Hello Fall

I can hardly believe it’s now fall again. What happened to summer? The worst of it is that it’s dark when you leave for work/school and it’s dark when you get home again. I don’t know about you, but that makes the days seem to fly by even more quickly. They also blend one into another.

Then it’s Sunday evening and you’re packing lunches, setting out school clothes, getting baths taken, reading books, saying goodnight…saying goodnight again…sure, you can have a little sip of water…goodnight. Okay, I’ll rub your back for just a minute. Yep, one more hug, then goodnight. I know, I love you too. Goodnight. 🙂

In the month of October we were invited to the 2nd birthday party for Violet. It was an afternoon party, set at the Portland Children’s Museum. What a COOL place. We hadn’t been in the building before…although it shares a parking lot with the Zoo. Inside the Museum is an entire floor-to-ceiling Legoland castle. There’s also a claymaking studio, a just-for-babies section – perfect for gentle tumble and play. You’ll also find a grocery store (with faux items kids can “purchase”), a theatre production (complete with various costumes), a pet hospital, a treehouse, a do-it-yourself face painting area and a waterworks. Hunter was in heaven!

That same day (before the party) we met up with the same photographer who did our family photos back when Hunter was Maddox’s age. We spent 3+ hours taking photos. It was eXHAusTInG! Getting Eric, Hunter, Maddox and Sadie to focus and look at the camera, smile, sit down, not pick their nose, or cry was nuts. (Yes, most of the crying was coming from Eric! :)) Why oh why did it have to be the same day as the party?!

Luckily, we just got the photo CD in the mail and there’s a bunch of really good ones. (I was convinced we didn’t have but one or two.) I’ve included some here. Pretty happy with the results.

A couple of weeks ago we did a Dinner & Movie event at Wellspring. It was a kids day…showing Hocus Pocus. And, we invited all kids (and parents) to come dressed in their Halloween costumes. It was VERY fun, and all the kids had a great time. Hunter got to wear his “space man” astronaut suit and Maddox tried out his “monkey sidekick” suit. More photos to come from “real” Halloween, but thought you’d enjoy the cute shot of the boys with the daughter of a friend. Jaqueline is the cute firegirl. She attends the boys’ daycare. Hunter and she are in the same classroom.

Other news? Maddox got a really bad cough…sounding like a barking seal…which turned into bronchilitis (the baby version of bronchitis). We took him to see the doctor, who prescribed nebulizer treatments on him every four hours for four days. Wow! Those 2a.m. treatments were a killer for mommy. Luckily he’s such a happy little guy. He didn’t seem to mind it too much. A week later, he’s definitely better, and now down to only two treatments per day. His little cough remains, but he’s sleeping much better. Thank goodness!

Hope you enjoy the photos. Happy Halloween to you all!

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Silly September

On the first day of September our schedule included:
– an airplane trip to Denver
– 12 days with our family and friends
– two weddings in two weekends
– five different beds
– and an airplane trip back home
…all with a five month old and a 3 1/2 year old. It’s a good thing the boys travel well, or we’d have been in a lot of trouble.

Crazy? Yes. But SO worth it. We had an awesome vacation.

The first weekend found us celebrating with the Patrick and Nelson clans, at the wedding of Cheryl and Scott. A five-mile, 45-minute, bumpy, dirt road excursion led us to the mountain paradise of Piney Creek Lodge. Cheryl was a stunning bride. Scott was a dapper groom. And, every tiny detail was perfect – right down to the strawberry and lavendar jelly given as gifts to all guests.

We all stayed at the Vail Cascade Resort. The rooms were delightfully mountain rustic. The restaurant was delicious. And, there was a big salt water pool. One afternoon was spent lounging poolside, taking in the glorious mountain sunshine. We also walked around the Vail farmers market, sat fireside at the lounge and shared many laughs with family and friends. It was a perfect mountain weekend.

On Monday, Labor Day, we headed back down the mountain. Can you say BAAAAAD traffic jam!? It took 3+ hours to make the 1-1/2 hour trip. It provided a perfect opportunity to work on our patience! 🙂

When we arrived in Denver, we moved into the home of our good friends Andrew, Laura and Marli (our third bed, in case you’re counting). We spent three days and nights hanging out, swapping kid stories and watching the kids play. The first night, my friend Kelly and her husband Sean joined us for dinner. The second night, we met up with friends Renee, and Tom and Deb. On the third night Kelly joined us again. This time with her two kids, Jaiden and Jon. Many laughs and stories were shared, after too much time apart.

