Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gospel is Socially Awkward

On Sunday our family attended the monthly meeting of a heritage club that Allen's grandpa presides over.  It's called GROW--Germans from Russia of Oregon and Washington.  The December meeting was a Christmas celebration, and had something of a talent show feel to it.
Allen's sister and his grandpa alternate between English and German in the reading of St. Luke's account of the birth of Christ.
I played a song (very badly) on the guitar and sang; Allen's mom impressed me by playing a song on her violin which until the week before had lain in its case for 30 years, and she also played a song on the piano.
Grandma Karla is accompanied by lots of jingling
Our kids shook jingle bells along with the music...and also not during the music.  Some folks shared memories of Christmases from their childhood during the Depression years and it was wonderful food for thought.  Imagine kids now being thrilled just to receive an orange and an apple for Christmas!
Concentration is key
Towards the end, Roger opened it up to anyone else who had anything to share.  I gave the mic to Ruby, who had told me in the morning that she wanted to sing a song.  I'm sure everyone was expecting to hear her sing "Jingle Bells" or something like that, but what they got instead was a recitative-style song of the Christmas story, starting with Mary and Joseph getting to the manger and ending with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus returning from their flight to Egypt.

Now, I had heard Ruby's rendition of this song in the morning at the breakfast table, and I was floored by it.  She has a great memory, but the degree to which she remembered the story was pretty remarkable.  I had her practice it again at lunchtime before having her perform at the GROW meeting.

One of the elements of the story which she did not hesitate to include was King Herod's plot and rage.    Everyone was quite attentive to her story as she sang, and there was a collective gasp when she sang out in a sing-song tuneless way, "And King Herod sent out his soldiers and they killed all the babies because he didn't want Jesus to take his job [of being King of the Jews]." It was not the Hallmark version they had expected.

Perhaps some people wondered what on earth I've been reading to my children.  Should a 4 year old be hearing about a tyrant murdering boys the ages of her own brothers?  Well, I wouldn't make a steady diet of it, but it is part of the story.  In fact, it's one of the parts that fascinates Ruby and Max the most.  Yes, we emphasize the Nativity set part of the story and the Annunciation and the angels' announcement to the shepherds and the wise men and all of the rest.

But...Herod is part of the story.  And he's an important part.  I remember in the Advent season of 2006 hearing Rick McKinley preach about Herod's conspiracy to kill the baby, to kill the competition, and how it relates to our own culture's desire to "kill the baby" of Christ in Christmas.

He was NOT talking about the whole "War on Christmas" FOX news yearly outrage about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

He was talking about the outrageous amount of money that we spend at Christmastime and how some of it surely can be better spent on the people Jesus wants us to spend money on: poor, disenfranchised, hungry, sick, homeless people.  He and some other pastors started Advent Conspiracy that year, and I caught the vision, as they say.  It has been a guiding principle for me ever since, and I feel so blessed to have been there for that message.

But spending less at Christmas time (by giving fewer gifts and giving more homemade gifts or else gifts of quality time) is very counter-cultural and is perhaps even un-American anymore.  Not the America of a century ago, or even half a century ago.  But the America of now--the one with stores open on Thanksgiving itself so as not to miss Black Friday madness and the one with at least one stampede or fisticuff reported per year--this America is obsessed with the stuff and not the reason for the season.

What if the war on Christmas isn't that your cashier didn't greet you with a word containing "Christ" in it?  What if the war on Christmas is that we've spent ourselves into a mountain of debt buying things that won't be remembered for long, or buying out of a sense of guilt, or just because it's on sale?  Americans spend about $600 BILLION on holiday retail sales.  Meanwhile, some of that money would go along way to providing clean water to those in need or helping fight for justice and an end to human trafficking, to mention two worthy causes.

It's socially awkward not to buy a gift for "everyone on your list" (including all of your coworkers, neighbors, friends, and relatives.)

It's socially awkward to buy only one gift per child (and for your child to know it wasn't from Santa and tell everyone that!)

It's socially awkward to receive a $50 gift card from a relative when you made them a picture frame.

It's also socially awkward for your preschooler to talk openly about mass murder of innocent children as part of the familiar Christmas story.  It ain't a Charlie Brown Christmas.

