Halloween 2021

Well- really it is more of an October 2021 post.

We went to the pumpkin patch on Adam’s birthday this year. It was a beautiful sunny day and the patch was a bit crowded. We wore our masks and still managed to have fun.

This year we managed a few festive crafts as well. The kids and I made colorful bats with fun faces. Adam and Soren made a milk jug skeleton. It took 6 milk jugs and a few pipe cleaners. Soren was disappointed it wasn’t fully anatomically correct, but we convinced him skeletons are just bones. We also carved our pumpkins and both kids did not enjoy the feeling of the insides.

On Friday the 29th, Sloane’s school had a dress up day. The theme was your favorite character in a book or movie. Sloane chose to be Ana from the Dragon Masters book series. It was fun to watch her put the costume together. She picked out a pink fleece/down vest for the costume and wanted to wear some of her pink leggings. I pointed out that Ana wears loose pants and a short vest, to which Sloane replied it just needed to be close, not exact. An excellent point by the 6 year old. We found a necklace of mine for her to wear as her dragon stone and a crystal to hang from her forehead. She loved it!

On Halloween, Sloane had a runny nose and was a little run down. She rallied and we went to our neighborhood parade with some friends all masked up. Sloane dressed up as “Sloane the magical fairy” which meant she wore all her sparkly clothing and made a pink wand. Soren requested to be a gila monster this year. After an initial rejection of the idea, I decided to go for it. With a black hoodie, pants, and some scraps, I used templates from brown paper bags and sprayed the items with bleach. Soren LOVED it! Luckily it was a dry day because Soren wanted a long tail and it dragged behind him. We did some trick or treating in the evening. Soren would ask if each house was ‘a go or a no go’ based on if they had lights on. With piles of candy, it was a success all around.

Soren is 4 years old!

This kiddo came tumbling into our lives 4 years ago. He has been getting more adorable each year and I would say he has melted Adam’s, Sloane’s, and my hearts.

Soren has continued his game of pretending to be a character for hours or even days at a time. His current favorites are Duffy the gibbon (after a gibbon at the Oregon Zoo), Timbee the wolverine kit, and an iguanodon. He will still come up to ask us the extensional question “who am I?” Sloane and Soren also have a new favorite show- Bluey. It is about a blue heeler dog family. It is Australian and has made for some cute pronunciations and vocabulary- to-mah-toe; cheeky; and dearie. They also play a game the dog children play called ‘the grannies’ in which they wrap blankets around their heads, slowly walk around causing mischievous, and call themselves Rita and Janet. It is one of my favorites that they play.

Helping in the kitchen is one of his favorite things to do. Thank goodness Pa made us two Shaker stools because we need one for each kiddo. Soren is really good at measuring and mixing. Opening cans is still a bit tricky, but we have such a strange can opener, I took me a few years to perfect it!

Sloane and Soren have been sleeping in Soren’s room together for the past three months. We have been working hard for the past three weeks on the kids not needing us through the night. We tried not to say sleep through the night, but just that they might wake up and not call for us unless they really needed something. They are doing so great, but Soren still pops awake most mornings at 6:15. Though he is awake, he is not bright eyed! He doesn’t like lights on or the blinds open.

When I was back in NH, my dad gave me a hat of his that was a little too small. I did not think that it would fit but it has been a big hit with Soren. He even slept with it on for the first few nights. He is a bit of a hat kid and he gives them great names. There is helmet hat, cousin Dinky hat, toucan hat.

He is getting super strong too. He likes to hang and can even hang on by one hand. He’s been riding Sloane’s old bike with training wheels and getting around so well on the strider/balance bike. The other day, he did this lean back move on the swing. I think it is also a good pic of his fashion sense. His current favorite look is red leggings with a neon green dry fit shirt with a bear on it.

He is also a complete goof ball, very giggly and silly. I put Sloane’s hair in pig tails for school one day and he wanted them too. The little puffs of curls were adorable, but the best part was he couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at himself. He also does little dances and tricks for us.

He is just so loveable. Here is a few more pics.

Soren starts pre-K

After much deliberation, we had Soren start preschool at Clark College this fall. We were so excited to have him start going to school for socializing and learning. About a month before we started him, they (thankfully!) changed their mask policy to all children over the age of 2 required to wear masks. He started on 9/13, and leading up to that was lots of tears. He kept telling us he didn’t want to meet his teacher or any new friends.

Soren likes to use the hairbrush to ‘style’ his own hair

The first morning he cried most of the way through the morning routine. He told me he didn’t want to bring figgy bar snacks because his teachers don’t know about them, but he could bring blueberries because his teachers do know about them. We had to pry his arms off my neck to get him into his car seat. Drop off was quite sad, but we heard from his teachers that he recovered. When I picked him up, it was quiet time. In all of our discussion of school, we forgot to talk about quiet time. He had told his teacher he didn’t sleep on a mat, he slept on a bed. Then he told me he didn’t like the tall ceilings of his classroom.

