Bits and Pieces Vol. 2

One of those weeks that was pretty ordinary, but ended up with us having some good stories.

Katherine’s godfather, James, was in town for a bit, so he came over to hang out before going to a soccer game with Ryan. Mark wanted to water the flowers (because he always does) and had a total Tom Sawyer moment when he decided he was done watering, but wanted James to finish up.


She really does like him, I promise!


Katherine fell asleep on me for awhile after fighting her afternoon nap, so I managed to get in some knitting time. Hooray!


We went to the Children’s Museum with some friends, including the fore-mentioned James and his sister Jean. Mark thinks James is the coolest, which worked out perfectly since I had to nurse Katherine pretty much as soon as we got there. Mark willingly held James’s hand and went with him inside while I fed Katherine.


As always, the water was a huge hit with Mark.


Oscar (and his mom) were kind enough to share their lunch because I thought it would be a good idea to keep lunch in the car (?). #momfail


They also have a new exhibit called the Bubble Bath Room. There were all of these huge clear balls that felt and acted like beach balls and huge rubber duckies. Most of the kids were having fun rolling the bigger balls; Mark just wanted to kick the littler ones everywhere.


We don’t practice playing soccer at home. Ever.

The new commuter train line opened, so we stood in the Disney-esque line to ride it. Mark thought it was a blast. Katherine was more excited to get out of the carrier for a little while.


Too much sun. Also, not enough strap for Katherine to chew on, apparently.

Toddler Time at the library. Katherine was, in turns, super confused by all of the kids and terrified of how all of them wanted to get all up in her grill.


On our way home from the library, we had to stop because there were TWO “back-hoe loaders” and ONE bulldozer and they were ALL putting dirt into a dump truck. I’m not kidding when I tell you that we sat there watching for fifteen minutes. It was amazing. To Mark.



Went grocery shopping (fun a mile a minute over here, I tell you) and Mark insisted on bringing the pretzels he was eating at home through the whole store (because he was SO HUNGRY, MAMA!) and then never eating them at all.


I know, Mark; that’s how I feel about it, too.

Bits and Pieces Vol. 1

I was thinking about blogging this week (that happens a lot, actually) and I realized that there are going to be some weeks where Awesome Stuff Happens — stuff like baptisms and new jobs. Then, there will be other weeks where Nothing Really Happens Except A Few Little Things. What to do with these weeks when there’s nothing red letter about them?

We’re going to call it Bits and Pieces. Slightly different from Seven Quick Takes in that there aren’t always seven things worth writing about. But, I want to document them, no matter how few or many there may be. Normally, I would publish this on a Monday (to include the weekend), but we had THREE days this weekend, so Tuesday it is.

And so, we go.

Mark decided to look like this when we went on our walk earlier in the week. He insisted the glasses went on his mouth and he carried the Bible like the “book at Church”. So, 1-1?


It rained the day we were going to go to the park, so we headed to the nearby mall and Mark got to ride and some of the coin-operated toys and it was a big deal. Grandma and Aunt Marissa treated him for sure. 🙂


But, before that, it was Force Friday (which is the stupidest name for a thing, ever). I had to go to Target anyway (La Croix was on sale!), so we checked out the Star Wars toys. Mark liked the foam lightsaber.


But, he was REALLY confused by the BB-8 whose head rotated when people walked by.


Katherine got to get in the Jump Up this weekend. After her initial “Wait, what?” look, she was really excited and bounced around and tried to run at us, which Mark thought was HYSTERICAL.


In case you were wondering what Mark looked like when he was that age, here you go:


They are not related. At all.

Four months!

Katherine turned four months about a week ago, and I can’t believe the time has gone as quickly as it has. Everyone talks about how the days are long but the weeks are short, and I completely agree!

With that, let’s talk about the youngest.


