We’re at the Beach…

with friends,Beach Weekend1 Beach Weekend1-2 Beach Weekend1-3 Beach Weekend1-4 Beach Weekend1-5 Beach Weekend1-6 Beach Weekend1-7 Beach Weekend1-8 Beach Weekend1-9 Beach Weekend1-10 Beach Weekend1-11 Beach Weekend1-12And it is awesome.

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Summer is for Haircuts and Busy-times

haircut haircut-2Dom got his first haircut! I was a little nervous about this because I’ve always cut the girls hair. But bangs and a little trim is so much easier than the whole head! I’d love to learn how to do boy hair, anyone have suggestions on a good tutorial or youtube channel?

haircut-3 haircut-5We went to Lil’ Snippers off of 164th Ave, and, guys, it was amazing. I called at 5, they fit us in at 5:30 (even though they close at 6). From beginning to end the women were excited and motivated and loving. Imagine cutting kids’ hair for 8 hours and still showing love and patience with the last appointment!

haircut-4 haircut-6They were professional and courteous. Asked me some very directed questions to make sure they could give Dom the haircut I wanted, and had great suggestions (since I had no idea what I was talking about).

haircut-7 haircut-8 haircut-9Then, they braided the girls’ hair and added glitter.

haircut-10Seriously. So kind. So lovely, and loving. If you live in Vancouver and need a place to go, please head over there (and they’re not even paying me to say this!).

This summer has been very busy, but I feel like I say that a lot. About all the seasons. Maybe the truth is: we’re busy.

We’re busy with so much love. We have so much family, so many friends, so many birthdays and parties and visitors and trips and…well, so much life. If being too busy, too full because of love is my only complaint…then life must be pretty dang good.

I’m trying to balance that busyness, though, with this impending deadline I call “Mo’s first day of Kindergarten,” also titled: “The day my heart will be ripped out.”

Exaggeration? Perhaps.

That waits to be seen.

So, how do you do it? How do you slow it down? Or, at the very least, set aside intentional time to really be with your kids?

My heart is so open to suggestion right now, I can’t even explain.

haircut-11 haircut-12Lulu: I no wanna be a gwown up, because I wanna still fit in my hello kitty swim suit!

MoBug: Baby Lu, do you want to be a real princess? Ok, then you need a sword. Yep. That’s what a real princess needs.

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Summer Joy!

joy-10joy-8joy joy-2joy-9 joy-3 joy-2-2 joy-4 joy-7 joy-5 joy-6 I wish you could have heard them laughing…

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The Great Outdoors!

Hiking-14HikingThe days are hot hot hot right now (almost 100 degrees in Portland? What?), but the mornings are still fairly cool. So, we’ve been getting outside and actually hiking with the kiddos quite a bit recently.

Hiking-6 Hiking-4Hiking + Kiddos = ?

Is that really a thing? Is it even possible?

Hiking-13Yes.

Hiking-12And No.

We’re not climbing too many mountains, or heading out on overnighters. But, the kids have started to carry their own snacks and water.

Except Dom.

Hiking-5He gets carried.

They have loved exploring, and I find our hikes go better if I say “yes” to detours more often than “no”.

Hiking-11 Hiking-2Can we go down by the water? Can we watch the fishing man? Can I see this leaf? Mommy, will you pick up this bug? Mommy, does Dom need a stick?

Hiking-9We’ve had some conversations about the fact that part of hiking is accomplishing something. Finishing it.

But the stops and pokes and prods and sits are (usually) worth the delay.

Hiking-7So far we’ve been good with a little over a mile, although Lulu hits a wall right around that mark. Whether we’re back at the car or not. Everything is “too toasty!!” or itches or is too heavy or… melt downs all around. So, we carry her pack. Sometimes even carry her too.

Hiking-15At the end of a hike, we’re not going to take our best family photo, and that’s ok. We don’t push her.

Because I want her to enjoy this. I want her to love being outside and exploring.

Hiking-10One of my greatest joys so far is how quickly Mo has taken to keeping a nature journal. She collects leaves and other small things along the way, puts them in her pack, and then draws them when we reach the end.

Which for now, is often a playground. I highly suggest finding a trail that starts or ends at a playground. Any adult along the way is tired just from hiking, but somehow these small humans still have energy enough to swing and slide and run and jump.

Hiking-16Hiking-3When children are happy, that joy is infectious. I watch the faces of hikers at they see my mini-hikers with their camelbaks (we definitely look like an REI ad), and they can’t help but smile. Their stride lengthens and they move past our little posse slightly invigorated. Truly. It’s wonderful to see.

The weather should be in the 90s for a while longer, so I’m sure we’ll continue to be out and about (early!), enjoying the best summer has to offer. Stopping, smelling, touching and collecting along the way.Hiking-8(Hikes: Lacamas Lake trail and Round Lake Trail both GREAT hikes for Littles)

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Last Day of Preschool

Remember Mo’s first day of preschool? Man, I was a wreck. Lulu will be starting next year, and I’m not sure it’s going to be any easier…

Mo finished preschool last week, and (of course) I took ALL THE PHOTOS!