But it's the gospel.  The gospel is socially awkward.  It's not sugar-frosted, G-rated, pine-scented, or gift-wrapped flawlessly.  Jesus was the greatest gift ever brought into the world, but he didn't come in a fashionable aden + anais receiving blanket and placed in a well-coordinated jungle-themed nursery. It was smelly.

Mary didn't have a baby shower or a babymoon with professional photographers capturing the moment.  She did have some rough and tumble shepherds drop by to worship the newborn King.

I'm proud of my little girl.  She knows the story, and she's not afraid to embrace the whole thing in its horror and beauty.  It's probably a good summary of the Christian life: we can venerate the Cross as well as rejoice at the empty tomb.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's my birthday, and to celebrate...

...I'm blogging for the first time in a month or so.  Happy birthday to me!

But speaking of birthdays, first I need to put up some pictures of someone else who had a birthday recently (as in, just under a month ago):


Now...Yeah, I'm bigs.

 It's a tradition for us (so far, anyway) not to do a big party for our kids when they are one.  Just a small get together with some of Allen's family who are local.  But this year, Ben's birthday (October 4) happened to coincide with my friend Lauren's daughter's birthday party.  It was a family party and we were all going, and I mentioned it to my friend, who very sweetly made Ben a little cake.  So, before the 5 year old party girl had her own cake, we sang to Ben and he got to experience his cake.

Ben is thinking, "???"  Luckily, there were no shortage of kids around to help him blow out the candle.

I solemnly swear...

Camille and Ben, baby buds

In case you're wondering, no, we did not let him eat that whole thing.

Lauren and Ben share a word of birthday cheer
It was a fun party and a nice way to celebrate Ben's birthday.

What can I say about my third born? He's my Benny Boy, Benna, Benny Frenny, Benja-boo, Benjamin, and a host of other nicknames bearing no resemblance to his actual name. He's my buddy. Ruby and Max are passionate, interesting, wonderful, and exhaustingly high-intensity kids.  God knew I needed a mellow fellow for number three.  At least, he was mellow for his first year of life.  That may all change; but it was pretty great having a baby who slept well, ate well, napped well, and generally just peaced out or smiled all the time.  

Ben is such a cheerful little guy.  He loves his big siblings, especially Max: they are already partners in crime and gang up on Ruby.  He's getting really big, already wearing size 18 month clothes!  He's wearing clothes that Max was wearing only a year ago, and it kind of weirds me out.  

The Great Spaghetti Massacre of '14

Let's see, what else...some more cute kid pictures, you say? But of course.
Max demonstrates his butter cutting skills (hint: the knife is standing straight up in the butter).  Also, his long hair.

I thought my sister did the best "anggy [angry] eyes" when she was this age, but Max's is pretty good too.  And now his hair is short again, thanks to  Lauren!

Max has been interested in looking at my wedding photo album lately.  He calls it my "marry book."

This is him in the middle of saying, "Dat you, Mom?" But to me, it looks like an invitation for a caption contest.  
Cute Max anecdote: last week I was driving Ruby to school and Max burped.  I said, "Max, you need to say 'Excuse me.'"  Max said, "Sorry, burp." 

Another cute Max anecdote: not long ago he was playing in the living room while I was working, and he told me, "I doing scrap metal, Mommy, just like Daddy."  Melted my heart, and Allen's, too.

As for Ruby, she loves helping out Daddy, too.  Sometimes she accompanies him in the truck on scrap runs.  Other times she helps with household projects.  
She was the designated screw holder for this project

Counting them carefully

She also decorated some wood...very important.
Some artwork Ruby added to our door...coincidentally, it was the same face Allen made when he saw it.

Learning to read Daddy's blueprint homework

 Halloween was a pretty small potatoes event at our house this year.  We're really not big Halloween people anyway, but this year we really didn't do much.  We had all the right stuff for Ruby to be a ballerina, so Allen took her out to a neighborhood and his favorite grocery store, which was doing trick or treating in-store.
"Show us one of your moves"
Here's something scary, though: fake vampire teeth.  Eek.
Lazy eye+vampire teeth=truly horrific

That's a little cuter, I guess.
Allen's working hard.  He fractured his pinky toe a few weeks ago...a few days after I badly sprained my foot. But, unlike me, he hasn't been able to keep off of it.  I'm just now starting to be able to hobble on my foot and not rely on my crutches/scooter as much.  The scooter was definitely worth the renting.  If you're ever in this situation, I recommend one, and getting one from McCann's Medical Supply if you're in the PDX general vicinity.

