hey darling boy,

first off, i'm sorry that this is being published 2 and a half weeks after your actual birthday. we have been so slammed with different things going on, and i haven't had a chance to write something proper about you and turning six.

six years old.

can you believe you're six years old? what a sweet pleasure to be able to watch you grow and be a part of your life.

you accomplished some pretty awesome milestones this past year, from being an official reader to a two wheeled bike rider and shoe-lace tie-r (i know, that's not even a word)...we are so proud of you!

you have also grown into a more responsible young person, who is helpful, kind-hearted, and loving. even though you can be full energy most times, you still have a sensitive and timid nature - which is totally okay!

you know mommy and daddy love you for who you are, and will always be here to support you, teach you and guide you so that you can continue to flourish and grow as the unique individual that God has made you to be.

we hope you felt loved and celebrated on your birthday, because we all love you so very much!

may six years old be a time of continued growth, learning and adventures for you. you are one of a kind, and we are so very thankful that God gave us you to be a part of our family.

we love you, gibson!

mommy and daddy.


fun with food: grain-free/gluten-free crepes

crepes are a hot item in our house.  every member in our family loves crepes.  my kids pretty much just inhale them.  for real. no joke.

we've been making crepes since emma was a wee baby.  before we started on our traditional/WAPF diet, we would make them with regular white flour.  then i started doing sourdough crepes (made with spelt flour), although i think aaron is still partial to the white flour variety.  the kids and i like the sourdough crepes, and they're super quick and easy to whip up, as long as you have enough sourdough starter around.  since our kids gobble them up like no other, i often have to double the recipe, which means i have to feed the starter enough flour so that i can actually double the recipe.  i'm usually pretty good at planning ahead for that, but i do have days where i'm totally not prepared (okay, i may have those days a lot more than usual).

so, these grain-free crepes are totally yummy and awesome when i don't have sourdough starter around.  seriously, we've made them three times in the past week and a half.  maybe we need a crepe intervention.  they're easy to make and actually don't taste much different than the regular white flour crepes.

why bother with grain-free crepes when you could just make it with white flour?  well, white flour isn't exactly healthy for you, since they're a pretty refined product (even though nothing beats using white flour in chocolate chip cookies or crusty french bread...cheat days keep our family sane).  and whole grains are kind of a funny thing for your tummy. they are difficult to digest, so if you do use a whole wheat type of flour then you need to either soak, sprout or ferment (sourdough) it to make it easier for your body to digest.  i'm not going to go into the details of that in this post, but if you want to know more about how and why to properly prepare grains i recommend checking out the weston a. price foundation website or the healthy home economist for more information.

okay. let's bring it back to these crepes, guys! i'm officially making this my go-to crepe recipe when i'm not making sourdough crepes (or when aaron's not making crepes, because you know he'll just use the white flour...haha).  i found the recipe here, but made some small changes. this is a very flexible recipe that can also easily be dairy-free, if you or a family member has a dairy allergy. i've tried making them using coconut oil, butter, regular milk, and yogurt (though you have to add a little extra water to thin out the batter a bit). i haven't tried using coconut milk yet, but i'm pretty sure it will taste just as good.

you should give it a try. and suddenly, everyday will be crepe day.

:: grain-free/gluten-free crepes ::

adapted from healthnutnation.com

yields: approx. 24 6 inch crepes

3/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 eggs
2 Tbs. coconut oil (or ghee or butter) and some extra for cooking
1 tsp. honey (optional)

1. Mix ingredients together until well blended.
2. Heat your pan at medium heat, and add a small amount of oil or butter and swirl around. You may have to only do this once, but if you find that you're crepes are sticking to the pan, then you may have to add a bit of oil before each crepe is made.
3. If you're using a small, 6 inch pan (like an omelette pan), pour about 2-3 Tbs. of the batter onto the pan and gently swirl it until batter covers the bottom of the pan.
4. Once the batter is set, flip the crepe over and cook on the other side (about 2-3 seconds).
5. Take cooked crepe off the pan and put on a plate.  I usually just cook and stack them on one plate, or you can serve it directly.
6. Fill crepes with your preferred fillings...sweet, salty, what have you!

