Our busy weekend

Hi all!  I really wish this was a post with a new maternity dress that I feverishly sewed over the weekend.  But alas, there was just too much to do and I started to cut one out but that’s as far as I got.  It was Claire’s last volleyball tournament for the club season on Saturday.  She had a great turnout of fans…

Andi & Tony, Ebin & Ethan, Papa Ron & Marta, Me & Claire, Justine and Grandma Cindy (Grandma Trudie not pictured, she's behind the camera on account of she hates having her picture taken!) Mark and Enzo were also there, but this was about the time he was on a drive to get the little peanut to nap.

 It’s weird to think the season is over, it went by quickly if you ask me (probably not if you ask Claire). No more making two trips to Gresham a week for practice, no more getting up at 5am on a weekend and spending 14 hours in a noisy gym.  Weird!  What are we going to do with ourselves?

She had a great team this year, and it was fun to watch them grow in their sport that they clearly love playing.  It was a sweet group of young ladies and I wish them all the best in their volleyball futures!  I am sure we’ll meet up with a few of them down the line. 

Go Power! (Claire is the floating head third from the right)

And I want to thank my Mom for being there every single tournament, bright and early to pick us up and do all the driving, endure hours of waiting in between games and nail-biting volleyball action!  I wouldn’t have enjoyed the season as much had you not been there next to me!

I forced her to have this taken, I look HUGE, please keep in mind this was after a 12 hour tournament day (please and thanks!)

 Papa Ron and Marta made the trip from Arlington to watch her play, it was awesome to have the day with them and they enjoyed seeing how much Claire has improved her skills.


 They finished 6th overall in the tournament (it was the Regionals championship) but they played their hearts out and it was a close game every single time.   Those are really fun to watch, but also really tough to take when they lose knowing how hard they worked for it.  Luckily, it doesn’t cause them any tears – they hit the team food table and munch their cares away until the next match.  I wonder how long that will be the case, or if Claire will eventually start getting emotional about a loss. 

I’m proud of my girl, she works hard and is very dedicated to the sport.  I’m a volleyball Mom, all the way!

Then on Sunday we got outside and worked in the yard a bit.  Mark was cleaning out and organizing the shed and Enzo enjoyed seeing all the toys and things coming out of there.  A basketball, a kickball and some lawn games like Bocce.  He spent a good twenty minutes putting tennis balls in the container and then dumping them out again, and then repeating.  So while he was happy doing that, I dug up the weeds and mess that had taken over our little area along the back porch.  Then I laid down paper so that the weeds would have a hard time growing back and covered the paper with decorative pea pebbles.  It looks great!  If I do say so myself.  And I also checked in on the garden, which is looking super happy!

radishes and romaine lettuce, all in a row!

 Mark played soccer in the evening and then we reflected on our very productive weekend. 

Although, I was NOT productive in the sewing area AT ALL.  Sorry about that.  I put out a plan to make a dress a week and that has not happened yet.  I have also been a little preoccupied with my new gig…


More on that later, but let’s just say I am spending lots of time researching possibilities and trying to get all my ducks in a row.

I love when I look at the pictures on my phone and find random ones the kids have taken.  Here was my treat this week…

My sweet darlings!

 I hope you have had a great Monday and tune in tomorrow for some VERY EXCITING NEWS.  We have a very early ultrasound scheduled to find out the gender of our baby and see him/her on the big screen.  We can’t wait!

And don’t worry, we’ll make our announcement on the blog.  Well, actually, this guy and his big sisters will be helping with that…


Stay tuned!



Fuchsia Saturday – Thanks Mom!

Today my Mom treated us to a day of gardening extravaganza!  She had recently picked up a raised garden bed kit (basically the wooden sides already built, with some screws to hold them together) from Bi-Mart because she knew I was interested in trying one out this year.  And since the weekend forecast called for sun and fairly warm temperatures (65 degrees, hey we take what we can get in the Pacific NW!), we planned to put it together today.  She had read about what was called the “lasagna” style of gardening where you put layers of soil/manure/cardboard/newspapers/mulch into your garden bed and then soak it and let it sit for a few days.  It all joins together and produces a very fertile soil perfect for planting fruits and vegetables. We used chicken poop!  It smelled like the county fair.

