Sunday, December 18, 2011

The birth

I love hearing other women's birth stories, so I'm going to share here the details of Elliott's arrival. If childbirth makes you woozy, go ahead and skip this post. If long, detailed stories about suffering with happy endings strike you as self-indulgent, move right along. Otherwise, settle in and read on.

Nora's birth was hard. I was induced when I was a week overdue because of apparently low amniotic fluid (turns out I had plenty), and the induction was slow and difficult. Maybe more so because I didn't want an epidural. I managed to deliver without the epidural, but it took 30 hours—22 of which were spent on pitocin, which causes really intense, non-stop contractions. Not pleasant.

This time I was determined not to go down the same road, so I opted for a home birth. I found a wonderful nurse midwife with a home birth practice and saw her for my whole pregnancy. She, and pretty much everyone I met, assured me that a second birth that started on its own would be smoother, quicker, easier. I had high hopes.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, when I was six days past the due date, I went into labor. By midnight, contractions were two minutes apart and pretty strong, so my midwife came over. She examined me, and I was already 4 cm dilated. Awesome. It took me 20 hours to get there with Nora. We all thought baby would be there by sunrise.

During the night she checked me again, and I was at 5 cm. And when she checked me again a few hours later, I was still at 5 cm. After 14 hours, I was still at 5 cm. We tried everything to stimulate labor—including walks around the neighborhood during which I'd have to hang onto Greg every 2 minutes to work through a contraction. (Our neighbors have some stories to tell.) Still no change. At around 3 p.m. my midwife suggested I get in the tub and think about whether I wanted to transfer to the hospital for pitocin. I was exhausted and in lots of pain, and while the idea of giving up the dream of a home birth was hard to swallow, the idea of being done and holding my baby pulled me toward the hospital. I decided to transfer, but that if I had to have pitocin again, I was getting an epidural. Pretty quickly, we were packed up and headed to the hospital.   

The quick relief I had envisioned (honestly, I thought we'd pull up, they'd give me an epidural, and they'd wake me when it was time to push) did not come to be. Somehow it was 5:30 or so before I finally got into a room. Not long after that, I met with the anesthesiologist about that epidural, who crushed my illusions entirely: Because of the rods in my back, I was not an epidural candidate. So I had to have the pitocin again, and again with no epidural.

I cried.

And then we got on with it. I was given fentanyl, which took the edge off and let me rest but didn't eliminate the pain. It made it manageable, though, and it made me a little loopy and happy (at least between contractions). The pitocin did its job and got the labor moving in the right direction, and by 10:54, a mere 29 hours after labor started, little Elliott Owen was in my arms.

So far I'd say he was worth it. And I'd also say three kids is plenty.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Welcome Filbert

a.k.a. Elliott Owen (though truth be told, the four of us still call him Filbert about 75% of the time). He was born 12/13 at 10:54 p.m. Stats: 8 pounds 1 ounce, 20.5 inches, and a whole lotta perfect. We're all smitten.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

You Can Dress Them Up

Here's one of about a million photos from our recent trip to New York. Is it just me, or do the boys look like Secret Service agents tasked with keeping the crazy lady away from the president?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Biotin supplements

I can't say enough good things about what biotin supplements have done for our family's hair health.

You really should give them a try.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

50-ish States That Rhyme

Did you guys have to learn the "50 States That Rhyme" song in elementary school? I did, and it stuck with me. And somehow I found myself singing it in front of the kids a couple months ago. And they loved it. Then I made the mistake of singing it double-time, as the song instructs, and since then I've been taking requests for it at least daily.

Yesterday Sidamo started singing it in the back seat of the car—not unusual, as he'll often start and get a few states in before giving up. But this time, he started and made it all the way to Wyoming. Wow. A-freaking-mazing, right?

I got a recording today.
Sorry Iowa. Oh, and also Misery.

And then, as I was commenting on the fact that he's probably the youngest kid anywhere to know the "50 States That Rhyme," his 3-year-old sister busted out with this:
Sorry, Indiana.

Crazy, right? (I've since learned, thanks YouTube, that my kids are not in fact the most precocious geography singers out there—and hell, they don't even play an instrument as accompaniment—but still, I was pretty darned impressed.)