**If you double this recipe you can keep some extra in the fridge to eat for another time.  You can also make these ahead of time, although nothing beats freshly made crepes.


rediscovering seattle: cherry blossom and japanese cultural festival

this past weekend, we decided to head over to the seattle center to check out the 40th annual cherry blossom and japanese cultural festival. the cherry blossom festival is part of seattle center's festal, which is a year-long series of cultural festivals all held at the seattle center.  there's quite a variety, and it's a great opportunity for the kids to get a taste of different cultures without necessarily having to travel the world (at least not yet, right?? *sigh* someday...). plus, an added bonus: i can totally count this for school!  can you say geography + social studies + history + art + music + science + whatever else you want to add?  oh yeah!

so, i was a little apprehensive about going at first, because festival type events that we've experienced in seattle before have always been packed.  i remember going to bite of seattle years ago, and feeling SO crowded, i wasn't really sure i wanted to deal with that.  but we decided to give it a go anyway.  we've never been to this festival, and wouldn't know how crowded it would be until we tried.  if it didn't end up turning out well, then we'll know for next year.

as it turned out, it wasn't overly crowded at all. parking was a little more full than usual around the seattle center, but not so bad that we had to park blocks and blocks away.  we also got there around 11 a.m., which was an hour after they started, so there weren't too many people there yet.  we noticed that when we left at around 1 p.m., there was quite a bit more people, but it was still a manageable crowd to navigate through.

the festival was held in three locations at the seattle center: the seattle center pavillion, the armory, and the fisher pavillion (along with the outdoor space right outside). the event itself is free, and the only thing you have to pay for is parking and food. i can't believe that this event has been around for 40 years, and we've just now heard about it?? where have i been (besides the 8 years we were out of state...ha!)?

we really liked getting there on the earlier end of the festival, because it allowed us to explore and try things out without having to deal with much of a line.  there were a few booths/stations set up in each of the buildings, with the bulk of the booths set up in the fisher pavillion. the older kids also picked up a "passport" shortly after we arrived, which they took around to various spots to get stamps.  while they didn't get all their boxes stamped, it was a great way for them (and us) to participate in some of the activities and learn new things about japan.  you can check out this year's schedule here to get an idea of what events and activities were offered.

we discovered the seattle kobe sister city association booth on the second floor of the armory, which hosted a kimono/yukata dress up. the girls were immediately drawn to it, and got a chance to try one on.  they had some for men and boys too, but our boys didn't seem too keen on trying one on.

after dress up time was over, emma was set on getting her first stamp so we stopped over at the seattle go center station, where she learned (and mommy and daddy too) how to play the ancient game of go and got a stamp in her passport. i've never heard of the game, but we thought it was very interesting, despite its seemingly simple appearance.  there's quite a bit of strategy involved once you really get the hang of playing, but the game itself is simple enough to learn that the kids would enjoy playing it.  i can see this being a fun family game night.  we just have to get the boards and stones (or make some temporary ones in the interim).  if you are interested in finding out more about go, you can check out the american go association.

using our handy-dandy festival map, we decided to head over to the fisher pavillion to check out the goings on there, and get more stamps of course.  by this time, there were more people at the event, so it was starting to get a little tricky to navigate through with all four kids.  side note: typically, i would wear the youngest kid (backpack style) for events like this one, but i spaced out on bringing my mei-tai for some reason.  i hate taking strollers to any event that draws a crowd, because it makes it so much more difficult to get around, so i've always worn the littlest. add on 2 or 3 additional kids to keep an eye on, and wearing the youngest really does simplify things (i think lani has ridden in a stroller twice in her lifetime just because it was always easier to wear her). anyway, back to the cherry blossom festival and the fisher pavillion...we made our way there and were taken by the outdoor bujutsu demonstration.  there were swords involved, and this particularly had gibson quite captivated.  especially since he's currently taking tae kwon do. i think watching the demo gave him a little inspiration.