Katherine is a pretty smiley baby. She gives her smiles pretty easily (Mark made us work for them) and she loves to smile at Ryan and Mark the most. Mark loves getting all up in her face and where I think she would reach the point of “This guy needs to back up about five feet”, she just smile and encourages him.

She’s started laughing more this month and is especially ticklish on her belly and the side of her rubs. Blowing on her tummy almost always results in some bursts of giggles.


I’ve been blessed with her being a good sleeper and eater, even though she’s still only in the third percentile for height and weight (don’t worry, though! her head is in the 75th… she’s got my genes in their somewhere!).

She might be little, but she’s mighty. Katherine is usually pretty relaxed and good about “calling” for us and letting us know when she needs something. But, if we’ve pushed her past her limit. the girl gets HANGRY and will let us know it. Again, my genes in there somewhere. 🙂

The big, big news in Katherine’s world this week is that she rolled over from her tummy onto her back!


I didn’t get any pictures of the actual moment (some things you just need to experience with your kids without looking through the lens), but this is the face she made when she was working on rolling a few minutes before:


That mouth open? Yeah, there are several pictures of me with that face too. 🙂

Katherine enjoys playing with a few of her toys and enjoys snuggling with her stuffed giraffe and and chewing on her Sophie Giraffe.


This week, we also went to the Fan Appreciation Night for the Portland Timbers. Katherine got to experience the pitch firsthand. 🙂


Start ’em early. 🙂

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Recently, the county started doing some construction down the street from our house.

It’s pretty much Mark’s most favorite thing ever. He LOVES anything to do with construction right now. I think most kids go through phases and his is DEFINITELY construction right now.

We’ll occasionally go and watch the big machines and it’s the highlight of his week.


Since we drive by the work often, he’ll give me reports on what he sees:
“No back-hoe loader. Not moving. No guy in it.”
“Guy in it! Moving! Dump truck!”

Naturally, when we went to Powell’s a couple of weeks ago, I asked the very helpful clerk in the children’s section what book he would recommend and he pointed me in the direction of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker.


The story is pretty simple — all of the machines are going to sleep after a long day and each has its own bedtime routine.


Mark particularly likes this picture where the bulldozer has a blanket with it.


There’s lots of repetition, some good rhyme, and the pictures are really well-done and fun.


Overall, a total win of a book for Mark!

At least, it is when I can tear him away from the dirt in the backyard. 🙂


A new role for both of us

Ryan took a new job in the business world, and this week is his first. We’re all really excited for him, but I was a little nervous about being a mom-of-two home with the Littles all day long.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. But, Ryan’s been home for the last twelve weeks since a little after Katherine was born and it’s been great. I haven’t been the only one to change diapers, do dishes, and play Mark’s favorite game of “Let’s go play in my room!” And, to be fair, I’ve heard the horror stories of mothers saying that being a mom-of-two is harder than being a mom-of-five in a lot of ways.

Thus, I’ve braced myself this week with the necessities:
1) Lots of coffee in the morning (okay, okay, ONE cup because breastfeeding) and
2) Something out of the house every day.

So far this week for #2, we’ve trekked to the grocery store, lived it up at Costco, and headed to an awesome brunch put on by the Blessed is She ladies (well, Katherine and I went to the brunch… Mark got to hang out with my sister-in-law and have lots of fun).

Here’s how much fun we had at Costco:

Mark: “Bird on it! Tweet tweet!” (Also, please appreciate how he’s sitting next to some carbs with a side of carbs.)
Just so, so excited for life.

Tomorrow? I think we’re going to live dangerously and hit up Ikea or the library.

We know how to party.

This Is Not the Atticus You’re Looking For

Or, my thoughts on Go Set a Watchman.

Before we get into the book, a brief personal history: To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Between the number of times I’ve taught it and read it myself, I know the book really well. And I love it.

A brief history of how this book came to be: Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman and sent it to her editor. He said that he liked the childhood stories of Scout better than the adult stories and maybe she should write a book of just those stories. This book became Mockingbird and the manuscript for Watchman was shelved and eventually put into a safe deposit box.