Now here's the flip side: It's been about 36 hours since the kids have discovered they can sing this song on their own, and I have heard it no fewer than 7,658 times since then. The lid is off, and there doesn't seem to be any getting it back on. The price I pay for excessive maternal pride, I suppose.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8 years

Hard to believe it's been 8 years since this:

I love this picture of us. We have it framed in the house, and we always get comments on it. It makes us look sooooo-phisticated, as a friend's grandma used to say.

The truth is, though, that almost all the pictures of our wedding look a little something like this:

Gaping-mouthed and doubled-over with laughter. Which, I guess, is a little more representative of the day—and the marriage.

Take this morning's exchange with my hopeless romantic as an example:

Greg: Happy anniversary!
Me (caught off guard): Oh yeah, happy anniversary! I guess I forgot.
Greg: Yeah, what's another year in a life sentence.

See? He continues to sweep me off my feet. Happy anniversary to my sweet, loving, dedicated, hard-working, and hilarious husband of 8 loooooooooong years. Love you big time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

State of the dog

I've been hesitating to post on this topic because it's been such an emotional experience, but it's been a big change in our lives, so I think it's important to get it out there.

After the last post about Eden, we continued trying to make it work. We took her to two more behaviorists. The first told us, "You absolutely cannot keep this dog. There's no way she can succeed in a busy home." Number four outlined a last-ditch one-month training plan, which we implemented religiously but without much success. One day when we were locking Eden in the bedroom for the 10th time of the day, Greg and I looked at each other and agreed that it was no way for a dog to live. It became clear that the constant state of anxiety caused by our frequent visitors was just more than she could handle; she needed to be someplace without so much stimulation.

We contacted the rescue and asked them to start looking for a more suitable home for her. It wasn't easy—most people who want a Golden Retriever are not interested in an aggressive dog. But a few weeks ago, we got a call that there was a couple interested in her. I took her to meet them, and they were totally amazing. They have decades of experience dealing with dogs with all sorts of behavioral issues. Their kids are grown. They have visitors once a week, tops. They live in a quiet area and go for long walks and/or hikes daily. Plus they're sweet as pie. I wanted to live with them. Eden took to them immediately, and vice versa. They kept her for a couple weeks as a trial, with the understanding that we'd take her back if it wasn't a fit. Then last weekend, they let us know they'd fallen completely and had decided to keep her.

The whole experience was so difficult emotionally; there was guilt, anxiety, sadness, loss—compounded, of course, by having to help the kids through it. In short, it sucked.  But at the end, Eden ended up in the absolutely perfect home for her, and we have had a huge weight lifted.

We thought about getting another dog, but given the timing—baby #3 will be here in a couple of months, we're renovating the basement, and we have some travel ahead—we decided against it. Unless we could find a Saffron clone, we decided it would just be too much stress to try to add another dog right now.

And then … we found a Saffron clone.

Seriously, isn't it uncanny?

Introducing Puddle (Pudsy for short). She is a 4-year-old Great Dane and is perfect in every single way. She loves people (especially children), is calm and affectionate, walks perfectly on a leash, and is submissive to every animal she meets—including chickens. We are completely, totally, head-over-heels in love, and I think the feeling just might be mutual.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What we can do

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Deirdre and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years. 12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond—or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya—the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 year-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4-yr-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on—in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 million! In one month, more than 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support, healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped—you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pooped out

Sidamo just discovered, to his great delight, the phrase "pooped out." He heard it in a Toot & Puddle book and couldn't stop laughing. Now he keeps trying to recreate it but can't remember exactly how it goes. Instead he has been saying, "Are you knocked out of the butt?" So very close. Feel free to use it if you're so inclined; I'd love to see his rendition enter the vernacular.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pretty faces

Yesterday there was a face painter at our neighbor-friend's super-fun 6th birthday party.

How is it that already adorable kids can be made even cuter with a little artificial color?

Sidamo managed to keep his superhero face on all day. Nora made it a few hours before her first crying fit caused the pink and black to run and meld into what looked like a face-sized bruise. So much for adorable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Time capsule

Our friends are having a welcome party this afternoon for their baby girl, and instead of gifts they've asked everyone to bring something for the baby's time capsule. Not liking to procrastinate, I'm tackling the challenge good and early—right now.