Our second trip up the mountains found us at the home of the soon-to-be-wed Jamilee and Tim. Being back in the Dillon/Keystone/Frisco area was like deja vu all over again (to borrow a Yogi Berra-ism). The fresh mountain air and endless blue skies were just as we remember them.

The second wedding weekend found us first taking a horse-drawn wagon ride to a chuck wagon rehearsal dinner. Then we headed up to Copper Mountain for the gorgeous wedding, where Jamilee (finally) took the name of Mr. Tim Coen! She was stunning. He was handsome. And we had a wonderful time reminiscing with old pals.

Now, it’s nearly a month later and we’re back in the groove of “normal.” Since that trip, we’ve had a couple of birthdays. For Eric’s birthday, we took a day-trip to the ocean. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had a wonderful dinner in a cute little restaurant by the bay.

The other birthday celebration happened in Nevada, where my brother Stacy and his wife Robin welcomed their baby girl. Madisyn was born on September 23rd, a few days ahead of schedule. She was 5lbs 8oz and 18.5 inches long. Grandma Joan has been down there in Elko since the first of September as well (her flight departed within an hour of ours).

We will meet the new little Miss in a couple of weeks, when we meet up with Stacy, Robin and Madisyn to “swap” Grandma for pickles. 🙂

Hunter got confused and told Uncle Stacy on the phone that we were going to trade Madisyn for Maddox. (He still refers to Maddox as his little sister. If we DID make that trade, he would finally have that sister he’s always talked about!) Brotherly love…it lasts a lifetime, doesn’t it!

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Summertime Fun & Reminiscing

Hard to believe it, but Hunter is officially 3. Or, “free years older,” as he says. It’s crazy to think how much our lives have changed since he was born. We were living up in the mountains of Colorado. Minding our own business. Trying to grow a Burrito Bandito empire, with me working full time from home. We’d just finished fixing up our mountain townhome, and finally got the condo back on the rental market after the big fire.

Then along comes Wellspring…located in a far off town in Oregon. Six weeks old and Hunter’s crazy parents pack up his lifelong belongings and move halfway across the country to start our lives over. Coworkers still refer to Hunter as Wellspring’s mascot, because he’s been there since the beginning. I guess that’s their connection.

For Eric and I, Hunter has been our constant source of inspiration. Who knew that being a parent could be so cool?! Frustrating at times, yes. (Especially with Hunter in his current two/three transition stage.) Often hilarious. (Mostly when he says something completely inappropriate, like yelling, “Mommy, I pee pee in the potty!” in the middle of a busy restaurant.) Yet always, always fulfilling. (Usually when we finally succeed in getting him to stay in his own bed all night….) Did I mention frustrating?

No, seriously. Hunter is such a good little guy we were a little worried about how Maddox would turn out. Surely we’re “owed” some bad parenting experiences to make up for Hunter’s relatively easy childhood. I know…gasp! I may have just jinxed us. But, we’re already mentally preparing ourselves for the teen years with these two Nelson boys. The good news is, we’ve solved that potential problem. We’re moving to the Virgin Islands with cousin Leah and her husband, Aaron, while these boys stay stateside. Heck, we figure Deb, Darrell and Joan did so well with raising Eric and I, we’re confident that they’re perfect for the job! 🙂 Just kidding. Just KIDDING!

So, what else is new, huh? Well, as mentioned, Hunter just turned three. We had a birthday party a couple weeks ago. Eric built the coolest slip and slide on the downward slope of our yard. It was about 100 feet long, fueled by sprinklers that shoot water in both directions. The kids (and adult men) had a lot of fun. Hunter, on the other hand, tested the slide the night daddy finished it…got water up his nose…and refused to go down ever again. Poor Eric! 😦

I started back to work on July 5th. Boy it was a crazy transition getting two kids out the door to daycare. Both of them go on Mondays and Tuesdays. Grammy Joan graciously watches Maddox on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and then I still work from home on Fridays. Thank goodness for Fridays!

Maddox is handling the daycare interactions well, although his daily naps get interupted there with the noise and commotion. Hunter, too, is transitioning. This is the first time he’s gone to school four days in a row for an extended period of time. The first couple of weeks I could tell he was getting really worn out during the day (slept really hard at night…hooray!). And, he’d be little more than bearably excited when he learned we were “going to school AGAIN today.”

