Monday, August 25, 2014

This is 30

My friend Margaret Jacobsen took this photo of me right around my 30th birthday.  I consider it my official year 30 portrait.
I am 30 years old.  I have only been 30 for a little over one month, but I can tell you that being this age is much different than I expected it would be years ago.  To someone in their teens, 30 is SO OLD.  I still kind of think it sounds old, but it doesn't feel old.  I don't feel like a grown-up.  I'm not sure when that will settle in.  I already have two kids and I thought it would come by this point.
What I do feel is confidence.  I'm much more confident than I have ever been in my life.  I feel comfortable in my work and no longer have a high stress level when branching out to work on projects that are new.  My last three freelance jobs came to me, I didn't seek them out.  It is great to be at a point where opportunities are coming my way and I'm not having to awkwardly attempt to sell myself on limited merit.
I am also much more confident as a parent.  Taking the kids to the grocery store by myself isn't a big deal anymore.  If Pearl decides to throw a fit in the middle of Ikea, it barely phases me.  I don't worry about what people around me are going to think of my parenting as a result of the situation.  Kids are unpredictable, and even the calmest ones have their moments.  I also generally don't care as much about what people think which is quite liberating.
With young kids, I still don't have a lot of freedom to take much time for myself.  I have so many things that I would like to do.  I want to work-out regularly, read more, and build more quality relationships with friends.  I want to become more involved when it comes to social justice, make more art, and find my niche within my church.  I'm making steps to do some of these things now.  And as my kids age, I will have more time for myself.  When I look ahead to 40, I now think it sounds pretty exciting.  I wonder how many of these things I will be able to accomplish by then and what other twists and turns my life will take in that time.
Aging is scary.  I see my grandparents as their bodies and minds are deteriorating.  My parents are beginning to have health issues as well.  It is frightening to know that is eventually on the horizon for me, too (if I'm lucky enough to make it to old age).  But, at this point, I am able to recognize all of the amazing things that come along with getting older.  With age, I am learning more about who I am and sensing that I am capable of so many more things.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Busy Summer and Annual Oregon Coast Trip

This summer has been busy.  Much busier than I expected.  I'm not complaining, it has actually been really good.  We went on a few local vacations, I had two great freelance opportunities come up, and we have been enjoying summer with the kids whenever we get a chance.  My activity on this blog has substantially tanked over the last few months as a result of our busy summer.  I assure you, I don't plan to stop blogging here.  It has become apparent that some things have to move to the back burner at certain times in life and one of those things has been the blog.  I may not be posting as frequently as I once was, but I have plans to keep things going around here.
Our most recent trip was our annual family Oregon Coast vacation.  This year we stayed at a much larger house in Newport, OR.  Three kids have joined the family since we started this tradition so it became apparent that a larger house was needed (although the beach house we used to rent was awesome).
Despite my poor niece being sick and teething, we had a great time.  Pearl was so excited to finally work on a sandcastle.  Besides hanging out on the beach; we visited the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, walked around a ton of cute shops, and ate good food.  We are lucky to live in a place where there is so much to do within driving distance.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Treats for Pumping Moms in the Office

I spend the majority of my time with the kids so I rarely had to pump when either of them was little.  During my last freelance job though, I worked part-time in the office and had to start pumping twice a day on my in-office days so Axel had milk while with the sitter.  Since I had to take time to pump, I felt I could never take a lunch break.  The company only had me for a limited amount of time and I wanted to be as productive for them as possible.  That meant self-imposed, quickly scarfed, lunches at my desk.
I also had to walk around the building at pumping times searching for an available room to pump.  It generally took some time to find an open one and I ended up pumping in the bathroom (gross!) on a couple occasions.  I started figuring out when the busy pumping times were for other moms so I could try to work around them.  This of course didn't always work with meeting schedules so some days I would only manage to pump once.
The extra effort and skipped lunches were frustrating, but I of course knew it was worth it.  I thought about the women in that office working full time who needed to pump 3+ times a day to keep their supplies up.  Most of the pumping moms I knew came in early and skipped lunches every day so it didn't interfere with their work.  They were making a huge sacrifice for their babies. 
Those moms didn't need someone to tell them how awesome their efforts were.  It is nice once in a while to have someone acknowledge it though.  On my last day in the office there,  I decided to make cookies and put them in the busiest pumping room with a simple note letting those moms know they are appreciated.
If you work with pumping moms, and want to do the same for them, here is a PDF of the notes I created for my cookies.  One of the options has the recipe I used on it.  It's a no bake cookie recipe that I modified so more moms could partake.  A lot of women don't eat dairy while nursing and I know so many people who are gluten free or vegan now that I figured I would accommodate them with the recipe as well.  There is also a PDF without a recipe if you want to make your favorite treats instead.
Another idea is to make cookies to put in the nursing mom's room at church or any other location you can think of where frequent pumping and/or nursing occur.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

IKEA Portland Has a Gift Registry!

Disclaimer - I was not paid for this post.  I am eligible to receive minor compensation for items purchased from registries created with the below affiliate link.