I thought it would be fun to ask Sidamo and Nora to make predictions about the future so when Ruby opens her time capsule in high school, she can laugh at how dumb they were. So I asked Sidamo, "Do you think the world will be the same or different way, way, way off in the future—like 15 years from now."

"Oh, different!"

"Really?" I asked. "How will it be different?"

I don't know, he said, and went back to reading. I realized I'd have to get specific. "Cars, for instance: Will they be the same or different?"

"They'll be different. Definitely."

"How will they be different?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "For one thing, they'll be older."

Sooooooo … we're back to the drawing board. If you have any brilliant ideas for a time capsule, send 'em along.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


A certain someone who feels wrongfully maligned by a certain previous post would like me to point out that dentists sometimes give out denture care packs for things other than dentures. Like for nighttime mouth guards, for instance, for people with tooth-grinding tendencies.

Speaking of which, I've read that tooth-grinding is a sign of repressed anger. I wonder what a certain someone would have to be angry about?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Showing his age

Look what Greg brought home from the dentist.

Time for me to look for a newer model, I guess.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Airplane affection

Is it a new trend, after a flight, to hug the person sitting next to you when saying goodbye? Or have I just had the good fortune of sitting next to exceptionally affectionate people on my last two flights? Or maybe I'm somehow giving off the impression that I'm much nice than I am. Or people just like hugging pregnant ladies.

Or maybe, as their breath would indicate, they were both just drunk.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If I asked you for $5

You'd give it to me, right? And if you asked a few of your friends for $5, I'm sure they'd do the same. Well, that's the idea behind my beautiful friend Sarah's brilliant new campaign. Except instead of passing the money amongst ourselves, it will be going to provide direct relief to those families struggling to survive the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.

I'm sure you can understand why this issue is very close to our family's hearts. So what do you say, can you spare a five?

I'll turn it over now to Sarah, who will give you all the compelling reasons you should help however you can.


guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development

First, thanks to Deirdre for allowing me to post on her blog today! Today, more than 25 bloggers, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here's why....

I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn't sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That's when #Ask5for5 was born.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.

And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can't imagine what it's like, but I have to—I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there is any food there, and they don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I'm amazed at how much we've raised already -- over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too!
I'm also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th - 23rd. If you're interested, email me,

Extra food for every child under five

Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now—don't wait for a calmer moment, because if you're like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won't get to it. A child's life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Filbert's first photo shoot

I'm terribly late in posting these, because I thought my scanner was dead. Turns out it was just saving files someplace I didn't think to look. Pregnancy brain is real, people.

These are from our big ultrasound at 19 weeks (I'm now 24). Everything checked out great, and it turns out that all suspicions were spot-on and Filbert is, indeed, a boy. And like his siblings, he is pretty darned adorable.

Also like his siblings, he picks his nose. Already.

Things have changed in the 3+ years since last we did this. Now the ultrasound includes 3D images in addition to the 2D ones. Normally 3D pictures of other people's kids freak me out a bit, so I wouldn't have chosen to have it done. I'm glad they did it, though, because when it's your own kid it's actually sort of cute. So weird to see the little features at such a young gestational age—at this point he was less than a pound, and somewhere around 12 inches long. Unfortunately he was hiding his face, but we got a good enough view know that a) he's a looker, and b) he's keeping up the family trend of enormous noggins.

I love how he looks like he's snuggling up and having a good nap. It gives me hope that he might be a better sleeper than his sister. (And it gives me warm fuzzy thoughts of snuggling him out of the womb.)

If all goes well, this will be our last ultrasound of the pregnancy, so no more pics until he makes his debut. It's a little ways off still, but I'm getting excited to meet the little guy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


But don't call them pigtails or she'll yank them out. They're either ponytails or fairy tales. Duh.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The post you (and we) have been waiting for


 And no, it wasn't laid in our bed; Sidamo just wanted to take it to the softest place he could find so it wouldn't break. It's adorable! About a third the size of a regular egg, and just so sweet and delicate. This weekend when Greg is home from his business trip, and our coparent Rebecca is home from hers, we'll all share the world's tiniest omelet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christmas in July

The kids are in full-blown holiday mode, with the Christmas music blaring daily. Even when I hide it and put it out of reach, they manage to find it. If you can't fight 'em …

I made the first Christmas gift of the season: a sleepsack for Filbert (have I already mentioned that that's what the kids call the baby-to-be?). It's super cute, and I'll make matching jammies for the big 'uns. The pattern is from Growing up Sew Liberated, which I love so far.

