Thursday, January 30, 2014

Maggie turned 3

How do I have an almost five year old and a three year old? It's crazy to think that 3 years ago we huddled in hospital rooms awaiting any news of our newborn and her health. And this day 3 years later, a living, vibrant bundle of energy ran around at her birthday party and enjoyed every moment. Maggie lives life to the fullest and is a constant reminder to me of the gift of life God gave us.

The doctors were uncertain of what her future would hold and even with her remarkable recovery, had a few cautions of we just don't know what to expect.

Well, if you meet Maggie or hang out with her, you would see she experiences it all and all in full force. She has the most creative imagination and stories that sound like they really happened but all made up. Everything happened yesterday, real or not. She has rebuttals and excuses and expressions that just make you want to laugh but that often times just encourages the sometimes inappropriate behaviors. Time outs are fun. Quiet time in her room is not punishment. And having things taken away don't seem to phase her.

She loves passionately. Gets hurt dramatically. Expressing anything with deep emotions. And loves our dog Lucy more than life itself.

Maggie loves people. She loves babies. She loves homemade mac and cheese. She struggles with new flavors and has a pretty remarkable gag reflect. She is super tactile and loves to be a full contact  sport eater. Spoons and forks are just a mere suggestion. She loves to play dress up and wear tutus whenever possible. She also loves to wash her hands and do anything she can reach or get to on her own. She can fully dress and undress herself and we often see a different outfit every 5 minutes. She now wants to read you the book versus you reading. And the list could go on. 

We love you, Magnolia Raine! Your fervor in life inspires me to live to the fullest.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It was a year full of adventure, fun, growing, pain and challenges. We started off last year with a entire DeBacker family vacation to Disneyland and had an amazing week in the glorious sunshine. We also enjoyed Huntington Beach for a morning and look forward to more time at the beach next time we go. The kids still talk about on occasion especially when they see pictures, of course. They each want their own giant lollipop when we go back again. Ah, Disneyland!

Upon our return we quickly organized a birthday party to celebrate Magnolia Raine and her second year of life. She loves all things dancing and pink and had fun celebrating with family and friends.

February was just like it always is, long, cold dreary days. I began a journey of side pain and began visiting doctors and getting tests done to see if anyone could help with my dull annoying pain.

March is our birthday celebrations and Spring Break Otter traditions with friends month. My nephew, Finn, turned 3 on the 19th and we celebrated with a fireman party pancake and a piƱata with lots of candy! My kids loving going to parties and experiencing all that excitement.

The last week of March is Speing Break and we head over to the beach with family and friends and experience life over there with swimming, beach playing, movies, and dinners together. It is truly a time of relaxation. This last year it was on Easter weekend so we had a huge Easter egg hunt for the kids. The weather was amazing and each night brought a remarkable sunset and a true reminder of our God's greatness.

AJ's dad's birthday is during that week so we also celebrate him with good old fashioned pineapple upside down cake. We are thankful for him in many ways. He is Doopa to the grand kids and is usually game for anything they ask to play, even tea party with Maggie!

April sweeps in quickly and we begin celebrations for Porter. He turned 4 this year and had big plans for his birthday. It started off with dinner and fun at Chucky Cheese. He loves games and rides and winning tickets toward prizes. The kids both had fun. Then we did a celebration at school with cupcakes and treat bags for all his classmates. And finally the actual birthday party. It was a Toy Story theme with lots of friends and sugar everywhere. We are so grateful to all who celebrated with us. Porter was excited to be four and is always ready for another adventure or surprise and will kick a soccer ball with you for hours.

May brought amazing weather and the end of Porter's first year if preschool. Teacher Tania was amazing and I wished he could have her every year. She was just the perfect first teacher as new things like school and assemblies were hard for tender hearted Porter. He thrived and was a completely different kid by the end of the year but still just as tender and loving. They had a graduation celebration and seeing him in a tiny graduation outfit made me smile but also realize, it truly does go too fast.

So this brought on summer vacation and we had a list of things we wanted to accomplish this summer. AJ was still in school but we didn't waste time. We started crossing things off the list. Gilbert House, the park, OMSI, the zoo...

