Sunday, January 1, 2017

Winter Fun

Ice Skating
Tara and I hired a babysitter for Ryzen and Nova and took Aria and Zade ice skating for the first time. They both had good attitudes and did fairly well. 

Tara has really wanted to go skiing with the kids for a long time, and now they're starting to get old enough to learn. She tried to get both Aria and Zade to go with her, but Aria just wanted to hang out at home. She got some fun arts and crafts for Christmas, which she's really gotten into.

Thus, Tara just took Zade up to Willamette Pass, and had a mommy-son date. The weather was nice and they had a great time.

A few days later Tara took Aria and Zade back up to Willamette Pass to go skiing.  I again stayed behind and happily watched the little ones.  

Winter break hasn't gone as smoothly as we'd hoped. Ryzen came down with RSV (a respiratory virus), which knocked him out for quite a while. He had to go to urgent care on Christmas day, and then a few days later Tara had me take him to the ER in the middle of the night because she was worried about how fast he was breathing. Fortunately the doctors said he was alright.  He was hacking up a storm for a while, and eventually Nova and I also came down with RSV.  Nova then got an ear infection on top of that, and the combination turned her into a small screaming demon when her pain medicine wasn't in full effect.  

Aria really wanted me to go a Christmas beard for some reason, so I didn't shave for 2 weeks. I'm not even 40 yet, and man, the beard has a lot more white hair than I remember it having last time i grew it. Here's a quick picture of I took right before shaving it off.

Mini Golf
I took Aria, Zade, and Ryzen mini-golfing while Tara took Nova to urgent care for her ear infection. The older kids had a nice time, and I actually scored 1 under par (with 2 hole in ones). For a pathetic golfer, I was pleased. :)

Christmas Letter
Tara put together a summary of some of the key events that happened in 2016. Consider this our Christmas card:

