Category Archives: family

2017 Family Recap

Nothing like including a direct link on your Christmas card to get your butt in gear to freshen up this crusty corner of the internet that you can’t seem to bring yourself to let go of.

If you’re new here, thanks to the back side of our Christmas card, Hi! and Welcome! Don’t expect too much. What was once a thriving (self-sustaining even!) blog about our family life has been pushed further and further to the farthest back burner as more children have been grown inside my belly, birthed, then continued to grow outside of my belly. It’s like with each additional family member, time has exponentially sped up and there’s barely enough hours in the day to make sure all the kids are fed and showered, let alone time for updating this blog. Funny how that happens, hey?

If you’ve been around these parts before, Hi, again! Don’t expect too much. I would love to say that my new year resolution for 2018 will be to start writing again, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Basically, it comes down to this: I truly enjoyed creating last year’s “holiday letter” so I wanted to do it again.

Continuing with the theme of time flying by, what the heck happened to 2017!? When trying to come up with snippets and highlights to share for our recap, I had to scroll through the pictures on my iphone by date just to make sure I had the year right.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened this year was our road trip. This summer, the five of us loaded up in the truck and hit the road for College Station, Texas! We went because my work is based there. For me, it was nice to spend more time than a rushed 4-day trip that happens every few months. For Andy and the kids, it was like any other summer break day at home, just with a swimming pool at our rental! Along the way, we hit the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. We snuck in plenty of fun while we were there too, including spending our last weekend with my boss and his family and some of their friends on one of the family ranches. We did a little of everything “Texas” – hunting, hiking and exploring, fishing in the pond, swimming in the same pond, shooting, relaxing on the front porch. It was the perfect end to our trip. The kids were real troopers with the long days (and nights) in the truck. Overall we were gone for three weeks, and while we all enjoyed our adventure, we were happy to get home.

Seemingly less exciting than a 4,000-ish round trip adventure, but a just as important milestone in our house happened in March. We got chickens! Real, live, egg-laying chickens. This has been a long time coming. Just ask Andy’s buddy Keith, who helped Andy unload the chicken coop his shop class built what… 4 years ago now? It’s been a back-burner project for a long time, and it was really exciting for us to get it done! We started off with 3 pullets (not chicks, but not full grown hens), assuming at least one of them would die and it’d be an easy way to “work out the kinks.” We now have 7 hens and they’ve all been named, much to my initial dismay – they’re not pets! I insisted. – Yes, I know all their names, but I usually just refer to them as “the ladies.” I’m pretty sure I love them more than the kids do now.

Rylee is now 9 and in the 4th grade. She is still very into American Ninja Warrior. So much so that back in April she was asked if she would want to give a speech at an event all about celebrating what makes them unique. She agreed and in front of an audience of about 100 people she spoke about her dream to be on American Ninja Warrior someday. I recorded the speech and shared it on the ANWNation facebook page and they turned it into a blog post on their website! Rylee was so excited about that. THEN! Her ANW hero Jessie Graff tweeted about Rylee by name and shared the link. Rylee was over the moon. In July Rylee got to meet and train with her ANW hero at the local ninja gym’s grand opening. There’s no safe doorway or wall in our house anymore. Everything has turned into something she can train on. Outside of her ninja training, Ry continues to work hard and do well in school, she’s decided her sports focus will be soccer and basketball, and she’s really into helping make dinner lately. And she’s at the point where it is actually helpful! I’d use this space to say something about wanting time to stop and for her to stop growing up, but I’ll be honest, I kind of love it! The person she is growing into is just plain awesome.

Reese turned 5 in July and this has been a year of big milestones for her! She started kindergarten this fall, she finally gets to ride the bus, she finally got to play soccer, she lost her first (and second!) tooth, and she got her first “real haircut” at a salon. She wanted it cut “all the way to her head” but ended up deciding on just so her hair touches her shoulders. The short, sassy style matches her personality perfectly. At her Pre-K graduation ceremony, Reese was in charge of carrying in the American flag, asking the crowd to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, holding the flag during the pledge, then concluding it with a loud “you may be seated.” She took her job very seriously and when Andy and I asked her about being chosen, Reese informed us that is was because she was “responsible enough and loud enough.” We got a good laugh about that last part because that’s our girl! Outside of all the big things that seemed to happen for Reese this year, she’s also following in her sister’s footsteps and loves American Ninja Warrior! She has figured out how to “spider jump” up the door jam to the pull-up bar and is now working on those pull-ups!

I gotta say, I really love that we have two strong and confident ladies on our hands!

