Little Hands, Big Work

On October 11th, our family will be participating in our very first school fundraiser for Monkey’s preschool; the first of many in the years to come for both boys. Whether a school is private or public, I’ve learned through my years of fundraising work with my dearest friend and former colleague, Johnna Wells, that all schools rely heavily on fundraising to fill the gaps in classroom needs, and to create opportunities for children to attend via scholarships.

I find the Whole Child Montessori Center approach to be refreshing, as it serves as a modest fundraiser for the school, while also benefiting the local community and its natural environment.

As friends and families donate money toward the event, the Whole Child community works tirelessly to remove invasive species from the Johnson Creek Watershed, and replace them with native plants. The watershed is an important home for a number of threatened native fish and wildlife, including steelhead, cutthroat trout, coho and Chinook salmon as well as the red-legged frog, painted turtles, salamanders, pileated woodpeckers and great blue heron.

photo from WCMC website

photo from WCMC website

Should you feel inspired to donate, (your donation is tax deductible, as WCMC is a 501-c3) you will have the gratification of knowing that in sponsoring this event, you are helping to shape world citizens of the future who care about the environment through this important work! And you will also feel good in knowing that your contribution is helping keep our family’s tuition costs down, while also supplying scholarships to others!

Last year, WCMC raised $13,600, and it is our hope to exceed this goal in 2014.

photo from WCMC website

photo from WCMC website

You may have heard me share my praise in the past about the peaceful, and effective approach that Montessori education provides during a sensitive period in a child’s life when their minds are most absorbent, but, jut in case you are still curious, here is a bit of info:

Montessori education is an aid for life; an education that encourages independence, refines the child’s natural tools for learning and fosters self-motivation. Montessori goes beyond the academic disciplines, it stresses responsibility and consideration for others. And, importantly, it prepares children to embrace life experiences openly, enthusiastically and with a sense of joy for discovery.



tuperware drawer

I started writing this post weeks and weeks ago, but never got around to finishing it up until now. We received quite surprising news in December that we are expecting again and quite honestly, I still feel in shock! Of course we feel so lucky to have another little blessing be joining our family late this summer (August). But, for someone who has always been such a planner like me, a surprise like this can really shake things up! I should know better by this point in my life than to think that we are fully in charge of how our paths will unfold. So, I am taking it all day to day and rolling with the punches…or in this instance, the nausea (morning sickness).

Now that I have that announcement out of my system, let’s get into what has been happening around here (aside from the obvious planning for another baby!)


Taking the month of December off from working was such a great joy for me because it is the perfect time of year to have the chance to reconnect with friends and family, and plan a few adventures here and there.

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my photos. Ever since Monkey has been on the move, I’ve neglected taking out my good camera since it’s such a commitment to carry around, so I tend to rely on my phone to take my photos.

holiday decor

The start of the holiday season brought Josh’s sister Olivia to town from the east coast. It has been over five years since we last had the chance to catch up with Olivia, so that was a special visit.

olivia and asher

Monkey enjoyed sitting on Auntie Olivia’s lap and sharing his books and toys with her.

We also got to see Josephine and visit with her a bit as well. She started at Portland State at about the same time Monkey was born and between our two schedules, our visits anymore are few and far between and so treasured when they do take place.


The following week was my brother’s birthday. As someone who does SO much for everyone around him, a few of us got together and decided to do something nice for him as well. We threw him an intimate surprise dinner party…which, I later learned may not be the best fit for my dear brother. Doesn’t like surprises??? We must be related!

Sterling is not a fan of cake, unless it is a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake, (custom-made by Portland Style Cheesecake), which his lovely lady, Nancy picked up for the party.

I didn’t want to ruin the cake with a bunch of wax dripping all over the chocolate, so I ended up finding these candles instead to throw a little humor in there…

old cake

ster in balloons

Despite his near heart attack as he arrived to what he thought was a babysitting gig with Monkey and saw friends and family jump out instead, I think he calmed down enough to enjoy himself. Though when planning a surprise dinner party, it would probably be best to have the person arriving with him keep him from eating a whole pizza a mere hour before.

About a week after the b-day celebration, I had my very first mama getaway without Monkey. My friend and fellow spa connoissseur, Jessie and I headed up to Mt. Hood to be snow bunnies and spend some time in the hotel spa. We are really good at doing this kind of thing together. In fact, I am not sure why we haven’t started our own spa magazine at this point so we can do it for a living. The questions always crosses our minds.

jessie at timberline

gov camp museum

jessie and keely at timberline

I’ve heard so many mamas talk about how difficult it was for them to head out on their first overnight stay away from their little ones, and of course I missed Monkey dearly, but I received plenty of photos from Papa to ensure things were all fine and dandy at home), so I have to admit that I relaxed into the whole adventure just fine.  Though, I guess 15 months is a while to wait before doing something like this for the first time!