Fast forward to 2015, and the manuscript was discovered and it was decided that Watchman would be published. There’s been some controversy over how all of this went down (some saying that it’s a money-grubbing move by Lee’s caretaker). Lee is nearly ninety years old and some question whether or not she really knew what she was doing when she gave her blessing for the book to be published.

All of that being said, I wanted to read this book because I was most curious about where Lee’s journey of writing Mockingbird began. If the two books are really so different (and they are), how does the one connect to the other? What are the similarities? Was Lee’s voice the same in Watchman?

After reading it, taking notes (hi, teacher), and really letting the whole experience sink in, I have the following thoughts:

1) It’s not a sequel. 

It seems like there were many people who were hoping that since the events of this novel take place after Mockingbird this book would pick up a few years later and we’d get to see what the old gang is up to now. This is not the case.

It’s integral to remember that Watchman was written first, but Mockingbird is ultimately the book Lee wanted everyone to read. This is going to be really important to remember for point three.

2) It’s rough. 

Let’s bear in mind that this is a manuscript. It went through almost no editing (the publisher has said that they did some basic copy editing, but that’s it) and Lee’s smooth voice is most clear in the stories of Scout as a child. There’s a chapter devoted to Scout (now called Jean Louise by nearly everyone) and Uncle Jack. It’s one of the more confusing, convoluted things I’ve ever read. It seems as though Lee is making a point through Uncle Jack but it takes her forever to get there and you’re still not quite sure you’ve gotten it when you get to the end of the chapter.

If you can keep in mind that it’s not meant to be a polished novel, but rather the raw manuscript that it is, you’ll be okay.

3) Atticus is very different, but also the same. 

SPOILER ALERT (unless you’ve read anything in the news about Watchman and then it’s not a spoiler at all):
I think one of the things that has upset people the most about this book is the way that Atticus is portrayed as a racist. I mean, people who have named their children after this character are all set to head down to the courthouse and change their child’s name.

Yes, in Watchman he is a racist. We come to find out the only reason that he defended Tom Robinson (Lee doesn’t mention his name, but she does reference the case) is because Atticus is so loyal to the law that he defended Tom the way he did because it was his job and duty to do so.

BUT, let’s keep in mind that this is where Lee started with Atticus, not where she finished. She wanted to world to see the Atticus that defended Tom Robinson because it was the right thing to do and who told Scout she needed to stand up for what’s right in the world. Even in Watchman, he’s encouraging Scout to stand up for what she believes in — even if that means standing up to Atticus himself.

4) Jean Louise is exactly who she should be. 

Scout is clearly upset by the crumbling of her view of her father. Her whole childhood (and her adulthood up to this point), she idolized Atticus and finding out of his racist views shakes her to her very core. The fact that she is so shaken and knows what he believes is wrong shows us she is, indeed, her father’s daughter in the best way possible.

5) It relates to us now. 

Many have commented on how the race relations of the 1950s can relate to the state of our country today. But, I think the bigger issue we can connect with is the way the idea of states’ rights is handled in the novel. Even Jean Louise comments on how she was upset when blacks were given the right to vote. Not because they don’t deserve it (as Atticus and many others in the South see it), but because the rights were taken away from the states to make the decision themselves.

In addition, Uncle Jack tries to convince Jean Louise to come home. When she wants to know why she should surround herself by people who think things so different from her, he says:

“What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinions? He doesn’t give. He stays rigid. Doesn’t even try to listen, just lashes out.

You’ve no doubt heard some pretty offensive talk since you’ve been home, but instead of getting on your charger and blindly striking it down, you turned and ran. You said, in effect, ‘I don’t like the way these people do, so I have no time for them.’ You’d better take time for ’em, honey, otherwise you’ll never grow.

