First Hike in a Year!

You guys, I am so jazzed.

Yesterday was the first hike I have been on IN A YEAR! A year! Can you believe it? The last hike we did was at Nolte State Park–a super easy loop off Chinook Pass and Highway 410. Nathan and I took Maxine there last May (MAY!), not long before I found out I was pregnant–and that followed an entire summer planned of hikes, cancelled due to morning sickness! Ah, it was the worst! So depressing. And Seattle weather was so bad anyway, so it would have been a lot of wet hiking last summer anyway.

But it’s a new year! And in addition to this being our first hike in a year, it was Florence (a.k.a. little Lo, or Flora), our new baby’s first hike! How exciting, right? She slept in the Ergo the whole time, but I am sure as little Lo was sleeping she was taking in the fresh air, birds chirping, and luscious sound of the creek flowing nearby. It was a really lovely day for a hike!

We took the Red Town trail at Coal Creek and walked in about a mile before we turned back. I didn’t want Maxine, who is now 2.5!, to get too tired going in. She’s a very vocal and fussy Two, so we have to mitigate that as much as possible. It was 2.5 miles into Red Town, which is apparently a Washington State “ghost town”. Red Town was the name of the coal mining town, now known as Newcastle, before it was suburban and residential, back in the 1800s. Current remains include hotel ruins, coal mining relics, the Baima House, railroad grade, site of school, and cemetery. My sister-in-law says it’s a lovely place to walk through, so I am excited to complete the hike by the end of the summer.

Coal Creek Trail _ May 2017

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Life Lately

We are five days out from the new baby’s birth. Everyone is packed and ready for their destinations – Maxine to my sister’s house; Nathan and I to the hospital for a few days. A nursery is set up in our master suite bedroom. We have prepared Maxine as much as I think we can prepare her, but she shows quite a bit of ambivalence towards “new baby sister” and her arrival. That confuses me quite a bit, but I’m rolling with it for right now. We need to finish up a little bit of grocery shopping in the next week, but otherwise, I don’t feel like we could be more prepared to bring home a new baby.

In what feels like the worst timing ever, Maxine has started to not nap every day; that turns into her being overly tired by her 8 PM bedtime, which then often turns into her not falling asleep until 10 PM. It is extremely frustrating, so we have decided to take away the small amount of sugar she does get as well as all TV and screen time (also generally limited). It’s caused both Nathan and I a good deal of stress, though he handles it much better than I do.

We were able to get out on a date night last Friday to take a class on how to make a living wall frame filled with succulents. The class itself was informative and fun, and we made a beautiful display that will hang on our dining room wall. But, it was pretty expensive at $106 for 10 small succulent plants and plugs in a 5×5 (or so) reclaimed-wood planter frame. We have been wanting to propagate and grow from seed our succulents and bonsai plants, so this was a great activity for us to do together, especially as a “last date night” we will have in a while.

Take a look…

Living Wall Frame Project

When we had Maxine, we had moved into our house only a few months earlier. We had a room for her, but we weren’t really settled into the house. I didn’t like the flowery, pink and white themes that baby girl nurseries often or stereotypically get. I had a few items leftover from my foster parenting days, and, in general, I wasn’t very choosey or intentional about decor, despite being over the moon about having a girl. I was working full-time, and I was exhausted, more so than even with this pregnancy. So putting too much work into baby deco wasn’t high on my list.

This time around, however, we know that this is the last baby – and a girl, and so I did not want to let any option or convenience pass me by if I could get away with it. Interestingly, we chose to NOT have a separate nursery for baby #2. Instead, we set up space for her in our master suite bedroom and plan to move her into Maxine’s (large) bedroom when she’s six months old and sleeping through the night (whichever comes last). We’re doing that for a couple of reasons. One, we want to save our guest room for guests – and storage. Two, we want the girls to be close friends, to share and learn together, and enjoy their childhood. And maybe when they’re a little older, we can put them into separate spaces.

I love our master bedroom for its abundance of natural light, massive space, and coziness. It’s the only room upstairs (aside from the bath), and it makes for the warmest place to care for a family and a newborn in those first few days and weeks.

Mondays always seem to arrive super quickly when you’re heading into the weekend (amIright?!), and I hope that this Monday is no exception. We are eager and excited to meet this final family member!

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On My Gratitude Journey

One of my set goals for 2017 was to write daily three things in my life that I am grateful for. We are in week six of 2017, and so far, I’ve done pretty well documenting my three daily gratitudes. I haven’t written every day; in fact, there have been a couple of weeks I only wrote gratitudes for one day that week. But, I’m really surprised and thankful that I haven’t given up on it yet – out of laziness, or forgetfulness, or just plain not caring enough to document. My hope is that documenting these gratitudes will change my current thought patterns and increase the optimism in my attitude, thus, positively affecting my daily interactions, thoughts, marriage, and parenting. When I feel stumped or tired or uninspired to write down my gratitudes, I tell myself, Simply pick three words. You don’t have to elaborate. Just three simple things. Food on my plate. My daughter. My house. 