Hey, you probably can't notice, but I'm in this picture on my scooter with my boot!  It's like "Where's Waldo?", but "Where in the dirty kitchen is Jenny?"  
 Anyway, what did I do for my birthday?  I hired a babysitter from 8 AM to 8 PM so Allen could work and I could have a kid-free day.  Then, I...

  • celebrated All Saints' Day at St. John the Apostle
  • had coffee at Singer Hill Cafe with Lauren
  • went to the Top Notch laundromat to do some laundry
  • wrote and read
  • had a delish lunch at the Egg Carton, a cute little food cart up in SE Portland
  • browsed in a bookstore 
  • talked to my family (except lame-o Toby who was too cool to call!)
  • browsed in a JoAnn fabric
  • had dinner with Allen at Bugatti's
  • got my free birthday drink at Starbucks

What, no spa visit? No movie?  No shopping spree?  
No, and that is A-okay with this mommy!  When you've got little kids, it is a treat to do even mundane things with solitude.  Just journaling in my quiet car while the laundry was drying was  nice.  Solitude is hard to come by at this time in life, and as an introvert, I need it to maintain balance.  A day of getting to do what I want/like/need to do by myself is just a big, big treat.  
Besides, when my foot is all better, Alishia is taking me out for Thai food and a pedicure, so I'll still get my girly pampering in later.  And I got muchas Starbucks gift card money from my parents, so there's some luxury to look forward to.

And, as Allen pointed out, God's special birthday present to me is the extra hour of sleep for Daylight Savings.  Not that my kids will get it, but it's the Thought that counts!

I'm tired, and this post is far from eloquent.  Thanks to everyone who wished me well today, and thanks to everyone who has been part of the patchwork of these last 31 years which I have completed today.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Theological Musings of the "4 and under" Crowd

 Jesus' #1 Fan
The other day, this dialogue took place between my two year old, Max, and my four year old, Ruby, and myself.

Dat Jesus, mom? (pointing to cross with a cutout in it in the shape of the body of Christ...sort of a crucifix in reverse that I got when I was little)

Me: Yes, that's Jesus.

Max: I wanna hold him.

I give it to him.  It's made of wood and mostly sturdy.

Me: Are you going to talk to him?

Max: Yes, I talk 'bout monkeys. (pause) I can't hear him!  Why he not talking to me, Mom?

Me: He likes to talk to your heart. You can't usually hear him with your ears, but you can hear him with your heart.

Max: (pause) I hear him!

Me: What did he say?

Max: I don't know.   (pause) Jesus my favorite, Mom.

My heart melts.

Max: And God Ruby favorite, Mom!

This picture sums them up nicely
Then Max runs down the hall to see Ruby, cross in hand.  Soon I hear Ruby saying, "Don't say that, Max!"  Upon investigation...

Me: What's wrong, Ruby?

Ruby: Max said that I was God, and I'm not.

Me: Oh...I think he meant that God was your favorite.  

Ruby: Well, God is NOT my favorite.

Me: Is Jesus your favorite?


What a friend we have in cheeses. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Favorite Things About Small Space Living

While it can be maddening to live in a small house (500 sq. ft.) with three kids, there are some definite benefits.  Today I propose to examine five things (or sometimes products) that make the small space life livable.

1.  Vacuuming from one outlet (pretty much)

I can't get all the way down our hallway and into the kids' bedroom from one outlet, but I can get pretty much everything else in the house.  And I am in love with this vacuum cleaner in particular: Oh my, this thing is a lifesaver.  It has a great attachment for rugs, another one for upholstered items, a narrow one for getting corners and channels, and a basic brush for regular floor vacuuming.  It's an all-in-one type of thing, and I use it every day, and usually more than once a day.  I do sweep, too, but when there's a big mess, this is my go-to.

I'm pretty sure I've used it on almost every surface in the house.  Counters, around the base of the toilet, chairs, booster seats, stove tops, cupboards, ceilings, porch, refrigerator drawers...yeah, aside from the toilet bowl and drains, I use this on everything.  Except my children; I won't do that.

2.  Natural light

Our last small space was a basement apartment, so we didn't benefit from this as much.  Here I have lovely banks of windows and we get lots of sunshine.  The sun in the morning on the dishes in the sink is actually quite lovely.

