One Good Thing

There was a book exchange at the holiday party at Eila’s preschool last week.  Each kid brought a book, gift wrapped, to school, and then they each got one brought by another child.  I wasn’t there to see it, but apparently Eila’s response, upon opening her book, was “I don’t want THAT book!” and throwing it across the room.

When I heard this story, I realized I forgot to practice One Good Thing with her.  A rookie mistake heading into the holiday season.  I should have done it in November!  Anyway, better late than never.

So on Friday, I wrapped up some less-than-desirable “gifts” for Eila and gave them to her, with the instructions that she was to say one good thing about each thing she opened.  Here’s how she did:


I was very proud of her.

A side note:  The practice of finding One Good Thing when receiving gifts can be very easily and beneficially expanded to include life circumstances in general.  When life hands you something you’re not thrilled about, remember this.  Maybe it’s not what you asked for it.  Maybe you wouldn’t have chosen it.  And maybe in many ways, it kind of stinks.  But see if you can find One Good Thing about it.  You might be surprised at what you see.


Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

What’s the plural of “snowman?”  Snowmen?  And is there a more gender-inclusive term?  Snow-people?  Anyway, we wanted to build one of those.  But the buckets of rain that have been falling here don’t give us anything to work with as far as that goes.  Luckily, I saw this online the other day.  A snowman factory using play dough!  We had to try it.

Our supplies looked like this at the start:


I forgot the step in the play dough recipe where you heat it up, but that didn’t seem to affect it too much.  And we added gold glitter for a little sparkle.  I wanted clear or silver glitter but could only find gold in my house.  Eila assured me it wouldn’t look like the yellow snow in that song about huskies.

girls at work


You can see baby Marley’s hand in this one:


If you’re thinking that’s impressive that she could help build the snowman, you should know that she was actually taking the button (eye) off in the photo, and that the snowman shown there soon looked like this:


Here are some of our other creations:













Davia's gang

Davia’s gang


Shaelyn's gang

Shaelyn’s gang


Here’s Eila orchestrating a wedding between her two snowpeople.

Eila's couple

Eila’s couple


I made these next two.  The babies got to the one on the right.  The one on the left is mad about that.





Kate and Mars



Madder still, now with eyebrows.

Madder still, now with eyebrows.



That’s all.  Sorry some of the photos are blurry.  This was a fun time and not nearly the disaster that many of my ideas-sourced-from-the-internet turn out to be.  Yay!

Secular Missionaries Take to the Streets!

We have a new project we wanted to share with you all.  The big girls and I are taking to the streets this summer as Secular Missionaries, and we’re going to be making and distributing care packages for people affected by homelessness.  We’re joined in this by my lovely sister, Renny, her awesome daughter, Rosalind, and my dear friend, Lori.

To raise money for the care packages, which will include things like toothbrushes and socks as well as food, we’re running an Indiegogo campaign.  We’ve never done this before, and we’re not sure how it will go, but we’re trying to just enjoy the process.  And however much or little we raise, we can work with to carry out our mission at that level.  We’re super excited.

The hardest part about the campaign so far was making the video.  We have lots of little kids around, and they were all determined to star in it.  I tried to edit around that, but you can still see it.  And I’m planning on making a bloopers reel some time in the next few weeks, because the footage we didn’t use is pretty funny.

Anyway, if you’d like to get involved or just see more about what we’re doing, check us out!

And I’ll end with a few unrelated but adorable recent photos:

imbrie hall








Night at the Laundromat


Today I took all four girls to the laundromat for a picnic.  And laundry.  A laundry picnic.


We ate sandwiches.  And chocolate.



Eila had a fun time with this little ladder.


And she’s licking her face, because she had some chocolate there left over from a few minutes earlier.


Marley had fun crawling all over the laundromat floor.


Eila helped get the change from the machine.


And I don’t have a picture of this, but she was most helpful for getting the little detergent boxes out of the soap machine, because no one else’s hands would fit in where the boxes fell.  Eila saves the day!


davia and marley

Davia and Shaelyn both helped a lot with Marley.  Especially Davia.


shaelyn and marley

davia and marley


baby in a basket

I should have taken a picture of our laundry, because the volume was impressive.  But maybe I’d rather forget that.

The trip was fun anyway.  Davia suggested we do it every week!  I said maybe.  It was definitely not the least fun time I’ve had with those four girls, out in public.  And that’s no small thing, given that we were doing laundry.  Maybe next time a little less laundry… and more chocolate.

