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2016 Family Recap

It’s that time of year again! Christmas cards have been sent and now I’m sitting here (possibly procrastinating a work project) thinking, man I should have written a Christmas letter! Our little family really isn’t so little anymore. We seem to always be busy and running. 2016 was filled with extreme highs, some lows (like losing power for 5 days over the last week!), as well as adventure for our family of five and looking back, it was most definitely one of our best yet.
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Big picture-wise, a lot happened in 2016. In January we welcomed our first nephew on my side of the family! George stole my heart the minute I first held him. He’s growing and changing so much – I just wish I was able to make it up to Portland to see them more often. Then in May we welcomed twin nieces! Unfortunately they were born scary-early and spent a lot of time in NICU but now they’re home and healthy and growing more every day.

We had a lot of fun summer adventures that included our first camping trip as a family of 5! The kids had a great time… Andy and I needed a weekend from our weekend haha! It was so nice to get back out in the woods. We hadn’t been camping since Reese was a baby. We hiked 6 or so miles at Silver Falls with some friends. We road-tripped to Cheyenne, Wyoming in August and met up with some friends that live in Michigan – Cheyenne was the midpoint for both of us. It was a quick trip, but the kids did so great and it was so great visiting with our friends. We’ve already started planning our trip for next summer! We ended the summer with a long weekend at the Oregon Coast.

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Rylee turned 8 in May and started the third grade this school year. She continues to be involved with sports adding basketball and now even volleyball to the list. Between those, soccer and softball she’s playing some sport throughout the school year. Rylee works really hard at her school work and it really shows. Her teacher this year is really pushing her in all subjects and it’s so fun to watch her face new challenges head on. Her ability to understand math concepts blows my mind, and honestly intimidates me just a smidge. She will be better than me at math in no time. She also loves to read and devours books. Right now, she is reading 4 different books in preparation to compete in OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books).  Most recently she was invited, as one of seven 3rd graders and only 14 kids in the whole school, to represent her school on a team for a national STEM competition called Destination Imagination. I am still learning what all that entails, but she is very excited about all she has on her plate right now. Outside of sports and academics, Rylee enjoys helping Andy build things/complete projects around the house and property. She is an amazing big sister and has such a big heart.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Reese turned 4 in July. This girl likes to live out loud. Emphasis on the loud. Ha! She is full of spunk and always has a twinkle in her eye. She’s in the Pre-K class at her daycare/pre school and it’s very fun to see her put together letters and sounds and begin writing. The other night Rylee was teaching her basic addition – go figure. Reese has essentially spent her whole life watching her sister play organized sports and between Tball last spring and soccer in the fall, it’s clear that she cannot wait to get out on the field! She will be playing soccer when she starts kindergarten next fall and she is so excited about that idea. I often joke that if there’s a fight in our house, Reese is in the middle of it. Her and Lincoln get along great 99% of the time. Rylee and her however, well, there’s just something about sisters, I suppose because I remember doing the same things to my sisters. In general, Reese is very independent and strong-willed and will do things in her own time and feel her own feelings and most definitely does not care for her big sister telling her otherwise. She loves to play “home” and cart her baby dolls around the house. She is obsessed with all things baby mainly because of all of her new cousins! She loves to hold them and tells me “I am their best cousin, Mom.” … it doesn’t matter which cousin she is referring to.  She has even named one of her babies Éliane, after one of her cousins.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Lincoln turned 2 this year. If you’re around him for more than 5 minutes, his shyness will wear off and you’ll hear him talking a lot. It’s fun to hear him stringing sentences together and it’s downright funny hearing him reprimand his sisters… “Calm down, Rylee!” “Reese! Be quiet, Reese!” No idea where he hears those phrases! He is running all over the place – mostly chasing after his sisters. He also loves having sword fights, pretending to vacuum (with those same swords), or building/fixing things “like Daddy” with his toy tools. We offically had our very first trip to urgent care for an injury thanks to him. He jumped off the bottom step at my sister’s house and slipped on the hardwood floors. We thought he bit clear through his bottom lip. Turns out he didn’t and other than a fat lip, he was completely fine. FUN TIMES! He also loves trains and helping Andy build fires in the wood stove. He’s most happy when his sisters are including him with their play and will happily play the pretend husband or “babe” and carry around the baby dolls. Lincoln has a great relationship with both of the girls.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Andy started his 13th year of teaching in September. His schedule this year includes P.E., shop, and construction math. He has worked really hard on building a shop program out there and has made some fantastic industry partners in the community. He is also team teaching a STEM class and has his “head teacher” position helping with transcripts, counseling, and basically running everything behind the scenes. New kid shows up? Mr. Rice can help. Kid can’t get into his locker? Mr. Rice can help. A parent needs a grade report status for another class? Email Mr. Rice, he can help. Anyone know how to set up the PA system in the gym? Mr. Rice can help. Kid needs a bandaid? You guessed it… Mr. Rice can help. He has even been voted by the senior class two years in a row to give the commencement speech at graduation. Because, why not? He truly loves what he does. While his work keeps him plenty busy with long hours, he has managed to help coach Rylee’s T-ball team last spring and it sounds like he will be helping with basketball next month too. Outside of all that, it seems like he’s always scheming, planning, or executing a major project around the property and the latest one is a home office for me. We are converting part of the garage into an office/guest room. No no, we will not be getting rid of Andy’s beloved Cruiser. There will most definitely still be room in the garage for that! One of these days, maybe his priority will shift to something for himelf and he will get those brakes replaced and install a steering conversion kit like he’s wanted to for the last 4-5 years. Maybe.

