Strawberry Fields Forever

And ever and ever and ever…


Ryan and I took the kiddos to go strawberry picking the other day. I know there are those among you who claim that good strawberries only come from California, but the Oregon berries have them beaten by a mile. Smaller and sweeter and a season that lasts all of about two weeks.


Katherine was very excited. Obvi.


Mark showing me his strawberries, and hiding behind them, apparently.


I told Mark a dozen times that we shouldn’t eat the strawberries (because dirt) and we had to save them for when we got home. Then, I looked at him and he had half a berry in his hand.
Ann: Did you eat some of the berry?
Mark: (through a stuffed mouth): Yes.
Ann: Well, no more because we have to save them.
Mark: Okay.
I looked away and looked back and now there was no part of a berry in his hand.
Ann: Did you eat the rest of your berry?!
Mark: Yeah.
Ann: The green part too?
Mark: (while making gross face) Yeah.
Ann: Well, spit it out!


Ryan used to pick on his family’s farm, so he was really far ahead of me and the kids. Mark dutifully ran back and forth to move our orange placeholder flags and send messages.



We left when Ryan’s box was full and we had 20 pounds of strawberries between the two of us. So, I spent the better part of the next 24 hours cleaning and hulling strawberries.




Conversations with Mark

There’s lots that’s been happening over here (parties, birthdays, baby cuteness), but I thought I would post a few of the funnier Mark Conversations we’ve had over the last few weeks. 

Mark: Mama, church! (Points at Protestant church.)
Ann: Yeah, buddy that’s a church.
Mark: Priest?
Ann: Well, not every church has a priest.
Mark: Jesus?
Ann: Um, yeah, most churches have Jesus. [This question is a tough one to answer, the more you think about it.]

This is on repeat at least ten times a day.
Mark: Lawnmowers. Ask Dada.
Ann: That’s right, buddy, we’ll have to ask Dada if we’re going to mow the lawn today.
Mark: Lawnmowers loud. Shed. Bugs. Bugs are scary.

Mark: Drops.
Ann: For your eyes, yes.
Mark: Like raining in eyes.

[Ryan walking with Mark to a baseball game at school.]

Mark: Dada hat!
Ryan: Yes, Dada has his baseball hat on. Where’s your hat?
Mark: (grabs head) Oh no!

Mark: Nana! (Banana!)
Ryan: [Takes bite of Mark’s banana before handing it to him.]
Mark: Hey, Mister!

Mark and Mama Mondays 7 and 8

Last week, was a little different because Mark and I got our “Monday” on Wednesday, and it was raining. This is all that uncommon for the Pacific Northwest, but we’d had weeks of glorious sun, so it kind of took us by surprise.

Never fear! We still had fun! We went to one of the local bookstores and sold some of the books that have been cluttering up the house. We had to wait in the shortest long-line ever (there were only a couple of people, but they had LOTS of books) and Mark managed to hold it together by looking at pictures on my phone.

We took our winnings (profits?) to the cafe in the store for a treat — milk for Mark, water for Mama, and a scone to share. Mark literally dumped nearly his entire cup of milk on the floor while I went to get my water. It wasn’t his fault and I didn’t cry (ha!), and we got everything cleaned up. Which resulted in this:


After, we hit up the children’s section. There are always so many books and I have a terrible time choosing, so I let Mark decide. He led me around the section for awhile picking all kinds of books that are WAY over his head, and then settled on one about “tractors! backhoe!”.

Can we focus for a second on how short the sleeves are on his shirt? This shows two things: 1) I clearly need to update some of his clothes to 2T and 2) He has inherited my genes and has a long torso and short legs. Good luck shopping anywhere ever, kiddo. 


After auditioning a few other titles, he settled on that one and we brought it home with us. He was so happy to carry it with him through the whole store.

I love seeing how excited he is about books.

THIS WEEK… we did lots of different things.

We baked! (kind of)

I’ve been craving these cookie dough balls for the last couple of weeks. And when I said I’ve been craving them, please know that it means that I’ve also been MAKING them for the last couple of weeks. So, so good. I decided to let Mark help me put this batch together.