Today I’m Turning 34

Today is my birthday.  This year, I decided that at this age, you get what you want for your birthday by asking for it.  So this year, I told my family that I wanted to watch Harold and Maude, eat tapas, drink sangria and wear pajamas.  So that’s what we did.


Kane let Eila pick out a present for me.  Little kids, when given some choice in the matter, almost always give gifts that they themselves would like to receive.  Imagining what someone else would like is a skill that develops over time, and not usually by the time a child turns three.  So a three-year-old is likely to give you, their mother, a chocolate bar or some legos for your birthday.  (Not that mothers don’t like chocolate, or legos for that matter, but those are things the kid wants too.  And they’re not going to get you a nice perfume or that label maker you’ve been wanting.)  But our Eila seems to have a gift for noticing others’ feelings.  And this is what she got me for my birthday this year:

Eila gets me cerealThat’s a heart shaped paper weight and a box of cereal.  According to Kane, she responded several different times to the question “What do you want to give Mama for her birthday?” with a very certain “Cereal.”  The background on this is that I’m a person who you do NOT want to be around when I’m hungry (often displaying several of these “hangry” types at once), and a food I usually have time and energy to prepare for myself is cereal.  So it’s not unusual for Eila to see me nearing a complete meltdown while growling “I NEED TO EAT” to anyone who will listen.  And it’s not unusual for her to see me scarf down some cereal after that and then resume playing with her happily.  So I’m not surprised that when Eila was trying to think of what Mama really, really wants, she came up with this.


I don’t have the best memory, and this decade (my 3o’s) is the one where I started forgetting how old I am.  So I developed a trick for remembering.  Basically, on your birthday, you have to create a memorable keepsake or artifact that incorporates your age, so you can refer back to it when asked how old you are.  For example, last year, on my 33rd birthday, I made a hat with a “33” on it.  And throughout the year, I relied on the mental image of that hat to know how old I was.


This year, my creation was not so tangible, but it is similarly etched in my mind.  I wrote a song about turning 34.  See me perform it below, while please not judging, as I am not a musician!

And while babies may not drink sangria, they sometimes help their mama make some.  (They were mostly making the virgin batch for themselves, but I may have let them slice fruit for mine as well.)

babies make sangria






Eila stirs



And our dear friend, Lori, came over to celebrate with us.  Here she is with the girls.  Note the pajamas.

lori and girls


lori and girls


lori and girls


Also, I really, truly got everything I wanted for my birthday this year, including repairs for my other ukulele, a business class I’ve been dying to take, and some vegan cookbooks.  Oh, and cereal.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Oh, Christmas tree.

In my college social psych class, I remember learning about “the hazing effect.”  Don’t remember if that’s what it’s actually called, or if I just call it that in my head, but the idea is that we like things that we have to work hard for more than we like things we get easily.  When we have to struggle and suffer to get something, our brain tells us that thing is very desirable.  So that we don’t feel like an idiot for struggling for it.  (Thanks, brain!)  This is a scientifically demonstrated phenomenon, and supposedly why frat boys are so loyal to their buddies.

Is that why I think our new Christmas tree is the most beautiful, perfect tree ever there was?

Our family received a very generous gift this year from some of Kane’s coworkers at Laika.  Maybe they noticed that having a new baby in an already sizable family isn’t exactly easy on the old pocketbook.  Or maybe they felt sorry for Kane coming in to work with holes in his shoes and eating left over lettuce for lunch.  (And for once, not because he’s vegan.)  Whatever the reason, they pitched in for us to get a Christmas tree.  All they asked in return was pictures of us cutting it down.

Wait, what?  Cutting what down?  There’s a xmas tree lot around the corner from our house, where a truck brings ready-to-go trees and sells them for $15.  Where does cutting come in?  Oh, we learned where the cutting comes in.  We learned.

So maybe Kane and I wouldn’t have chosen ourselves to go chop down our own tree.  But we’re good sports, and we were very touched by our tree-sponsors’ kindness.  So if cutting pictures they wanted, cutting pictures they’d get.  We found a tree farm just up the road and went there Saturday to get our tree.  We have pictures to prove it.  Both photographs AND drawings.  Somehow, I think the drawings are actually more realistic, but maybe that’s just me.  They’re at the bottom of this post.  You be the judge.

Now, you should know that we have some spirited and opinionated children in our family.  And that just because they accuse you of ruining their lives, that doesn’t mean they’re not having the best time ever.  Spoiler alert:  They have both, since this experience, asked if we could do it again and thanked us for it repeatedly.  But it wasn’t always so sunny.