Shortly after my trip to the mountain with Jess, Monkey and I headed for the warmth of Tucson, AZ….or so we thought. It was raining throughout most of our visit but the sun came out long enough for Monkey to become infatuated and engrossed by his shadow (something he hadn’t yet discovered yet while living here in Oregon – no wonder).


Monkey and I got to spend plenty of quality time with Glammy and PacMan…and when the sun finally did come out at the end of our stay, we went on lots of neighborhood walks to enjoy the views of the Tucson and Catalina Mountains.


Upon our return from Arizona, Josh and I had our first ever getaway together (Monkey stayed comfortably at home in Olpa and Bestemore’s care). We headed up to Seattle for an overnight stay at The Edgewater (a beautiful hotel, with a long rock and roll history, situated on the Puget Sound). We had a relaxing time together and got some serious laughs in while catching Louis C.K. at the Paramount Theater.


It was a perfect escape. Olpa and Bestemore were so wonderful to stay with Monkey for the night so we could get away. Good thing the world didn’t end, as our anniversary fell on the Mayan calendar’s ending this year.

aniversary_game of chess

I love that our nightcap was to play a game of chess near the cozy fireplace in the lobby.

anniversary_view seagull

Once back from Seattle, we packed up and headed down to Eugene to spend Christmas with all of Josh’s lovely family (pictures have not been uploaded yet so that will have to come in another post). It was a great end to the fun-filled month but unfortunately, that was about the time my morning sickness kicked in, so I wasn’t feeling at my best.

So that was December, in a nutshell. Then, New Years Eve came and went and we are already into 2013! I can hardly believe how the time has come and gone so quickly.

I’ve been thinking about my theme words for 2013 (a tradition I started a few years back after being inspired by my friend, Cinda).

Last year they were JOY and ABUNDANCE. The year prior was BELIEVE and CREATE. All were so fitting for the journey I embarked on each year.

In 2013, my theme words are:


TRUST because at any big decision or new journey I’ve made up until now,  I have sometimes second guessed myself or second guessed how the universe will come through to help me move forward. But, it always works out. And I need to trust that to be the case.

SUPPORT because I feel so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support system around me, and have felt so very grateful to everyone who has offered us their support in so many different ways over the past years. But, I do know that an area of weakness for me is having difficulty asking for help when it comes to personal things. I know it is important for me to grow in this regard and allow that support system to be there for me in times of need.

So, there you have it! A whole lot of information for one blog, isn’t it!? What will your theme words be for 2013?

What Makes You Different, Is What Makes You Special! What Makes You Weird, Is What Makes You Cool!

The crisp chill of Fall is in there air here and winter will soon be upon us. But the winter gloom isn’t sneaking in at all. There has just been too much to celebrate and to be grateful for!

We’ve recently shared in the celebrations of some big life moments of those we care so much about!  Several friends of ours have welcomed new arrivals into their families, which is always such an exciting time. The addition of one sweet baby girl in particular brought tears of joy to so many who know and love our dear friends Andy & Alicia. We are just beyond thrilled for them!

After our Monkey recently turned one, we can truly appreciate how big a deal that first birthday can be and so I wanted to share our experience attending Hattie Ham’s birthday party a few weeks ago! This whole spread was put together by event planner, Hanna Kane from Everybody’s Invitedwhom I’d gotten to know after she helped me with the  “On the Hunt with Charlie” Scavenger Hunt this year.

Celeste, Craig, and Hattie on Hattie’s First B-day {Photo courtesy of Everybody’s Invited}

As a fellow event planner, I so appreciated the many details that Hanna and her team put together! Seriously! They even had a ham cake. It was fantastic!

A “Ham” cake for Hattie Ham’s 1st B-day {Photo courtesy of Everybody’s Invited website}

Hattie’s daddy, Craig Dennis, who is a long-time friend and has also been a long-time musician with a theatrical background wrote this sweet song for Hattie (in the video below), and performed it at the party.  As a side note, I’ve always thought he’d make a great cast member on SNL.  His wife, Celeste, and I have been scheming a way to get him into the Kindie Rock scene! Here is his bid debut!

Pretty sweet, isn’t it? And, I love the message!

