Friday, October 10, 2014

Baby Girl!

Big news, friends.  I'm pregnant!  We held onto announcing this one for a while. I am 18 weeks along and we found out this week that we are having a baby girl.  Pearl knew it was a girl from the start and wouldn't even acknowledge the idea that the baby could be a boy.  We would have been very happy either way, but I'm so glad it worked out for Pearl.
I was extremely tired during the first trimester.  On my days at home with the kids, I couldn't resist also taking a nap during their nap time.  I'm glad that fatigue is finally behind me because napping at that time of day was really cutting into my productivity.
I know a lot of people think we are crazy to have three kids under 3.5 years old.  We probably are crazy, but we want our kids to be close in age.  It has been fun to watch Pearl and Axel build their friendship and we decided it was time to add another playmate to the mix.
We are so happy to have another fun little person join our family in March.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kitty Cat Birthday Party for Pearl

Today is Pearl's 3rd birthday!  We had a party for her over the weekend so all of our family could come.  Pearl requested a kitty cat theme for her party after attending her cousin Tucker's turtle party.  She was convinced her party needed an animal theme.  She also decided to have "strawberry cake".  I'm not positive of where that idea came from.  My guess is it had something to do with the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book she recently received from a cousin.
Pearl has been pretty fickle about making decisions lately.  I tried to buy her a Halloween costume a few days back and she changed her mind on what she wanted to be four times within a ten minute time period.  She currently wants to be Kristoff from Frozen and shockingly enough, I can't seem to find a Kristoff costume anywhere.  She decided on the kitty cat theme and strawberry cake well over a month ago and continuously stuck with it so I was determined to make it a reality.
I like making silly party posters in Illustrator and Photoshop.  I know those programs well and it's a lot easier for me than painstakingly crafting decorations with two kids who are desperate to play with anything that's in my hand.  I hate using stock photos from the internet though, especially when I want to share my final product on this blog.  I definitely did not intend to have a cat photo shoot either because basically, I'm not crazy.
My final cat photo gathering solution was to ask my friends on Instagram if I could use their photos.  I essentially crowd sourced my cat images.  I set up a hashtag on Instagram and asked people to use that hashtag on photos they were fine with me using.  I also had a bunch of friends tell me I could use any of their Instagram photos and a few even e-mailed theirs to me.  I ended up with plenty of cats to choose from.  I also received tons of help on cat related puns to use via my Instagram account.
I spent no extra money on decorations for this party.  I already had paper and ink for the posters.  The little bit of crafting I did do involved yarn that I already had in my craft supplies.  For the yarn ball decorations, I just wrapped yarn around a few plastic balls that belong to my kids.  That awesome Berkley Illustration cat print usually resides in our hallway, but I moved it to the mantle because it fit the theme so well.
We had lots of fun!  Some of our guests even chose to wear cat related clothing.  Pearl loved it and the rest of the kids seemed to have a great time as well.

If you are curious about the strawberry cake, I used this recipe.  The frosting was ridiculously good.  The cake was very dense so I would want to modify the recipe if I made it again.

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.