Apparently the recent muggy weather and monsoon rains are inspiring the Christmas spirit all over this part of the world.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Four years ago today, we met Sidamo for the first time. It was a monumental day—a day that changed all our our lives for ever, and, of course, for better. However, it was not the wonderful day filled with unfettered love and adoration that we all imagine first parent-child meetings to be. Sidamo was scared, emotional, and unready for another upheaval in his short life. And who could blame him?

For the first several days after meeting him, Sidamo cried anytime we walked into the room. Reluctantly he'd let me hold him and walk him around the grounds of the care center until eventually he'd crash in my arms. He was so emotionally spent and so out of control of the situation that he used the only self-protective mechanism he had at his disposal: full physical shut-down. He didn't let Greg anywhere near him until after we were all home and I experienced a physical shut-down of my own.

This isn't a part of adoption that most people outside the adoption community often consider, but it's the core of the adoption experience: In order to be adopted, a child must first suffer unimaginable loss. A child's life must be ripped apart before we begin trying to piece it back together again.

And then the child demonstrates the remarkable nature of human resilience. Sidamo has grown from a scared, lonely, and insecure toddler into the most boisterous, confident, connected child you'll ever meet. And he loves to laugh about the fact that he once preferred Mommy over Daddy. This evening I overheard him telling Nora, "Nora, when you get older, you'll like Daddy better than Mommy too." Nora's response: "Oh yeah? Well when you get younger, you'll like Mommy better."

We had a very mellow celebration tonight—Chinese takeout, lots of laughs, and a book we brought home from Ethiopia: animal stories from the Sidamo region. In one of them, a hyena eats a wily mouse, and the mouse runs straight through to the exit. Huge hit with the under-6 crowd.

We told Sidamo how lucky we are to have him in our lives, how happy we are that we met him on that day four years ago, and how much we love him. He and I also talked about how hard our first meeting was for him, and how brave he was to take a chance on us. Sidamo was, and continues to be, such a remarkable and inspirational child, and I still struggle daily to make sense of the odd imbalance of luck that gave us the privilege of parenting him.

Thank you to the lovely Sarah for this beautiful photo—and the many others I'll be poaching when I finally find the words to recap our incredible weekend.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Sidamo: Julian, do you believe in God?

Julian (6-year-old next-door neighbor/best friend): No, do you?

Sidamo: I don't believe in God. I believe in the Piston Cup.

Combine this with Nora's, "We don't go to church; we go to hotels," and I think we've earned an A+ in religious education.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

About the dog

In the camping post, I made reference to some relationship struggles. With a dog. Time to elaborate and beg guidance.

Edie has been with us for four months now. In so many ways she's a wonderful dog—she loves the kids. Absolutely adores them, follows them around, is gentle with them, and puts up with their antics with a smile on her face and a wag in her tail. She's quite mellow for a 1.5-year-old dog, doesn't chew things, is trustworthy left alone, has never had an accident. She gets check marks on much of the Perfect Dog Checklist.

Unfortunately, she also has some issues. Serious issues. She has a crazily intense prey drive that causes her to chase anything that moves—squirrels, birds, bicycles, motorcycles, helicopters, other dogs … making leash training really, really difficult. We've been working hard on it, and she's slowly improving.

However, there's an issue that is not, so far, resolving with training: territorial aggression. When anyone comes to the house, which is about 10 times a day (we have a very busy household), she turns into Cujo. At first it was just barking and retreating, but now she'll actively pursue people while barking maniacally. On Saturday, she lunged and snapped at Greg's uncle during Nora's birthday party. Luckily she didn't make contact, but it was scary.

I've been in touch with a couple more behaviorists and the rescue we got her from. The general consensus is that, with lots of intense training, we might be able to manage her aggression but not erase it. Which freaks me out. Essentially, they're telling me it's going to be months/years of lots and lots of work just to minimize the risk, but she'll never be a bombproof dog.