First day of school, September 2014:preschool preschool-2

Last day of school, May 2015:preschool-3 preschool-4

I can’t believe how much the girls have changed! Especially Lu!

Here’s Mo with her best friend Mia on their very first first day of preschool:preschool-6

and on their very last last day of preschool!preschool-5

Mo leapt into Ms Audri’s arms when I asked them to take a photo! I think she liked her teacher, don’t you?preschool-7

And this self portrait now hangs proudly in our kitchen:preschool-8

Kindergarten next year! What?!

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Wordless (Point Defiance Hike) Weekend

hiking-2 hiking-3 hiking-4 hiking hiking-5 hiking-6 hiking-7 hiking-8 hiking-14 hiking-9 hiking-2-2 hiking-10 hiking-2-3 hiking-11 hiking-12 hiking-13

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015…

Good Day-4Was a good day.Good Day Good Day-2 IMG_2853 Good Day-3 IMG_2844 Good Day-8 Good Day-7 Good Day-5 Good Day-6

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Three Reasons to Celebrate

Mothers Day-4Mothers Day-2Mothers Day-3 Mothers Day-6 Mothers Day-7Happy Mother’s Day to me (and to all the other Mamas too)!

Mothers Day

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How He Shows Me

I’m going to deviate from the normal Monday {Wordless Weekend} post for a bit, and use a lot of words today.

Because, this guy.RoadTrip-6

If you aren’t into posts that expound upon the awesomeness of someone’s spouse, I’ll understand if you check back a different day.

But you should think about sticking around, because I really want you to know how amazing he is.

There’s a lot of travel coming up in the immediate future. I won’t go into detail, because a public blog is probably not the best place to explain exactly when the man of the house will or will not be absent. But, let’s leave it at: too much.

So, what did this Eagle-Scout-Engineer husband of mine do when he realized I would be solo parenting our family? Made sure I was absolutely, positively prepared.

And in such a way that is specific to me. To my needs.

Guys, it’s like he knows me or something.

Exhibit A:DSC_1989

That is a magnetic rack sitting above our kitchen sink. That is my phone (which he also bought me several months ago) attached to it, ready to display my Netflix queue, podcast list, Pandora station…you name it.

This is a game-changer, my friends. I really, really dislike (hate?) doing the dishes. I really, really like (love?) watching movies. With their powers combined, the dishes might just get done every day.

Next to the phone, you’ll see a tool. It’s not just any tool, Andy calls it my Woman tool (pronounced Woah-Man). It’s a personalized skele-tool from Leatherman.DSC_1990

It says “Caitlin’s Helper”.

It’s now within reach for any time I might need pliers, screwdriver, bottle opener, or a very sharp knife (if you haven’t read this post from 5 Kids is a lot of Kids, please, please do. Her words about a Mama’s Heart will have you laughing till you cry, and you will absolutely understand why a Mama may need easy access to a knife. Especially in the middle of the night).

Notice, both of these things are now absolutely out of my children’s reach. Good thing, too. Because this: IMG_2418

And this:DSC_0885

And this:IMG_1832

And this too:IMG_7464

Andy also supplied the magnetic iPhone case that makes this possible. He then proceeded to mount a magnet in the Swagger Wagon so I will no longer frantically look down at my lap while trying to navigate and drive at the same time. That usually results in me knocking the phone off my legs just as I make the turn into a neighborhood I don’t know. Commence The Mommy Flail: that disastrous, one-handed driving, as I simultaneously try to reach something on the floor and not swerve into oncoming traffic. Also used in cases such as “The baby won’t stop screaming and just chucked her binki.”

Maybe the car mount was more a gift with my children’s safety in mind than for my peace of mind…

Andy also spent many night hours (with the help of some friends, Thank you Jen, Dan and Kevin!) building this in the garage and moving it to the front yard.IMG_7765

There’s a story here, for another time, but if anyone was at the East Vancouver Costco recently and saw some desperate looking people trying to fit three THOUSAND tiny wood pieces into their van because the whole box did NOT fit and unpacking the box in the parking lot to try and pack the pieces around some hungry screaming children seemed like a good idea, well, those poor, poor people. I bet they needed a beer. Or three. I’m sure they would have been plenty enough sober by the time they FINALLY left the parking lot.

Anyway. I need to be outside. I need it every day. And the front yard garden is a good place to get that outside time. I also need to know my children will not run into the street while we are outside (like I said, front yard garden). This little cottage should keep them occupied (and a proper distance from vehicles) for approximately…forever. They LOVE it.

Maybe you noticed that the yard was nicely trimmed in the above picture. This is because Andy also purchased me a Weed Whacker! Happy early Mother’s Day to me! As has been shown in the past, I’m kind of a fan of power tools:IMG_6182I’m also a big fan of surprises.

