Sunday, August 31, 2014

Five Years

Then ...

Now ...

Then ...

Now ...

Then ... August 29, 2009, Tahoe Vista

Now ... August 29, 2014, Friday Harbor

Thanks for the five years of marriage so far, my love. And cheers to many, many more. Hope you enjoyed each of your five "wood" gifts ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spreading the Love

This morning as I was leaving for work and saying goodbye to the Bean, begging for extra squeezes and more love, she asked for a "squeaky" (a kiss that makes a squeaking noise) on each of her cheeks.

And then she insisted that I love on Mimi, too. She wasn't satisfied with me giving Chris a hug goodbye, and demanded I kiss her, too. When we giggled and complied, she ordered more.

That's my girl, just spreading the love.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

(29 Months) - 2 Years 5 Months

According to our home measurements, she is 2'10" and 26 lbs. this month.

Most notably, at 29 months, she has started stuttering. It seems to ebb and flow, and was "bad" when it first started, and then was not so noticeable, and in the last week reared it's disfluent head again. I can't really tell if she's aware of it or uncomfortable with it or not - every so often she'll laugh at herself doing it, but she doesn't seem to be struggling, per se.

With regard to the rest of her communication - she's a chatterbox, plain and simple. She says "tell me" and puts her hand to her ear if we ask her a question she doesn't know the answer to. She says "why mommy? why daddy?" constantly. CONSTANTLY. We make a concerted effort to never say "just because" or "it just is," but reflect her questions back for her to answer, or provide the truth. She says "smeeto" for mosquito and "agilator" for alligator (as in, "see you later agilator"), which Alex and I think is just the cutest.

Her shyness seems to have drastically reduced, and often times she might even be the most outgoing one in the group. Unless she's put on the spot, then she just clams right up, with her fingers in her mouth. She still loves nothing more than having people laugh at what she says or does.

She now prefers big kid paper books to board books.

She is empathic, tells us without prompts that she loves us. If we express any kind of discontent she pats us and says "it's okay mama/daddy." If another kid at the park falls or is crying, she says to us, "it's okay baby, no big deal." She regularly provides unsolicited compliments: "Look so pretty, mommy." "I love you, mama." "Have nice day soccer, daddy?" "Make you feel better daddy?"

She seems very aware of the feelings of others - for 98% of her waking hours. There is still the other 2% that might boast some tantrums or otherwise center-of-the-universe behaviors. She's also gotten very good at taking "space" or a "time out" on the stairs, either alone or with one of us, and practicing big breaths to make her body feel "better" or "ready" or "happy."

She loves to pee outside. Especially in our front yard.

She's come to enjoy performing concerts on her ukelele. Neked. Her current repertoire includes Baby Beluga, Twinkle Twinkle, Happy Birthday, and You Are My Sunshine.

Adventures this month included Cow Camp, swimming with Harlow and Monroe, boat camping with Mimi and Papa and Daddy, swim lessons with Daddy, Panther Creek camping with the Menne's, picking blueberries and going to a concert in the park with Beebee, roadtrip and camping in Eastern Oregon at Wallowa State Park, daily park trips, frequent ice cream treats, s'mores ...

And my favorite photos from the month that didn't make it elsewhere in my blog posts ...

Sandy buns, riding on Pinecone after boat-camping with Mimi and Papa.

Toddler knees = always a bit scraped.

Future Florida retirement resident.

First visit to Mama's Vancouver VA office.

Lover of s'mores.

Swim lessons at SWCC with Daddy. And the neighbor across the street as her teacher.

Smiles and sunshine on the front patio.

Bad hair day, via static electricity.

First marimba concert at Bridgeport.

Beaverton concert in the park with Beebee.

She looks just like Mama here.

Baby buns are the very best.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

(Working Women) - Fellow Portland SLP, Kegan

I went to graduate school with Kegan at University of Oregon. Early in the program, we were assigned to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) together where we learned about dysphagia (disorders of feeding/swallowing) and became fast friends - she was not only supermodel-beautiful (I mean, who doesn't like to hang out with the best looking people?!?) and made glasses look cool, but she was open, funny, kind, interested and interesting, could laugh at herself, loved her family, and had the kind of laid-back personality that makes her so easy to be around. She also made me want to have sisters, which I had never before thought twice about. I recently had the pleasure of observing Kegan and her boss, Parkwood Clinic owner, Ashley, at work. Kegan (and Ashley, too) is exactly the kind of speech path you want to work with your own kid - relatable, fun, spunky, very clearly knowledgeable, and dedicated to help the clients make change. As a fellow speech path, I was inspired by her enthusiasm and positivity. We could all use clinicians - and co-workers, really - like Kegan.