And today was also the 22nd annual Fuchsia sale at Fred Meyer, where fuchsias are on sale 5/$3 and they fill your pots with soil for free!  And they will even plant your flowers in the pots while they are at it, if you want.  I left Mark at home to mow the lawn (we also used the lawn clippings in the garden bed) and the baby and I headed to meet up with Grandma Trudie and Auntie Andi.  It was really chilly out, and cloudy, which was completely opposite of what the forecast was saying, so we had to bundle up.  But Enzo didn’t seem to mind the cold.  He actually really enjoyed entertaining those around him, mostly older ladies, and pointing his finger at things.  He likes to point.  And he likes to point and talk like he’s telling you something very important.


and pointing...

talking and pointing...

Then it was home to start in on the yard.  It looked so nice after Mark mowed it, it’s really a beautiful dark green right now and despite the attack of the dandelions, it’s not in that bad of shape.  Oh, and the dog trails.  We dug up last year’s pathetic excuse for a garden, which had turned into a field of weeds and a parsley plant (random).  Mark hammered our garden bed together and Mom and I layered up our soil/poop/paper bag lasagna.  It looks great!

(forgive the blurry photos, I used my phone and I need to practice more to get the focus more accurate)

raised bed

Now I just need to get a plan together of what things I would like to plant.  So far I am thinking this:

* Tomatoes (I’m the only one in the house that eats them, so I’m thinking small ones to just snack on not cook with)

* Squash (any variety, I’d like to learn how to cook more dishes that use squash)

* Pumpkins (for Halloween, duh!)

* Broccoli (I might put Veda in charge of this one, she likes broccoli)

* Celery (if it grows okay in this area, I love to snack on celery)

* Carrots (we eat lots of carrots around here, Enzo especially likes them)

I’d like to do onions but my brother assures me he’ll have enough to feed the entire block so I should just eat his.  Same with cucumbers.  I don’t really use fresh herbs for cooking, I’m not that fancy (or culinary educated) so I don’t think I’ll bother with herbs this year.  That random parsley plant that survived from last year?  Yeah, I’m sure it would have been useful had I cared enough to notice it was doing well.

So here’s what else we did around the yard…

new flowers in pots




new fuchsias in the hanging pots


New azalea (left) to go with the surviving azalea from last year (right)


the raised garden bed, just so proud of it!


we have no idea what this brick thing is, it's like an old bbq pit or something but it's really cool, Veda planted wildflowers in it last year and they came back, complete with a few tulips! Oh and the owl, it also came with the house, score!


My handsome husband, surveying his hard work (that is a greenhouse on the right, not a port-a-potty though that's what it looks like at first glance in this picture : (

Mark ended up with 19,000+ steps on his pedometer today.  Which roughly translates to almost 10 miles.  I think that’s insane!  Enzo loved being outside, playing in the grass and dirt.  He was barefoot in the backyard and it was awesome.  He’s getting really good at this walking thing, but not good enough that he’ll just take off on uneven ground yet.  Next month, we’ll be chasing after him I’m sure!

We ended the day with a delicious dinner, bbq’ing some burgers with the beef that Mark’s parents gave us.  I am going to say it was the best damn hamburger I’ve had in a long time.  It was about an inch thick and cooked perfectly through.  Yum!  I only wished I could have enjoyed it with a nice cold beer, but alas I have 4 months before I’ll be doing that again.

THANK YOU MOM!!!  It was such a fun day and we are so grateful for our beautiful start to a bountiful garden this year.  Come play in our dirt anytime!



Easter weekend at Papa’s

Happy Easter!

Last weekend for the Easter holiday, we traveled east down the gorge to visit my Dad (Papa Ron).  It’s our little slice of heaven getaway from the hustle bustle of the city.  In the middle of nowhere, lots of clean country air and no cell phone service.  I love it.  I don’t think Mark is a huge fan of that, because he is always trying to get enough bars to get an update on a score for the Blazers/Timbers/Beavers while we’re there.  Veda gets to ride the horses, and this weekend for the first time she went out of the pasture on a short ride down the road with my stepmom Marta.

Veda and Ruby

She loved it!  Thanks Marta!