Not pictured: the way I cleverly set up all of the ingredients like we were on a cooking TV show and had everything in bowls so we could just dump it into the mixer. Best idea ever.

Mark did a great job and followed directions so well. He snuck a few tastes here and there (but no raw eggs! win!), which was really just cute.


Once we got the dough done, we scooped them onto the pan to freeze and Mark even helped with the popsicle sticks on top.

Finally, he went to town on the spatula. 🙂



After making those, we went to storytime at the library (which I’ve already written about, so let’s move on).

Finally, our day was capped off with a successful trip to the Dollar Store where we got “buckets!” and a “balloon!” (As my friend Kate said once, why should you only get fun balloons on your birthday?)


We didn’t get to play with the buckets before his nap, but afterwards, we played in the dirt for awhile.

“Dirt, Mama, dirt!”



This was my conversation with Mark after his nap on Tuesday:

Mark: (Points at folded laundry on the couch.) “What’s that?”
Ann: “Oh, that’s laundry that Mama needs to put away.”
Mark: “Oh.”
Ann: “But, Mama doesn’t feel like putting it away right now; she just wants to snuggle with you instead. Can I just snuggle with you all day?”
Mark: (Burrows in and reaches for my earlobe.) “Yes!”


Heart. Melted.

Mark and Mama Monday #5

One of the benefits of having a membership to our Zoo (at least for this year) is that almost every month there’s another museum or garden or fun thing that lets you in for free! This week, Mark and I checked out the World Forestry Center.


Before we got inside, though, we had to take a look at the awesome wheels on the train. Mark seriously loves this train and loves, loves spinning the wheels and walking up and down on the ramp up where the engineer would stand.




The Forestry Center itself was pretty fun. Mark got strapped into a life jacket and we pretended we were going down a huge river with rapids.


Then, we looked at all kind of rocks and bugs, and he got to practice digging (do kids need to practice digging?) holes for seedlings. [Note: no picture here because the table was too tall for Mark and I had to hold him up. Seriously, why no stools?]

There was also a HUGE back-ho, tree cutter thing (which Mark called a “tractor”) with HUGE wheels (!) and you could PRESS BUTTONS. It was Mark’s personal Heaven — “tractor! buttons! wheels!”, over and over and over again. 🙂

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The back part of the Center had a cool fountain and “rocks!” (everything is said with an exclamation point at the end these days).


The upstairs was pretty fun too, but it had a lot of information and videos that were a lot above Mark’s level. But, there were some fun instruments made of wood that were fun to play with!


After, we went outside to sit in the sunshine and eat our lunch. It was pretty chilly, but we kind of didn’t care (don’t hate me, East Coast People… I think it was 45 degrees or something).


Forestry Center for the win! 🙂

7 Quick Takes: The holiday version

Well, it’s a new year, so here’s a blog post. 🙂 In all honesty though, I’m trying to be more intentional with my time (I don’t really waste a lot, my life is full enough!) and make sure I’m not using my time repetitively… if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, don’t worry and let’s look at the craziness the last month has brought us!  [Warning: this is going to be a very picture-focused post, so if you were hoping for some words of wisdom or several hundred words of me waxing eloquent… you’re not going to find it here.]

1. Thanksgiving (yes, we’re going back REALLY far here!)
This year, we spent Thanksgiving with Ryan’s family. Usually, we switch every other year, so we would have been with my family, but flight prices were RIDICULOUS. So, we elected to go visit them the day after Christmas for a little while when prices were much more reasonable and all of my siblings would be home.

A few pics from the day:

You’re going to see this outfit a lot… it’s one of his favorites. 
Hooray for a family shot!  🙂

Mark and his Aunt Marissa. 

2. St. Nicholas Day, getting the Christmas Tree, and seeing Santa

St. Nicholas knows Mark well — all this kid needs is a clementine. 🙂
‘I love these, but they’re so dang hard to open.’
Me: “Mark! Look at the trees!”
Mark: “Stick!”
Oh, he’s not his mother’s child AT ALL.  
Much to my chagrin, he likes to say ‘Cheese!’ when he gets his picture taken.  But, he almost is never looking at the camera. 
This was my view while we were carrying the tree to the truck.  It took him forever.  🙂
Mark could say Santa and liked pointing at him, but was not wild about sitting on his lap, hence my presence in this picture. 