Now on with the photos.

This first one is of Eila and Shaelyn upon arrival at the tree farm.

Eila's Out


Eila could hardly contain her excitement.



The farm had a sign with an offer almost too good to refuse.


There was a really nice, welcoming guy who drove us in a tractor-trailer-wagon thing out where the trees were.  The wagon ride was fun.

wagon ride


Kane and Eila


Davia and Shaelyn


D, S, K, M


Marley didn’t know what the hell was going on.







The wagon thing looked like this:wagon

The nice man asked what kind of tree we were looking for.  Kane said something about 5 or 6 feet tall.  I said we wanted one that smelled good.  He recommended a douglas fir or a noble fir.  He showed us what those both look like and sent us off into the trees.

what to get




kate and marley


This one was too small:

too small


So here’s where things started to get a little rocky.  We looked at the douglas firs.  Somebody said they weren’t the right shade of green.  We looked at the noble firs.  Somebody said they weren’t Christmasy enough.  Did I mention it was starting to get dark at this point?  Or that none of us thought to wear boots (to a farm), and we were wading around in gooey, slippery mud?

I said we could forget about douglas firs and noble firs.  Who cares how it smells?  I have fir tree essential oil at home, I said, offering to make any tree smell christmasy.  That was apparently the wrong thing to say.  “But we can get any tree you want!” I said to the disgruntled children.  Somebody said the trees were too small, too tall.  Too bushy.  Too branchy.  Too piney.  “This one,” I said.  “We’ll get this tree!  It’s the perfect tree!”  Somebody said I was just saying that to try and make her happy.  How dare I.

The adults made an executive decision to choose a tree ourselves, in the hopes that we could get it home by midnight.  Kane got down in the mud and cut down our perfect tree.







We were the only ones for miles around until the moment the tree was falling, and then it was inches away from falling in the lap of some guy walking by.  He wasn’t mad.  Or if he was, we couldn’t hear him over the screaming.  What screaming?  This screaming: “Wait!  I found the tree I want!”

screamingYou can see somebody off in the distance in this picture.

Somebody had decided on a tree.  The tree we just cut down?  No, a different tree.  Can’t we just tell them we changed our mind?  No, no we can’t.

this tree

This tree.  We’re getting this tree.  The one I just cut down.


Next, Kane dragged our 150lb tree off into the darkness, saying he’d be back for us.  Too many of the little ones needed to be carried through the mud for me to do it alone, so we had to wait for Kane to come back.  I held the crying baby in one arm, and held the 3-year-old’s hand with my other while she danced in the mud.  One tweenager was crying, sorry that she “ruined everything.”  The other tweenager was pissed off at us for making the first one cry.  (That’s this cute and annoying thing she’s done since she was tiny.  Don’t mess with her sister!)  I told her that sometimes when people are mad, they give “the silent treatment.”  Had she ever tried it?  It might be a good idea.  She didn’t think so.

Ten years later, Kane got back.  We all tramped through the mud back to the waiting spot for the tractor.  At least I think we were at the right spot.  We couldn’t see anything.  We just stood there in the dark and the cold and the mud, happy that at least the sound of chainsaws was drowning out the sounds of our children.  It must have been the waiting spot, because finally the wagon arrived and took us back to the parking lot.  we did it


We split into two groups to go home.  Davia, Marley and I went straight home.  Kane, Shaelyn and Eila stopped at the store to get some lights for our new tree.  They also got pretzels and rolos to make “reindeer poop.”  We came home and Kane set up the tree and strung up the lights.

That night, in our cozy living room, by our beautiful, perfect tree, we all played the Smurf Game.  That’s where one person has to guess a verb that everyone else has agreed on, based on the context when people use the verb in sentences but replacing it with “smurf.”  Like if the word is swimming, the clues might be, “I love smurfing in summer,” and “I don’t like smurfing in the ocean,” and “Some people smurf in the nude!”

You wouldn’t know, watching us talk about smurfing this and smurfing that and laughing, that we had all almost killed one another just hours before.  And our tree really is perfect.  See?

xmas tree

It was so perfect that that night, the big girls slept in sleeping bags on the floor next to it.  In the morning, I took this picture of them, with Marley photo bomb:

marley photo bomb


I don’t know if it’s the hazing effect that makes me love this tree.  And I don’t know if it’s the hazing effect that makes me love this family.  But I do, and I do.