Dear Family and Friends,
2016 has been a year full of big changes for our family!  In January Dane accepted a job offer at the University of Oregon as an assistant professor of accounting.  We were happy that we could move closer to our families since Dane’s parents live only 1 hour away in Corvallis.   I will always feel wistful about not being closer to my own family in Utah, but I hope we can visit each other a lot, and that we can do lots of family trips together.
                In April, we put our house on the market and sold it in one day!  We took a risk and purchased a new home that we picked out online and had only seen via our realtor's video.  Before the final papers were signed though, I did fly to Oregon to check out the house.  My dad was kind to meet me in Oregon and helped talk me into the great benefits of the property.  If not for him, I may have backed out.  While we waited for our new home to close, my parents were kind to house us in Utah for a month and we enjoyed spending lots of time with them, including a fun family reunion in Park City!
We will miss our lovely white house in the Pennsylvania forest, with its big oak trees and squirrels, but now we have another lovely white house in the Eugene wetlands.  We get to enjoy large flocks of wild turkeys, geese and cats.   Yes, I said cats.  We didn’t realize that the house we bought on 5 acres, also came with 18 feral cats living in the bushy trees next to the house.  Apparently, the past owner fed the cats, but never bothered to spay them.  Luckily, the humane society is within walking distance of our new house, and so I went straight to work trapping the cats and hauling them in to be spayed.  To make a long story short, we currently have about 7 feral cats that have taken up permanent residence on our front porch.  They trip us as we try to leave the house, and they like to look through our windows and spy on us all day long.  Aria is diligent about feeding them and considers them her dear pets.  During the summer, they followed her around outside like she was the pied piper of cats.                                                                             
Other adventures here in the country include the time the kids and I rescued hundreds of fish, tadpoles and crawdads from a stream that was drying up in the wetlands.  We had been walking daily through the wetlands and each day we noticed that the water in one section was getting lower and lower until one day the poor creatures were all flopping around in mud!  We couldn’t just let them die before our eyes.  Unfortunately, it was hard to scoop up slimy, muddy fish with our bare hands, and we were only able to transport a few hundred to another area with more water. The rest became food for the many vultures that flew in the next day.  It seemed like a fish holocaust.  Another adventure was when I was pulling weeds out only to realize too late that the vine-like weed extending its “innocent” leaves onto the front porch was actually poison oak!  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until the second time I got poison oak- all within one month! The second time my eye was almost swollen shut and Dane joked that I should join a leper colony.   
While we’re relaying some challenges, lest you think our life is too dreamy, we may as well admit that we’ve been battling the dreaded flea here in our home.  It’s interesting to note that in every state we have ever lived in, there has been an insect that likes to suck our blood. In Arizona, it was bed bugs, in Pennsylvania it was ticks and now in Oregon, it’s fleas.  We keep our house clean too, thank you very much, in case you were beginning to suspect something. (Perhaps it’s from all those feral cats outside. Nah, couldn’t be that….) Dane just bought some all natural flea killer so hopefully that will do the trick.  Please don’t hesitate to visit. J
In other news, I was just beginning to get my schedule down of driving children to school, exercising, grocery shopping, etc. when it became clear that the school Aria was attending was just not working for her.  She had been complaining ever since school started that it was boring, and she didn’t have any friends.  We made multiple attempts to try and address these issues, and we saw some improvements, but still Aria seemed disheartened and complained of sickness on many occasions when it was time to leave for school.  For a good portion of the past spring, Dane and I had debated about whether to have the children attend the Eugene Waldorf School. Back in Pennsylvania I home-schooled the kids for a year using a Waldorf curriculum and I have a love for the schools.  Unfortunately, tuition is expensive and after we bought our house, it just felt like finances would be too tight to have all the children attend the school.  But now that Aria didn’t like the public school, we thought we had a good reason to send her to the Waldorf school, or at least try it out.  And so, we did.  It’s still a new experience for us, but so far Aria has been welcomed and embraced by the children there.  She has a lovely teacher who seems really in tune with not only Aria’s intellectual and artistic potential, but also who Aria is as a human being.
 Other news about Aria- she turned 8 and decided to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in August.  She enjoys taking gymnastics once a week, she continues to devour all sorts of books and she is always trying to earn money by selling things such as home-made spa services, bracelets, drawings and stories, etc.  Unfortunately, the only people she tries to sell these things to is her own parents.  For over a month during the summer, Aria slept-walked every night about an hour after she fell asleep.  It seemed to be anxiety related due to the many changes she was experiencing.  Thankfully she is not doing this anymore.  I tried enrolling Aria in dance once again only to have Aria exasperatedly say, “Mom, stop trying to get me to take dance!”  Okay, okay, I am trying to take a hint, but I am also considering opening a dance studio in our house, so just maybe…… husband, willing…
Zade (6 years old) is still going to school at Twin Oaks Elementary.  He was a little sad that Aria switched schools, but he is still upbeat and positive about continuing at his current school.  His teacher seems really on top of things and Zade is learning a lot.  He tested in the 99th percentile for math, which maybe explains his ability to put together complicated lego designs that say they are for kids over the age of 14.  Currently Zade likes collecting Pok√©mon cards, making rainbow-loom bracelets with Aria and bouncing on the couch like it’s a tramp while he “tells himself stories.”  He stays after school on Wednesdays for a special art class, and loves it.  He’s made some huge strides in drawing.  Zade takes a Jiu Jitsu class once a week.  I signed him up so that he can defend himself when Aria attacks him.  It’s not working yet, but hopefully he will continue to gain new self-defense skills.  Zade is a good-natured kid and we feel grateful to have a boy with such a soft heart in our family.  Today we went to chop down our Christmas tree and Zade said that he felt sorry for the tree.
Ryzen (3 years old) is our sweet little momma-lovin boy.  For the first half of the year he was constantly grabbing my elbow and repeating in a gruff voice “Elbow, elbow, elbow, I love mommy’s elbow!”  It sounds cute, but it got to be annoying because he did it over and over again, every single day!  Well, he finally stopped grabbing my elbow, but recently he has started swatting at me instead.  “Momma!”  he says as he whacks me across the rear.  I have told him kindly to please stop whacking me, but it is not working.  Other news about Ryzen…..he is attending a preschool just down the street from our home and really likes it.  We were worried he wouldn’t be able to attend because he wasn’t potty-trained, but then in one week he was trained both day and night! He usually makes it to the potty without an accident, except when he doesn’t……On another note, Ryzen also goes to a Waldorf playgroup/parenting class with me once a week.  Ryzen’s favorite thing to do is build forts!  He loves to take the couch cushions off the couch, the bar stools away from the counter, and then grab other random objects to create his own forts.  Ryzen also loves to help cook in the kitchen.  He is the only child left that insists I stay next to him until he falls asleep, and he never takes naps except when he falls asleep in the car- which happens a lot!
Nova (1 year old) is our sweet, mild-mannered baby, expect when we are shopping or in crowded places.  She does not like going places where she is not allowed to explore and throws big fits about being carried around everywhere.  Interestingly enough, Nova is still not walking at 17 months old.  She continues to travel through the house by a scooting, leg-dragging motion, kind of monkey-like.  She does not like to practice walking with her parents, but she does like to pull herself up onto furniture and she will periodically stand up in the middle of the room and then smiles when the whole family breaks out into enthusiastic cheers.  Nova also loves her blanket!  It’s just a simple, thin white blanket, but Nova has to have it to sleep and loves to carry it everywhere, even when she’s eating, which can be problematic (as you can imagine).  Nova has been suffering from diaper rash this entire year!  We’ve tried all sorts of things to help her.  It seems that she has incredibly sensitive skin.  As a result, she is always trying to itch down yonder, and must be wearing pants or she ends up getting rash cream all over herself.  Poor baby!  Nova hates to wear shoes, unless she puts them on, which she then of course, promptly takes back off. Her main word is “mom,” but every now and then she says other words too.
                Overall, life is good.  I have found that the gray skies in Oregon don’t bother me as much as I thought they would, although I do miss the snow, and so I’m determined to drive to it at least every other weekend.  Right now the entire landscape is encased in ice.  It rains and then freezes here.  Yesterday the kids ran around outside breaking off icicles and crunching the frozen grass.  I love that I can usually run outside year-round here.  Running outside while listening to good music improves my spirits and outlook on life unlike anything else I’ve found.  I also enjoy my hot yoga class once a week, and hiking with the family as often as possible.  I am looking forward to teaching the older kids how to ski this winter, and volunteering at the kids’ schools.  Dane likes his new job.  He hopes to someday have time to write songs again, and he thinks it’s great that we have a room in the house where we can store all the music equipment.  Unfortunately, life is busy right now with a job, kids, and church, and so song writing must wait a few more years.  Dane is a constant source of strength and stability for the family.
                Well, if you made it to the end of this news-letter, then we applaud you for your stamina, and thank you for your interest in the details of our life.  We hope your Christmas is filled with simple joys and lots of love.  Thank you for being a part of our life.