We need a bombproof dog.

As someone who volunteered for years for a dog rescue, I get what a ridiculous thing that is to say. I get that dogs (especially rescue dogs) have issues. We worked through our 140-pound Great Dane's dog aggression. It was a ton of work and it took years, and we had no kids at the time. The stakes were lower, our hands were freer, and our time was plentiful.

And the truth is, we can deal with issues. Certain issues. But aggression is sort of a non-starter for me. I just can't have a dog who might bite when I have three kids whose friends are in and out all day long. So here's another thing I feel awful typing: I think we might need to return Edie to the rescue. And it's hard on so many levels. Edie has been through so much transition already and clearly has come to love our family. What's more, our family has come to really love her. The kids adore her. They (especially Nora) light up when they see her. She's their favorite playmate. It will be heartbreaking for them if we give her back.

But on the other hand, it would be far more devastating if she were to hurt someone and had to be euthanized.

Ugh. After typing it all out, I guess the answer seems pretty clear. I'd still love some weigh-in, though. Maybe there are some angles I haven't thought of, or just some words of comfort about a crappy situation. Please?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

3-year-old baby

My sweet little girl turned 3 yesterday. In some ways—temper, simultaneous yet conflicting desires, extreme stubbornness, to give a few examples—she's 3 through-and-through.

In other ways, though, she's still the cuddly little baby who wants Mommy to hold, rock, and sing to her. A little like she was three years ago.

For her birthday, she wanted (what else?) a strawberry cake with a chicken on top. After scouring the web and finding the most unappetizing chicken-shaped cakes you could possibly imagine (really, try a quick google search), I found this adorable one. They were harder a lot more work than I imagined, but luckily my friend Jess came over to help. Voila:

Since Greg's birthday was last week too, we had a combined party on what turned out to be Father's Day (oops—need to check the calendar better next time).

It was a splendid day. Perfect weather, yummy food, and water play for the kids.

Such a fun celebration of my fun, quirky, chicken-loving chatterbox and her handsome, devoted, hilarious, and handy papa. I'm doubly blessed with my wonderful Geminis.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First camping trip 2011

We took our first camping trip of the year last week, and it was lovely. My kids, as you may have noticed, are happiest when outdoors, filthy, and in some state of undress. Camping is the perfect activity for them. Greg is happiest in the mountains, fishing, with his family close by. Camping is the perfect activity for him, which is why we always take a nice fish-centric camping trip around his birthday (which is today—happy birthday, baby!).

So last Wednesday, we headed to the hills with our good friends Pete and Jess and their two girls, Hazel and teensy little Annie. Also in tow (badum-pum) was their brand-new-to-them Airstream. Oh how that lovely tin can changed the camping experience—for the better.

You maybe can't tell it from the photos above, but the first two days of the trip were outrageously windy—so windy that our heavy-duty tent poles look like they've been run over by a truck. And since we were camping on the shores of a lake, the wind kicked up huge amounts of dust, making it impossible to be outside for good portions of the trip.


Which allowed for plenty of reading time, another favorite of my kids and Hazel. In fact, we had enough holed-up time to read the first 100 pages of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Sidamo. It's the first chapter book he's really gotten into, and he's totally enthralled. So am I, actually. Much more so than the first time around.

We also took a lovely hike around Monarch Lake. Sidamo was a rockstar—4+ miles with very little complaining. Actually, he probably went more like 8 miles, since he was running laps around us the whole time. Nora on the other hand demanded to be carried for much of the hike, which made it even more of a workout for her daddy. And Edie continued to act like the crazy beast that she is, making me want to push her into the raging river more than once. (Another story, Edie and I are experiencing some conflict in our relationship.)

The campfire food was delicious, of course. The non-alcoholic beer was entirely fulfilling. I'll keep telling myself that. (Pete, above, is enjoying the leaded variety.)

And I sort of wish there had been something totally calamitous about the trip, because that would make the above "Pete Emerges from the Ashes" photo more meaningful. As it is, it's just a pretty fantastic pic. (Speaking of, all the photo credits go to Gregola, the family photographer.)

We're all looking forward to our next trip—and trying to resist the urge to buy an Airstream.