Our front yard garden is great! Except, trying to mow close enough to the boxes to keep the grass down is kind of impossible. We already look like a bunch of dirty hippies with our Escape Chicken walking around (we have no idea how she does it…),IMG_1632 and it was stressing me out that the front yard looked so unkempt. (I’ve forsaken the backyard, see the above bamboo and chainsaw picture). Boom! Weed whacker, which he slyly picked up on a pizza run. “Sorry Love! There’s a crazy long line at Papa Murphy’s! I’ll be home soon as I can.” Sneaky, sneaky husband.

Lest you think my only love language is “receiving gifts,” you should know there are a hundred other intangible things he’s done in the last week. Big things like watching the kids while I took photos of this precious New One:DSC_1618

And little things, like getting up first with the kids (OK, that’s also a big thing).

Corey puts it this way, I won the husband lottery…

But it’s also more. That implies a certain amount of distance and uncertainty in our relationship. That good and bad, love and separation, are left to chance.

That is absolutely not how we work.

He knows me; he loves me.

And, he shows me how much he loves me by knowing me so well.

I mean, a weed whacker doesn’t scream I LOVE YOU to everyone.

But it does to me.

Being apart is still the worst, but I won’t be able to walk through the kitchen or be in the garden without being reminded of his love.

And that makes him seem just a little less far away. IMG_1867

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Sometimes, I Choose Wrong

DSC_1556Here are three minutes of my morning yesterday:

Ok. Got a load of laundry started! Excellent! Today is going to be great! Let’s start unloading the dishwash… “ooooOOooo! Lulu! Put the curtain back!” Who said that? What’s going on? Walk to the bathroom. “Lulu! Out of there! Auntie Corey is showering!” “I have go poop!” “Ok, Love. Go ahead. Corey I’ll come right back to wipe.” Shut the door. Ok, turn on some good music, let’s stay happy! Back to the dishwa…“Whooooah! Whooooah! Whoah!”What? Walk to the living room. “Mo! What did I tell you about spinning circles on the hard floor?” Grab her arm, quick before she faceplants. “Sit down until you’re not dizzy.” “Ehhhh….Waaaaah!” Is that Dom crying? Doesn’t sound like he’s really in trouble. Grab a sip of coffee. Probably just wants Lulu’s toy. “Mommy! Mommy! I done!” Oh! That’s right! Lulu’s in the bathroom. “Waaaaaaahhhh!” Gotta wipe Lulu then check on Dom Dom. Put one dish in the cupboard. Walk to bathroom. Open door. “Ok Lulu. All done. Please wash your hands, and shut the door.”  “WaaaAAAaaahh” Dom, you’ll just have to wait a second, I’ve got to take these 4 day old wet washcloths straight to the washer, they are so musty! “Mom, can you read me this book?” “Not right now sweetie.” Walk back to the other side of the house. What? I never started the drier! Two loads of wet laundry? Again?! Arg! {kick the washer} Why can’t I ever do this right!? What is wrong with me. I’m sure other Moms can handle all this day to day stuff. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to prioritize and choose what to…“MOM! How do you spell Wonder Woman?” “W.O…” “W.O?” “Yes, W.O. and then N. D…” “Waaaaaah waaahhh” Dom! Walking quickly down the hall. I’m sure he’s fine. But he did just get those shots and has that weird rash. His nose has been running lately, I think those molars are finally…bathroom door is open?! “Lulu! I told you to wash your hands and get out of the bathroom. Auntie Corey wants to finish her shower!” Grab her hands, wash the 3 cups of soap off. Dry them. Bodily remove her from the bathroom. “Sorry Corey! We’re both leaving now. I’ll make sure the door’s shut. Maybe the bathroom will heat back up before you get out…” sniff sniff  “Want me to turn on the fan too?” “WAAAAAHHHH AHHHHH!!!” DOM! running to the kiddo room. “OH NO! Dom Dom! I’m so sorry, baby. If I had known what happened, I would have come right away!”

DSC_1514Dom had wedged himself behind and under the rocking chair in the kids’ bedroom. He loves to play with the electric outlets back there, so we put the chair in his way. He’s one determined little boy. He wasn’t hurt, but he was genuinely scared. I saw it in his eyes and in the real tears on his face.

There were many times I could have checked on him instead of doing something else. Every moment I’m constantly prioritizing, choosing what to do next. I do my best to prevent injury first and from there promote health and learning and independence.

But, sometimes I choose wrong.

And it sucks.

Because no matter how hard I try, I know it will happen again.

Because no matter what I do, my kiddos will get hurt. Will be hurt. Will hurt others. And, the truth is, that some of those hurts will be the result of my wrong choices. And some days that guilt weighs heavily.

Then I pull my screaming 1 year old out of his confinement, and he stops crying. He grips my arms in his little hands and cuddles my neck. His head hiccups off my collar bone as his sobs turn back to breathing.

And once he lifts his head to look at me, I know that I am forgiven.

I know that all through this parenting journey, I will be forgiven, over and over and over. I whisper a quiet thank you into the top of his head.

And the guilt lifts.

I move forward with my day, trying again to choose what’s best.

Knowing that, depending on my choices, I might just need a new round of that forgiveness every three minutes.

DSC_1555

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