3. The Grotto
To continue celebrating the season and preparing for Christmas, we went to the Grotto with Ryan’s family.  Mark LOVED the lights!

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4. Cookies!
My friend Lauren and I have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies the week or so before Christmas. They turned out pretty well, I think [disclaimer: there was one more red velvet crackle cookies that I forgot to include; sorry, Lauren!]:



Then, we decided to let the kiddos decorate some of the gingerbread cookies.They were very good at spreading sugar everywhere.  🙂 Mark, who almost never likes things sugary, went to TOWN on the frosting. And fed some of it to Ryan.

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5. Christmas with Ryan’s family

Before Christmas:

Learning how to be gentle with the tree. 
With lots of helpful phone calls with my mom, I made Mark this wall Christmas tree.  It’s been minorly successful in keeping him from the real tree, but he’s enjoyed it. 

Christmas morning at our house:

Sop everything!  It’s a picture of a MOM on Christmas morning.  🙂
We’re not usually “bike in the house” people, but whatever.  It’s Christmas.  🙂
Picture with Grandma and Grandpa in the early afternoon!
The kiddo had a cough and a slight fever when we opened presents in the evening, but this is after some Motrin and dinner when he rallied.  What a fun tunnel!

6. Christmas-ish with my family

Hooray for animals!
I’m not sure why, but I was very concerned with how he was handling this puppy dog. 
It snowed!  My mom took Mark outside and got some snow for him to play with in a bowl in the house.  He was very intrigued. 
the next day we played in the snow. 
Me: “Mark! I’ll help you may a snow angel!”
Mark: “Ehhhhhmmmm?!”
He uber did not care about the fact that his mittens were soaked in snow constantly. 
The sled was super great when it went fast. 
Snowmen! I didn’t make any of these. Ryan did the middle one and the one on the right. My mom did the one on the left. She’s had a little more practice. 🙂

7. New Year’s

And so it’s that time for resolutions. I don’t make very many of these because I have a hard time keeping them. But, I’ll throw these out there as the things that I want to work on this year:

1) To post more than once a month.
2) To make the bed every day (I’m SUPER bad at this).
3) To not get in a rut with my time — to spread out my activities more.
4) To pray on my own more often.

I know, not all of these are measurable, but it is what it is. Wish me luck!

If you’ve made it through all of this and you want more Quick Takes, go read more of them here.

Seven Quick Takes in a busy time

Next week, I’ll have the whole week off.  Woohoo and hooray for Thanksgiving Break!  In the meantime, things are busy ’round these parts.  Much has happened (I realized I never did a post on Halloween… how?!).  So, I’m going some Quick Takes to catch up.

1) Halloween!

Halloween was pretty great. Mark went as a monkey and it was adorable.

He also was a skeleton for part of the day — a gift from my sister.  They’re supposed to be pajamas, but I think he’s pulling it off as an outfit. 
Little monkey butt!
Monkey face!
Mark LOVES pumpkins and he was fascinated that these glowed.  The one on the far right is his.  I let him give input on where the eyes go, so… I turned it into an emoticon. 🙂

We went trick or treating at my in-laws’ house and at a few of the other houses in their neighborhood.  Clearly, we were showing off Mark way more than we were actually getting candy (he didn’t eat any, so we didn’t seem like it would be fair to trick or treat for us!).

2) Soccer season is over.  :-/

Unfortunately, Ryan’s team lost in the semi-finals a couple of weeks ago.  I’m always sad to see soccer season end, but I’m always a little bit happy to have a husband again. 🙂

3) Mark likes hiding in boxes.  


I don’t know what it is with this kid, but he really likes hanging out in here.

4) We took some decent family photos!

My lovely sister-in-law agreed to hold the camera and press the button if I posed all of us.  While I’m anxious to try out the remote shutter control that I got, it seemed like a little bit of pressure to try it out for some family photos.  We turned out pretty well, all-in-all, I think.

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5) New words and phrases (and technically a sentence!)