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I am so grateful for having fantastic friends and a wonderful family!

11 Months – exploration activities

Over the last few months, I have taken notice of Monkey beginning to explore his surroundings in ways that are much more thorough than ever before. While he is moving quickly from place to place with new walking skills, he is also slowing down and taking notice of the many details, both large and small, all around him.

As these changes have occurred, I’ve found myself searching for more meaningful and helpful activities to encourage this explorative time. Please chime into comments and share other activities if you have them!

1) Walks: When we go for walks now, Monkey tends to be outside of the stroller for a good portion – practicing walking; sitting on the ground to pick up seeds that have dropped from a tree; touching flowers and leaves, etc.  I am sharing this video below of us walking together this week. I’ve noticed that Monkey seems to feel more confident when carrying some sort of toy or has a pull toy along for the stroll:

2) Sound makers: He is so intrigued with anything he can create music or sounds with. Our music player has been on the fritz for a while, but we have been putting out instruments for him to play with lately and I it is obvious he enjoys this immensely!

Music Activities: I love this idea! Since he was a tiny little guy, we have brought Monkey out to the back yard to explore the various wind chimes hanging up.

3) Reading: Monkey has loved books and being read to right from the start and this hasn’t changed a bit. He will sit and look through board books on his own or will gladly curl up in our laps to read him a short story.

It troubles me that so many children in this day and age are not at all interested in reading and I know that reading to your children plays an important role in influencing a like for reading so it is something that is important to Josh and myself to do.  When I hear a child or even an adult say that they don’t enjoy reading, I will usually follow up by asking if they read with their family growing up. The answer is usually no.  The list of benefits for childhood reading is long and impressive – it helps with speech development; enhances vocabulary; provides the opportunity to bond; and teaches children that reading is fun.

4) Talking and Sharing Information: Aside from reading, the other thing I keep reminding myself to do daily is to talk to Monkey as I do even the most mundane of daily chores when we are together. As I recently read through these suggestions below posted on the How We Montessori blog to aid in encourage language development, I was reminded that even the most basic everyday actions can turn into learning lessons:

  • name body parts when dressing and washing
  • name foods as we prepare and eat them
  • name other objects as we use them (clothes, tools, toys)
  • name people and places
  • read through our photo book and name our friends and family
  • name objects that he brings to me such as “flower” or “stick”
  • name our experiences like “rain” and “wet”
  • describing actions, what we are doing or about to do
  • ask questions, give commands
  • encourage him to interact and converse with a wide range of people.

5) Opening & Closing: Click on the link to see this simple, wonderful activity that I am looking forward to putting together for Monkey to explore very soon!

I have been finding so many fun things to start introducing to Monkey when the time is right. Since I don’t often have the time to put together a full blog post, I have been saving quite a bit of these on my Pinterest board “for the kiddos.”

I hope you will check them out and share any other ideas with me here!

they grow up so fast!

I can hardly believe we are at that stage where we can now look back in disbelief that our little monkey has reached so many milestones over the past 10.5 months since he was born. It feels like only a few short months ago that we brought him home from the hospital.

People said it to us all of the time – “They grow up so fast. Too fast.”

I’ve realized this past year that most of the cliche parent comments came about because they are true.

Since he was born, he has experienced many firsts and reached many milestones: rolling over, crawling, and now…(gasp)…walking and even saying real deal words!

I find myself scratching my head, wondering where the time went. As we play and spend time with him, Josh and I notice how capable Monkey is of doing so many things on his own already. All this time, he has been soaking up his surroundings to show us that he is beginning to understand how things work. I have mixed emotions of feeling so joyous to be discovering his blossoming personality, yet sad that those firsts are behind us now.

But, life is about discovery and this is literally just the beginning.

Playing with his new buddy Julien in the tunnel!

In just over a month, it will be Monkey’s 1st birthday. And as parents, we know a small part of what we will be celebrating is that we made it!

It’s our own milestone.

Simply Budding

I’ve decided that looking at things simply is the best way to go — no matter the subject or activity.

On the most basic scale, when entertaining friends or family, I’ve been keeping the prep work and menus easy so I can be more apt to enjoy the company of those we look so forward to seeing while we are all together.

On a broader scale, I’ve been finding that the most simple of things can seem the most complex and the most complex of things can sometimes feel so simple. Take nature for example. So complex. Yet, so simple when one can just observe and be in awe of it all.

This is the grapevine outside our bedroom window. I’ve been appreciating the intricacy of every living thing and the many ways in which they are so individual in their makeup. A simple approach to happiness really.