… the time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right –“

This made me think of how many of us have Facebook newsfeeds that are a little homogeneous and how many people we’ve “unfriended” (or who have “unfriended” us) because of the differing of our views. [Off of soapbox.]

6) There are several parallels to Mockingbird

One of the things I thought was most interesting were the clear literary parallels between the two novels. For example, there were several chapters with paragraphs that were almost verbatim what I’d read before in Mockingbird. There were also a few scenes that Lee seemed to have reworked for Mockingbird. For example, there’s a “coffee” that’s thrown in honor of Jean Louise (by Aunt Alexandra, of course), and it’s pretty clear that this scene turned into the chapter with the missionary tea in Mockingbird. If you don’t remember much of Mockingbird, I don’t know how significant these parallels will be to you, but anyone who’s a fan of Mockingbird will find them interesting.

So, the question  is… should you read it?

If you can keep all of the above things in mind and you can look at it from a literary perspective, it should be a good read. If you’re madly in love with all of the characters from Mockingbird and you’re SUPER EXCITED to see Scout all grown up… put the book down and walk away slowly.

7 Quick Takes from the last three months

I’m working on finishing Go Set a Watchman and I’ll post my thoughts on it when I’m done, but it’s taking me a little while to digest. More on that to come.

In the meantime, here are seven completely random things in honor of Katherine turning THREE MONTHS OLD! How?! When?! Where did all of the time go?!

1. We went to the zoo a couple of times. 

My parents gifted us a zoo membership for the year, and it’s one of the best things! Mark and I went about every month before Katherine was born, and we’ve managed to go a few times since her arrival.

The penguins were really close and Mark was delighted.
Beast mode: babywearing and pushing the kiddo up the giant hill.

I know, there are no pictures of the animals at the zoo. But, you know what an elephant looks like, right? 🙂

2. We dressed up like really cute Cabbage Patch Dolls


3. We went on a hike when it was really hot outside. 

You guys don’t even KNOW how hot.

“Dada, catch up!”
We had to smell ALL the flowers.

Katherine’s there under the little white hat, I promise.

4. We protected the baby from falling off the couch. 


5. We went to the beach with Ryan’s family.

Sticks are his love language.

I don’t remember what he was talking about, but he wanted it right THERE.

6. We had some pretty awesome ice cream. 

Kid loves strawberries. Strawberry ice cream blew his MIND.

7. We learned about personal space. 

These all happened one after another.

IMG_9356 IMG_9355 IMG_9354 IMG_9353

But, we eventually learned, and now it’s a little more like this:


She’s still a little wary. Can  you blame her? 🙂

Looking for more snippets of other people’s lives? Go here.

Blueberries for Sal

We read a lot of books in this house.

This picture is from shortly after Katherine was born. I had one of those moments where it was “two quiet” (parents of toddlers, you know), and I set Katherine down and went back to Mark’s room to find out what he was up to:


It was one of my prouder moments as a parent (also, sorry for the poor lighting… life as it happens).

Mark, like most toddlers, loves reading the same books over and over. One of his current favorites is Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, whom you might know from the book Make Way for Ducklings.


Some good friends gave us the book before Mark was born. It’s very cute and all about this little girl going blueberry picking with her mother and meeting bears (that aren’t scary!) who are also picking/eating blueberries.


The illustrations are simple and expressive.



Last week, Ryan suggested I take Mark out for the morning since he and I haven’t gotten to spend much time with just the two of us since Katherine was born. It was a warm (soon to be hot!) July morning, so we went berry picking.

We first picked some raspberries and Mark did a good job for awhile. Then, he got tired and decided to pick up a stick and dig holes in the dirt instead. I totally didn’t mind and kept right on picking. (Note: there are no pictures of us picking raspberries because I forgot. Sorry.)

Then, on the way to the blueberries, every person we went by smiled at Mark and commented on how much fun he must be having. Sometimes, I think people see a correlation between a little boy’s similarity to Pigpen and his happiness. And they would be right.