Merry Christmas!


by Kane


by kate


by Kane


by Shaelyn


by Shaelyn


by Kate


by Kate


by Kane

Dancing, Pomegranates and Precious Minutes

Time for our latest family show and tell session.  Speaking of “show and tell,” that’s what Eila calls hotels.  As in, “We can sleep at the show and tell!”  If that’s not cute, I don’t know what is.  Here are some more things for you to see…

1) A video of Eila dressed up like a princess playing with Marley:

2) Some pictures from Eila’s new dance class (a birthday gift from Grandpa Jim and Susan):

Dance Class

It’s hard to get photos that aren’t blurry in a room full of moving children.

Dance Class

3) Kane tries to teach Marley to dance:

Kane and Marley Dance

4) We’re enjoying our new stroller, a gift from grandma “Bubba” Mary and Kate’s aunts, Barb and Ann:

New Stroller

Look, it goes fast…

5) Marley is still cute:


6) Produce home-delivery services are the best thing ever:

Organics to You

Organics to You

Organics to You

7) But so is making cookies…

Shaelyn Frosts Cookies

Davia Frosts Cookies

8) And a few minutes can mean whole lot.

Every night, after dinner and before bed, I spend a few minutes with each of the big girls in my room.  10 minutes for twins, 5 minutes for Eila.  Marley’s there, being a baby, but other than that, it’s just me and that one girl.  (Actually, for Eila’s 5 minutes, Kane takes Marley out and gets special moments with her.)  And it is honestly usually the best part of my day.  No matter what else has been going on, even if everyone’s fighting and grumbling right before that special time starts, it’s pure sweetness (mostly) during our designated time together.  The difference it makes is incredible and precious.  Here are some pictures of us during 10 Minutes.  Me and Shaelyn:

10 Minutes Shaelyn

Me and Davia:

10 Minutes Davia

And the big girls don’t mind at all that Marley’s there.  Really.  See?

That’s all I have time to share right now.  Love to all!

~~ Kate, Kane, Shaelyn, Davia, Eila and Marley

Halloween 2014

Lots of treats and some tricks at our house this year for Halloween.

For the past month or so (or however long Halloween decorations have been out in stores), Eila’s been really nervous about the whole ordeal.  Scared of practically everything related to Halloween.  So we had to cut back on a lot of our celebration.  Halloween is usually a top favorite holiday in our family, but this year we didn’t even put up decorations, because Eila wouldn’t have it.  As the big day approached, we weren’t getting our hopes up for Eila doing much in the way of trick-or-treating.  But we didn’t want to give up.

The day before Halloween, Thursday, we did a practice run at home while Kane and the big girls were away at work and school.  I got Marley and Eila dressed up, and Eila got to practice trick-or-treating at our house.  That looked like this:

Bee and Butterfly

Bee and Butterfly

Marley Bee

Marley Bee

Marley Bee

Better late than never, the girls and I carved pumpkins after school on Friday.  And we ate orange donuts, because donuts.  But we were having too much fun for me to take pictures.

Then Kane, who got off work early, met Eila, Marley and I at Orenco Station, a little commercial district near here, for a trick-or-treating event put on by some of the businesses there.  That was Eila’s second practice run with the trick-or-treating, and she did great.  She looked like this:


At Orenco Station and everywhere, I thought Eila’s costume would be the cutest, because look at it!  But those Orenco Station kids gave her a run for her money.  Some really amazing costumes there, including a train worn by a tiny little boy that Eila agreed was awesome.  Eila did great with everything, even though the event coincided with a torrential downpour (heavy even for Oregon).  In between collecting candy, she would sometimes say “They like me!  They really, really like me!”  Not sure where she got that, but it was pretty cute.

When we got home from that around 5 or 5:30, the big girls were almost ready to go in their homemade (by them) Greek Goddess costumes.  I set up a little area in the living room for doing their hair and make up (or what I would let them wear of make up, which was mostly just gold eye shadow).  That looked like this:


Marley had been through a lot of Halloween for a baby already by this time.  She smiled through first Practice Halloween, slept through second Practice Halloween, and then was ready to nurse through real Halloween.  So she looked like this:

Shaelyn holds bee


There was a little bit of tension in the house, as certain goddesses stressed out about whether we were leaving to trick or treat early enough, about whether the rain would close down Halloween, whether their timid little sister would ruin everything, etc.  That looked like this:

grumpy goddess

grumpy goddess

Kane got dressed up to go trick-or-treating, but I didn’t get a picture of him.  He wore his famous spoon, which looks like this:

Kane's Spoon

Everyone was ready to go, and not much time for pictures, but a few blurry goddess ones…



In the end, Eila did decide to trick-or-treat, so we all went out together, all six of us.  Here are the girls on the front porch.  You can see a little butterfly down there in the corner.  She wouldn’t hold still enough for any pictures.