3.  Everything is only a hobble away

If you're going to injure yourself badly, you might as well do it in a one-level 50'x10' trailer, that's what I always say.  Of course, it can be hard to navigate with crutches.  But I'm hoping to rent one of these things.  And even if I can't get a hold of one, when the house is this small, everything is pretty close together, especially in the kitchen.  That makes it much more manageable.

4.  Decorate with Books

I have a lot of books. I'm pretty sure I brought the majority of the books into our marriage.  Our kids have a lot of books, too, thanks mostly to my mom.  Unless we want our books to be in boxes, they get to be the main decor in our house...and I'm okay with that.

5. Forced Clutter-Reduction

When my husband reads this, he may LOL because I still manage to accumulate and hold onto quite a bit of stuff.  Still, when you only have so much space, you can't afford to keep all the things that come your way.  Our kids only have a few things out on rotation right now, and many of their belongings (as well as ours) have gone to Goodwill or been sold over time.  I like to think that it helps them to be less materialistic in a world where "more stuff=better life."

You may say, "It's much less to clean," and that's true, although since it is much less space, things stay clean for a far shorter amount of time, making that claim only half true.

Of course, I could list several things which make small space living (with small kids) very aggravating; but today I'll look on the bright side of things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Laid Up

Hey all...

If you're a personal friend of mine on Facebook, then you saw my post from Thursday with a picture of my foot in a splint.  Here's the full story on that:

I was getting kids out the door so we could meet Allen at the bank.  Max and Ruby were heading down the front steps already, and I was holding Ben and locking the door.  There are three steps.  I don't remember if it was from the middle to the bottom step or from the bottom to the ground, but at that moment my right foot wobbled in its Dansko clog.

At this point I have to just say that I feel like such a klutz, because Dansko is the official clog of Competent People (nurses, teachers, etc.)  People who are on their feet for work for 12 hours a day wear these things. Yet on more than one occasion I have wobbled my ankles in them, one time falling down while holding Max (although that time did not hurt my ankle but did hurt my hands and knees from falling into gravel and protecting Max from the fall).

Anyway, I wobbled at just the wrong moment because instead of recovering, the ankle just went out, 90 degrees style, first one and then the other.  I started to fall and twisted my body so that I would fall on my back and not squash Ben whom I was holding.  Thank you God for mother instincts!

I screamed as both ankles went out from under me, and again fortuitously the neighbor across the way heard my scream and came over to see what she could do.  She held Ben for me while I called Allen. Allen sped all the way home.  The kids were pretty nonplussed by the whole thing but relished the opportunity to play in the yard while I lay on the concrete.

Looking back on it, I know it all could have been so much worse.  For example, if I had fallen in just about any other position on that area of patio, I would have gotten a much more serious injury.  I could have smashed my head on a brick ledge, the rest of the steps, a tomato cage, or the fence.  I could have broken my back on the steps.  I did hurt both ankles, but the left ankle was much less severe; after a few hours I could bear weight on it.

We went to the ER (in the Echo, of course!) and our saintly friend Lauren came to the hospital to gather the kids and take them to her house until Allen and I were done in the ER.  I got into a room right away, which was lovely, and got some pain medicine, which was equally lovely.  They did x-rays.  The x-rays were somewhat inconclusive due to the amount of swelling, so they sent me home in a splint with directions to see an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.

I got in to see one today (another mercy, since Lord knows doctors can be booked out for weeks and weeks).  They did another x-ray and are still somewhat in doubt as to the nature of the injury.  There doesn't seem to be a fracture or a ligament tear, but the PA seemed concerned by the way my bones were positioned and wanted to treat it conservatively for now.

Conservatively translates to wearing a "boot" for four weeks and using crutches so I'm not putting any weight on it.  Thankfully, I can drive if I take off the boot, and I can shower if I take off the boot. Still, I'd rather not do much driving, so I'm hoping to work something out with the other families at Ruby's school to see if any of them can help with pick up and drop off.

So, it all could have been worse, but boy, is it hard already!!!  I have three small kids.  The oldest is quite capable of doing what she is asked; the middle is capable at times but usually unwilling; the youngest is not quite 1 and not quite mobile, and definitely not able to do what he's asked.  I can't really pick any of them up unless I'm already sitting down.  I really wish Ben were walking already! That would make things a lot easier!

