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.

Tool belt

Soren has a couple new construction books. In one, the construction worker had a tool belt. One day when he was with Adam, he started to put things into the waist band of his pants and called it his tool belt. Sloane enjoys it, but Soren takes it to the next level.

Soren was quiet in the living room for a while and then came around the corner with his ‘tool belt’ packed, his binoculars, and his magnifying glass- ready for anything!

Then he leveled up again by putting his mini magna-doodle in his tool belt- with a block held up as a don’t picture me block!

That crazy Soren

Soren is so funny lately. The best is the ‘don’t picture me’ move that makes it challenging to get a picture of his face. We gets lots of pictures with objects fully or partially in front of his face.

The other day he was looking at me while he was eating lunch. I was doing the dishes and I hear him say ‘I made two mommies’ and found him looking at me like this.

This is his angry face. He wasn’t actually angry but just making the face.

We have reached a stage where when he is quiet, he is likely just reading a book or playing with his toys. Or sitting in a toy bin reading a book!

100th day of kindergarten

Sloane’s school celebrates the 100th day of kindergarten by dressing up like they are 100 years old. This fell during the snow event in February and ended up being celebrated on the 105th day of school. Sloane was so excited. I told her she could wear one of my scarves a shawl. She then decided she also wanted to wear one in her hair like Rosie the Riveter. We have been reading Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters and the illustrations have the ladies where the classic red bandana tied on top. We used eye shadow to make wrinkles in her forehead and around her eyes, plus some sparkly and green eye shadow for her eyelids.Sloane would be wearing her mask at school, but I let her put on some lipstick to take pictures. It went on a little crazy, which I think adds to the 100 year old look. Even though only one other classmate, plus her teacher were dressed up, she loved it and asked to be dressed up like she was 100 for the rest of the day.

Snow 2021 part 2

On President’s day weekend, we had thought we would try to rent a house in a snowy area to escape and play. We were too late to the game finding a house and planned a weekend at home. Luckily the snow came to us! We got about 10 inches from Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. Sloane and Soren were beside themselves with excitement.

We walked down to our neighborhood park twice on Friday and Saturday. For living in a place with little to no snow, we were quite outfitted! Plus one purple sled from Target and we were set. The park has some hills which made it perfect to find out own little spot to play in. The kids made snow angels, threw snow balls, and went sliding. Sloane has made up a character who fits into the Princess in Black series called the Princess in Sneaking. So she did some sneaking in the trees.

The Princess in Sneaking

Adam had picked up a pair of children’s skis at a garage sale a few years ago. We haven’t had a chance to get Sloane on them yet but we decided this snow and our front yard would be a good introduction. Sloane approaches new things with caution and a touch of fear; but then usually loves them. This is the first run, followed by her 5th.

That weekend, the newest chapter from my parents’ arrived and ti was about sledding. My dad included a drawing he did in 1962 of a sledding scene. Sloane thought it was amazing, especially the photo of my dad on the back.

We have way more photos of Sloane from the weekend (and recently) because Soren’s newest thing is to put his hands up and say ‘no picture me’ We have to get sneaky with our close ups of his cute, stubborn face. Sloane’s cheeks though- so rosy during and red, red after.

Watch Soren’s hat flapping as he runs

We lucked out in that the snow stuck around for a few days making it really pretty. And we did not get the ice storm that hit south of Portland. And we did not lose power the whole time! On Monday, the snow started to melt and get really packed. We were able to build snowpeople in our backyard. Then on Wednesday, I let the kids go out and make little snowpeople to keep in the freezer because they were so sad the snow was melting. They want to live somewhere that gets snow all winter.