June brought continued sunshine and AJ's birthday. He loves a good taco feed and fruit pizza for dessert and his mom has perfected both. We are blessed by AJ and all he does for our family. June also brings summer break for him from his job with the school district and we love that! He gets to be with the kids the days I work, his mom gets the summer off and we get lots more family time together. We had a trip to Otter Crest, camping weekend and other weekend outings planned and then the final hurrah of the summer would be a trip for just AJ and I to Canada for our 10th anniversary. We were excited.

Porter started the summer off by learning how to ride his bike. He was excited to have freedom in riding solo. Lots of rides up and down our street sidewalk. Maggie enjoyed her trike and crashing into the grass.

July we have been going to Otter Crest with the DeBacker Clan and enjoy celebrating together there. Lots of late mornings and breakfast together and afternoon walks on the beach. And almost daily we visit the pool twice! The weather again was gorgeous and we didn't want to leave. We did lots of fireworks on the beach with the kids and some people went whale watching out of the rough seas. Lots of adventures together and it is always sad to go home. We have grown to love our times at Otter Crest. 

We also did our annual friends camping weekend at Old Miner's Meadow with rafting, swimming, fishing and lots of soccer and baseball. The kids love to go exploring on all the rocks and eat camp food and lots of junk food. Maggie and I shared a tent this year with our dog Lucy this year and had a queen size air mattress and slept wonderfully. AJ and Porter share the smaller tent and like to rough it like boys. The memories we have made in that place.

I know I am missing so many things we did but i do know our hearts were full as we experienced summer together. Trips to the BMX track by our house with bikes and park trips and finding new parks and taking our bikes and scooters to try other places. We watched Finding Nemo in the park with family and friends and watched AJ construct a greenhouse in our back yard. We played in our kiddie pool and had lots of water fights. We also went and swam at the Y. Porter also took swimming lessons at Willamette and enjoyed practicing whenever he could. We BBQ'd with friends and played in our backyard and lived summer to the fullest.

In August AJ goes to San Diego for a work conference and when he returned, my parents came to stay with us and then watched our kids for the weekend and then passed them to AJ's parents to watch for the week while AJ and I drove off on the trip of a lifetime. We headed out to Seattle, then Vancouver, BC and then Whistler. We had an amazing trip, ate amazing food and saw and did some pretty amazing things. We drove for hours, laughed lots, got sick, stayed up too late and slept in lots, watched lots of HGTV, laid by the pool, walked, hiked, rode bikes, zip lined, read books, got dressed up for dinners and ate slowly. It was bliss. We felt blessed to have two sets of willing grandparents to watch our kids and take care if our house. My mother in law even redid our bathroom while we were gone! What a surprise to come home too! 

Our kids lived it up while we were gone as well. The carousel, lollipops, lunch in bed, ice cream and lots of play time. We all were reunited and that evening had a fabulous BBQ in the park with lots of friends. We were under prepared as it's hard to fall right back into reality from vacation mode. I mean that same morning we had ice cream for breakfast! We had fun at the park and our kids survived despite us not knowing where they were all the time. We kept forgetting to watch them. It just takes some adjustment. We were all glad to be home and sleep in our own beds. We tried to slow down time as summer was nearing a close but we couldn't.

AJ went back to work and life shifted again. Back to schedules and routines and time with Nammie. We didn't want to let go of summer but we had too. 

September brought the beginning of school to AJ and then Porter. We put him back in with Teacher Tania three days a week as we weren't sure we wanted, I wanted, him in school five days a week. He did beautifully but we slowly realized the class feel was so different than last year. He was the older in the class and we just weren't sure what to do. He continued on and was doing fine but I just felt he wasn't being challenged. I talked with his teacher and he said he was doing fine but agreed that the feel of the class was much different than last year. When you are 3 and starting preschool lots of your time there is spent learning socially appropriate behaviors. We keep our hand to ourselves. We listen to the teacher...and Porter had done all that the year prior.

So October comes along and I go with him on his school pumpkin patch field trip. It is pretty obvious to me, he is way past the things they are learning in the younger class. And this was pretty much then again confirmed when the principal wanted to meet with me and it was decided we would move him to the older class starting in November for 3 days a week to transition him and then in December we would send him all 5 days. It was hard for both of us. But we handled it together and now 2 months later, Porter wishes he went to school all day.