Lincoln is 3 as of October and certainly coming into his own. He still gets along great with his sisters (most of the time), but let’s just say that things can … escalate quickly. I joke that he’s a curmudgeon old man in a three-year-old’s body. He likes things just so and he’s not a big fan of when those things change. Case in point: he graduated from a crib to a big-boy bed over the summer! However, six months later he still talks about his crib and how he wishes he still had it. We are also officially a diaper-free household! BIG KID LAND IS THE BEST! These days he really enjoys playing with his train set and anything that resembles a tractor, dump truck, front loader, or skid steer. He also spends a lot of time with his red little tikes car flipped over in the middle of the living room “fixing it.” He is still very much a mama’s boy (I’m certainly not complaining!), but he loves working out in the garage with Andy and spent many hours out there this summer “building stuff.”

Speaking of building stuff, it seems like that’s all Andy doe these days! He certainly keeps busy around the property with projects – my home office was in the works until a windstorm destroyed our pole barn last April. The set off an entire chain reaction of projects that left Andy very busy outside. He demo-ed the pole barn, salvaged everything he could and cleared out the rest. From what he saved, he’s built us a carport off the side of our house, an awning off the front of the brick house, and even repurposed some of the metal roofing to be the ceiling in my office. He’s also been working on the site prep for the new pole barn to go up. That included having 16 dump trucks of gravel brought in! This September kicked off Andy’s 14th year of teaching. He has been very busy at work helping to build their CTE programs, and even assisting in designing and team-teaching an Ag-intensives class. So far for that class alone, he has taught 2-week long units on concrete work, framing, welding, and basic car maintenance. In addition to that class, he is also teaching middle and high school PE, shop, and a construction math class. He’s having a lot of fun this year. But probably the most exciting thing that happened over the last year for Andy was his back. After living with constant pain over the last 10 years, seeing a specialist and multiple physical therapists to no avail, he blew it out (again) back in February. Despite that being a really terrible, painful, and hard thing, it’s really been amazing. He started with a new physical therapist, and after 5 months of pretty intense therapy, Andy’s back is back to what it was before he ever hurt it 10 years ago. He can run again! He can do more than a few hours of work before being in serious pain! He can sleep again! Did I mention he can run again!? As cliché as it sounds, it’s really changed his (and our) life.

As for me, life consists of working and, well, everything else you’ve already read! I still love what I’m doing and consider to be working my dream job. I try to have some fun here and there. I was able to help Andy quite a bit with the carport project, I’ve helped with the office project, I went to Chicago for a girls’ weekend. Beyond that, I’m just trying to keep practice schedules straight and to remember to have the girls keep those damn reading logs up-to-date and turned in.

Every year seems to get better and better and we can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

Sending you wishes filled with love and laughter this holiday season!

Katherine, Andy, Rylee, Reese, and Lincoln

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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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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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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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!

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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

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.

It’s FriYay! – Pacific North WET Edition

It was a short work week… why do short weeks always screw with me so badly!? I can’t believe it’s Friday. If you remember last week, I was looking forward to planning our first camping trip as a family of 5! But now it’s raining and it’s supposed to continue all weekend. So we’re not going camping. Normally, I’d say let’s go anyway! But tent camping in the rain with 3 kids sounds kinda terrible.

Awesome things from this week…

1. Having an extra day to spend with the family! Sure it was 4th of July, but other than some really yummy BBQ food, it was just like any other day for me because I left the BBQ we were at around 7:30 to get Lincoln home for bed. Fingers crossed next year will be the year we’re finally able to drive one car and stay all together again!

2. It was fun having some friends stay with us on Sunday night. All the kids play so well together and it’s fun to watch Lincoln try and get in on the action with the bigger kids.

3. Monday night I spent some time purging my closet. ThreadYall is gonna get a clothes swap next week. Haha

4. Wednesday night my mom and I took the kids to an outdoor family-friendly karaoke night. The girls LOVED it. They sang two songs, “Trouble” by Taylor Swift and of course “Let it Go” from Frozen. Before we even left, they were saying they want to do it again.

5. The girls both let me french braid their hair this week!

Pics from the week…

Human bowling // Red Neck Waterslide! Oh yes. we. did.

Independence Day Kiddos! All of the heart eyes for this one.

Just Reese. In her truest form. So fiery. I love it.

My morning call buddy.

Karaoke ladies. Terribly quality photos (and terrible singing), but they had so much fun.

Like I said… my morning buddy. This particular morning he was trying to steal my coffee.

Things I’m looking forward to next week…

1. I would say our first camping trip as a family… but rain.

2. The girls have VBS next week. Rylee had SO much fun last year and Reese was so bummed she wasn’t old enough to join in.

3. Since we’re not going camping for the weekend, we’re talking about heading up to Portland on Sunday. We got a family pass to OMSI that we want/need to use and I haven’t seen my sister and nephew for far too long. After getting to see them on a weekly basis for 5 months it’s been really weird to not see them for the last month.

4. I leave Wednesday for ThreadYall! My annual girls weekend with my phone friends also known as TheThread. If you’ve been around here awhile, you know what I’m talking about. This year we’re headed to Raleigh.