Things I Love About Henry (4 Years Old)

Hello, dear and long-neglected blog.

It’s been a while, huh? I think this is the one that stumped me, this note to Henry for his fourth year. And not because I have nothing to say. It’s just that Henry, at this age, is so much more than I can put into words. Daily he astounds me with cleverness, his tenderness, his reasoning beyond his years, his kindness, his eagerness, his adventurous spirit, just… everything. He catches me by surprise at almost every turn, and makes me laugh and ponder and delight so often.

He’s so witty and thoughtful. Deeply thoughtful. His questions make me look at the world in a whole new way. They remind me to be filled more with curiosity and wonder and less with reasonable explanations. He has a big heart that wants to care for others. And he always loves the best things about other people. He is patient and optimistic and determined.

Let me give you some examples of the wonder that is Henry.

We went to Disneyland and at the end of our time there he used the money he had earned to buy a special toy. His chose to get a remote-control Cruz he had seen in California Adventure. Well, CA was closed and there was only one place in Disneyland we could get it. He and I ran all over the park trying to find it, being misdirected by staff who didn’t quite know where it was and trying to race against time and return to Main Street before the fireworks started. I was a bit panicked, but he ran eagerly “quick as lightning” without complaining and when we finally found the last two remote-control Cruzes in all of Disneyland, he felt very lucky indeed. And then, when he brought it home, after all of that, Archer saw it and immediately wanted it. And Henry let him have it. Because he’s just that sweet of a big brother. He waited patiently for Archer to get bored so he could snatch it back up.

I mean, he’s not perfect all of the time, but when it comes to Archer, he is kind and giving and generous beyond what I think 4-year-olds are normally capable of. And I so appreciate that about him.

More things to love about Henry at this age:

  1. He loves school. I was hoping he would be sad to leave me, but he isn’t at all. He just runs right into his classroom, so eager for the day to start. I think it comes from wanting to be so much like his big sisters. Being just like them is so important to him that he even assigned himself homework to do while they work on theirs. Every night he has himself draw a circle, a square and a triangle and then count how many sides each one has. Afterwards he shows me his homework with such pride and matter-of-factness, because it’s homework after all, and you have to do your homework.
  2. And all he wants to do is play with the girls when they get home. They are not always the nicest to him in this regard, and so I’ll hear him sobbing from the next room, begging to be included, “I’ll be anything you want me to be!” The three of them generally play so nicely together, but it is mostly thanks to Henry doing whatever they want him to just to be included.
  3. He is so down to adventure at any time. Before school started I took him on a last little date of his choice. We went to Powell’s for a book and then we got some lunch. I was suggesting nearby restaurants he might like and he said, “I just want to try anything that is new.” So we had a kimchi burger.
  4. He is so good to his brother in so many ways. It all started when Archer was just 2 months old and started sleeping in his room with him. In the middle of the night when Archer woke up for a feeding, Steve would bring him to me to eat and a few minutes later Henry would burst into the room, slightly panicked, “Do you guys have Archer?” When we assured him we did, he just sleepily climbed into bed with all of us until Archer was done and they both went back to their room. They can’t stand to sleep apart. And now that they’re older, they stay up until all hours of the night signing or laughing at each other. I don’t even know what they could be laughing at, but it’s pretty cute.
  5. Oh and how could I forget how his love for Archer leads to an over concern for his well-being. His candle wish for his fourth birthday was for “Archer to feel better”, even though Archer was perfectly fine. And it was a constant prayer request of his, that Archer not be sick anymore. (Archer hasn’t really been very sick.)
  6. He loves to help in the kitchen. He likes to roll and cut and bake. I’ve started spacing the kids out so that only one helps with dinner or kitchen prep each day of the week, and it works so well because then we get that special time to catch up and work on new skills as well. He is one of my favorite kitchen helpers. He peels carrots down to nubs and opens all the cans and measures the quinoa. He can cut celery and he’s great at stirring. But his special skills are taste-testing and sneaking extra chocolate chips and licking spatulas.
  7. Oh and how could I forget about his thoughts on miracles. At the lake house this summer my grandmother found that the exact number of hot dogs and buns was remaining. She remarked that it was a miracle like one we’d never seen before! We giggled about “the miracle” and how we it will never happen again in our lifetimes. Well, months pass, and one day as we’re driving home from school Henry pipes up from the back seat, “I wish I had seen the miracle.” “What miracle?” “The miracle of the hot dog buns. You know, before that I didn’t think that miracles were a real thing.” And so it goes, that every so often Henry will be sitting at breakfast and start talking about “the miracle” again. “Do you think grandma remembers the miracle?” “Do you think the miracle will ever happen again?” He’s on the constant look out for other miracles now.
  8. He always has these obsessions which are the best. Currently he loves space and rockets. So he is always asking questions about that. He told me that the Earth is one of his favorite planets! But also Pluto because it is blue. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.)
    But after pondering space for several months, he declared, “I don’t think I’m going to be an astronaut anymore because I like going outside. And when you’re an astronaut you only get a teeeeeeny, tiiiiiiiiiiiny, little bit of air, so you can’t go outside very much.” And then a few days later he asked me about black holes and afterward exclaimed, “See! That’s why I can’t be an astronaut! What if I didn’t see a black hole because it was just blending into the darkness and I got too close to it and got sucked into it?!” So he still loves space, but he’ll just let it stay right where it is, thank you very much.