Bio info - who are you, how old are you, where are you from, where do you live, what's your living/family situation, what are your hobbies, etc. Essentially, what's your story?
My name is Kegan, I just turned 27 years old. I get to live in NW Portland, on the most happening streets around, 23rd and Kearney. And yes, parking has gotten even worse with the introduction of Salt and Straw to my corner (but I can hardly complain, my house smells like waffle cones 24/7). For 3 years I have lived in a duplex with one of my 3 sisters (my sisters are my whole world) and our good friend Nick (who we call ‘Nona’). We are all in our 20s and living the Single Life. Still in that beautiful in-between stage where we're old enough to own appliances that work and silverware that matches, but none of us have had the opportunity to register for all the things we want, hence being single. So we live the “working adult” lifestyle while hanging on to our youth by the threads of old college kitchenware, furniture, etc. Let’s just say we are slowly but surely chipping away at adulthood.
What is your current job/profession? What path did you take to get there? Any required schooling or training?
I am thankful every day to be a Speech and Language Pathologist. I didn’t always know I wanted to be an SLP, mainly because I had never heard of it until I was 19 years old. In my first year and a half of what I now refer to as my“education/party life balance” at Chico State, I dabbled in child development, education, nursing, and psychology (and no shortage of off campus “socializing,” of course). Then someone said to me, “I met a lady who is a Speech and Language Pathologist and they reminded me of you.” Well there you have it. The next day I went to the Communication Disorders and Sciences office to find out what all these big words actually meant and, boom!, I suddenly declared a major encompassing aspects of all my previously considered options.


I am currently working for my good friend, Ashley, at the Parkwood Clinic in SW Portland and West Linn. I had the pleasure of going to graduate school with Jo at the University of Oregon, followed by 3 months of independent travels abroad, before getting a job in a Special Education Preschool in Vancouver Public Schools. This was how I spent my first year and half as a “professional” in the working world - loving being an SLP but doubting myself every step of the way. After almost 2 years in the public setting, I left to see what the world of private practice had to offer. While the clinic was getting on it’s feet, I took an amazing part-time job with the Hello Foundation, where I contracted out to Eastern Montana and served their rural schools, out in the middle of nowhere. What a wild experience that was; I would be lying if I said I loved every minute, but I certainly felt fulfilled and excited and challenged every minute. Especially when it reached 30 below zero, with a wind chill of  -45 on one of my expeditions. Since Parkwood has grown, I have shifted my focus to our kids and families here in town and am no longer traveling to the Big Sky Country.
What are the pros and cons of your current position?
I absolutely LOVE seeing progress with the kiddos. I love that the clinic setting and our clinical model allows us to truly see impactful progress with our kids. It is a much more intimate setting than my experience in the public schools and I am thankful to have the opportunity to know my kids and their families so well. I especially love working with another SLP whose experience and expertise rubs off on me daily and I continue to watch myself grow as a clinician. Having your boss also be your friend and mentor is quite a beautiful thing. Wracking my brain for cons. The only one that strikes me is that I am used to having the summer months off with a school schedule, so I have been spoiled in that way J


What is something about your job that other people might not know or expect?
Many people are surprised to find out that we work with children as young as 1.5 or 2 years of age. “But that’s too young, they are barely talking at that age.” There are many prelinguistic indicators of speech and language development and if a child is not demonstrating appropriate prelinguistic communication skills (e.g. babbling, eye contact, pointing, joint attention, vowel and consonant imitation, gross motor imitation, etc.) we are able to specifically target these through 1:1 intervention as well as parent training and a home program for the family.

What other jobs could you work with your education/training/experience?
Honestly, I have never even thought about it. I may wear different hats throughout my career as an SLP but at the end of the day (and most likely at the end of the my life) I will still be a Speech and Language Pathologist. Whether that includes helping direct one of the clinic sites, training new staff, becoming a mom, I think my experience, education, and training in this field will serve me well.