Hunter’s doing a lot better now. Getting used to the new normal. Maddox, too, is sleeping through the night now (thank goodness!), so everyone is much better rested. Although I’ll use the “mommy brain” excuse for as long as possible! 

Eric and I celebrated our fifth anniversary a couple of weekends ago. Grammy Joan stayed with the boys for the night and we headed over to wine country. We hit four wineries the first afternoon. Had a nice dinner and were supposed to be at the airstrip at 5a.m. for our hot air balloon ride. Well, we showed up. But, so did the rain clouds. Heavy rain and hot air balloons don’t mix, so our flight was postponed. Bummer! Good luck finding another weekend where we can both be off work at the same time.

Oh well. Life is about being flexible, right!? So, we went out and bought a 42″ TV for our bedroom that day instead. Improvise. 🙂

Most recently, my good friend Corie from Orofino and her family met us for dinner. She was over here taking some classes at Oregon State University for a couple of weeks. It was a short visit, but so great to see them.

Hope things are interesting in your lives as well. Hugs to all!

P.S. I had to change to a new photosharing website. So, in order to see the pictures, you must click on the arrow “play” button. Enjoy.

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Croquet Battles, Beaches & Birthdays

So, the Kroupa clan came to town for a nice 10-day visit. Gary, Lisa, Aaron, and Stacy drove to Silverton from Elko, Nevada – an 11 hour trip, with potty breaks and gas fill ups. The first couple of days were spent knocking “honey do” projects from Grammy Joan’s list. We all pitched in, so we made great progress.

One evening, there was a wild Croquet battle between Grammy, Stacy, Eric, Hunter and Jodi. I’m not going to say there was any cheating involved, but…. Somehow a few croquet balls magically disappeared from an unfortunate location, then magically reappeared in a prime location on the hilly course. Rumor has it that Grammy Joan declared victory. But as they say, we’re all winners! It was great fun.

Our next adventure involved a relaxing three night/four day stay at the beach. We rented a house in Yachats…a place none of us had ever been before (pronounced ya-hots). We got our toes in the sand, collected seashells, photographed seals and bald eagles, drove to the sand dunes and hiked to an old lighthouse. One late evening was spent learning/relearning to play Hearts. And, a cold rainy day of movie watching was also enjoyed. We ate like royalty and had many laughs. A deserved break for everyone.

Upon returning to Silverton, there was an almost-surprise birthday party for someone who turned 40. Here’s how it went. Eric informed me that he HAD to go into work upon our arrival home from the beach. The supposed premise was that he just HAD to do an employee’s annual review and it couldn’t wait. Mind you, he already told me earlier in the week that he didn’t have to go back to work until the 30th, so I was mildly suspicious. On top of that, it just happened to be the last night the Kroupa clan was in town. After Eric headed to work and the rest of us began discussing what to do for dinner, Lisa somewhat innocently suggested that rather than cook, we ought to go out to dinner and celebrate my birthday. This almost made sense, until…she suggested that since Eric was already at Vitality, “why don’t we just go there?”, Lisa inquired. Hmmmmmmm, I thought to myself. Other tip-offs ensued thereafter, which are too numerous to include here (and albeit a little boring for a blog entry). Needless to say, I felt that something was up. But, I played along so as not to spoil the fun (and also because in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I would feel really stupid if I made all of these coincidences into a “thing” when perhaps it was just in my mind) :).

“Surprise!” they all shouted when we arrived in the doorway of Vitality. I was so glad to know that I wasn’t dreaming all the coincidences. What a great party. Many folks from work were there, some friends came as well. Eric’s team put together a beautiful spread of cheeses, twice baked mini potatoes (a joke on me since I’m from Idaho, and because I craved all kinds of potatoes while pregnant with Maddox) and the most delicious and moist chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. OMG! How amazing those tasted! Can you say, YUM?

The theme of the party was “pretty pretty princess,” a harkening back to a color I chose to paint in my condo’s bedroom when Eric and I were first dating. He will never let me live that down. Honestly, I really did just like the color, a soothing lavendar. But he has always found the name of it too funny to resist. The princess theme was carried through by providing me with a pink tiara and magic wand and with some of the gifts (a lavendar-scented “princess” sachet being one). There were many “Princess” balloons, beautiful bouquets and a trip-through-time photograph montage from childhood through high school – including several shots of when I actually WAS crowned one of the Orofino Lumberjack Days princesses.