  9. He has a very tender heart, that I feel like I have accidentally broken a time or two. Because he just wants so badly to make you happy and for you to think he’s done a good job. He’s a bit of a perfectionist as well, so when I’ve unfairly scolded him or thought he should know something he didn’t, it’s very hard for him. I have to remember to hold his little soul ever so gently, not because he’ll break, but because he is trying so hard and I don’t want to overlook that. It can be hard for me to let go of my expectations of what the kids can be capable of, but he reminds me to just take it all in stride, to remember that they’re still little and still learning and that’s exactly as it should be.
  10. He has the best laugh in the history of laughs. I don’t know what it is that makes it so perfect. But it is an infectious one. And he loves to talk in silly voices and make funny faces. He can lighten any mood by talking in a funny accent about nonsense.
  11. He loves his aunties, especially Mallory and Georgia. He has always had a special connection with Mallory and he loves to have her sing him a million bedtime songs and play with her rings. And since Georgia lived with us, he’s had his special place in her heart, too. They especially like to chat while she’s getting ready for the day. And snuggle after school. And listen to music.
  12. He is always planning for his future careers. It started out as “Someday, I’m going to be the best pony.” And then he was going to be an “Outer Space Man,” which would be his career before being a farmer and then a mom. Me: “Why do you want to be a mom?” Henry: “So I can drink coffee with daddy.” (Although once when I asked him this question he said it was because he wanted to take care of everyone, and that pretty much made my heart explode.) But now, he’s always talking about when he walks on the sky. He’s going to be a super hero called the Iron Spider, who is part Spiderman part Iron Man.  He’ll be able to fly across the ocean and sling webs. I sometimes get confused thinking that he is just pretending because he will talk about flying and I’ll ask, “Are you going to go flying now?” “No, silly! I can’t fly yet! I have to wait until I’m a-dult.”
  13. He is so generous with his love. He often pauses throughout the day to say, “Mama! I have something to tell you! I love you.”
  14. He’s always making keen observations. “Mama, heads help eyes stay on your body.” (Thank goodness, because eyeballs everywhere would be gross.) And, whispering, “Daddy, we have drumming music in our hearts.”
  15. He has such a special connection with Olivia. She is the perfect bridge between Ellie and Henry. She told me once, “I said Henry had a cute voice and he said that I have a beautiful voice. And that’s why I want to marry him.” Those two are thick as thieves and will certainly be up to plenty of shenanigans in the days ahead.
  16. He loves to tell jokes. The other day, Henry was the only one who knew that his grandparents were coming and bringing something special for dinner. So he told Ellie, “We’re gonna have some oxygen for dinner. All we’re gonna do is go outside and catch some air into our mouths.”
  17. He seeks out people with gentle souls and kind hearts, older kids who pay special attention to children and really listen when they talk. For months he told us his best friend was Andi, a fourth-grade girl at school who said “Hi” to him everyday at school pick up. Andi really is a lovely girl who is takes an interest in Henry and other kids who are younger than her. I find this to be kind of a rare attribute of 4th graders, and appreciate that she spends her time making him feel special. And Henry loves her and picks her flowers on the side of the road and waits until he sees her every day to give them to her.
  18. He is fearless. He will try anything. Well, except putting his face in the water. But other than that, he will try just about anything. And he always takes new experiences in stride. If you ask him about them immediately after they’ve happened he’ll say they were “good.” Everything is “good” at first. Then, after a while, he will start to tell how excited he was or how cool he thought this or that was. It takes him a little bit to come up with his words, but then he loves reliving his adventures for whoever will listen.

