Archive for November, 2014

It was a happy Thanksgiving for the Schnells and Jarrells as we gathered in Portland to feast and catch up and watch our girls run wild together.  Shane and I had originally planned on a long, quiet weekend at home, but then switched some plans around as we found ourselves really wanting to be with family.  We headed out on Wednesday afternoon and enjoyed an uneventful drive as Juliette snoozed in the backseat.  We were greeted with hugs from Morgan and Elise, followed by a rundown of all things Frozen.  I can see our future: bring on the sparkles and princesses.

My ideal holiday involves eating, napping, and very minimal physical activity, but I’m afraid Jules had other plans.  We were up early on Thursday, per usual, and Juliette was itching to get out by mid-morning.  The playground it is then, baby!

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The rain cut our time at the park short, but I was happy to grab some extra snuggle time on the couch with my favorite three year old.

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Cousins!  They got along splendidly – it was so much fun to watch them play together.  Last time we visited, Juliette was still very much a baby, but this time around she was (almost) able to keep up with the big girls.  And when she struggled to keep up, they were happy to grab her hands and pull her along.

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Once cuddles and building blocks lost their charm, we were back out the door for an afternoon walk.  Kathryn asked me to snap a few pics of the girls for their Christmas card – I asked for sweet smiles, and…this happened.  Funny kids.

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Elise was wonderful with Juliette, eliciting all kinds smiles and giggles with her silly dances and songs.  When she noticed Juliette’s tendency to fuss during diaper changes, Elise deemed herself the “diaper-changing fairy”, fluttering around with toys and books while I cleaned up Jules.  And it worked – not a single wiggle from my usually-squirmy baby!  Can’t wait till Elise is old enough to babysit – Juliette looks at her with such unbridled adoaration.

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We headed back indoors and I put Juliette down for a late nap.  I came upstairs to find these two snuggled up together with an episode of Arthur.  There’s that sweet photo I was going for earlier!

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Morgan has always been a little slow to warm up to me, but she and I had a really grand couple of days together, reading books and doing puzzles and playing horses.  Only took three years and eleven months, but I think I’ve won this girl over!

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We ate big for dinner on Thursday – ham and quiche and roasted veggies and butternut squash soup and salad and apple pie.  Gratitude (and red wine) flowed forth so easily as we sat around around the table together.  Much to be thankful for.

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Friday was rainy and cold, so we skipped our morning park run.  Kathryn and I headed out for a Barre3 class while Shane held down the fort at home, and we spent the rest of the day cozied up inside, snacking, reading, painting, dancing…repeat.  And repeat.  We eventually declared a jailbreak, grabbed our umbrellas, and walked over the library and coffee shop for a much-needed change of scenery.

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We came home and Elise and Juliette worked out their rainy day crazies with a little yoga.

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And then just got plain crazy again!  Babies being big girls, big girls being babies – it was mayhem.  Exhausting and loud and occasionally resulting in tears, but I still kind of loved it.

We saw that the forecast called for snow on Saturday morning and decided to beat the weather and head out Friday evening.  We put on Juliette’s pajamas, piled onto the couch for a bedtime story, and then hit the road.  Juliette fell asleep shortly after we got on the freeway, slept until we pulled into our garage, and then settled pretty quickly into her crib once we were home.  Now that’s how it’s done.  A fuss-free drive to and from Oregon?  Thankful, indeed.

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Juliette’s been waking up at 5 am this week.  Oy vey.  I can usually get her back down after 10-15 minutes and grab at least another hour of sleep before it’s time to get ready for work, but this morning, when I crawled back into bed at 5:15, I tossed and turned.  I burrowed further under the covers, scooted closer to the warmth of Shane’s body, turned my head away from the clock that was ticking its way toward my alarm, but sleep wouldn’t come.  My heart was heavy as my head spun with visions of mourning parents, cars on fire, faces twisted with anger and grief.  I haven’t said much, on social media or otherwise, about the situation in Ferguson.  I’ve “liked” a few Facebook posts that call for justice, I’ve ranted to Shane over the insensitivity of a few others, but mostly I’ve been silent.  I’m troubled and angry and full of sorrow, but…I’m also white.  Am I justified in standing alongside Michael Brown’s parents, alongside the hurting black community, without truly being able to empathize?  Can I begin to understand what they’re feeling, even though I can rest in the hope that there are governmental systems in place that will protect rather than harm my child?  Do the words from my privileged lips hold any weight?  Or is it time for me to get over my insecurities, agree with my friend Erica that often silence equals complicity, and speak up?

I keep coming back to the image below:

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Such profound grief.  Having to bury your child must be one of the greatest sorrows conceivable.  And in the midst of all that grief, being caught in the the eye of a storm where your son is called the ugliest of names, where he’s accused and vilified in efforts to justify his death.  I can’t imagine.  But I can pray.

Lord, please lay your peace on the Brown family.  Hold them close.

And this picture:


So much division.  Unrest.  Distrust.  It’s hard for me to fathom, as I sit here in the quiet of our house on our quiet street.  I can’t say I’ve ever felt threatened or afraid because of the color of my skin.  I can’t tell you what it feels like to be treated as less than because of my race.  But I can pray.

Lord, bring reconciliation in the midst of all this pain.

And this picture:

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Michael Brown isn’t just a symbol.  He was a young man whose life mattered, not because he was young or black or someone’s son, but because he was a human being, and I believe in a God who says that all life matters.  I can’t undo the shots that were fired on August 9th.  But I can be an advocate.  I can cry out against inequality.  I can get down on my knees and beg my God and my country’s leaders to bring about change and accountability in our broken system.

Lord, hear my prayers.

This is our girl these days – moving, moving, moving, often too fast, often without watching where she’s going.  It’s fun and adorable and terrifying, all at the same time.