more stamps were needed in the kids' passports, so we finally made it inside the fisher pavillion for a stop at the origami booth.  emma has recently taken an interest in origami, so having the origami booth at the festival was perfect timing.  and mommy also enjoys doing a little origami so that was a bonus for me!

as it neared the lunch hour (as indicated by the mass of little hands digging in the bag for snacks and any form of edible yummies), our plan was to make our way outside to finish the snacks we packed, and let the kids kind of run around in the grass before heading home. but we couldn't just head straight outside, because there still many things going on inside that drew our attention.  so, the next stop as we tried to make our way out of the building was a booth on traditional japanese toys. this one was a fun one for all the kids, and the people at the booth were so sweet and patient with them. i love that the toys were all wooden and simply designed but engaging at the same time...my favorite kinds of toys.

after prying our kids away from the toy booth, we tried to re-direct everyone (including the parents) towards the exit, but another activity caught our eye.  there was a sword sharpening demonstration right across from the toy booth, and we spent some time observing the gentleman as he began the process.

and once we made it outside, we were entertained by some awesome music by a taiko performing group.  this group was unique (at least to me), because i noticed a couple of its members were quite young, close to emma's age it seems. i thought that was pretty neat, and loved that the kids got to observe other kids participating in unique activities (and not just sports...nothing against sports, mind you).

we had a great experience at this festival, even though we only stayed for 2 hours (the parking meter said it was time to go, and we kinda didn't want to pay $10 for parking), and the whole thing was very budget friendly for our family of 6. there were a few other booths and stations we stopped at that were not mentioned here.  and certainly more things we wanted to try out but didn't have time for like the kite making, the paper airplane contest, and i kind of wanted to try the japanese calligraphy. but it's a good thing they have this event every year, because i think this is one we'll probably come back to again next year.


rediscovering seattle: olympic sculpture park

since moving back to seattle over a year ago, we have had fun exploring and rediscovering the city. while there are many aspects of seattle that have remained the same, there have also been plenty of changes in the 7.5 years we were gone. and of course, this time we are back with a whole crew, so our experience of the emerald city feels new.

much like we did in cleveland, we enjoy spending our weekends going out and about as a family, and experiencing what the city has to offer (and it has to offer so much!). tourists in your own town, so to speak. i've noticed that there is a sense of appreciation and love that comes from really getting to know the city when we take the time to explore, whether it's a place we've been to many times, or a place we visit only a few times a year. familiar sights bring a taste of nostalgia, new discoveries bring excitement, but they all bring delight and a time to reconnect as a family.

we've had plenty of local adventures since we've moved back, and it's hard to pick just one, but i'm gonna have to so I can avoid an obscenely long post. I guess this means i'll have to do multiple posts for our other local adventures...maybe this will get me back to posting on a more regular basis!

i'll start with one we just went to today.

the olympic sculpture park is an outdoor art "museum" of sorts, and is part of the seattle art museum. it is one of our family's favorite, go-to outdoor spaces in the city. it's easy to get to from our house, free (except for parking), outside, and offers some amazing views.  we've been here a lot since we've moved back (you'll notice some of the pictures are from a while ago). the park has quite a few permanent outdoor art displays that our kids have learned to recognize and remember by name.

occasionally, the park has also had temporary art installations. i think the temporary ones we've seen have all encouraged participation from people as part of the art itself.  those ones are our favorite.

on sunny days, we like to pack a lunch so that we can hang out for a good chunk of the day. there's a quiet, little pocket beach that's kind of tucked away from the main part of the park, and that's been our lunch spot lately. plus the kids have some time to play by the water (which the always love).