On Saturday we went over the hill to my Grandma’s house and the kids got to hunt some easter eggs just like I did many years ago.  Some of my fondest memories are of Easters at the ranch, all 8 of us grandkids would hunt for eggs (and it wasn’t easy, my Grandma is a master gardener which meant lots of places to hide things) and then we’d all gather on the patio and eat them with the sun shining down.  It was so much fun!  And we have never done that with our own children, so I was especially excited about this idea.  The sun was out, though there was a chilly wind blowing.  My only regret is that we didn’t get pictures of the kids with Grandma!  Darn it!


I had been patiently waiting for Easter to get here so that Enzo could wear the adorable suit his Aunt Yolanda sent him from Spain for his birthday.  It fit perfectly!


Marta made a fabulous dinner, as usual, and the sun was out again.  In true Arlington fashion though, that wind just wouldn’t quit so jackets were required.  But the kids enjoyed the hunt anyway.

Cousins! Veda, Hunter, Wyatt, Enzo and Claire (missing Ebin and Ethan)


We hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!





My fun day!

Today was not a typical day in our house!  I started the day off by going grocery shopping, something I normally put off until the afternoon.  And I have to say, I was in super slow motion at the grocery store, going down every aisle whether I needed to or not.  And Enzo was super patient with me (the squeeze bottle of baby food, blueberry/apple, helped I’m sure) even though it was during his morning nap time.  And I was totally relating to my friend Kira’s blog post about “Portlander Problems” where she got caught in a downpour with groceries in a paper bag.  This is not good.  It was dumping when Enzo and I left the store, and for some reason I parked on a relatively slanted part of the parking lot (cause it was close to the door), not thinking through how difficult it would be to keep the cart from rolling while I was trying to load the kid in the car.  I unhooked him from the cart, turned to put him in his seat and I had this feeling that my cart was rolling away.  Sure enough I turned around just in time to grab it before it hit the car parked next to me.  Sheesh.  That would have been ugly.  So I stabilized it with my foot and then tried shifting bags of groceries from the cart to the back seat of the car.  All the while it’s raining like mad and my bags are getting soggier and soggier.  Thankfully, the clerk double-bagged everything so I didn’t have any blow outs.  But Kira, I was totally thinking about you while this was going on.

I thought I could get Enzo to nap when we got home, even though it was close to 11am at that point (he usually takes his first nap by 9:30am).  But to no avail.

At around noon, our friend Dan dropped off his adorable son Raine (7 months old) for me to watch for the afternoon.  Their sitter had a sick kid, and I was available (yay!) so I happily accepted their request to look after him.  I mean, seriously, look at this face…

smoochy smoochy!

…wouldn’t you say yes?

Raine is the easiest baby I have ever taken care of (including my own!).  He slept for two and a half hours (Enzo did not), so there wasn’t a whole lot of time for him and Enzo to play.  But they still had fun.  Enzo was showing him his toys and Raine was proving that tummy time is actually pretty awesome (he does the army crawl, and man he moves fast!).

"see, this is my car"


"hey Raine, are you sure this is fun?



The girls got home from school and the babies were in heaven.  And Mark and I got a taste of what four kiddos in the house is going to feel like.  It feels a bit cramped, I’ll be honest.  But it’s cool, we’ll make it work.

Why is Enzo so serious?

We made some homemade pizzas for dinner (Jiffy pizza crust mix is cheap and super good!) and then Dan came to pick up Raine.  Then it was time for Claire and I to rush off to volleyball practice.  It was a busy day, but it was a fun day.



Out to lunch

How was your weekend?  Besides incredibly wet and grey, if you live in the Pacific Northwest.  We stayed indoors most the weekend, oh wait, the entire weekend is more accurate.  I didn’t get very much accomplished on Saturday because I was having a very strong feeling of morning sickness all day.  All day.  It wasn’t fun.  So then on Sunday when I was feeling somewhat human again (thanks to my husband for picking up some ginger capsules for me! I think they are helping), it was time to think of something to do.