Very cool! I LOVED it. Many heartfelt thanks to Eric and everyone for thinking to do it in the first place. Especially, trying their best to make it a surprise. As Eric said later, I just need to “stop with all of my sleuthiness” (is that a word? If not, let’s make it one!)

So….now I’m in the fabulous 40 decade. It ain’t so bad. Eric took me to a nice dinner last night (my actual birthday) while Grammy graciously watched the boys. It was the perfect date night.

Today I am 40 years and 1 day old. And, as one of the wellwishers wrote on my giant 20 x 30″ card, “40 is the new 30.” I don’t know about that, but I am one lucky gal, and I feel great. So, 40s…bring it on!

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Flights, Fishing & Fun

So, we recently returned from a 10-day vacation to Iowa. Maddox and I flew one airline and Hunter and Eric flew another. Luckily, our flight times coming and going matched up pretty closely, so we could coordinate schedules. Both kids did amazingly well on the two-leg, five-plus hour flights going both ways. We’re lucky to have (mostly) patient and behaved boys.

As soon as we arrived at Deb and Darrell’s, Eric repacked his suitcase and headed out with Darrell and Cousin Tim for a week of fishing in Minnesota. That left Nana Deb and I to entertain an almost 3-year old and an 8-week old. We’re proud to say that with Uncle Brad’s help, we did just fine. Our schedule included trips to the zoo, the butterfly garden, the park, railway station, Ames swimming pool, a family gathering, a distant cousin’s wedding, a farmers market and an outdoor concert (we listened to The Nadas). There were also dinners at the Great Grandparent’s house, tractor rides and pig viewing with Great Uncle Dan, etc. Through all of it, Hunter was happily wore out each day. Maddox was a trooper as well. He allowed countless car rides and packing in and out of the carseat. The weather was incredibly hot (100+ degrees a couple days) and windy. And, while mildly uncomfortable if you were outside for an extended period of time, I quite enjoyed the nice change from the ongoing wetness we’ve had in Oregon all winter and spring.

Papa Darrell and Daddy came home that next Friday night, and Hunter was happy to see them. I believe he’d had about as much girl bonding with Nana and Mommy as he could stand (despite occasional visits with Uncle Brad). The fishermen did quite well. They ate fish nearly every night, and still brought home their limit to fill the freezer. On our last night in Iowa, we had a cookout at the Nelson’s house, enjoying some of the Walleye, along with other BBQ items.

As usual, we had our fill (and more) of great food and a wonderfully relaxing time.

Earlier this week, friends Andrew and Laura Macomber came for a couple-night visit. They had their adorable daughter, Marli, in tow. Hunter and Marli were great playmates. They’re only a few weeks apart, so their language and play skills were well matched. One afternoon, we took a nice long hike up in Silver Falls (a national park with multiple waterfalls just 15 miles out of Silverton). It was a great time. And, the exercise was a nice start to burning off some of the calories packed on from the recent vacation.

Soon to visit the Oregon Nelson Gang are the Kroupa’s from Nevada. Gary, Lisa, Aaron and Stacy will arrive this Sunday evening and stay for 10 days. Robin (Stacy’s wife) is about seven months pregnant and unfortunately can’t make the trip. She’s storing up energy and vacation days for the future birth of baby girl Kroupa (due late September). More to come on that front later.

Meanwhile, enjoy the photos from our most recent events. Happy arrival of Summer! 🙂

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Aww Spring! (I think)

Dear Mother Nature. With the recent passage of Mother’s Day, I will now insist that it is spring. Thank you very much for the few days of sunshine you’ve given us thusfar. We approve. Now…bring it on! Give us full-on spring already. Enough with the rain and cloudy skies. Enough with the 40-degree weather. We’re going to move forward and plant our rasied beds now. So, please cooperate. Love from the Oregon Nelsons.

This weekend is all about yard work…come sunshine or not. We’ve GOT to get our seeds in the dirt. Afterall, Eric did build the world’s coolest raised bed for our “farm” this year. And, there’s still at least 6 yards of mulch in the driveway (that was delivered before Easter mind you). We are determined to get this yard into tip top shape if it kills us. Stay tuned this summer as I report out the yield of our farm…all 10 ft x 5 ft of it! 🙂

Earlier this week, Eric had two days off in a row…actually the first day off he’s had since going back to work after his “man-ternity” three weeks ago. My Mother’s Day present was to hop in the Jeep on Monday morning – boys and Sadie in tow – and head to the beach in Lincoln City. Glorious sunshiny weather greeted us. The familiar salty breez filled the air. We stayed in a great little room just across the street from beach access. For two days, we walked with our toes in the sand, flew our kite, ate great seafood, threw sticks and rocks in the ocean, watched sea lions and seagulls bob in the water, and tried our hand at crabbing. It was fabulous. Just what the doctor ordered as they say.