If you look closely, you’ll see the buds of spring starting to appear on its branches.

As is usually the case with any change of season, I’ve been admiring the cycles of life in every form…

And feeling joy and love when observing new life that reminds us that things should be so much more simple — whether that is by witnessing the spring buds on the vine outside, or by listening to the giggling innocence of our baby boy.

And we could not imagine a life without those that enrich our every moment and remind us that things do not have to be complicated. We appreciate the simple ease in the relationships with our friends, family and extended family (our pets) that keep us in constant awe of the magic moments of life.

Single Parenting for a Week

It is hard to believe that our little monkey is over one month old already!  This journey into parenthood is teaching us so much and is a bigger challenge, albeit a welcomed one, than we could have ever known. This morning, I was standing in line at the Center for Women’s Health reception desk for my 6 week postpartum visit and there was another gal in front of me with her 3 week old.  We got to talking about the fact that no matter how many times people make comments like, “Your lives will be forever changed,” it is not something you can truly comprehend until you take your sweet little baby home from the hospital. We spoke of our sleep deprivation, and joked about how much longer it takes to complete tasks that we thought were simple before – such as making the trip to the doctor’s office.

Monday was Josh’s first day back to work after taking 5 weeks off for Family Leave. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to go back in since because that evening he came down with a bad cold and has been completely out of commission all week. We decided that night that it would be best if he head down to the man cave in hopes that it might lessen the chances of passing the cold onto Little Monkey or myself.  So far so good.  It would just break my heart if our 5-week-old (almost six) caught a cold!

The next day (Tuesday), I took Pug to the vet with Monkey and I joked with the receptionist that I felt like I had three babies – the real baby, Pug, and my husband who was home sick with a cold. She laughed and said, “I’ll bet I can guess which is the biggest baby of them all!” Ha!

After this week of doing this on my own, I have an even greater empathy for all of the single parents out there! But if at any moment I have felt overwhelmed, I just look into this precious boy’s eyes and feel a strong sense of joy to know that I am holding our little miracle in my arms!


Belle has found a new space in the house where she resides during my late night nursing sessions with Little Monkey. She seems to be adjusting pretty well to the new changes aside from being very confused when he starts to cry. Naturally, starved for attention from how things were before, she is always quite excited when we have visitors since that means other people hold the baby and she can get our undivided attention once again.

You can see from the photo above that my brilliant idea of how to secure the floor bed bumpers with velcro and heavy-duty mounting tape was not as successful as I had hoped. Please let me know if you have any other ideas for me that are baby-proofing friendly! I have considered taking out my glue gun but don’t think that would stick. It’s good that Monkey is in a bassinet for a while so we have time to troubleshoot these things. Once he moves into the room (several months from now), we are going to have to find a new home for the giant bear so he can have the bed all to himself.

This past week has been busy with family visiting at the house…

Grandpa Oz came by yesterday to get a little time with his new grandson…

My mom is visiting through tomorrow and is a bit perplexed and distraught by the idea that the next time she will see Monkey, he will be much bigger in size. So, we have devised a plan to Skype on a regular basis so she can be a part of things from across the miles.


On another note, I received several questions on the blog about baby proofing the Montessori nursery since I put up the blog post with pics from Monkey’s nursery. To be honest, I am no expert in this area as this is my first go at setting the space, but I will share with you some of the things I have implemented in hopes that it will help answer your curiosities. Please feel free to share your ideas with me, as I welcome more thoughts on how to make the environment even safer and better for our son!

Rather than the typical outlet plug covers, I replaced all of the outlets with THESE (Click to link), which I purchased from Babies R Us. Aside from a hanging night-light, which I plan to plug-in behind the changing table, there really will not be any cords in the space. Any that you do use can be hidden and protected from your baby.

We also secured all of the furniture to the walls with THESE (click to link).

We purchased a baby gate for the doorway to keep baby in his space when the time comes for exploration. This will also serve the purpose of keeping the dogs out of the room when they are not invited.

I have checked out many other blogs of people who have utilized the floor bed and none have never read about any problems with the set up.  A girlfriend of mine, who is also a Montessori teacher has had great luck with her baby’s floor bed. She recommended definitely getting an adult twin size mattress so that you can lay down with baby from time to time when trying to get him/her to sleep.

Below are some links that may help answer any additional questions regarding setting up the space.

Setting Up a Montessori Nursery

Michael Olaf on the First Year of Life

It’s all trial and error for me at this point, but I think we’ve got all of the important bases covered for now to feel secure in having Asher use the room when he is ready.