Walk us through a typical day, week, or month ...
I can’t imagine a day in my life would be of any interest to any reader. But let’s see, a typical week for me consists of walking to work, working with children, talking with their parents, laughing to myself constantly because kids are hilarious without meaning to be. Evenings are typically spent either meeting a friend/s for a drink and dinner or making friends/roomies dinner at home. Grocery shopping happens infrequently and that is what we call getting “creative in the kitchen” with anything we can scrounge up that isn’t expired. Movie nights happen about once a week and my company for this varies between me and Carly, me and Nona, or possibly me, Nona and Carly, or just me and my glass (let’s be honest-- bottle) of wine. Weekends involve either a day at the clinic or at my parent’s pool and maybe one night out on the town if I can commit at least one friend to a night in search of a dance floor. I don’t sleep in, mainly because my body won’t let me sleep past 7:00 am, and there are no exceptions. I often do my paperwork (treatment plans, evaluation reports) either at home or in a nearby coffee shop. I live the Portlander life, walking, smiling, and eating whenever possible. 

How much do you make? (Too forward?!? Probably. But let's be real, a large part of the reason we work is to make money - give us some deets about your income, as much as you feel comfortable sharing, whether specific to your personal salary, or generally speaking, as in, What Would Google Say).
I currently work approximately 20 direct contact (intervention/evaluation) hours a week.  Hours fluctuate on a weekly basis and I get my paperwork done in between kiddos, on a slower day, or in the evening/ on the weekend (I’m single, remember?).
(Since Kegan works for a private practice and didn't ask permission, she won't divulge her hourly specifics, but I wanted to direct you to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website which cites the average hourly range of about $24-43 per hour. There is also the US News and World Reports website, with average salary information.)

Do you anticipate making any career changes in the next 5 to 10 years?
I don’t foresee a full-on career change (but never say never, right?). I would be perfectly happy growing into different roles at the clinic or wherever life takes me. I hope I get to find out what it is like to be a mom at some point. I’ll be curious to see how I can balance kiddos at the clinic as well as kiddos at home.

If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?

If I could have any job in the world I think it would be no job. Because while we are wishing for things, I would wish for enough money to live comfortably and then spend my time volunteering around the world. I wouldn’t want to have one “job” because I think it would be incredible to get to experience all kinds of different jobs wherever you are needed most in the world. For example, if someone needs help running a hospital in a 3rd World country, I would love to think I could morph and grow into whatever position was needed for the operation to be successful. I imagine I would get experience in so many different walks of life that way, and there are literally limitless opportunities in the world to do good, it would be cool to be able to do that in a lot of different ways. It just sounds like a dream come true (keep dreaming, Kegan, I know).

If someone else was interested in your job, what piece of advice would you give them?

Advice I would offer to someone entering the world of Speech Language Pathology would be, find a good mentor. Your mentor in your early years as an SLPimportant than where you receive your education. Find someone who has their personal and professional bar set high, with common goals, who will push you, hold you accountable, teach you, and support you. I would be lost without that, and I certainly wouldn’t be as good at my job. Also, be kind to everyone.

How do you balance work life and home life?
Haha, good joke. I know most people reading this likely work a full/part time job AND have a husband/kids. I don’t want to risk insulting anyone who truly does have to work on balancing their family life AND work life each and every day. My “work/life balance” is on a totally different scale than most (at least at the moment), with my current home life “family” consisting of two working adults who do not require constant feeding, attention, bathing, rearing, etc. I hardly have any responsibilities except to get myself showered, dressed, fed and off to work each day and some days I can barely manage all of that. At this time in my life, if I want to go for a walk or read a book, I can find the time. If I want to take a nap, most days I can make this happen too (Working Mom’s out there, please don’t hate me, someday I hope to be in your shoes—naps replaced with chasing little ones around). But as life has gone and will continue to go, when the demands increase (more work hours, a significant other, eventually children, house payment, etc.) I am confident that I too will grow into the roles ahead and meet the demands, somehow. I’m sure it won’t be easy but I have many amazing women in my life who are excellent role models for what the coming “balance” should look like. I would be blessed to have the opportunity and hope to rise to the occasion when the time is right.

Thanks for sharing, Kegan. For more of the "Working Women" series, check out this link.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wallowa Lake ... More Camping

This final 2014 camping trip was the bookend to our "Summer of Doing" - our 6th or 7th time camping as a family, depending on who's counting and whether or not you count boat-camping. 