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In February I left my job at the IT training company to take a position at a tech company based out of Portland. Working from home offered a lot of flexibility with family stuff and traveling to Portland once a week for work meant seeing my sister and nephew on a regular basis and that was amazing. But after not quite 3 months with that company – basically out of the blue and thanks to facebook – I was offered a position as Director of Marketing for a hunting company. The company is based in Texas so I continue to work from home. DREAM JOB STATS: Achievement UNLOCKED I am so, so happy to be back in an industry I love. It’s been fun reconnecting with old colleagues. I have traveled to Texas a few times since I started in June and even had the chance to hunt whitetail in South Texas. 2017 kicks off with quite a bit of travel for me… I will be in Dallas, Vegas, and Harrisburg, PA for shows in the first 6 weeks alone. I am looking forward to sticking with this company for a long, long while with many more adventures. Hopefully a caribou hunt will be on the docket in coming years! Aside from work, I continue to really enjoy cooking and have also taken a liking to running. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a runner, but Julia (my best friend of 32 years) convinced me to run a 5K race with her back in May and we’ve done two others since then! Most recently was a holiday run on her birthday where we both took 3rd place for our age divisions! Next year we’re going to bump it up to a 10k!

Andy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary in August. Last March marked 10 years living on our property. We have three amazing, healthy kiddos. It’s hard not to look at this life we’ve built and smile. We are looking forward many more adventures in 2017!

View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Now looking back at this letter, I realize why I could never write one to include with a Christmas card… I may as well bind and publish this bad boy as a short novel! If you made it all the way to the end, BLESS IT! Gold star for you. xoxo

*Photos by Elizabeth Crow Media

The Advent Activity Calendar: Year 5

This marks our fifth year of the Advent Activity Calendar. I love the tradition this has created. Rylee remembers it now and has asked for it for the last 2 years. Reese isn’t there yet, but when she got home from daycare last night and saw it all set up, she was super excited. And Lincoln? Well, as with any third born, he’s still just along for the ride at this point.

My plan was to get it all set up after the kids went to bed on the night of November 30, so that when they woke up December 1 it would be waiting for them. Alas, in true “World’s OKAYest Mom” fashion, it didn’t happen like that. But I DID manage to get it set up during my lunch break yesterday (working from home has such great perks), so it was waiting for them when they got home from school. On December first! So still a win in my book!


Being that this is the 5th year we’ve done this, I tried to mix in some new activities along with the standard favorites. I’m marking the new ones with a * in my list below.

Here’s the list of what we’re doing this year:

December 1: Make beaded candy canes. – Think pipe cleaners and plastic beads.*
December 2: Reindeer Games – Play pin the nose on the reindeer – a game kit I found at JoAnne Fabrics.*
December 3: Deck the halls!
December 4: Go shopping for the local food pantry. – Every year the elementary school does a food drive for our little community. I give each kiddo $10 to buy food.
December 5: Do you wanna build a snowman? – Decorate bedroom doors like snowmen.
December 6: Elf Yourself! – use a photo of your face/head and create a body/hat/etc to look like an elf*
December 7: Gingerbread Dice Game
December 8: Melt Snowflakes – remember those little plastic beads you melted with an iron when you were younger? Those.*
December 9: Giving Tree – choose a tag off the giving tree and shop for it
December 10: SANTA project shopping – SANTA stands for Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal – another local community project. Each kiddo gets $10 to buy various stocking stuffers to donate to the program.
December 11: Go get a Christmas tree!
December 12: Decorate the Christmas tree
December 13: Make popsicle stick trees*
December 14: Winter activity book – whatever holiday themed activity book(s) I can find in the Dollar Spot at Target.
December 15: Preschool Christmas program!
December 16: Paint snowflakes – big wooden snowflakes I picked up at JoAnne’s.*
December 17: Family Christmas movie night!
December 18: Family baking day
December 19: Wrap Teacher gifts
December 20: Decorate a gingerbread family
December 21: Eat snowman pancakes
December 22: Read Christmas books by the fire with hot cocoa – we get a new Christmas book (or two) every year
December 23: Go look at Christmas lights
December 24: Write a letter or draw a picture for Santa
December 25: Time to celebrate!

Lincoln is TWO!

Lincoln,

You’re TWO YEARS OLD little man! Holy moly you are so much fun. I’d say that I miss the baby days, and how are you already two, and what happened to my baby, etc. etc. But can I tell you a secret? I LOVE that we’re getting out of the baby stages. You turned two a couple of weeks ago now, and earlier this week you had your 2-year well check. Your birthday was a good one. The gathering was smaller than the usual crew we have, but it was kind of nice to have it that way. We had brunch and cupcakes with the family, then that night for dinner we had spaghetti… your favorite! Your well-check appointment consisted of you not wanting to put on that super cute tiny gown and being extremely skeptical of your pediatrician. I’m actually going to count that as a win, because it means you’re healthy enough you don’t see her very often.

Here’s a recap of your life at two.

The Stats: 34.37″ – 57th percentile, 27 lbs 6 oz – 42nd percentile… Still kind of a little peanut, but gaining in the height department.

Likes: Your sisters, anything your sisters are doing, spaghetti, eating cereal with milk and a spoon, reading books, pretending to vacuum, playing with cars, helping take out the recycle, helping unload the dishwasher, BIG TRUCKS and buses and tractors and dump trucks and garbage trucks (sensing a theme here?), dancing, your Papa, playing pretend.

Dislikes: Getting your hair cut, being told no, being in the car for more than an hour (that road trip to Wyoming may be to blame for that one).

Food: Your eating habits are kind of annoying actually. You can like something one day, then hate it the next. You’re especially hit and miss with veggies. You went a few months without eating black beans or refried beans, and now you love them both again. You don’t really like any meat unless it’s ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken nuggets. You still don’t really like to drink milk… unless it’s flavored by the froot loops you just ate. You love any kind of snack. You LOVE spaghetti. Like… you eat disgusting amounts of it. No seriously, we have to cut you off after the 3rd helping every time we eat it.

Movement: Watching you jump is adorable and hilarious at the same time. You’ve just figured out that you can climb up onto the bar stools in the kitchen. You love climbing into your own booster at the dinner table. You do everything you can to keep up with your sisters. You’re still a bit clumsy though. You have had the most bumps and bruises. After 8 years of parenting, you were the reason we made our first trip to urgent care! It was because you jumped of the bottom step of Auntie Kelli’s stairs and slipped on her hardwood floor. We thought you bit all the way through your lip.

Talking: I LOVE listening to you talk. You speak in sentences, but typically only your dad, sisters or I know what it is you’re saying. Your favorite phrases are “I got it!” when something falls on the floor, “Mama, all done work?” any timeI come out of my room during my workday, “Daddy, all done too?” when you’re trying to figure out if everyone is done eating dinner so you can get down from the table, “No thank you” when you don’t want to do something, “Love you too” sometimes even when nobody says I love you first and it’s often paired with a nice big hug.

Sleep: You are such a good sleeper! You go down, typically with no issues every night about 8:30. Probably later than you should given your age, but life is busy and sometimes we don’t even eat dinner until 7:30. You wake up each morning by 6:15 and you still nap for at least 2 hours a day, sometimes more. You’re still in your crib and I intend to keep it that way for as long as humanly possible.

You have such a fun personality. And you’re so chill. You’re such a character and you love messing with people. Sometimes you’re a bit shy to start out in larger groups or new situations, but you quickly warm up. You have an infectious laugh.

You sir, are one of my favorite people on this planet.