we have our usual route when we go here, mostly because we always park on the same street (sometimes we'll score free parking if we go early enough on a weekday, but we pretty much always pay for parking if we go on a weekend). i love that the kids easily settle into our regular route through the park. the familiarity and routine of the visit feels kind of comforting.

another reason we like this park is that we can still be down by the pier during tourist season, but avoid most of the crowd since many of the tourists stay closer to the piers offering the aquarium, the great wheel, and other more tourist-like attractions.  we kind of avoid that area for most of the summer, but it's not really a big deal since we live here.

we really appreciate finding outdoor spaces in the city that are fun and engaging for the whole family, and love the freedom this park has to offer for us.


birthday week extravaganza v.4.2

my dearest husband,

i'm sorry that it has taken me a month to share with the world your week-long birthday celebration.  i know.  it's not fair that cash got his birthday post shortly after his actual birthday.  but a birthday week celebration takes a little bit more time to put together on in a post.  wouldn't you agree? [what's that? you're not buying that excuse? well, i think it's legit. ahem...] 

so, here's a recap of your annual birthday week extravaganza.  we really loved having you home for a whole week of adventuring and relaxing. we hope you enjoyed your birthday week, and glad that this year you were able to celebrate it in its entirety!  happy birthday, my love!


we spent quite a bit of time by the water during the first half of the week, while aaron's mom was here visiting. it was the first the time we've seen her since our move back, and we were glad she was able to come out and hang with us for a bit.  the kids LOVE having visitors, and having gram around was so fun for them.

we took a chilly, morning visit to alki beach earlier in the week, which we totally under-dressed for.  it was so sunny, that i didn't even think about the wind being a chill factor.  it was a gorgeous, gorgeous day, but BRRRR!

then for aaron's actual birthday, we spent the day down by the pier visiting the aquarium followed by a very filling birthday lunch/dinner at the crab pot.  we even had ty play hookie for the day so he could join us in the birthday celebration.

day ended with the "happy birthday" song, after candles were lit on a pair of pecan pies.  that's right.  pecan pies in lieu of cake.  because it's his favorite pie, ever.  and because his mom was here, and she's a pro at making pecan pie.

photo credit: ty
the rest of the week was full of excursions (i'll just share some highlights here).  on the last full day aaron's mom was here, we planned trip to vashon, where we spent the morning at the point robinson lighthouse, and lunch at our favorite vashon island restaurant, the hardware store.  i'll have to save the lighthouse visit for a separate post, but this place was so awesome.  and the weather was perfectly pleasant.  the kids loved being by the water (big surprise there - please note sarcasm), and it was hard to pry them away.

another day, we spent the morning bumming around capitol hill, with lunch at one of our favorite spots in seattle, oddfellows cafe.  we love going there.  the food is tasty, and the people there friendly, and always make us feel welcome.  also, that place always brings a bit of nostalgia for me since i used to work and perform in the odfellows building back in the day.  it's fun being able to bring the kids to places where i used to frequent before they were born.  they're still at an age where they think it's pretty cool, and i get to pretend i'm young again.

and bonus!  we managed to squeeze in a date night (thanks, gram!) too.  we had the best time enjoying a delicious meal at another one of our favorite eating spots, and then ending it with a night cap, a photo booth sesh, and some people watching at the cha cha lounge.

we were having so much fun, we didn't want the week to end. it's always a treasure to have daddy home for a whole week, and we are so happy we can be a part of his birthday celebration.