There are hundreds of other stories I could tell, but the truth is that I have such a hard time putting him into words. He’s something special, that kid. And I feel so privileged to be a witness to it. I sometimes think that as far as I go and as much as I do, nothing will compare to mornings spent making chocolate chip cookies with Henry Bear or taking walks through the forest and stopping to see every snail and pretty leaf and colorful rock.

We bonded through the most difficult year of my life. It was hard and miserable and I was weak and broken. But, this little being came into that darkness. At first he wasn’t a great help, he was a crabby baby and I was short on patience, but somehow, we both made it through that first year and ever since, he has been a source of joy and light for me. His tender heart is full of such compassion and wonder. He never ceases to amaze me. And if I could somehow keep him this age forever, I totally would.

Things I Love About Henry (2YO)

Yeah… we just did one of these. But it was just his second birthday and Henry’s so great that I have more things to love about him.

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1. He is very meticulous. He asks to color all day every day and then he sits very still and moves very carefully to make Os and Hs and other letters, or letter-like drawings that he always says are Es. It reminds me of Henry’s namesake, his uncle Chad (Charles Campbell), who used to sit and patiently draw each individual stone of a castle. That same kind of patience and attention to detail is already apparent in Henry, and I really, really hope it sticks around.

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2. He’s meticulous and particular about his clothes, which is hilarious. I can’t just dress him in anything anymore. He has strong opinions about what his vestments for the day are. His favorites are boots, of course, and his pilot’s jacket. And other jackets with hoods. And sometimes hats. When I dressed him for this little photo op he got pretty excited about his bowtie.

3. This meticulousness is apparent in his speaking, too. Oh he definitely babbles on like a baby, but when he knows he can’t say something, he refuses. Take the girls for instance. He knows their names are Ellie and Olivia, but those are hard to say with all those Ls. So he usually calls them “girl-girl”. Both of them. Ellie is Girl-Girl. Olivia is Girl-Girl. Only when he is too frustrated to remember that he can’t fully pronounce their names does he say something close to “Ellie.”

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4. He has really started to echo his sisters lately. He wants to be a part of everything they are a part of. But he still has his own thoughts. And as his language develops, we get to see more and more his personality. He’s all boy, but he’s also so calm and steady. Don’t get me wrong, he can whine like the best of them. But he has this kind of temperance. When things are crazy all around him, he is a fortitude of peace. This “eye of a storm” presence. 

5. He does this little run that is so funny. He is sort of bouncing from side to side when he is very happily going about his day. It’s pretty hilarious because he will sometimes bump into walls or people and get knocked over. And then he just hops up and continues on his merry little way, bobbing from side to side as he goes.

6. He thinks his belly his hilarious. I don’t know why. If you even mention his belly he cracks up. I guess it is pretty funny. henry-8264

7. He was a little bit late to the talking game, but now that he’s all-in, he is catching on like crazy. Everyday he surprises us by saying something we didn’t expect. “Don’t spill shirt, dada.” // And when he heard some kids playing in the park by our house, “Babies swinging!” // “I want (to) help!” // “See you later, dada.”

8. Every form of transportation is a “-car”. An airplane is a “plane-car,” a train is a “train-car” and, to avoid confusion, a car is a “car-car.” And he likes to lay around and play with these modes of transportation so quietly and lazily. 

9. He can really sing. He is often found humming the theme songs to our favorite movies, like “How To Train Your Dragon” or “Frozen”. And he loves to be silly and change the lyrics of songs like, “The Farmer in the Dell.” There seems to be a lot of singing that happens in this family, so I love it when his little voice chimes in so well. 

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10. He is very affectionate. He is always running up to the girls and squeezing them tight saying, “Hug and kiss!” The girls said this is their favorite thing about him.

11. He’s a little bit of a social introvert. He loves people and having friends over, but big groups of people are usually not his favorite. So for his birthday, instead of having a party, we celebrated by going to dinner at American Dream Pizza, which is the pizza Steve and I had delivered to our hospital room the night of his birth. His Aunt Jaci and Auntie Mal were there, and so were Grandma and Papa Waters, so he had a great time, being the center of attention and getting to play with his new cars at the dinner table. And, per his request, we had some delicious cupcakes. (Which Jaci and I almost failed at by forgetting the sugar… yikes!)
We have a tradition in our family that on your birthday you get a treat for breakfast. (His was a chocolate chip cookie bar.) We light candles and sing and then the birthday kid gets to take the first bite and then share if they want to. Even though he is only two, he was expecting this tradition and sat very proudly, reveling in how much he is loved, while we sang to him. And he shared his first bite with his sister. 