Mark and Veda headed over to Circuit Bouldering to do some physical exercise.  And Claire and I were considering seeing a movie, but couldn’t find one that we were interested in.  So instead we made plans to go out for lunch.  I wanted some place that was kid-friendly, with a play gym or something fun for Enzo.  But unless you want to go to McDonalds or another fast food chain, your choices are pretty limited.  If you know of a cafe in town that has a fun little play area, possibly with a ball pit or something, let me know!  So I read about this place not far from home called Eclectic Kitchen that apparently had a great kids menu (including little bites for toddlers) and a play area. Turns out the play area is just a huge chalkboard on the wall (which will be fun when Enzo is a bit older and won’t want to just eat the chalk) and a shelf of toys and books that I wasn’t really comfortable with him playing with (germs!).  But the food was super good!  I had the BLT-A and Claire ordered the Turkey Bacon Ranch sandwich.  They use bread from Grand Central Bakery and it was so yummy!  And I sat us at the only table that didn’t have a little kids menu pop up on it, so I didn’t see those options until I had already ordered.  I ended up getting a side of breakfast potatoes for Enzo, which he loved.  No really, he LOVED them.  I think the kid would just fall apart if he was told he could never eat another potato.  It’s seriously his favorite food, in any form, doesn’t matter.  He was eating them very noisily (“mmm mmm’ing” the whole time, a couple at an adjacent table thought he was pretty cute).  Compliments to the chef!




It was at least nice to get out of the house.  And I was happy to not be feeling like death.  It comes and goes.  So far today, I’m feeling okay.  But it’s still early, usually doesn’t come on until around noon.  I’ll be loading up on ginger and B12 to try and combat it.  And we will be 13 weeks along tomorrow, officially in the 2nd trimester, so hopefully it ends soon!

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!





Today is a very special day.  It is the birthday of Mark’s older brother Jay, who tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident in September of 2008.  He will forever be alive in our hearts and the memories of those who knew and loved him.  I wish I could say that I knew him, but unfortunately I only met him once, on Halloween in 2007.  Mark and I had been dating for a year and his brother and his wife were in town so we had them over for dinner.  I remember that he was quiet, and tall and handsome.  His wife was really sweet and kept talking about their new puppy, calling him “crazy Charlie”.  I kept having to have her repeat it though because I couldn’t understand what she was saying (she is from Spain, very strong accent).  They were kind and gentle people and I felt as though they were already family to me.  And then a year later, he was gone.  I was angry for a long time because I never had the chance to get to know him.  But that pales in comparison to the feelings of loss and pain that Mark and his family carry with them everyday.  Thankfully, his spirit and beauty live on in his son Jay David, born just two weeks after he passed.

our nephew J.D.


Happy Birthday Jay, we love and miss you.



A busy week ahead!

February is a big month for us in the birthday realm!  Veda will be turning 11 on Thursday and we’ll be having a small family gathering at our house in the evening.  She has requested lasagna for dinner and I am happy to oblige.  She is vegetarian so I usually make it with lots of spinach and sometimes broccoli.  I haven’t decided yet what all I put it in this week, perhaps I will add some vegie grounds this time?

We are also gearing up for the 1st birthday party of our sweet little boy this weekend!  So as you can see, I will have many things to do in the next couple of days!

On the list:

*  Make bow ties for all the little boy guests

* Make hair bows for all the little girl guests

* Finalize the dessert offerings and get all the supplies for a bake-o-rama on Saturday, thankfully my good friend Karen will be here to assist me!

* Make some simple decorations, mostly having to do with Enzo’s monthly onesie pictures to see how much he’s grown over the past year!

* Decide what we are getting our kiddos for their special days and then buy them!

*  Plan some fun things for the little guests to do, since they will be ranging in age from 0-11.  I originally put the girls in charge of this but it might be more like I come up with what to do and they step in the day-of and actually handle the children.  Which I am sure they will be more than happy to do!

Enzo is finally feeling better and no longer has his yucky cough.  So this week I hope to get him on the right track with taking naps again.  Mark put him down this morning before he left for work and he’s surprisingly still asleep (it’s been an hour!). He seems to do fine when his Daddy puts him down, but for me it’s a totally different story.  I get it.  But seriously, it’s not practical on days when Mark isn’t here.  So we need to figure out our own little system, him and I.