:: 48/12 ::

dear cashy,

how does it feel to be 4 years old?  do you remember mommy asking you that when you turned 4 almost 2 weeks ago?  you were so excited to have your birthday!

it's hard to imagine that it was only 4 years ago that we welcomed you into the world...from a little baby in diapers to a little boy in underwear.  what?!?  isn't it amazing how much you've changed, and how quickly time has passed? you are a sweet boy, and i'm secretly (well, i guess now it's not such a secret) still happy to have you crawl into bed and snuggle with me every once in a while.  i love your sweet snuggles.

we started your day making your birthday sign, and you enjoyed being able to help decorate it.  then, daddy took you to pick up doughnuts for birthday breakfast.  we're so glad you were willing to share them with us, because they were quite tasty!

we waited for daddy to come home before digging in to your birthday dinner of choice: barbeque meatballs and lemon green beans.  then it was on to presents while we waited for our food to digest and make room for dessert.

this year, instead of cupcakes, you opted for the birthday brownie cake, with a specific request for shaved coconut on top.  it was a fun challenge to figure out how to incorporate that into the cake, but i think you were pretty satisfied with the results.

we hope you had a super wonderful birthday, sweet boy. yes...boy. not baby. but you told me you'll always be my "baby cash." and even if someday you've become too big for those sweet snuggles with your mama, i know you'll still be my "baby cash." we are thankful for how you have blessed our family with your smile, your silliness, your laughter, and for just being you.

we love you so much, cashy!  happy birthday!


happy new year! {oh, wait...}

when did it become 2015, and where have i been?  i'm not sure how i missed posting ANY updates since october of LAST year (not that you really care, right?).  what?!?

well, in true holiday fashion, as soon as halloween hits, we kind of get a little crazy busy.  aaron's work schedule gets ramped up, and we "say good-bye" to him until christmas.  meanwhile, i frantically try to finish up all my handmade gifts in time for christmas, which i've obviously failed at doing since i still have some to finish - 2 months later! fortunately, we break for school in december, otherwise i would be probably be curled up in a corner crying.

so, here's some highlights of the last 3 months. they were full but fun-filled (for the most part), and i don't think i'd have it any other way.

WARNING: this may be deemed as a lengthy post, so continue at your own risk!  at least there are photos...

we didn't return to KEXP for their halloween trick-or-treating event like they had last year, because they didn't have it at all.  but it worked out great, because we spent an awesome evening with friends trick-or-treating door to door.  i spent a lot of time on emma's costume this year, which i'm pretty sure attributed to my lack of blogging, and set me back on my holiday crafting.  but it was totally worth it, after seeing how happy she was with the result.

i spent much of november wrapping up term 1 with emma, and working on handmade goodies to send out to salty not sweet. i really need to do better with making things a little at a time each day, instead of waiting until the last minute to get a bunch of inventory done.  i guess i haven't changed much in the procrastination department!

we had a lovely thanksgiving at home with some friends.  the food was tasty, and the company was pretty great.  i'm so thankful for the relationships we are building here, and love that friends can be family, and family can be friends, and we're all mushed up and sharing life together.  it's a sweet thing.

december was spent in anticipation (advent) and in celebration (12 days of christmas).  oh, and more crafting...and baking. i have to be honest here for a minute and say that it's often hard for me to be joyful during the christmas season, because i don't really see it as a time to be together like how many people and the media make it out to be.  the kids and i probably see aaron the least during christmas time, because that's when he's the most busy (seriously...sometimes the kids won't see him for days, and i can count on one hand the number of nights we all get to share a meal together as a family in the days leading up to christmas).  but that's where i think carrying out a lot of our annual christmas traditions have helped me not be such a christmas grinch.  i do find joy when i'm reminded, thanks to our jesse tree, why christmas is worth rejoicing about.  i do find joy and re-focus on what's important, thanks to our st. nicholas day celebration. i do find joy, even when i'm up to my eyeballs in cookies and dirty laundry (not in the same place), and realize that it's more than just about me.

sorry.  i didn't mean to get sidetracked there.  and now, back to that baking thing...one of our annual christmas traditions is to make personalized name cookies (and additional treats) for the people at aaron's work.  we started this tradition back in cleveland, maybe 7 years ago, so this one's been going strong.  while i'm not sure how excited people get over getting personalized name cookies, i know i have fun decorating them!