Seeking deeper gratitude in one’s life, I think, is key to accomplishing my other goals, like creating more positive, optimistic thought patterns, greater personal awareness, and building stronger, genuine bonds with new friends and people in my family and community. But here is the great thing about this project: You don’t have to elaborate on any one of the things you write down. You can write down simple observations. Or, you can write down in-depth experiences you had that day. You can give yourself 15 seconds to write or take 30 minutes to elaborate and really examine what you’ve experienced or observed about what makes you grateful.

It’s too early in this journey for me to say if this project has increased my levels of optimism (plus, I’m nine months pregnant with a toddler and husband who works 60 hours a week, and experiencing all the hormones and physical challenges that go along with life right now isn’t necessarily on-point with feeling positive and optimistic!). What I have noticed this far into the year, though, is that when I started, I would find “simple” things to be grateful for; easy thing, like, “Maxine”, or “our church.” Simple, easy-to-identify moments that didn’t require much brain power or consideration. But then I started to push myself to elaborate and really think about why I’m grateful. I now try to identify deeper issues, situations, circumstances, experiences, or relationships in my life that I am grateful for each day. So, yes, I am thankful for our church and its community; but, what I am really thankful for that it has allowed me to find the missing piece in my life that I’d been looking for – the message that “church” is about my relationship with God, not following a religion or its rules, rituals, and doctrines as I was brought up to believe.

Another interesting, but perhaps less significant detail I’ve noticed after starting this project is that, while I may only write a word or brief sentence about the thing(s) I am grateful for on a slow or lazy day, those acts of gratitude, however brief or elaborate, are still a peak into the key hole of my life. Those entries can still act as a journal or book of collected experiences. For example, on January 19th, 2017, I noted that the things I was grateful for were my women’s Bible study group and the support that they provide to me and each other; Maxine’s hugs and kisses that evening; and, Nathan being alive. In a few years, I may not know exactly what we spoke about in Bible study that day, or why Maxine gave me hugs and kisses, or what happened to make me thankful for Nathan’s beating heart; but those were relevant and significant thoughts I had that day. They moved me, and that’s worth something to me.

 

 

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Flourish

In my women’s Bible study group last Friday, our lead spoke to us about her word of the year – something she chooses each year and prays on before deciding what the word will be for her. It had never occurred to me to have a word for the year – a word to focus on, to be intentional about growing with for 2017. I had another word picked out, but this word came up and it fit perfectly. In group on Friday, I shared three of my top 10 goals for the year:

  • To be more optimistic;
  • To be intentional daily about gratitude; and,
  • To hike 100 miles in 2017.

To flourish is to act intentionally to increase your well-being in a profound way. Its definition reads: “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way.” Its origin is Middle English: “from Old French floriss-, lengthened stem of florir, based on Latin florere, from flos, flor- a flower. The noun senses ‘ornamental curve’ and ‘florid expression’ come from an obsolete sense of the verb, ‘adorn’ (originally with flowers).” And how appropriate is it that we welcome a new family member into 2017, named Flora?

To me, the word flourish brings to mind beautiful, colorful petal-ly blooms, like peonies (my FAVORITE!), roses, carnations, ranunculus, and dahlias. These flowers tend to have full petals. Each flower tends to have thick, full blooms, representing the many blessings in one’s life. Each February when I start to see tulips and daffodils pop up, my hope for new life is renewed. I start to clean and prepare my house for fresh air and sunshine, for room to grow, for new adventures and exploring, for longer days that allow for more opportunities for goals to be reached.

In my research on the word flourish, I came across a 52-week devotional by Margaret Feinberg titled, Flourish: Live Free, Live Loved (just published this past September!). She asks, “What would a flourishing life look like for you?” I think that is an excellent question, and especially relevant as one of my over-arching goals for 2017 is to be happier, content, and calm. To flourish as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, sister, daughter, and in my relationship with God. I have been praying for His guidance in every area of my life as every area of my life lately has felt like a great challenge and uphill battle. And I feel completely emotionally ill-equipped and frozen with anxiety to move forward at times. I feel scared about having a new baby, which makes two kids under three!

I will be following up in my blog here on “flourishing” and how my journey is going this year. I am starting the Flourish devotional this weekend, and while I can’t guarantee how much I will do once the baby arrives, I do plan on keeping up as much as possible.

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