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This month has brought her first skinned knee, her first scraped knuckles, her first bruised forehead.  These bumps don’t keep her down, though, because she’s a baby with a mission: give mama a dang heart attack!  Thud.  Crash.  BAM.  That awful silence that comes before an exceptionally loud shriek.  These are the sounds that seem to inevitably follow each time I turn my back.  Thankfully, she’s a little steadier day by day – more giggles, less tumbles.  Praise the Lord.

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She really is a regular Energizer bunny – getting her to sit still for even thirty seconds is nearly impossible, as evidenced by the fact that I was only able to wrangle one-half of her hair into a pigtail this morning before she felt the need to get up and do her seven hundredth lap around the living room (stopping only to bust a few awkward dance moves to Taylor Swift playing in the background).

With the onset of cooler, wetter weather, I’ve been on a desperate search for quiet indoor time-passers.  We spent one rainy afternoon trying our hand at finger-painting.  I stripped Juliette down to her diaper, poured out the paint, and explained to her that she was welcome to go nuts making a mess – just don’t eat it.  I’m not sure she heard me.

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We’ve also tried coloring – I laid out a jumbo drawing pad and a box of crayons, again telling her to scribble away to her heart’s content.  Just don’t eat the crayons.  Apparently I’m asking too much!

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There have been a string of days this month when, drizzle be damned, we just have to get OUT.  Shane bought a great running stroller off of Craigslist a few weeks ago we’re all logging quite a few miles together.  I tuck her in with a blanket and a sippy cup of warm milk, and we’re off!  She seems to like the wind in her hair.

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She continues to be full of surprises – after weeks of neglecting the poor baby that Grandma bought her for her birthday, she pulled it out of the toy bin last week and spent half an hour playing mama, tucking the baby in, retucking the baby in, re-retucking the baby in.  Jules has a little buddy at daycare that loves dolls and I think she’s been taking notes.  Those sweet little pat-pats!

Her communication and comprehension skills are growing by leaps and bounds – the other day she pulled a bag of dried apples out of the pantry and held it up to me, signing the word for “please” by rubbing her chest.  My hands were messy with dinner prep and so I asked her to carry the bag over to her dad so he could help her.  And she did it!  Such a small but significant little exchange.  She loves the “Where’s your ___?” game.  Check out that proud grin when she finds her belly.

Papa continues to be the best playmate on the planet – today I was upstairs putting laundry away and could hear the clomp-clomp of Shane rolling around the living room while Jules roared with laughter.   Favorite sound ever.
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I’m sure going to miss these Autumn leaf-throwing sessions at the park…

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After a few weeks of fits and whining and fearing that the terrible twos had come early, it really feels like we’re on the upswing – we had such a great weekend together, feeling like we could really focus on enjoying Juliette rather than just keeping the peace.  So happy, happy fourteen months, baby little girl baby (can I please still call you baby?).

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Ohhhh, October – I love October.  Birthdays and baseball and bright fall colors.  Last month was chock-full of so many good memories.

My mom and dad made the trek up from La Pine ten days ago for a much-anticipated visit.  I’m always a little anxious when family rolls into town, as Jules has a pesky habit of getting sick just when we’re hoping she’ll be at her best, but she stayed healthy and my parents got plenty of chances to enjoy their sweet, silly, super-busy granddaughter.  We spent one afternoon at Lincoln Park, swinging and sliding and strolling.

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Those leaves!  Can’t get enough of them.

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Turns out Grandpa is a pretty amazing swing-pusher.

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We spent a drizzly Sunday afternoon walking through the woods Seward Park.

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And just when we thought we’d have to skip the playground on account of rain, the sun came out!  Juliette (and Grandma) were overjoyed.

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Juliette played hooky from daycare and stayed home with my parents on Monday, and the three of them got along splendidly – Juliette ate well, napped well, and seemed especially easy-going that day (interested in moving to Seattle, Mom and Dad?!).  We said our good-byes on Tuesday morning, and Juliette was in a mood Tuesday night – I think she missed all that extra grandparent lovin’!

Oh, and how bout them Giants?!  We watched so much baseball last month, ending with our boys WINNING GAME 7 OF THE WORLD SERIES!  Juliette and Shane sported their orange and black on Thursday with so much pride.

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Halloween was also a pretty big deal – having a kid has really upped the ante on October 31st!  My fellow mamas and I put our waddlers in their costumes on Friday morning and took them to the zoo for the Pumpkin Bash.  Gosh, how it rained.  And rained.  Turns out the zoo is not so fun in the rain (that downcast face of the little boy in the blue striped parka says it all).  We spent some time running around in the indoor gym, took a quick spin past the orangutans, and then called it quits.  Gold stars for effort, though!

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Juliette and I both dressed up on Friday afternoon for my office Halloween party.  The theme was “alter ego’s”.  Architect by day…_____ by night.  Images of rockstars and super-heros flashed through my head, but if I’m being honest, I’m really an old granny at heart, perfectly content to spend a Friday evening knitting and watching Jeopardy.  And Jules was the perfect pet bird.

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I was determined to get maximum mileage out of the owl costume that my mom and I put together last weekend, so yesterday Juliette donned her feathered cape once again for our church’s annual Trunk or Treat.  She “flew” around the parking lot, checking out the scene and rummaging through buckets of candy – turns out a box of Nerds makes a perfect rattle and the crinkle of a Whoppers wrapper is completely fascinating.  The sugar inside the packaging will remain a secret for as long as possible.

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My mom is pretty brilliant with a sewing machine, no?

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These kids!  Trust me, deep down, they’re having a blast.

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And with that, October 2014 is a wrap.  On to November, with its bare-limbed trees and 4:30 sunsets.  Eeeeeeeek.  At least there’s pumpkin pie?