a couple of our favorite pre-christmas activities included our 2nd annual visit to winterfest at the seattle center, and new this year (well, i guess it would be last year) was an evening spent downtown experiencing the holiday hustle and bustle.  and let me tell ya, it was hustling and bustling!  but i do love being in the city.  i just love the energy, liveliness and being in close proximity to so many cool things.

winterfest goes on for pretty much the whole month of december, and we go the first saturday in december, since that usually ends up being the last saturday aaron doesn't have to work until after christmas. they have performances scheduled at the seattle center armory, ice skating, and other winter-centric activities, but the highlight for our kids is always the winter village-complete with trains. we even did a short impromptu visit to the science center afterwards (perks of being a member).

and then the night downtown...that was totally last minute, and i'm so glad we decided to go! at first, i was a little worried that it was just going to be too busy, but it really wasn't that bad.  i mean, it was busier than normal (which is to be expected), but things were so festive!  plus it wasn't raining, so that definitely made the experience a little bit more enjoyable.  i think we're going to try to add this on to our annual christmas tradition.  the kids were in love with the winter village, and could have stayed there the whole time (thanks to coloring sheets and books).  we missed the snow inside pacific place, but managed to stop in the sheraton for their annual gingerbread display.  they were all very impressive!

we had a most wonderful, low-key christmas.  it was nice to be able to stay home, re-connect with each other, and really savor the day.

of course december would not be complete without our 2nd annual 12 days of christmas activities/celebration.  this year, i was a little more intentional about having something for each of the 12 days. not each day was necessarily carved in stone, but i did have a general idea of things we could do.  some days were simple, like lunch with friends, a playground visit, or making gingerbread houses.  other days, took a little more planning, like our annual trip to the bellevue botanical garden's light display, the monorail ride, aquarium day, and the pierogi party.  but it was so fun to be able to extend the christmas celebration to 11 more days, and have the opportunity to learn more about what the 12 days of christmas was all about.

and now we are almost caught up!  school started back up january, and we are getting into a pretty good groove.  gibson learned to read (yeah, yeah!), and it is opening up a whole new world for him.  much like his sister, we didn't really do much in the way pre-reading practice.  once he figured out the sound(s) each letter makes, and that different letter sounds put together make words, it was like watching a lightbulb turn on over his head. such a sweet reward for this mama to see his face light up with excitement when he reads through his BOB books all by himself!

emma is still in ballet, and she just added a drama class for this quarter through a local homeschool group/co-op.  wednesdays are now usually spent at the rec center, where emma takes her drama class, and the kids (and mama) get the opportunity to connect with other homeschoolers, play, craft, read...pretty much do a whole lot of stuff.  it's a pretty sweet community, and we really look forward to it every week.

other january highlights: 1. we finally made it to snoqualmie falls. it was grey. it was kinda cold. but it was amazing!  i will have to share details about that trip in another post.  lots of fun that day (and yes, there is slight sarcasm involved in the word fun). 2. we visited the science center for the 41st annual model train show event.  cash was in train heaven.  there were model trains, a little thomas train you can control yourself, playmobil display, and LEGOS.  oh, and i forgot to mention the people. so. many. people.  i am so thankful for a membership on days like these.  we got to skip the loooooong ticket line, and we could leave as soon as we were done with the train show without feeling bad that we didn't get our money's worth.

so that's been our sweet, magical life for the past 3 months, in a nutshell.  i thought i would spare you the details about our week with the stomach bug, or the random fevers, coughs, boogers, meltdowns (not just kids), and all that stuff that no one really wants to read about.  my goal is to post a little more often on here this year, but i don't know what "often" will look like as the year progresses.  

if you've gotten this far, you deserve a treat! thanks for taking this quick little trip back in time with me. wishing you a new year filled with joy, laughter, love and new adventures!

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