Prior to heading out of town on that Monday morning, we picked up Mom at her house and met up with Uncle Tom and Aunt Diane, who were heading back north to Seattle (from California). We enjoyed each other’s company over a nice breakfast at a new restaurant in Silverton. The most entertaining part of that morning remains the announcement Hunter made to Tom and Diane as soon as we got to the table.

“We going to the ocean…(long thoughtful pause)…to catch a whale!”, he shouted at the top of his lungs. Being an avid fisherman, Uncle Tom thought that was just precious. So much so, he called me on my cell phone later that night to get “the whale report.” As you might guess, no whales. But, we had caught a bunch of crabs with our newly purchased crabbing gear. Unfortunately, no keepers, as they weren’t big enough (10 or more were SO close). We’ll get ’em next time.

Welcome Maddox Lee!

We are pleased to announce the arrival of Maddox Lee Nelson on April 8, 2011 at 8:36a.m. He weighed 7lbs 3 oz, 19 inches long (all the same measurements as big brother, Hunter!).

Speaking of…Hunter wasn’t what you’d call overjoyed at the arrival of his new “baby sister” as he continued to call Maddox for at least a week, despite trying to convince him otherwise. After three weeks of encouragement, and referring to Hunter as the “helper” and a good big brother, he now seems a bit more interested in Maddox. We’re also doing our best to ensure Hunter gets plenty of one on one time with Daddy and Mommy whenever possible. He’s also really good about fetching diapers and wipes, and he gives Maddox a binky when he’s crying. We know that eventually the two of them will become fast friends as soon as Maddox is bigger and can play a bit more.

To that end, Maddox is doing his best to grow big and strong. He’s a really good eater. In the first week, he gained almost a pound – tipping the scale at 8lbs 2 oz! His doctor was amazed…stating that the general goal for a newborn is to gain one ounce per day. Maddox was clearly gaining 3 on average! We all joke that it’s because I’m giving him pure cream! And you know, that’s true…nothing but the best for my boys! 🙂

Maddox tends to share his opinions about things in little grunts and groans…very little actual crying. In fact, he grunts so often, I’ve nicknamed him “Bear.” It’s quite cute. He’s starting to keep his eyes open for longer periods of time now. He’s a blue-eyed boy, just like Daddy and Hunter. And, he’s still got quite a lot of dark brown hair, which spikes up all over his head. We continue to say that he looks like a little old man…especially when we put pants on him, as they come clear up to his chest! So cute.

Nana Deb came for a visit, beginning on Easter, and stayed for a week. It was great having her here. Easter Sunday, she, Aunt Layna and Cousins Leah and Melanie drove down from Seattle. We had an amazing brunch at Vitality and shared some great laughs. Hunter was intrigued by the Easter bunny – at first…even giving him a hug and a high five. Then for some reason, when the Easter bunny came back a second time Hunter hid under the table until the bunny left (suspiciously, that 2nd bunny had Daddy’s walk!) Too bad the 2nd visit didn’t go better 😦

The rest of the week with Nana Deb included some art projects with Hunter, weeding and organizing at Grandma Joan’s house, going to the Tulip Festival in Woodburn, watching Disney movies, spreading mulch in our backyard, going on walks, eating yummy food, snuggling with the two boys, etc. We all really enjoyed having Nana here. And, as usual, the week flew by too quickly.

Now into our fourth week with Mr. Maddox, everyone is getting into our own routine. Hunter’s still going to daycare on Mondays and Tuesdays (so that his schedule remains as intact as possible). We’re also continuing to work on potty training…but not pushing it too hard, as we’ve been told by his teacher that “they” don’t recommend focusing on this stage too much when a new baby is in the house. M&Ms make good incentives for when Hunter chooses to do his thing, but we’ll await the big change whenever he decides that pullups are uncool! (Secretly, we hope it happens sooner than later!)

Enjoy the photos. I’ll try to find time to update the blog more often in the coming weeks, while I’m on maternity leave. Have a great spring!