Mark was a CHAMPION blueberry picker. Much more at his height and come off the plant by the handful.


And we had a GREAT time. Dirt and all!


On our way back, Mark picked up rocks and threw them into the peach orchard over and over. I kept walking and called to Jim to “catch up”! So, he ran up to me and past me and turned around to say, “Catch up, Mama!” Thus, we have a new phrase


Katherine’s Baptism (or: Photo Dump 2 of 2)

Two weeks ago, Katherine (or, Baby Kaferine as Mark likes to call her) was baptized.

It was all of the things it should be.

Not only did she not cry AT ALL, but she smiled when the water was poured over her head. I think she thought it was bath time.
Excuse the giant poofy sleeves that are blocking her face (seriously, how did no one tell me?!).
Us with Ryan’s aunt, mom, and sister.

Us with my Great Aunt Mary Lu, her friend John, and my mom.
It was so, so fun to have my cousin, Kim, there! She couldn’t stay long, but it was wonderful to have another Pukstas in attendance!
Godfather (James — former coworker and friend) and Godmother (Kim — one of my friends from college).
Okay, so the bonnet isn’t really on the right way (babies are wiggly!), but here she is all holy and stuff! The gown is the one my siblings and I were baptized in and I made the bonnet especially for Katherine. 🙂
So peaceful… I’m going to have to revisit these photos when she’s a toddler. 🙂

Picture with a little more of the gown in it. I love the eyelet fabric!

So, you’re kind of updated and stuff now. Next up will be some fun stories and Mark quotes from the last month or so. And pictures of a kid eating popsicles. 🙂

Molly’s graduation (or: Photo Dump 1 of 2)

If you don’t like photos, these next two posts are just SO NOT for you. 🙂 I’ve finally managed to carve out a few minutes without the Tiny Person wanting me all the time (seriously, I love holding her, but my arms do need a break every so often!) and I’ve had a chance to look at, cull through, and work on some photos from the last couple of months.

Today’s post is all about… Molly and her graduation from college! My youngest sister graduated from the University of the Best City Ever (that’s their tagline, not mine) at the end of May. We took all four of us on a plane down to see her graduate and have lots of fun with family and friends.

Without further ado… the photos!


We’re pretty proud of her!

he whole family. 🙂



Because I totally challenge you to find something cuter at a graduation than a toddler in a cap.
We hug because we can.
One of the many benefits of this trip was getting to introduce Katherine (at the ripe age of two weeks!) to so many of my family members. This is Katherine with my mom’s cousin Katy and her boys, Evan and Rowan.

Evan and Rowan liked Katherine, but they were REALLY excited to play with Mark!
Mark got his very first taste of Giorgio’s pizza.
We stayed in this GREAT house not far from the apartment I lived in when I was a baby in San Francisco. We got to take Mark to the park that my dad used to take me to when I was a toddler; even better, Mark’s godfather Mike (who lives in San Francisco) came with us!
This kid could swing for ever and ever Amen.


I used to climb and play in these EXACT trees when I was Mark’s age. Much of the rest of the park has changed, but these trees are still there. Okay, no one but me cares about the park. Moving on…
The graduate and her niece!
My grandpa and my brother talking about something very deep and important.
Katherine and her Great Aunt Jane. IMG_9612
I love my grandpa! 🙂IMG_9561
My grandpa and his great-granddaughter!
Everyone toasting Molly!IMG_9576
Mark loves being scared (is he really my child?) and Nathaniel was only too happy to oblige by jumping out rom behind the door over and over again. IMG_9690

One of the other really cool things about the weekend was getting to celebrate three birthdays! Molly’s and my birthdays are a day apart and Laura’s is about two weeks later. I don’t get to celebrate my birthday with my family very often, so getting to see everyone and celebrate their birthdays too was great! 🙂

Okay, photo dump #2 (Katherine’s Baptism!) is coming soon, I promise!