Sunday, March 9, 2014

I feel like I need to write this down

As I'm sure long time readers of our blog have noticed, it's been a long time since they've had anything to read. And, for that I apologize on a number of levels. When I signed off my post back in September, I hadn't intended on taking a half year leave from this blog. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case, life got away from me and I just never found a chance to sit down and write out a coherent summation of what we've been up to. Sarah has been busy, I've been busy and the kids have been busy... but none of us have been busy in a way that makes for particularly interesting blog reading.

But, unfortunately, a little over a month ago, events happened that both made me realize that I'd been neglecting my duties here, but also made it extra hard to bring myself to sit down and type this out: Our house was broken into.

Now, as most of you know, this isn't the first time that our house has been broken into. A little shy of two years ago, our house had been broken into and a number of electronics and most of Sarah's jewelry were stolen. This time around, the burglars stole almost the identical items. But, the thing that makes this particular round especially painful is that one of items that was stole was our digital camera and -on that camera- was roughly 3 to 4 months worth of photos that hadn't been backed up.  3 to 4 months of photos just gone.

So, whenever I would think of sitting down to type this entry, I'd immediately also think of those lost photos. I'd wince, and then think of something else to do instead.

But, at the same time, I think that losing those photos also served as a valuable lesson to me. It reminded me how important this blog was, not just as a record of our trip and travels, but also just as a record of our lives. So, let's get caught up, shall we?

As a stroke of mixed luck, our main camera had broke in early August, and while it was in the shop being repaired, we'd fallen back on our "back up camera." And, then, when we got our primary camera back, I had loaned our back up camera to my brother. So, it wasn't stolen along with our other electronics. For that, I am grateful, because if it had been stolen, we would be out closer to 6 months worth of photos. So, here's some of the things we got up to last Fall.

Pumpkin Hunting
In what has become an annual tradition, we went to a pumpkin patch in Sammamish with my parents and my brother to find some pumpkins and try to navigate the corn maze. And then went back to my folks place to carve our collection.

The pumpkin patch. Scenic, no?

 Stella and my mom, showing of their picks.

 My brother, displaying his pumpkin lifting might.

The Annual Grape Crush
For the third year, we held the Annual Grape Crush at our house. While it is sad to no longer be holding it at the original location, since our ringleader, Gary, moved; Sarah and I have to admit that we enjoy hosting it at our place. Though we were happy that none of our toilets were broken, like last year. Long story.

 The assembly line. From foreground to background: Grapes being loaded off the truck, into the crush. People hard at work de-stemming. The press. And the wine drinking station.

After several smaller years, the wine making group is growing again, adding new family members and families. We've actually got enough people involved in our little Beacon Hill sub-group that we had to buy a second 30 gallon barrel.

Otto and Stella taking a break from loading buckets with grapes to watch the process. I don't want to sound like a proponent of child labor, but Stella is a good little worker, more that holding her own.

San Francisco Visit
Through the Summer and Fall, Sarah was traveling on what seemed like a near weekly basis. And, while she was traveling, I spent a lot of time at home, watching the kids. So, Sarah suggested that I take a weekend off and go down to the Bay area to visit with my friend, Liam (and his wife, Meerim) who live down there. My brother was also convinced to come along, and together the three of us spend several days running around San Francisco, eating great food and pretending like we could still drink like we were in our 20's.

 Me taking a picture of my brother taking a picture of one of San Franscisco's scenic views.

Despite having been the San Francisco and the Bay Area at least a half dozen times, and despite my unending love of the movie "Big Trouble in Little China," this was my first time actually visiting China Town. Sadly, no men in over-sized woven hats.

November and Beyond
After that point, the gap in our photo record begins (though, in all honesty, we probably have a lot of good photos on our phone... backing them up is my next project after this). So, unfortunately, I'm left to rely I my admittedly spotty memory to get us to the present day.

In November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month again, where you endeavor to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. So, for most of that month, I was pretty heads down with that. Happily, I can announce that I completed my novel. Making it the second time I've accomplished that feat (out of three attempts). We also hosted Thanksgiving at our house for my family and several friends. It was great getting to host everyone and meet my cousin's new baby boy, Wiley.

Plus, Stella turned 5, and celebrated at the "bouncy place" in Lynnwood with a couple dozen of her friends.

A picture of Stella and her friends at the party, courtesy of my friend Brandon, who's phone camera was better than mine.

Then, December was, of course, dominated by Christmas (and my Birthday, too!). Toward the end of the month, we flew down to the Dallas area to see Sarah's family. While we make the trip down there about this time each year, this one was noteworthy because Sarah and I got to slip away for a night, drive to Austin and meet Stella and Otto's new cousin, Peter (and, of course, visit with Sarah's brother, Tim, and his wife, Jeanne).

Cold season also seemed to hit us early this year. Usually we find ourselves suffering through January and February, but this year it was November and December that beat up our immune systems. While being sick sucks no matter what month it is, I have to admit that I'm grateful that we aren't currently dealing with an unending string of cold and flu bugs; because the start of 2014 has been rough on a number of levels: The break-in, a string of rainstorms causing the basement to flirt with flooding, a number of household appliances breaking down (just got our new fridge today!) and the usual pressures of parenting while juggling two careers.

Finally, I won't get into too much detail about it, since -ultimately- it's her story to tell, but it bears mentioning that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year. Fortunately, they detected it early enough that it hadn't spread, and they have been able to remove it and treat her. But, still, between the operation and following radiation treatment, it's been an incredibly difficult struggle for her. I am so very, very grateful that the prognosis is so good and she will eventually recover, but at the same time, it's also hard to know that your own mother is in so much pain. Now that the radiation treatment is over, I hope her recovery is as quick and full as possible. I love you, mom (since I know you will read this)!

I don't know, maybe we are just getting all the pain and hassle out of the way early in the year, and the second half will be smooth sailing. We can hope!

As far as the kids go, they are doing well. As I mentioned earlier, Stella is 5 now, and Otto has passed the 2 and a half mark. Otto in particular is a different person from the last time I posted: Talkative, willful (I think that's a tactful way to put it) and energetic. He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates, his Seahawks jersey and playing "hit ball" (Sarah and I still scratch our heads as to how we ended up with such a jocular little man in our lives). Stella meanwhile, is nearing the end of her Pre-School career and just last week, I dropped off the enrollment paperwork for Kindergarten.

The phrase "they grow up so fast" is a tired one. But, it also happens to be true.

Now, here's hoping that Sarah or I post again here before they are all grown up.