Davia looking regal:


Eila did awesome with trick-or-treating, even in the dark.  She said things like, “That man was really, really nice!” as she walked away from a house, and “I think I not shy now!” after she bravely faced a large skeleton decoration.

And it all paid off.

Eila's Candy

Happy Halloween!

Goings On, Part 2 (tasting time, fall, a t party and the baby!)

Continued from Part 1, we’re looking at what’s been going on with us recently.  All kinds of stuff!


Tasting Time

For various reasons, over the past few months, Eila’s diet has become less and less varied, to where now you could count the things she’ll eat on one hand.  Afraid of where this was headed (and that she’d get scurvy) I came up with a game to play with her during our days home together.  It’s called Tasting Time.  To play, I put three different foods out on the table, and then we taste each of them.  We describe the taste and decide if we like it.  Then at the end, Eila gets to put paper stars on the ones she likes.  The point of this game is just familiarizing Eila with different foods, with the hopes that she’ll grow to like more of them.  (The “mere exposure effect” suggests that this could work.)

Tasting Time




Note:  Thinking of changing the rules for this game.  Her favorite part is, of course, putting the star/s on at the end.  But because it’s so fun, she’ll put stars on all of them, whether she liked them or not.  I talked her out of putting a star on peanuts (see photo above) only by reminding her that she spit it out.  Maybe she should just have to pick one favorite.


Signs of Fall

We love fall in our house.  All four girls have fall birthdays, which makes the already festive time of year even more so.  Eila and I celebrated the other day by collecting leaves.

Autumn Leaves


And last weekend, Kane took the three big girls to a corn maze and pumpkin patch.

corn maze


Eila and Papa


double rainbow



A T Party

We have tea parties all the time at our house, but the other day, Shaelyn and Davia and I had a party for Art Wednesday.  Inspired by this post about different ways to alter a T shirt, we set to work on some old t shirts with fabric scissors, and it was so much fun!  Just our first time doing it, we all made at least one thing we’d wear.  The girls got really creative with theirs.  Very fun.

T Shirts


T shirts

I don’t yet have photographs of the final products.  Will try to post some!


And, of course, Marley!

3 weeks old






And here she is with her big sister, Eila:


love to all,

Kate, Kane, Shaelyn, Davia, Eila and Marley (That list is getting long!)

Goings On, Part 1 (grandparents, a photo shoot & the beach)

Life is in full effect at our house!  So much going on.  Probably too much to tell you about here at once, but too much not to share at least some of it.  So in no particular order, and with disregard for any central theme, here are some things that have been happening.  This is Part 1 of a 2-Post series!



We’ve been blessed with visits from some of our favorite people since Marley was born.  Kane’s parents came all the way from England…

Grandparents Visit

We had a wonderful time visiting with them and introducing them to Miss Marley.

Grandma Jan and Marley


And in what must be some sort of family record, Kate’s mom visited from California three times in the past couple months.  (The first time was planned… the second two were because we called her begging her to come back!)

Bubba and Marley


Bubba and Eila

We’re very lucky in that we have parents (and parents-in-law) that we enjoy being around, and we felt that all these visits were too short.  Come back soon!

Note:  If you’re a grandparent of Marley’s and have yet to meet her, you’re warmly invited to visit any time.  (Looking at you, Grandpa Jim and Susan!)


A Photo Shoot

I’m pretty sure the probability of your taking a good photograph of your kids is inversely related to the number of kids you have.  (One exception is the case of twins under the age of one year, because babies are cute, and two babies are simply twice as cute.  But once twins hit a year old, their relative mobility renders them impossible to capture in one shot, thus canceling out their advantage.)  Every additional child in a photograph is another chance that the shot will include closed eyes, scowling, nose picking, etc.  So that is why the following pictures are especially amazing.  And because the kids in them are gorgeous and wonderful.

4 girls


4 girls


4 girls


4 girls


The Beach

I wasn’t there, so I can’t really comment on these next pictures.  But basically, Kane, Shaelyn and Eila went to the beach.

Beach Sisters




Eila and Shaelyn




Shaelyn at Sea


Coming up in Part 2, corn, carrots and cut up T shirts!










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