The structure of the classroom is quite different and the teaching style is very different from last year. But Porter is doing well and embracing all of it so well and surprises me all the time with new Spanish words. It is crazy. He loves his classmates and has made some very dear friends. 

October also brought indoor 3-4 year old soccer for Porter and a trip to Otter Crest with friends and Halloween. We love Otter Crest and the weather was amazing in October. We swam and played on the beach and playground and soaked in being with friends. We were sad to go home but so thankful for a break and time away.

Then each Saturday for 4 weeks, Porter would put in his purple soccer t-shirt and go play a game with his team that he and his cousin, Finn were in and it was so gun to watch and see him run and play his legs and heart out.

Then came Halloween and our kids fully understand and grasp the trick or treating concept and couldn't wait to get candy from people! Porter was Captain America and Maggie was an OSU cheerleader and we first handed out candy and then it was there turn to do some door knocking. And the most fun was bringing their buckets back and doing the pile in the floor dump and seeing all that they got. Oh to be a kid again!

November came and I was able to enjoy an overnight trip to the beach with my sister and catch up with her and relax and unwind with a bowl of ice cream and no kids with us. It was a joint birthday celebration and so nice of our husbands to give us that night. We had a really relaxing time. I cut her hair and let her cut mine. I touched it up afterwards but it was a free haircut that I had been needing. We took a long walk the next morning on the beach and our time driving home with a wonderful extended lunch. It was refreshing.

Soon it was Thanksgiving as we headed to Trout Lake to be with family and enjoyed time with many. Maggie especially loves babies and thinks the world of them. Anyone younger than her is a baby. So it was fun to see Esther and play with her. We enjoyed the outdoors, played games, did a puzzle together and basked in the beauty of Mt Hood and Mt Adams. We also visited an alpaca farm and got to see the endless possibilities of what can be done with their wool. It was a fun weekend.

Well, pretty much after Thanksgiving it is my birthday, then Christmas and New Yesrs and then Maggie's birthday. So December flew by for us and we had some great Christmas parties, lots of good memories and a wonderful Christmas.

We went and got our tree at a local farm in the freeeeeezing cold and found a goegeous tree for $10. We decorated it, put lights on our house and embraced Advent with a story each night leading up to our Savior's birth. The kids even got in to it this year.

Christmas break is as a wonderful break and time with Daddy and no school. I was able to take off the whole week of Christmas so I took the kids with Jana and her kids and Nammie to see Frozen. Then AJ went woodcutting a with JJ in preparation of using our woodstove for the first time in our house that we have loved in for 4 years! Such a time of rest and relaxation and getting to be together as a family without an agenda. It was our stay-cation!

Christmas Eve brought a puking Maggie at 4am and an early morning of opening presents as no one could sleep due to all the anticipation of presents and what Santa brought and puke. But it was fun to watch the kids and their excitement and then to nap all afternoon!

As I look over our year and reminence, I am reminded of all the memories and the fun things we have done. I am reminded how faithful God has been in our lives and how much we take for granted and how tremendously blessed our lives are. I am looking forward to a new year and all that it holds. The joys and triumphs and the hardship and the pain. 

I know I missed things but it will be fun to read this years later and see all we did. Happy belated New Year, everyone!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween 2013

We have started a tradition of dinner at Al and Lori's on Halloween with JJ and Jana and kids and then JJ's dad and stepmom. We eat, let the kids pass out candy at the door and then go do some trick or treating of our own.

This year Porter was Captain America and Maggie was a Beaver cheerleader. They had a lot of fun and loved seeing their buckets fill up with candy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mommy heart strings

So I feel like I am a fairly flexible person. Change never really intimidated me. I'm okay with most things and try to roll with the punches.

We have made two changes recently in our family and they somehow both seemed pretty significant and happened around the same time. My mommy heart is still working on adjusting.

First change: AJ and I have been making strides in communicating and attacking our finances and debt. Ever since we had kids and my full time income switched to part time, we have struggled. Not in the not enough money sense but more in the controlling our spending and then finding we don't have enough money.