The rest of the week slowly improved. It really had no where to go but up after the second morning when he told me that he would ask Adam to put his lunch box up so high I couldn’t reach it. Week 2 had started off much better- he actually had good things to say about school when we were chatting at dinner. He likes the fish tank and that he even got to feed them once. Sloane has been super understanding and patient with Soren- like giving him her last strawberry at breakfast the first day because he wanted more, and reading him a story in the morning to distract him. Having an older sibling going to school has been a good example and helps him feel like he is growing up too.

Extra park time on the weekends helps with the school schedule

Sloane’s in 1st grade

We have started this year with full time in person school for Sloane. She was very excited to get back to school and see her friends there, but was concerned about being away from home for so much of the week. There were a couple of sad chats we had- Sloane crying and me explaining that she would have more time to learn and be with her friends. Through her tears she told me that those things weren’t important and that we (her family) were the most important. I am stashing the memory for when she doesn’t want to be seen in public with me as a teen.

The first day of school was 8/31 and right after I came back from NH. We walked to school together and she was very brave walking to her classroom. This year her room is around the back of the school. We have to drop her off at the sidewalk and she walks down along the school, disappearing around the corner. The goodbye was hardest on Soren- he shed some tears after she left. They have been buddies this summer and it was going to be long days without her. There is a state wide mask mandate (which we are really grateful for!) and that makes it easy to see in her eyes how she is a little nervous.

Sloane’s teacher is Mrs. Demert and so far it has been great. There was a little incident of another 1st grader yelling at Sloane that she was not allowed to play because Sloane wanted to include the boys and girls. Things have settled and she has found a fun group to play with through the day. Though we worked a little over the summer, being back in school has dramatically increased her reading ability. The other day she started reading me facts about random birds from our bird book. She also made some math problems for herself over the summer and has been enjoying that work in school

Sloane had some homework the first night! There were questions to answer about herself. She wrote that her favorite places were Nini and Papa’s; and G and Pa’s. Sloane wanted to add Camp Echo Rock as her favorite, but thought that was too much to write down. Also, she wanted to write Burgerville burgers were her favorite food, but decided on pancakes because it was shorter. While working on the sheet, she put her pencil behind her ear and requested a photo because she looked like Pa.

Sloane learned a breathing posture to relax in school and taught it to Soren. It was quite an amusing for me especially because we were on the side of the road doing it. Sloane also helped me slice her roll up sandwich. Packing lunches 5 days a week is a new skill for us all. We have been working on Sloane’s hair-do to make sure her fringe doesn’t fall into her face. The up front pigtails has been a hit, plus Sloane can make the shadow that she calls her ‘alien’ pose.

4th of July 2021

We had our Bramble extended family gathering over the 4th again this year. We camped for 4 nights at Cape Lookout, thanks to Uncle Zach’s planning 6 months in advance. Morgan arrived a day early and the kids were instantly attached to her. Adam said no one else could talk for about 20 minutes while Soren went on and on.

Once we packed up everything under the sun, we were on our way on 7/2. Sloane insisted on wearing her best dress so that she would look fancy to see the Zip cousins for the first time in 11 months. Darby instantly gave us the best hand-me-downs for camping- fleece animal onesies. Not only were they cute, but they were warm and kept the bugs off their skins! Soren originally said he was a red panda, but changed his mind to be a Northern Raccoon (he added the Northern himself to be like a Northern Flicker woodpecker). He proceeded to tell anyone walking by the campsite that was what he was.

We could walk to the beach from the campsite. We had some cooler temperatures in the mornings and took a few walks/hikes. We took more band album cover photos of all the cousins together. And we saw the largest waterfall in OR while eating salmon berries all the way.

We ate like camping royalty (primarily thanks to Nini’s planning and prep)- steaks, Otto’s brats, fresh caught crab, and local oysters! Plus Adam made mallow bars, which are like a bar form of smores. We can’t find a marshmallow Soren can eat, so Adam made them.

The ocean water was not like ice picks this time. We ran and splash, but the prize for best auntie of the trip was a tie between Morgan and Darby!

Soren was so cuddly on the trip- for many reasons- wanting to be close to people, needing love from falls/injuries, and to get warm and cozy. I liked having him in my lap in his Northern raccoon suit for the extra warmth.

For Donna

I do this blog for family and friends, especially those out of town. My Aunt Donna has been so wonderful to my kids- sending them cards and gifts. We send thank you notes but I think this video captures how much the kids love her gifts. Some time over the pandemic, she sent out a couple scarves. Soren picked the blue one with little coins attached. He loves it tied around his neck as a cape. We had the box fan set up for a while during our heat wave and Soren turned it into his superhero wind machine.

We love you, Donna!

Kindergarten done!

Her kindergarten year was not like anything we could have predicted- remote for a month, small group (2 hours twice a week) for 3 months, and hybrid (2 full days per week) for 6 months. She learned to read (100% of credit to her teacher), loved helping her teacher, played fun imagination games with friends, and made some amazing projects. Her final project was an animal research project. She chose the cheetah and made her first poster board. She brought it home along with a pile of projects.

