the baby and myself for a short separation. We also decided recreating our honeymoon trip would require too much time away, so we revised our plans. My mom came and stayed with the kids and we went on a three-night adventure to Victoria, B.C. We stayed at Marketa's B&B (which we highly recommend!), which is quite close to downtown. We enjoyed wandering and visiting shops (especially shops with breakables! We almost never frequent such shops now that we have 3 kids!), eating, going to the Maritime Museum, eating, driving around the Saanich Peninsula, eating, going on a zip line adventure, and eating some more. We've watched too many foodie travel shows, I think. Or maybe, we were inspired by the fact that we almost never consume a meal without interruptions (sweet, lovable, wonderful interruptions! Sheesh! Sounds like we despise parenthood. We certainly don't, but we did enjoy our brief reprieve).

My one request for our vacation was for it to include an "adventure component." We were (read: I was) thinking of renting a kayak, but even the most sunny October days seemed formidably cold for kayaking. We did manage to find adventure, though, in a zip line course which we thoroughly enjoyed.

We came home well rested and READY to be with our kids again. I am so thankful for the past 10 years and so thankful for the sweet and refreshing "just us" time we shared on this trip.
The Pumpkin Patch

We really enjoyed visiting a pumpkin patch with some friends to kick off our fall. The kids traveled through a hay bale maze, saw all sorts of animals and even got to feed a few, and then they experienced their first hay ride...

... When they arrived at the correct field, they each got to pick out a pumpkin (that they were supposed to be able to carry all by themselves. Thankfully, babies were exempt from that policy :-)...

... We eventually concluded our time with a fun photo op. Just wish Daddy had been able to come along, too. (Then maybe we'd have a Christmas picture this year. I'm still scheming about how to get all 5 of us into one picture. That almost never happens. :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Little Soldier Turns 5!

If you know Aric, you know he LOVES camoflage and would wear it for every piece of clothing if allowed. He's been asking for a remote control tank that shoots real ammunition for I don't know how long, so it was no surprise that he asked for a "tank" party. We had everything planned, the special "tank cake" made, and then... the day before the party the stomach flu descended on our house. Thankfully, the birthday boy didn't get it, but we had to postpone his party for a week, which about killed him (and Taylor). We did still have a little family celebration on the day of his birth.

The following weekend, we were able to successfully complete mission HB5. I was relieved that instead of having me recreate the tank cake from the week before, he opted for a sheet cake with his new tank toy on top.

He thought it noteworthy that the tank looked like it was shooting fire.

After cake and presents, we headed out for an afternoon of fun and games. This is the year of the pinata at our house, so we kicked off the festivities with a sound beating.

Then, we had "rescue the injured soldier" races across the yard.

Finally, we played "grenade" (ala "hot potato"), followed by a general water balloon fight that went on as long as I kept filling balloons.

Aric's special day was memorable and worth the wait! We are so proud and thankful to have such a fun-loving, adventurous, helpful, and kind-hearted 5-year-old as a member of our family. We Love You, Ar!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Visit from Grrrrreat-Grama and Grrrrreat-Papa

My Grandparents made the trip to Washington in early September. It was such a blessing to see them and the kids loved showing off their "home turf," their special "tree forts," their favorite places to play and hide. Grama and Papa were able to attend Taylor's soccer game and wish Aric a happy birthday just a few days early. They also "imprinted" Ascha's knowledge of extended family members' names...every grandparent is now known as "Papa." It's the perfect easy-to-pronounce moniker and she's sticking to it.

Bend it like Taylor

Taylor's last game is this Saturday. The "Reds" have had a good season. Taylor's made some friends and learned a lot about soccer. He's made a number of goals and is a great defender. Aric is excited for his turn to play next fall, and Ascha is looking forward to having all the chairs on the sideline to herself. :-) She likes to take whatever chair Aric is sitting in, even if she's already in a little chair of her own.

Family Resemblance

I've been marveling at how much Ascha looks like each of her brothers lately. Here are a few pics of her next to her older likenesses at the same age (approx. 15 mos.) as evidence:

Taylor and Ascha don't share as obvious of a resemblance, but there are definite times when she favors him. She's always been what we call a "nose squincher," and when I was looking back through Taylor's younger pictures, I was struck at how similar their "happy squinching" expressions are.

Usually, I say from the nose down Aric and Ascha look the same. They definitely have the same James family mouth and chin. In this picture, though, even the eyes seem to match. It's wild to take a picture and immediately think, "I already have this picture, with this same expression, taken years before you were born!"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Sweet Ascha Lynn

Ascha is 15 months old. She is so precious and full of personality. She's gotten very opinionated about what she wears and when she wears it. She can hold her own with her brothers and is adding new words every day. She saw the below picture of herself and said, "Nigh-nigh, nigh-nigh." She's saying "hi" and "bye" along with many animals, sounds, facial features, and each family member's name.

She wants to be in the middle of all the action, all the time. The boys can't wrestle with Jeremy anymore without her walking into the middle. Nobody minds too much and she's always so thrilled to be included.

Ascha's First Trip to the Zoo

On the second Tuesday of September, we went to the zoo with some good friends. I was very surprised at how excited Ascha was. She loved every minute of her time there and loved seeing all the animals and trying to mimic their sounds. I think she was most thrilled to see the elephants. She kept doing the sign with her arm and saying "VROOOO!"

August Update

We had a few highlights in August. The first was the Clark County Fair. The boys went with Jeremy and a buddy to the Monster Truck Madness on the last day of the fair. It was a bit loud, so we girls went through the animal barns instead. Ascha loved the goats and the chickens best.

The other main event was a last-minute trip to the coast. We decided to go to the Long Beach Peninsula and ended up happening to go the weekend of the World Kite Festival. We had fun watching kites for a while, and we had even more fun flying our own kite and playing on the beach.

We spent one day at the Maritime Museum in Astoria. The boys (including the biggest boy :-) had a great time. Ascha had her moments of enjoyment, but didn't want to go when we wanted to go and didn't want to stop when we wanted to stop, so it was an interesting day. Here she is on her little "seat." She found this perfectly-sized piece of concrete and didn't want to go anywhere else. She spent the rest of her time at the museum trying in vain to get back to this spot.

The hands-on room had a number of lifeboats the kids could climb into and out of.

Amazing! A picture of Jeremy and I! (Kudos to Taylor, photographer at large)

We made it to the Astoria column, which had opened just a few days before. The kids made it all the way up and flew a little airplane off the top.

On the way home, we stopped at Horseshoe Lake in Woodland.