Friday, November 2, 2018

Catching up: Fall 2018 (so far)

This morning, I realized that my last blog post covered Annika's birthday. Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind since then and I'll do my best to recap our patiently awaiting readers. (Well, I'm assuming your patient, considering no one has submitted any complaints ... and I think you for that!)

The weekend after Annika's birthday, the Olson Four piled into the car and headed down to Portland, OR for a family wedding. My cousin Terri's daughter (Kirstee) got married at a gorgeous location about 45-minutes outside of Portland. One of my other cousins (Tammy) invited us to crash at her house with a few other family members, so it turned into quite a family reunion/slumber party. I'm pretty sure there were seven kiddos who slept in the basement while their respective adults found beds upstairs. Talk about a full house! We drove down to Portland the day of the wedding and found ourselves in the middle of a decent bout of hot weather. We unloaded the car, said a quick hello to everyone in the house, changed into our fancy-schmancy clothes, and headed out to the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony at a gorgeous vineyard.

The wedding itself was fun and personable. It was great to catch up with so many of our extended family members and reconnect with some we haven't seen in a few years.


Annika and Eric 

Conor and Annika at the "post ceremony, fingers foods" portion of the reception

"OK, now walk away from me and hold hands and avoid the bees!" 
Kirstee's grandmothers were the two flower girls.
This is my Aunt Marie in her glower girl attire. How cute is this????


Hoehn Bend Farm
If you heard a few random shrieks of delight near the end of August, that was probably me expressing my excitement about returning to the farm we visited last summer. Yes, I really was THAT excited about being surrounded by the farm's critter and enjoying the open space that I could barely contain myself. Last year before we visited the farm, I was excited. This year, I was a combination of excitement and contentment. Knowing what to expect and the calmness I feel at the farm made the anticipation of this year's trip even that much better. As soon as we arrived, I could feel my heart rate slow and my smile get bigger. Farmer Terry was there to greet us, as were Maggie and Sadie, the farmers' dogs. Eric barely parked the car before the kids were high-tailing it to reacquainting themselves with the goats, pig, chickens, and miniature donkeys. They knew right where to go, where things were, and what to do.

Because we were repeat visitors, we already had a good idea of the farm's tasks and how to complete them. I quickly found myself in the barn (pitchfork in hand) feeding the cows and transporting the chickens from the barn to the chicken run. The kids were johnny-on-the-spot any time an egg was ready to be collected or chickens needed to be fed.

When we visited the farm last summer, we were on calf patrol, but sadly we were a few weeks too early and missed out on the babies. This year, there were LOTS of calves there for us to enjoy... 13 to be exact! Three more calves were expected to drop, so each morning and evening, we would wander out into the cow pasture and count the calves and lay eyes on the three remaining expectant mamas.

The kids loved jumping on the marshmallows of hay in the barn, and considering the wet weather we had, it was a great indoor activity that helped them burn off some energy! The outdoor marshmallows proved to be great climbing structures, too.... although a bit more worrisome for me because they were wet and more likely to cause a fall (which they didn't).

A few more farm photos from our weekend on the farm.....

Conor playing frisbee with me

Heading out to visit (and count) the cows with Farmer Terry

Putting the kids to work

Feeding the cows is hard work!

Conor and Farmer Terry taking hay to the donkeys

A little R&R on the farm

Game night at the farm

Uncle Dave joined us for our 2nd night on the farm

Eric communing with one of the cows ... MOO!

First Day of School
On September 4th, the kids said goodbye to summer break and hello to school. Annika started 5th grade (Ms. Adler's class) and Conor started 3rd grade (Ms. Fairbanks' class).

Fall = Soccer Season
Both of our kids signed up to play on their class soccer teams. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I have a true love/hate relationship with soccer season. I love the exercise and the team atmosphere for the kids. What I am less keen on is the pressure on our schedule and all of the driving to/from soccer fields.

Annika was her teams' goalie again this year and LOVED it. She is one tough cookie and took more than one ball in the gut to save a goal. She thrives in the goal. Over the summer, her coach helped her fine-tune some skills knowing that Annika would be in the goal the majority of the season.

Conor was on a team that was comprised of boys from three different schools. His team had rotating positions, but he did get to  play goalie during one or two games this season. He says that he likes to play goalie, but REALLY likes to be a forward because there's more running involved with that position.

Annika had practices (at two different fields) Monday and Wednesday evenings. Conor had practices on Wednesday evenings ... at an overlapping time as Annika's practice and at a completely different field (of course). Both kids also had games on Saturdays... never at the same place! So, Eric and I put on our "tag team soccer parents" hats and took turns taking each kiddo to his/her soccer game. It worked out well, but (in all honesty) it will be nice to have a bit more breathing room in terms of our schedule for a bit. (Annika will play volleyball this winter, so I may be back to driving all over before I know it!)

*I don't have any of Conor's soccer photos on my phone, but will post some from my real camera soon!!

Time for Tears
The definite low point for our fall was the passing of our sweet Buca. We've known for a few years that he'd been experiencing neurological decay (as the vet put it) that impacted his hind legs ... and that was in addition to his ACL issues. On September 22, Buca tried to stand up, yelped, and simply couldn't use his hind legs. We knew it was time to let him go. It was a terrible choice to make, but we knew anything different would have been selfish on our part. Each of us had a chance to say goodbye. There have been plenty of tears since that day, but we are slowly finding a new normal. My eyes still dart over to where his water bowl was to see if it needs to be refilled. The funny thing is we hear sounds in the house that we attributed to him .... and now are realizing maybe they weren't him... or maybe it was and this is his way of saying "hi" from Dog Heaven.