Just the three of us embarked on a family roadtrip + camping in the Wallowa mountains in Eastern Oregon. Although both Alex and I grew up in Oregon, and grew up in families that not only adventured, but enjoyed time in the outdoors, it's a surprise that neither of us had ever explored this part of the state before. Granted, we've still mostly left the Wallowa mountains un-explored, as having a toddler in tow limits the amount of hiking, biking or otherwise gnarbuckling that may or may not have happened if we were flying solo.

Geographically, the area reminded us of Telluride meets the Sierra. It had that end-of-the-valley feel of Telluride, but with a lake, and the mountains themselves were more Sierra-like with their granite and 4-10,000 ft elevation foliage.

Demographically, we felt as though we were surrounded by long skirt-wearing God-fearing (God with a capital G) folk. Everyone had a truck, a trailer, an RV, and/or a dozen kids each. On our first night there, out to pizza just a short walk from our campsite, a nice Adventist man asked Alex if "your wife stays home with the kids." I kindly turned my head to make eye contact and informed him that, in fact, I work part-time and stay home part-time. A National Guardsman, he was pleased to learn about the work I do at the VA. Although I doubt that did much to make up for my tattoos or lack of homeschooling prowess. Also, there were lots of deer. Like, everywhere. And they brazenly walked into any campsite. "Deer not eat my food!" Francie would cry, more afraid of having to share her Goldfish crackers than of anything else the deer might threaten.

When we first arrived at our destination, Wallowa State Park, at the southern point of Wallowa Lake and just six miles down from the town of Joseph, OR, we were underwhelmed, to say the least. The weather on our last stretch of the drive was TERRIBLE. Terrible as in, "maybe we should see if there's any availability at one of the hotels or a bed and breakfast or something?" Fortunately, the torrential downpour abated some before our arrival, and Alex had cloudy but dry skies to set up camp. We thought the place was pretty, but maybe not quite seven-hours-in-the-car pretty. But we were optimistic that all we needed was a solid meal, a good night's sleep under the stars, and some hope of sunshine to get us whelmed, if not overwhelmed, at the beauty of the scenery.

The next day we were pleased with the mild temperatures and cloudy skies. We had a leisurely breakfast and coffee by a morning fire, and bebopped around the "Wallowa Lake Community" - an unincorporated part of Wallowa County that consisted mostly of a few cabins, a gift shop/grocery/arcade and some mini-golf courses. Given that the weather wasn't beach-worthy and we were too cheap to pay for a tram ride (59 bucks?!? c'mon, people, we're used to riding that shit for free, or at least getting some good ski runs out of it), so we headed to check out the cute town of Joseph, population 1,000. There we window-shopped and ate ice cream at a fabulous little 50's-style diner. During the Bean's nap, we read, took solo walks, I knitted, and Alex played guitar. There was no cell/Internet service, so no technology to detract from the truly free time. For dinner Alex prepared a fabulous "hobo surprise" - several veggies and cut sausage wrapped in tinfoil and cooked over the campfire.

We crossed our fingers for nice weather for Saturday and were lucky to enjoy another leisurely breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked in bacon grease and coffee/hot chocolate by the campfire, before spending a sunny morning out on the lake in a rented fishing boat. Nap time, again, involved reading, knitting, guitar-playing and wandering. And we spent some of the afternoon at the muddy/rocky beach, the only ones sporting only one child and rocking tattoos - we frequently had Dorothy-like 'we're not in Portland anymore' thoughts.

Sunday boasted the best weather, and Alex got in a nice dip in the northern part of the lake before we had to hit the road. We might have gotten ice cream in Joseph again, on our way out of town. We were able to better view and enjoy the countryside from Joseph, through Enterprise, to Lostine, and out to La Grande. The scenery really was spectacular, and we were able to understand the appeal of the mountains/farmlands because the weather was crystal clear.

All in all, it was certainly beautiful countryside, and the mountains beckoned us with fantasies of hiking and backpacking. I'm not sure we'll head back anytime soon, being that we've been utterly spoiled living in and traveling to some of the world's most beautiful places, and being that we have a lot of nice mountains to explore that are more or less in our backyard. Suffice it to say, the drive home was looooooooong and I wasn't sure I could handle another carseat-captive "look, mommy, look," or "why, mommy?" 

I think maybe we'll try to stick closer to our neck of the woods until our kiddos are old enough to carry their own packs.

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