It's a very helpless feeling to watch your two year old sizing up the situation, know that you can't *make* him go to his room by carrying him there, and just defy you.  I've often relied on "the physical assist" in terms of carrying intractable children to their rooms for time outs.  Now I see I'll have to do something else.  I'm also thinking I might need one of those backpack leashes...except I don't want to get pulled down!

Anyway, I have moments of wondering how this is going to work for four weeks.  Thankfully I have great friends who are helping out and bringing meals, which is one thing fewer to worry about.  Allen can't really afford to take any more time off of work.  He used up his sick time staying home Friday and yesterday, and his company doesn't give personal time.  I'm sure he qualifies to get leave under the FMLA, but that's not paid leave, just unpaid leave.  Unpaid=no bueno.

I was over at Lauren's house the other day and she said, "Jenny, you need a nine year old!"  Anyone got some to lend out?  A mother's helper sounds great, but we can't afford to pay one to do it.

It is certainly an occasion that has already stretched us in many ways.  Allen was forced into the role of caregiver not only for the kids but for his wife, and that was hard to feel like a single parent AND a spousal caregiver.  For those spouses out there who are daily following through with the "in sickness and in health" part of their marriage vows, we salute you: it is surely not easy.  I felt (and feel) very helpless and useless lying on the couch, seeing things that need doing, and not being able to help with much of it.  The kids are mostly just confused why we keep saying in loud voices, "Don't touch Mommy's leg!!!"  Max and Ruby call my boot "the robot foot."  If only it had cool robot powers.

Please pray for us to have fortitude and grace to meet the daily challenges.  Oh, and for healing for this ankle.  The doctor intimated that if all is not well in a month, the next option involves screwing the bones together, which sounds like surgery, which sounds like bed rest, which sounds like "let's not even go there!"

One day at a time: it really is the only way to live.  It's not the same as being careless or imprudent or refusing to plan for the future: it's about putting each day into God's hands and saying, "Thy will be done and HELP me with it!"

Okay, back to sleep (this blog post brought to you by middle of the night ankle discomfort).

Friday, September 19, 2014

7QT: Of Spiders and FLYs

 Been a while since I've done one of these...let's do it!
I missed Small Success Thursday yesterday but this is what I would have posted:
Look at that sink! Sparkling!
 If you've ever looked around on the mommy blog interwebz, you've probably seen or heard something about FLYLady.  FLY stands for "First Love Yourself," I think.  Anyway, this lady runs an online community that advocates some help for getting household clutter under control and having a system for cleaning.

I first looked into it when we were living in a rental house which had no dishwasher and weird pipes, so when I saw that her first principle was always to have a clean and shiny sink, I just thought, "Lady, you are taking some choice crazy pills."  Many people must share that view, because one of the Questions on her FAQ page is "Why do I have to shine my sink?" Here is her answer:

This is your first household chore. Many of you can’t understand why I want you to empty your sink of your dirty dishes and clean and shine it, when there is so much more to do. It is so simple. I want you to have a sense of accomplishment. You have struggled for years with a cluttered home and you are so beaten down. I just want to put a smile on your face. When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you and a smile will come across your lovely face. I can’t be there to give you a big hug, but I know how good it feels to see yourself in your kitchen sink. So each morning this is my gift to you. Even though I can’t be there to pat you on the back, I want you to know that I am very proud of you. Go Shine your Sink. – FlyLady 

(Here's the link to that quotation, by the way.)
When I read that, I rolled my eyes big time.  "Your sink will greet you and a smile will come across your lovely face?"  As my mom would say, gag me with a wooden spoon.  I thought it was nuts and also quite impractical.  I had all kinds of good reasons in that house and every house thereafter why it was a waste of time/unnecessary.  

And then a few mornings ago, I was washing the breakfast dishes (no dishwasher in this house either), and I noticed that the sunlight was creating lovely iridescence in the soap bubbles.  "That's kinda pretty," I thought.  When I was finished, I looked at the sink, and by George, it did make me feel good.  

Maybe it was just the sunshine, maybe I was just at a low ebb for morale, maybe I have given up on all rationality; but looking at that clean sink and two dishracks full of clean and drying dishes was a cheery sight.  