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12. Remember how I told you Liv has established “Keep you forever” as a way to express love in our family? Well, shortly after that, Henry kept coming up to me and hugging my leg and leaning in to say, “A EPPPER, MAMA!” in a loud, sing-songy way. It took me a little while to realize that he is saying, “FOREVER, MAMA!” as in, “I’ll keep you forever.” I’ll keep you, too, Henry Bear. Forever and ever.

Basically, we think he’s a marvelous boy and we’re so glad he’s a part of our little family. 


Homemade Holiday Gifts

As much as possible, I really love to give handmade gifts. But I also really want to give practical gifts that people enjoy. People not liking the gifts I give them is one of my biggest fears in life. (So if I gave you something you hate, please just regift/donate/toss it without telling me. Or maybe tell me so I can do better next time? Idon’tknowanymore.)

Anyway, last Christmas Henry was the crankiest ever and so I just didn’t have much time or ability to put into thoughtful gifts, and it wasn’t very fun. I felt bad getting really creative, wonderful gifts and giving a gift card in return. Sad day. This year Henry was more cooperative and I finally felt that I had the time and creative energy to make a lot of the gifts we gave.

I discovered the wonder that is Creative Market, which enabled me to do most of these projects. I got all the elements from various artists there (see source list at bottom of post), and just got to design them in whatever way I wanted.  And it was really fun! I hope the recipients appreciated getting them at least half as much as I enjoyed making them!

Here’s a sample of a few things I made this year:

^^ I made these family crests for three couples and paired two of them with one or the other
 of the feather wreathed quotes. I got to see  the first two hung up in Stephanie Stucke’s
adorable New Hampshire apartment and it totally made my day!
 ^^ I made this initially for my friend Betsy’s birthday. Then I made a copy for my mom.
And one for me, because this is such a good reminder.
 ^^ I made this for my sister-in-law Emily’s birthday. This one is extra special because it
has the names of each family member printed in the feathers of the arrows.
I love it. Might need to print one of our family.
^^ This quote (or possibly collection of quotes?) by Theodore Roosevelt is displayed in the
foyer of the Museum of Natural History in New York City. I fell in love with it while we
were there and was so happy to make this print for my son’s room. It turned out so well that
I thought I’d give it to a few other boys I know.
^^ This one went to a friend who loves feathers and brings people a lot of hope. Love you, Jo!
^^Each print was framed up in various ways. I tried to frame them to match any existing decor
of the person/family to receive them.
Yay or nay these prints? I’m really loving all this natural/woodsy theme that seems to be popular right now.
If you’re interested in a personalized copy of any of these for yourself, contact me! I love to make these things!

Creative Market Design Sources:
Say Less Font // Just Be Cool Font // Watercolor Texture Pack // Watercolor Flower DIY Pack Vol. 2 // Watercolor Wedding Collection One and Two