Buca Olson
March 14, 2005- September 22, 2018

Bite of Broadview
Just like every other year, we have participated in BOB, but as planners and as participants. This year, however, was a bit different because I also took on the job of Espresso Cart chair. There was a STEEEEEEEP learning curve and plenty of "what have I gotten myself into??" moments leading up to the 3-day event, but it all turned out great. The weather cooperated, the kids had a great time, and I survived being in charge of the espresso cart (barely). The kids rode rides to their hearts content, we got henna tattoos, and enjoyed the various musical performers. All-in-all, a winner of a weekend!

Conor's Pokemon henna

My orca henna

Annika's flower henna
Annika and Conor on the ferris wheel
Hello from the fun house

Of course we stopped for ice cream along the way!


New couch
We (finally) upgraded the old couch Eric and I got sometime around circa 2002. It had been destroyed by time, kids, and good ol' Smudge. We picked out the new couch last spring, but waited until late summer so we could take advantage of the store's annual upholstery/furniture sale. I love, love, love our new couch! It is super comfy and looks great in the TV room. (Like my "FAMILY" photo collage on the wall? Yeah, me too!)

Annika the Lab Rat
If you have your kids at UWMC, they ask if you'd be interested in signing up for periodic research studies that UW does. Of course, we did! Over the years, the kids have been called on to participate in studies, but usually associated with the softer science: behavioral, emotional, empathy, etc. This time, Annika was selected to participate in a study that the Brain Research Institute is conducting. It was a 3-session commitment and it was beyond cool! During one of the sessions, they recorded her brain waves while she performed tasks on a computer. During the final session, they did 75 minutes of MRI scans on her (while she watched the Lego movie).

Annika's neuropathways

Annika's beautiful, bumpy brain

Whidbey Visit
The kids didn't have school one day in October due to a teacher in-service day, so we opted to hop on the ferry and visit Eric's parents for part of the day... and I am so glad we did!! In all honesty, it was probably the perfect way for us to spend the day. The only thing that would have made it more perfect was if Eric has been able to join us. We did Halloween crafts, played games, spent time outside with the dogs (a much-needed thing!), and caught up with Eric's parents.

Heading to Whidbey

Conor being goofy on the ferry

Annika modeling Bestemor's old dress-up wig and glasses

Annika and her yarn spider

Lots of yarn spiders

Our silly boy!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Annika is a Whopping 11

Well, today Annika is celebrating her first-ever palindrome birthday. YUP! As of 1:55 this morning, we there was an 11-year-old living under our roof.

While Annika soundly slept, Conor decided that he wanted to make her breakfast in bed. Fortunately, I was able to head him off at the pass and convince him that he should eat the bowl of Fruit Loops that he poured for her and after she had more time to sleep, we'd make her breakfast in bed. Reluctantly, he agreed. We got to work making waffles, knowing Annika would think a Belgium Waffle would be a fun treat. Once I saw Annika stagger out of her room (waking up fast isn't her approach to mornings), I told her that Conor had a surprise and she could wait in her bed. We quickly assembled a waffle (including whipped cream, sprinkles, and a candle), and delivered it to her while singing "Happy Birthday". She was in Heaven! :)

After a fairly low-key morning, it was time to head out for the kids' tennis lessons at Klahaya, where the instructors and other students all shouted "Happy Birthday!!!!" to her at the top of their lungs. Again, the girl probably couldn't have been happier if she tried.

Right after their tennis lesson, we headed north to have their bikes adjusted by the folks we bought them from. Conor's gears weren't shifting correctly and Annika's front wheel and handlebars weren't in proper alignment. While we waited for the bikes to get adjusted, the kids and I went to a nearby MOD Pizza for a very yummy (and filling!) lunch. As a special birthday treat, the kids even got to have orange Fanta... yeah, living the wild life!!

We ate our fill and returned to the bike shop, only to find out the bikes hadn't even been looked at yet. (Grr!) We'll head back on Wednesday, in order to give them PLENTY of time to look at the bikes.

The rest of the day was filled with dinner prep (chicken alfredo, per the birthday girl's request), presents, and dessert (grasshopper pie, again, per the birthday girl).

One of the sweetest presents was Conor's present to Annika: a poem

Favorite TV Show: Liv and Maddie
Favorite thing about school: All of the nice teachers
Thing you do best: Art
Favorite color: Seafoam green
Favorite toy: Bunny 1
Future career goal: I don't know
Favorite toys to take to bed at night: Bunny 1 and story bunny
Favorite book: Cleopatra in Space
Favorite song: A Million Dreams (Greatest Showman soundtrack)
Favorite cereal: Frosted Flakes
Favorite movie: Smurfs Lost Village
Favorite season of the year: Spring-ish Summer
Favorite food: Chicken Alfredo
Favorite animal: All
Favorite ice cream flavor: Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl
Favorite sport: Soccer
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Dream vacation spot: Disneyworld
If you had $1000 to spend: 1/2 would go to charity, 1/2 to owning a kitten
If you had a wish: World peace
What do you like to do with your friends: Hang out
What do you want to do before your next birthday: Get my ears pierced (note from Mom: not gonna happen)
Favorite thing done as a 10-year-old: We went to Disneyland