My secret weapon is my ScotchBrite Dish Scrubber filled with Dawn dish soap and white vinegar (and no, I'm not getting paid for product placement!)  I saw it on a pin for cleaning the shower, but I think it works wonderfully on the stainless steel sink.  

Of course, now I have to wonder whether any of FLYLady's other tips will work.  Uh oh...she also advocates getting dressed to the shoes every morning before the kids are up, so as to feel more like a professional in your home.  I get the idea, but boy do I dislike the idea of the execution.  I like to grab every last dribble of sleep I can get.

But that's the hard thing about finding out something that works when you finally apply it to your life.  You're no longer to dismiss out of hand everything else put forth in that source or by that person as being ridiculous. It may all be, but you have to give it a look.  I can't just scoff at FLYLady anymore...I might actually have to be a more charitable and less arch person.  Rats.

On to spiders: I don't like them.  I would describe myself as arachnophobic.  I can't remember a time in my life when I did not fear spiders.  I have a memory of being about Ruby's age and being told my by mom that spiders were more scared of people than we were of them and thinking, "That can't possibly be true."

Why, then, have I allowed a trapdoor spider to live in our bathroom window for the past month?  It is unaccountable.  The spider appeared after we came back from a week of housesitting for a friend.  Its web has gotten bigger and bigger.  I don't know for sure if it is a trapdoor spider, but it is the kind whose web is made of the very sticky, cotton-candyish silk, like the kind that people put out for decoration at Halloween. It has a little funnel area where it sits and waits for prey.

As soon as I saw it, I thought about getting out the vacuum and vacuuming it up.  But then, I just thought, "He's not bothering anyone.  He's staying in the window.  We don't open the window.  I guess he can just stay there."  I mentally planned to get rid of him as soon as he showed signs of trying to colonize the rest of the bathroom, but so far he's been content to stay there.

His name is Trevor.  That's right, I named him.  (Ruby insists on calling him Clever.)  Trevor the Trapdoor Spider.  Allen and I have also tried to bat houseflies into his web for him to eat.

I guess this is all in an effort to be a little less hysterical around spiders.  I won't lie, I still squash them sometimes (usually if they startle me or they are on me, they get my worse end of my "fight or flight" reflex).  But Trevor and I have made our peace, at least for now.

Again, I realize that this is pretty ridiculous and unimpressive to most people who don't care about spiders one way or another.  Baby steps, people, baby steps.

But now let's talk about something much more adorable than any arachnid ever could be.

A little while ago I got to see this sweetie pie:
Sarah and her darling little Olivia Paige

A baby who weighs under 23 lbs?  Yes please!
So sweet, so lovely, such a wonderful addition to a wonderful family.  Big brother Liam is an ace of a brother by all accounts.  He turned 4 the same day Allen turned 27: birthday twins!

Look look!  I'm learning to take not horrible pictures sometimes!  Also, I love my volunteer roses.  Sadly, one small bush seems to have been taken out by having Little Tikes cars smashed into it repeatedly, but the others are going great guns and extremely tall (one is probably 9 or 10 feet tall!) Thank you, City of Roses!
Did you read my latest post at Real Housekeeping?  You really should click it if for no other reason than to see the truly terrible pun in the title.  Everything I know about puns I learned from my dear dad.
Just downloaded my friend Emily Roig's newest single, Go, from iTunes.  How cool is that?  You should give it a look-see here:
 and then hop on over to the iTunes Store and get it!
I, for one, can't listen to this song without movin' and groovin'.

And that's all for now, folks.  In the time it's taken me to write these "quick" takes, my chidlren have destroyed my living quarters.  Oops.  FLYLady, help me now!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Ruby's back to school...
Ruby's 1st day at Redland Montessori in 2013 (age 3)
Ruby's 3rd day (forgot the camera the first two days!) in much taller!

Look at my fashionista!

Visiting a corn maze out in Hood River for a fun family day...

 Allen turned 27...
An Oreo Pie for the Birthday "Boy"
11 months old already!
Ben enjoyed it immensely!
Emily Roig's biggest fanboy (here he is in a signed shirt...thanks Emily!)
 The kids are full of liveliness and hijinks galore...

Ben could pass as Jack-Jack from The Incredibles
 Breakfast Clubbers...

Hanging out at Mt. Angel Oktoberfest...

Cook Bros., the Next Generation