I love you,
Mom



Always trying to be like your sisters. No, I don’t let you actually ride like this when we’re driving. You’re still in a 5-point harness little buddy.

These trains at Grandad’s house kept you entertained for hours last week.

I love your blond hair.

It’s FriYay! – Dante Edition

Hi. Hello. It’s been a busy couple of weeks! Last weekend we had non-stop plans with family and friends. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Awesome things from this week:

1. Last Friday night we had friends over for dinner that we haven’t hung out with in a while. It was fun to catch up with them! Good food, good wine, good friends – great night! I was up past midnight, which I never am. I was SO tired Saturday morning!

2. Saturday morning our circus loaded up in the car and headed to K2’s house so the rest of the fam could meet her BABIES! At long last! My sister had twin girls a few months back, and they’ve had a long road in NICU. But they’re HOME! And they’re HEALTHY! And we were SO excited to be able to have the cousins meet. Reese was so sweet, she sang to them when they got fussy. One not awesome thing to add: Lincoln decided it’d be fun to jump off the bottom of their stairs onto hardwood floors. He cut his lip so bad we thought he bit through it. Cue our first trip to urgent care! He was fine. No stitches necessary. Just a gnarly fat lip for a day or so.

3. Saturday night we went over to some friends’ house for dinner! The kiddos all played like maniacs. They have stairs too, so it gave me a mild heart attack again with Lincoln.

4. Sunday morning the circus headed to church! My nieces were baptized that morning and I’m officially a god mother!

5. Post-baptism get together back at K2’s house with lots of family and good food.

6. We got home Sunday afternoon and every single one of us passed out for a couple of hours! The weekend wrapped up with a super easy dinner, a family movie and some popcorn!

7. Monday I got to take Dante to the vet. It was time for his rabies vaccine and his normal check up. 10 years old, and other than some arthritis in his leg, he’s super healthy! 74.2 lbs. His steel blue eyes have turned a bit cloudy and I was expecting to hear that it was cataracts. I has so happy to hear that the cloudiness is normal in aging dogs and his eyes are actually perfect!

8. Rylee had her first soccer game of the season on Tuesday night. They won 1-0! She had some serious hustle. It’s so fun to watch her play a sport when she actually tries. Homegirl is FAST.

Photos from this week:

Lip in question… totally fine by the time we saw the doctor at urgent care. Of course.

I actually think this one is from last week, but it’s too funny not to post it. Lincoln got his dinner taken away for feeding food to Dante while we were eating. That’s a no-no. He spent the entire rest of our meal side-eyeing the dog. It was hilarious.

We made dessert to take to our friends’ house on Saturday. Reese has happy to help.

Yesterday was national coffee day.

Lincoln and I had some alone time earlier this week while everyone else was at Ry’s practice. I love it when I get one-on-one time with my kiddos.

Tried to get a pic of Lincoln, Dante and me. That worked out well. At least Lincoln thought it was funny!

Pretty boy Dante.

Things I’m looking forward to next week…

1. Lincoln’s birthday is tomorrow!! TWO! Family brunch to celebrate in the morning.

2. I need to do a final fit test over the weekend. My fitness challenge group ends today, so now I need to compare my results and track my progress!

3. I have some ideas floating around in my head for sprucing up this space… hoping I get around to it next week!

Oh and I still haven’t made it to Costco. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

It’s FriYay! – Lame Photo Edition

Let’s be real here… that will probably not be the only time I ever need to use that as the title. Meh. Chock it up to another point for the world’s okayest mom.

Awesome things from this week…

1. I totally killed it on the workouts this week.

2. I’m thanking my past self for pre-prepping healthy/-ish/-er lunch options for the freezer.

3. Andy went and met up with a couple of buddies the other night after work.

4. I updated my phone to iOS10! SO MUCH FUN NEW STUFF!!

5. Lincoln has started asking to sit on the toilet. Nothing has happened yet because of it, but PROGRESS!

Photos from this week…

The kids got to climb around a search and rescue boat at the harvest festival last weekend.

I know I have a billion photos exactly like this one. But this view never gets old.

This creeper was watching me work out one day earlier this week.

Things I’m looking forward to next week…

1. Head to the OSU game tomorrow with my dad and K1! I think I included that in last week’s update. Oh well.

2. Having lunch with an old boss turned friend.

3. Going to our local Lean In lunch. I love being able to connect with other like-minded professional women!

4. I really need to go to Costco. That’s not so much something I’m looking forward to, more like a reminder to myself. Ha.