Lumen's Birthday Jamboree!

Last weekend, we threw Lumen a really special party for her fourth birthday! With her birthday being only a week after Christmas (and 3 days before her brother's birthday), we had a hard time coming up with fun ideas that would set her day apart. And with the weather being so cold, our options were even more limited. So we decided to go with a "gymnastics" theme and just let her and her friends get wild in the confines of our apartment. We cleared out our TV and console, couches, coffee table and rug from our living room, rounded up some tumbling mats, a balance beam and play tunnel and went from there! Considering the rental of an indoor play space runs about $200 and gets booked up too fast during the wetter months, we decided we were just better off getting creative with what we had at home. I went to Target and purchased some craft supplies, balloons, a pack of dance ribbons, and some party favor trinkets, which besides the food, was the bulk of our expenses! Hooray for DIY. I'm obsessed with Target's "Hand Made Modern" stuff, which is a really cute line of craft supplies and projects for kids. I got some mixed-print tissue paper to make paper poofs with (is that what they're even called?) and a crepe paper flower making kit. I also used up some of our gold wrapping paper from Christmas to make little origami stars for the table. It may seem like a lot of work, but we were on staycation the week after Christmas and I had plenty of time for these little crafts. Not to mention, the poofs and paper flowers are now resident decorations in the kids room. :)

As for the food, we went with a brunch theme. Donuts, cinnamon rolls, quiche, lots of fruit, and of course, cake. What's a party without some delicious, sugary treats and dance ribbons to spin around with?

A friend of mine has a daughter who happens to be a very talented gymnast/contortionist, and we had her come and do some cool tricks for the kids! It was so cute to watch her do something ridiculously bendy and then see the kids get so excited and try to copy her. As for the rest of the time, we put on some music (Frozen, really, what else?) and let the kids jump, spin and dance to their hearts content. 

As for her big surprise, we got her the cutest "big girl" bike from PUBLIC Bikes. She's wanted a bigger bike for a while now, since her knees have been knocking into the handle bars of her little red tricycle. As tricky as it is having both of our kids' birthdays right after Christmas and 3 days apart, one perk I've noticed is the crazy post-holidays sales! This sweet bicycle was half off!  

This party turned out really fun, and there were even zero injuries. Success! :)

Summer in the City

With this being the first official week of summer, I thought I'd share some of what we've been up to and what we hope to accomplish in the next couple of months. Summers in the northwest are nothing short of magical. Everything is lush, the days are hot and mild, the evenings warm and peaceful. Everyone in the city is out, all hours of the day. I forget how populated Portland is until the sun comes out! We live on a major bike path in the city, and traffic is at an all-time high on our street this time of year. The evenings have been so perfect lately, and we've taken advantage of them by watching our 3 year old trike back and forth while having a beer on the porch and chatting with the neighbors. 

Since this season seems to fly by every year, we made a checklist of things to accomplish in the next couple of months to ensure a fun time to be had by all. Here's what we've got:

Lots of swimming and picnics on Sauvie Island

Make and can our annual supply of berry jam

Lots of evening walks

See a concert at Edgefield 

Hike the Oneonta Falls trail through the creek

Go cliff jumping at Dougan Falls

Dine al fresco as much as possible

See movies outdoors 

Take a family beach trip

Have a water fight

See the new elephant exhibit at the zoo

Go to the movies

Go camping

I'm sure there are to be a few more things added, but these are our most important to-dos. Last year, I was pregnant and wasn't up for a lot of sun or adventure during the hotter months, so I'll be making up for lost time this year, with a six-month-old now in tow!

I consider myself extremely lucky to get to stay at home full time now with my kids and soak up the summer with them! For the most part, we roam around the front and back yards, splash in our kiddie pool, take walks to Piccolo Park, venture out with friends, and whatever else floats our boat. I usually tote the kids around all day, and then when nap time rolls in, I take advantage of quiet and do something for myself. My favorite afternoon pick me up is a good book and a caffeinated beverage, and lately, shaken iced peppermint green tea is my jam! It used to be my drink of choice when I worked for Starbucks (because what Millennial hasn't worked for the Siren at some point in their life?) and it's the perfect refreshing picker-upper on hot afternoons. 

My love for peppermint oil inspired me to make a simple syrup, which couldn't have been easier. All I did was pour some sugar in a small container (about 1/3 cup), add some boiling water to it very slowly, and stir until it was a slightly thick (not too watery) syrupy consistency and all the sugar had dissolved. I then added 2 drops of peppermint and it was the perfect potency. 

For the tea, I used six packets of Tazo Zen green tea, threw them into a half-gallon pitcher, and filled it halfway with hot water (almost to boiling point.) I let the tea steep for about 5 minutes as opposed to 4 because I like it on the slightly more bitter, stronger side. Then I added ice to the other half of the pitcher and let it cool. For my "iced venti 2-pump peppermint no water shaken iced green tea" (I'm not sure if that is the correct way to order it. Thank goodness all that nonsense being drilled into my brain didn't quite stick), I poured about 16 ounces of tea into a cocktail shaker, added some ice, and topped it with about 2 Tb of peppermint syrup. I slapped a cold pint glass over it and let out my inner bartender. Shake, shake, shake. Grab the strainer, pooouuur that drank, and snap it. Shaking the tea isn't necessary, but it helps to get your tea chilled and well-mixed without watering it down too much. Plus, it's bubbly and fun. 