So after we had our first child I switched from full time to 3 days a week. Well about nine months ago I felt the pull to cut back and I did back to 2 days. We had an amazing summer as a family and lots of outings with Jana and her kids. And then school started up again and we had some changes again with extra income and bills and we decided it would be best to add that third day back.

I love where I work. I love my boss and I love my schedule and knowing when I go home, I take nothing from work with me. And the kids are happy with their Nammie and don't miss me! Haha! So I can't complain but my mommy heart misses my kids on Tuesday so this change threw me for a little loop.

Second change: the preschool that Porter is in is a dual language program and fairly new. So last year he went 3 days a week and had an AMAZING teacher. I just couldn't fathom him being gone from home more than 3 days a week and decided to keep him with the same teacher we loved and be in the same class again.

Well, after a month and various things we decided to move him to the five day a week class. It is the right thing to do and when he goes to Kindergarten next year, he will be all day, so this is a good next step and transition.

So this morning, I go and take him, meet his new teacher, help him hang up his jacket and find a buddy to sit by and I got a lump in my throat and watery eyes and I am glad the teacher didn't ask me any questions!!

Porter was all smiles and happy to be with his friends from last year and his three other classmates moved over from his 3 day a week class with him, so it will be good. But my mommy heart strings were pulled and I walked out and went to work with lots of deep breaths.

Change. It's not always bad, but it still doesn't make it emotionally easy. I'll get there. Just need a little time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where have I been?

I feel like my absence from blogging needed an explanation. Probably doesn't but here is the short of it. The last I blogged was November a year ago. The holiday season is always busy and then January we went to Disneyland. Upon returning home from vacation, I started having a side stomach pain. 4 doctors later, multiple tests and diets and trying this or that and still no answers. It is unexplained.

So I have been a bit preoccupied and have traveled quite the road of pain and testing and fear and worries and doubts and depression since January. All my tests keep coming back that they can't find anything and all signs point to I'm healthy with a pain. Which apparently is pretty normal to those who have had chronic pain. So I'm dealing and still praying for healing but that's a nutshell of my journey since January. Chronic pain while still working, raising a 2 and 4 year old and just keeping up with life in general and blogging take a wayside place. But I'm back for now. Who knows how long. ;)

Some days...

You just need a soft, warm fleece and the world seems alright.

Every fall when we switch to Daylight Savings time, I realize just how cold it is. Less sunlight and usually rain and I just want to snuggle deep in my bed.

Well, I have a fleece that I pull out and wear in times like this and it warms me right up. For many reasons.

January 2011 Maggie was born and rushed to the NICU. I was transferred to her hospital as well but checked out after two days and she still was looking at a week plus stay. So each night we had to say goodnight and go sleep and be away from her. How I ever did this, I'm not sure. I only slept because of sheer exhaustion.

One of the many things my mother in law did for me this week was ask if I needed anything from home, clothes, make up, whatever. As I looked down at my post partum body and was bummed to still look pregnant and none of the clothes I packed seemed adequate to boost my mood, I asked for a new pink sweatshirt. Somehow the color pink made me feel connected to my baby girl in the NICU.

The next day Lori arrived with two pink clothing items: a pink hoodie and a pink fleece. It was a gift from heaven. In my mind, I was overwhelmed by Maggie's health and future, our van had broken down and I could only imagine the doctor and hospital bills so new clothes weren't something I knew I could rightfully spend money on. So the two pink items were a blessing. I wore them everyday and felt like a brand new person.
I still have both items today and when I wear them, I marvel at where God has brought Maggie and us. His promises are sure and never failing. His love knows no depth or boundaries. His arms never tire of holding us. He has got our back. 

So when I'm feeling cold, down or just need a good reminder, I pull out my pink fleece and the world seems right for a bit.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm back

It's November which is blogging month. I'm back and I have been thinking about blogging again. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. Well, here I go with trying to make a habit.

I think I'll post just most pictures and maybe a few stories.

Porter played 3 & 4 year old indoor soccer this fall with his cousin Finn on the same team. Porter loved it and was ready to play anytime his coach called him in. It was fun to watch.