On Candace’s 22nd Birthday


Hey shorty. It’s your birthday!
Last year around this time Georgia and I were making cupcakes for your 21st birthday. We had dinner at La Casa and couldn’t get a good picture because it’s so dark in there. I thought it was trivial at the time. (Funny the things we take for granted. The inconveniences we don’t pay much attention to.) I’m really glad I didn’t miss your 21st. I’m glad I came home to celebrate with you. And I really enjoyed when you came to Portland the next weekend. We had so much fun, and soul-baring, that night. I will always cherish those memories. 
Somedays I get kind of mad at you for leaving. Not because it’s your fault, but because I don’t know who else to be mad at. 
And now I can’t believe I have to live the rest of my life without you. That realization hurts so much, every moment of every day that I come to it. It seems so unfair that your absence will be felt at every special occasion, every family dinner.The shadow of our loss will cling in the air at every Christmas. My heart will break a little more every time I send a group text message and have to remind myself not to include your number. I will be at a loss for how to explain the story anytime someone innocently asks me how many brothers and sisters I have. 
The immediate time following your death was such a fog. A blur so thick with confusion and grief and misery that I can still feel it. It seems now that I have entered a new conscious understanding of how our lives have changed, of what is different. But I still reel in disbelief that I will never see you again. 
I think of the last time we really talked. I brought you a pita and we just chatted while the girls played on the trampoline at Mom’s house. It was so innocent. So perfectly reflective of the ease, the subtlety with which we handled ourselves as sisters. We took for granted that we would both always be there. Always moving in and out of deep connection, assuming there would always be time. Not even thinking there wouldn’t be another day to eat pitas by the trampoline. Never imagining the last time I saw you in Mom’s kitchen with your new hair cut would be the last time I would see you well. Never beginning to comprehend that the last conversation we had on HeyTell would be the last time we ever talked. 
I’ve never had anything in my life truly end. I’ve never lost something I could never, ever have back. Except you. And you are one of the worst things to lose. I just can’t wrap my mind around this. 
Did you know the ancient Babylonians were the first to come up with the idea of zero? A way to mark the absence of something? Before that, humans didn’t have a way of defining negation, lack of existence. How could they have? And how can we bear it, now that we have a way of marking it? Some days I feel like I’ve just stumbled upon the concept of zero. All the realms of understanding it opens up. A whole new life in the shadow of death. Everything is different now. 
But nothing about this new reality makes me wish I hadn’t known you. In fact, it makes me realize over and over again how grateful I am that we had you for 21 years. Helen Keller said, “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”  And it is so true. The love we shared is a part of me and will remain with me forever. I will never cease to be grateful for the light you carried with you. The smile even in trying circumstances. The compassion and kindness you always showed to those around you. 
I am touched to see the many lives you affected, the friendships you made, the way you have encouraged others, even in your death, to make their lives better. To strive for something worth having. You met many struggles with great resilience. You loved deeply even when you were hurt. And even now your life prompts us to seek the beauty in all things. 
Your birthday will always be so important to me. It’s the day you came into our lives and changed them forever. 
Happy Birthday, beautiful. I miss you.
Love you always and forever. 

Portland Saturday Market II

Last one with the pictures from our photo tour, promise.
But, I saved some of the best (in my opinion) for last, just for you. These are of the street performers. I’m envious of their talents. First, we have the silver balls guy. Great name, I know.

And then there’s the totally rad hula hoop girl.

So I may have fallen a bit short of the whole journalistic style’s rule of three shots, at least with the hula hoop girl… but I still like these ones.

Portland Saturday Market

Ok. I’ll be done soon. Just today and tomorrow of pictures from Saturday Market and then I’ll be back with recipes and other fun stuff. I’m just using these pictures to play catch up from our week away at the beach.

Which are your favorites? I am going to enter some in a Facebook contest to win another Photo Tour with Jennifer.

The Sculptor

I mentioned yesterday that I went on another Photo Tour with Jennifer Costello, my new idol. (Is it weird I have an idol that I’ve met? It’s probably a little weirder that we’re facebook friends, so there’s a very slim chance she may actually read this someday. Perhaps I should delete these last few sentences.)

Anyway, the Photo Tour was Fundamentals of Photojournalism at Portland Saturday Market.

Apparently, photojournalistic style is exhibited through three shots: Photojournalistic Portrait, Details, and Big Picture/Environment (I don’t know if these are the correct terms, but it’s how I remember them). So, we were on a hunt to get these three shots to tell a singular story at the market.

My environment pictures need some work. I have a hard time making big pictures look interesting and not random. So, that’s what I need to keep working on. But anyway. I liked this sculptor guy. He made these cool little garden gnomes that look like whoever you want. While we were photographing him, he was sculpting a couple who were sitting across the way. They were very nice to let us impose on their sculpting session.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more from our excursion. Until then, here’s a black and white shot I really like:

As you can probably tell, the detail shots are my favorite.

Cherry Blossoms Are My Favorite

There are few things in nature that I like better than pink trees. Maybe it is how much they contrast with the normally grey sky of Portland. Maybe it’s that they mark the beginning of spring and promise summer is on it’s way. Maybe it’s because they’ve always been a marked sign of my happy life. I fell in love with cherry blossoms the same time I fell in love with life. And they always symbol newness and bliss. The kind of bliss that makes you almost shudder to think of how blessed you are.
It’s on the same playing field as that deafening silence when freshly fallen snow absorbs and reflects all the light and noise and beauty around it. That snow that makes the sky all pink and pure. That clean white frost that covers up all the ugly that winter has left lying around. But I digress.
Back to cherry blossoms.

Do you love cherry blossoms as much as I do? Probably not. I love them kind of a lot.