I get a lot of promotional e-mails from companies and almost always say no to promoting what they have to offer.  I don't want people to feel like I'm always trying to sell them things.  It's important to me that my content is either fun, helpful, or both.  When I was contacted by Jifiti about the new IKEA Portland registry though, I knew it was something worth sharing.  
The majority of our home is furnished with IKEA items.  We registered a couple places for our wedding, but mot of the money we received went toward IKEA furniture.  How great would it have been if we could have actually registered there instead?
The registry is currently only available for the Portland, OR IKEA store.  It is perfect for weddings, baby showers, house warming parties, college graduation, or basically any occasion where you can get people to buy you sweet stuff from IKEA.  My favorite feature is the "chip-in" option.  People can choose to chip-in the amount they have available to spend on larger items.  This way, you get what you want and don't feel like you have to register for a ton of $25-$50 items just so your friends and family have something to buy in their price range.
If you sign up from a desktop computer by clicking on the below image, it will take you to the sign up page.  After you have signed up, you can start adding items from your computer or you can use the handy app on your phone that has been created for the registry.  You can also register for items at the IKEA Portland store.
Sign up by clicking on the below image from your computer:
 photo IKEAgiftregistry_zps153784e4.png
They have a great FAQ page.  The registry is new and has features that may be unfamiliar to some.  All of your questions can be answered there.
A few items from the IKEA Portland website that I would immediately register for if I were getting married or moving.
Happy registering!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pearl Plays PDX #6 - Happy Valley Park

Happy Valley Park is relatively close to our house.  It is located in Happy Valley which is technically it's own  small town on the edge of Portland.  It is up on Mt. Scott in Clackamas County.
The park has a big playground, trails for running and walking, a scenic wetland boardwalk trail, a dog park, soccer fields, baseball fields, and a skate park.  The main attraction though is the splash pad.
You will find us at the splash pad once or twice a week in the summer.  It's a great way to beat the heat and a perfect location for play dates.  There is grassy space to put down blankets to sit and they also have plenty of picnic tables under cover if it's exceptionally hot.  There are bathrooms right next to the splash pad and the parking lot is right there, too.  I appreciate the short walk since my hands are usually full while carrying the kids and their things.
The splash pad can get very busy in the afternoon on hot days.  It rarely feels hectic though, even when packed.  The best time to go to avoid crowds seems to be in the morning.  We often visit the splash pad around 10-11 am and there are usually only a handful of people there.
I know there are plenty of great splash pads in the Portland area that we need to check out, but this one is so convenient that it's our go-to place if I don't want to take the time to plan.  I would love for Portland area parents to let me know what splash pads you love in the comments section.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Teaching Toddlers to Sew

Yesterday, Pearl asked me to teach her how to sew.  I told her I would show her after I got back from running errands.  While I was out, I considered how I might actually show my 2.5 year old how to hand sew.  To be honest, I figured she would have forgotten about the idea by the time I got home.  I'm glad I thought about it while I was out though because she was waiting for me by the door and immediately said, "Ok, you show me now?" when I arrived home.
I grabbed a piece of construction paper, a hole punch, yarn, and a plastic needle.  The idea of giving her a real needle freaked me out so I was glad I had that plastic one on hand.  We could have done it without a needle at all though and she still would have been able to grasp the basic idea.  I punched holes around the outside of the paper and explained to her the basic idea of alternating over and under through the punched holes with her needle.
I was pleasantly surprised that she understood it right away.  Once she was finished stitching, I let her color her piece of paper with markers and we put it up on the wall.  This will be a great activity for when I would like her to be quiet for a bit.  She was concentrating really hard!  Next time I will play around with punching holes into shapes so it's like a connect the dots drawing.  Maybe a heart or star to start out.  I hope this post helps you think of ideas to get your kids sewing, too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oregon Summer Vacations

We had the opportunity to go on two back-to-back local vacations in June.  The fun started off with yurt camping at Ft. Stevens State Park.  We went with a group of friends.  There were five couples all with two kids each.  It was so fun to spend that time with friends and to watch Pearl playing with their kids.  The hope is to make it an annual event.
A couple days after returning home, we headed to Sunriver, OR with my family.  Pearl stayed in my sister Kara's room and shared a bed with her cousin Maleah.  They even watched Frozen one night in bed.  She thought it was the best thing ever.  My sister Kacy also gave Pearl her first haircut while we were there.  We had a lot of fun riding bikes, swimming at the aquatic center, and watching the deer.
Jeremy has taken up long distance bike riding.  He rode his bike all the way out to Ft. Stevens with our friend Chris.  It was 110 miles!  Then he rode around 70 miles while we were in Sunriver.  The below photo is of him on his way down Mt. Bachelor.  I'm amazed that he can quickly pick up athletic pursuits like that.  I was completely out of breath riding just two miles in Sunriver with the kids in the bike trailer.
I'm hoping to have more time for the blog this summer.  I just wrapped up another great freelance job and I plan to take a couple months off to hang with the kids while the weather is nice.  I hope you are all enjoying the start of summer.