In fact, our month is so full of birthday celebrations that I almost forgot about Valentine’s Day being tomorrow.  Mark and I both informed each other that we hadn’t done anything for one another, then laughed, then decided we should just buy a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s and call it good.  Be “those people”.  Heck, it’s pizza, works for me!  Yay love!

I hope you have a wonderful Monday!  I think we are going to get one more day of nice weather and then it’s going to get cold again.  Did you take advantage of the sunshine this past weekend?



A Ritchie Christmas Party!

The Ritchie family 2011

Thanks again to Great Aunt Judy for hosting, it was a lovely time as always!  Here are some pictures from our annual Christmas gathering with the Ritchie family.  We really need to be better about seeing these people, our girls are all around the same age and we only see them maybe twice a year, and everyone lives here in town – unacceptable!!  I vow to encourage more get-togethers in the new year.

Enzo and Aunt Amy


Aunt Stephanie and Cousin Molly (with a sweet little ball of fur)


Hayley and the puppy


Gracie and Veda, with puppy and the gingerbread house they made!


Grandpa Bill and his boy


Enzo meets the puppy




Julie, Gracie and Kayla


The puppy was popular!


Mark and George


football from Great Uncle Chuck


Grandma Betty


Veda's crazy face





Enzo has enjoyed playing with his new toys today!

We have a busy week ahead, but I will try and get a couple more blog posts in before I head east for Christmas at Papa Ron and Marta’s.



Decorating our Christmas tree

Last weekend we ventured up to the hills to seek out our Christmas tree.   Hmm, that might be conjuring up visions of us traipsing through the woods, up to our knees in snow, searching for the perfect Noble Fir.  That was last year, which if you were reading this blog then you will remember ended with us giving up and choosing a tree farm just outside of Sandy.  Well, to save time and energy, we just went straight to that same tree farm and cut down a tree.


Enzo had fallen asleep right before we got there, so he and I waited at the car.

goof balls.

The girls did just fine picking out the tree, and Mark worked his magic with the saw, and the next thing I knew they were back at the car.


By that time Enzo had woken up, so we stood outside while Mark tied the tree to the roof racks.

blue eyed boy.



Once we got back home, I made a big pot of vegetable bean soup.  It was going to be chili, but without meat (Veda is vegetarian) but I just started adding vegetables and soon it didn’t look like chili at all.  So I renamed it.  It was super tasty and everyone loved it.  We got out all the Christmas decorations and the girls started setting up the tree.  Mark kept Enzo busy reading a book, while I made some cream puffs for dessert!

"Hello little kitten!".. he loves that part


My Mom's recipe, how did I do?

Oh, and Claire made her and Veda gigantic mugs of hot chocolate…


I have never really been fussy about how the tree looks.  You know how sometimes you’ll go to peoples houses and their tree looks straight out of a Macy’s Christmas ad?  Everything in it’s place, one central color theme, nothing homemade.   Well, our tree is pretty much the exact opposite of all those things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The ornaments are all ones that we have either made ourselves, or collected over the years (even before we were together).  Veda finger-knitted the garland last year.  And there’s about five of the lights that have decided to blink this year (??).  Maybe they did it last year too, but I don’t remember it.  Enzo wasn’t really interested in the decoration process but the girls included him anyway.











our cute kids.

And Veda made the tree-topper this year, her teacher at school taught her how to do it and they are really beautiful!

Enzo's just doing some final touches.


our "star"!



What about you?  Is your tree up yet?



a very Happy Thanksgiving


We celebrated with the Ritchie family yesterday, it was a lovely afternoon and a DELICIOUS meal!  Thanks Mom & Dad Ritchie!





And I’m thankful that they sent us home with leftovers so we can enjoy it all again today!  After all, that’s what this holiday is about right?  Eating until you explode?  And being thankful, of course.


I am thankful for so many things.  Family.  Health.  Love.  Great Friends.

Claire even did a little manual labor while we were there.  Woah.  Holiday spirit taketh over…


We hope you had a great holiday, ate until your pants split and get to enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend relaxing with friends and/or family.  Mark has a  cold and Enzo woke up this morning with the sniffles, so I do believe we will be keeping it chill the next couple days.  I plan to do a lot of sewing.