If you want, you could add a little lemonade to the shaker and make a green tea lemonade! I love that stuff. This drink is so simple and delicious, and it gives me that much-needed second wind on days when the sun has zapped me into a coma. 

I love summertime so much! It's my mission to enjoy every bit of it as possible so that we can ring in my most favorite season, fall, with a proper welcome. Is there anything we should add to our list? What are some of your summertime must-dos?

Lumen Broke Her Arm

In October, Lumen stayed with my parents overnight while Tyler and I went out. That evening, I got a call from my mom and she explained that Lumen had fallen off the bed and had landed on her arm funny, but that she seemed okay despite being in a little pain. So Lumen went to sleep that night and we weren't too concerned. The next morning when we picked her up, she still seemed to be in a lot of pain, so we decided to call the doctor. Since the offices were closed for the weekend, we hesitantly took her to the ER, where we waited through exams. The doctor thought that maybe her elbow had been dislocated, so she tried to pop it back in place, then we waited for relief, but it had left her in even more pain. Poor girl! So finally, they decided to take her in for X-rays, where we learned that her elbow had actually been fractured. We were all shocked because of how Lumen had been so calm about a broken bone for the past 24 hours. 

Waiting in the ER was the hardest part, knowing our two-year-old had a broken arm and there was no relief in the moment. So we did the best we could at keeping her entertained. 

Finally, they wrapped her arm in a splint and gave her a sling, and we were discharged after five hours at the hospital. 

We took her in to the orthopedic surgeon, who gave her a glow-in-the-dark cast and ordered her to wear it for a month. She adjusted so quickly, and even the next day was jumping on the couches again and climbing around. For Halloween, she wanted to be a lion, so I scoured Target on the 31st and happened to find ONE lion costume and it happened to be in her size. Luckily, it barely fit over her cast too. She happily trick-or-treated for the first time and got tons of candy. 

She loved letting her friends sign her cast and showing it off, and Tyler drew pictures all over it.

When it was time for the cast to come off, she was really nervous about the sawing it off part, and even freaked out a little bit while taking X-rays because she associated it with her traumatic experience in the ER. She was so brave though! I can't believe what a tough little girl she is. The whole thing was a big learning experience for me as a mom, having to keep my cool in an emergency and not panicking when I see my kid in pain. It's still really hard not to hover and cringe and tell her to "be careful" like a broken record when she's playing! 

Hawaiian Babymoon

In October, we decided to take advantage of cheaper airfare and the notion of not being able to travel anywhere exotic for a while. I was seven months pregnant, and desperately wanted to go to a place where I could dig a hole in some soft sand and bury my belly in it. I hate to say it, but I never had a strong desire to go to Hawaii because of my preconceived notions that it was very touristy, expensive and overhyped. Now I can say it was the most beautiful, intoxicating and relaxing place I’ve ever been! I’m already pining to go back someday.

We first arrived in Honolulu and booked a last minute hotel in downtown Waikiki. It was a bit overwhelming after a long flight, and definitely not what I expected. It was fun, but we were looking for some good peace and rest. My dear friend Catherine, who lives on the island, met up with us and let us borrow her car for the couple of days we were on Oahu, so the next day we headed up through Manoa Valley to stay in Kailua and explore the north shore. It was insanely beautiful!

We then went to Kauai for the next five days, where we rented a car and stayed at Kauai Beach Resort. It was the perfect spot to stay because we could drive to either side of the island and explore to our hearts content. I definitely understand why it’s called the “garden island." Everything about this island was so lush and beautiful. We drove to a private beach in a residential area, where we saw a monk seal on the shore! A friend on the island later told us it was an extremely rare sighting, because they are endangered. We also made our rounds to the Kilauea lighthouse, hiked a little in Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast State Park.


We also headed up to the north coast and explored a little bit on the Kalalau Trail, where we stumbled upon a stunning viewpoint in a little clearing. We also found lots of rock piles and handmade leis strewn about, and we knew we were in a very sacred place. It was so peaceful and breathtaking! Later, our friend told us that exact spot was where hula actually originated, and they still use it for the same purpose today. So awesome! We were also able to visit said friend and her family with a picnic at a park.

We also headed to the west side of the island, where we went off the beaten path and found a huge and deserted stretch of beach. We swam a bit and then a storm rolled through. We had no chance of staying dry, so we waded in the ocean up to our eyes and got pelted with heavy rain for a few minutes! After that, we drove to the northernmost point on the west coast and watched the sunset.

This was definitely a trip I'll remember forever! Can't wait to go back one day, maybe with two kids in tow...