Sloane’s last in person day was Tuesday 6/15 and they had an indoor camp out. Sloane brought a flashlight, a book (Sisters a graphic novel), and a blanket (crocheted one from Jesse). They had marshmallows and made crowns with their camp names on it. Sloane was a fairy princess, of course.

On Wednesday we went to a picnic at her school with all her classmates (include the other half that went on the opposite days!) We were able to see Sloane run around (with masks) with her classmates. She really loved her classmates Snow and Emma. Soren was trailing behind them and having a ball. Plus there were popsicles and ice cream! We even got a picture of Sloane with her teacher Mrs. Morrison without masks on.

Sloane told us in the weeks leading up to the end of school that she wanted to go to kindergarten all summer. She didn’t want the year to end. Since having school end, she has been loving vacation- bike rides, new playgrounds, Camp WeWow podcasts, and trips to the beach!

Someone can’t be trusted with scissors

So we thought Soren could be trusted with scissors. Once when he was around 2, he cut a bit of Sloane’s hair in the back. We put the scissors up high and only had supervised use. We thought he knew to only cut paper….. we thought wrong.

In April, I gave the back of Soren’s hair a trim. He had this patch of super long hair coming off the crown of his head. I think this gave him an idea.

About a month later, Adam left the kids at Sloane’s desk watching an animated book while he pulled together lunch. He came back to this.

The funny thing is that it actually looks pretty good. The curls hid any uneven spots. And I think he was just tired of the bangs hanging in his eyes. But the scissors went back up on top of the fridge for a bit.

He promises not to cut Sloane’s or his hair again


On Thursday, our 8 year old cat, Murdoc died. It was very sudden and really hard for us all. He was a stinker, but a lover. Adam and I got him from Bennett’s pre school whose cat had kittens. We brought him home on Memorial day weekend 2013, the same weekend we got engaged. We named him Murdoc because it was one of Adam’s top names and I didn’t want to name a human that. We called him Mur-mur and kitten-bear.

He really challenged me (because he liked to pee not in his litter box), but I loved him. Murdoc would always curl up with me when I was sitting in comfy furniture. This started when I was pregnant with Sloane continuing through nursing both kids in the recliner. He also kept my legs warm when I would watch tv or do chart notes after the kids went to bed. His favorite spot at our house was on a pillow under Sloane’s bed near the heat vent. It is covered in fur and Sloane doesn’t want us to clean it up so she can remember him.

He was a LONG cat!

We buried him in our backyard with roses from our garden. Sloane showed her sadness with tears and wanting to talk about things we loved about him. She said she loved that he would let her pick him up. Soren was dealing with it by saying he didn’t like Murdoc because he bit him. Soren really did love Murdoc but couldn’t express his sadness in other ways. We are going to paint rocks to put over the spot and Sloane plans to paint a grey cat with the letter M and hearts. There is definitely a hole in our hearts now, missing our one leg warm, mustachioed little grey cat.

G and Pa’s long awaited visit

Once G and Pa had their second vaccine appointment, we started planning their visit. We saw G in February 2020 and Pa in September 2019. It had been too long. I spent a few weeks telling the kids we didn’t know when G and Pa would come but they would as soon as they could. Sloane told me she wished they would come in 6 days. We decided to surprise the kids and have G and P ring the door bell. Both kids were super excited. It was actually pretty close to the 6 day mark of Sloane’s wish and she was over the moon.

Unfortunately, Sloane got a cold at the beginning of the visit. This resulted in a quick trip to the pediatrician for a COVID-19 test and some oral steroids to treat her croup. After a couple days, we got the results back as negative- hurray! She was a sad lump for a day but recovered quickly as seen in the video below. She is also asking not to have anything up her nose again, please. But then Soren and I caught the cold. After being healthy for over a year, it was rough. We managed to keep G, Pa, and Adam healthy though.

The kids immediately attached themselves to G and Pa- wanted them to read stories, show them pictures, and go on walks. But we did have to put them to work a bit. Pa painted our front door after spiffing it up a bit. He also installed our new kitchen drawer pulls and knobs. This is the second time I have given him a job involving our cabinets and it finally broke him down. He is planning to build us new doors and drawer fronts over the summer!

G and I did some garden shop retail therapy. We spread more mulch and put in some perennials. She and I also relaxed and did our crossword puzzles a bit. Sloane told us she wanted a crossword puzzle to do as well, so Adam found graph paper for us to make them for her. This might be Sloane’s spelling and writing work for the summer.

Pa started a drawing game with Sloane and then Soren joined in as well. They would each draw one part of the picture and then hand it to the next person to draw another part. The creations are below. Pa also taught them about newspaper hats, which Sloane informed him could NOT be made of old comic pages. G, Pa, Sloane, and Soren also formed a club that involved finding missing items and regular meetings.

There was a big heat wave the week they were visiting. The kids spent time in the little pool and sprinklers. We spent an afternoon over at Nini and Papa 2’s house. Having four grandparents around is pretty special.

It was sad to say goodbye to them. I was hoping they would get Sloane’s runny nose and would need to delay their flight home. It turned out to be a good thing that they left when they did because my dad ended up needing some medical care. He is doing well and we can’t wait to see both G and Pa again soon.