Oh, goodness, the kid does not stop talking.  He repeats SO MANY of the words we say (battery, potty, book), but he has a lot of other new words he uses on a regular basis: shoes, bat, ball (okay, that one might be old, but I don’t have my list in front of me), Costco, please, cheese, yes (sometimes), no (much more often), silly, neck, and back.

He’s also started stringing together some sentences of two or three words.  The other day, Ryan was making faces at Mark and I said to Mark, “Dada is silly, huh?” and Mark said, “Dada silly.”  Then, he was with my mother-in-law and he turned to her at one point and said. “Mama went bye-bye.”  I have to admit, seeing his language develop is one of my favorite things!

6) Current Favorite Reads

No, not mine.  Mark’s favorites right now are The Escape of Marvin the Ape and Goodnight Gorilla.  I think these are his current favorites because he likes making the monkey noise (AH AH) and the other animal noises (blowing raspberries and moving his arm like an trunk for elephant and kind of roaring like a lion).  Luckily, they’re both pretty great books, so I don’t mind reading them over and over and over again.  🙂

7) If you’re a friend or family member, you’ve already heard, but…


Yup!  We are so excited to become a family of four in April!  It’s crazy to think that soon there will be a little baby girl in our midst, but we are super excited!

A month of silence ended.

I know.  Worst blogger ever.  Trust me when I saw we’ve been a little swamped over here.  Started a new job at a new school and, lest we forget, it’s soccer season.  So, it’s been a little busy.  But, much has happened.  So, here’s What’s Happened in the Last Month in Pictures and Short Snippets:

Mark tried kale chips.  And loved them.  Who knew?  (Also, he likes to eat all his snacks on the kitchen floor.  He just does.)

wpid-20140905_115732.jpgMark and I had our first lunch our with just the two of us.  He did SO well!  Ate all of his food and didn’t drop it anywhere.  Woohoo!

My sister, Laura, came to visit!  She was only here a couple of days for work, but it’s always wonderful to see my siblings.  🙂

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We went to the farm and Mark picked out a pumpkin or two.

When it rains, we ride our bikes in the garage.

He will regularly say, “I did it!”  It’s not super articulate, but it’s clear to us.  🙂

Inexplicably, he loves doing this.

IMG_6529We’ve finally to where he wants to build blocks and not just destroy them.  The never-ending quest to have him use his powers for good rather than for evil continues.

Everything used to be “stuck”.  Now, everything is “uh-oh”.

IMG_6523We took a selfie on the day my mom-brain forgot that he was supposed to have a haircut.

Last week, Ryan had a game, so Mark and I were eating dinner by ourselves.  Here was the conversation:
Mark: Dada?
Me: No, buddy, Dada’s not here tonight.  He’s at soccer.
Mark: Cocker?
Me: Yeah, sweetie, soccer.
Mark: [kicks leg] Goal!

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Mark LOVES pumpkins.  So, whenever we go to a store, ANY STORE, that has them, we have to spend a few minutes checking out all of the pumpkins.  Here are some examples of his love.

I’d like to say that I’ll be more regular (and I really, really want to be), but bear with me if I’m not.

I know, I know… I fell off the planet again.

I promised it wouldn’t happen, and yet here we are again.  I’ve been absent for how many weeks now?  And so, so many important things have happened.  So much in fact, I’m going to go ahead and do the Seven Quick Takes a little early this week.  There’s much to fill you in on, but not much time in which to do it.

1. Mark can kick a ball (kind of!)

June 3rd (it was a Tuesday, I remember that), I was playing with Mark and we were rolling his mini soccer ball back and forth.  Then, he wanted to stand up and go do something else (which is what he always wants to do).  The ball happened to go in front of his foot and he managed to kind of kick it when he walked.  Can we call it dribbling?  Because, we’re totally going to.  Ryan said Mark’s training begins now!

2. He babbles and babbles and babbles…

Just this last week, Mark has been babbling more and it sounds more and more like actual talking (Ryan says he sounds like an Ewok, but I’m a little more partial to saying he sounds like a Jawa.)  Instead of just repeating the same sound over and over again (“A da da da da da”), he’s stringing different sounds together (“A da blu bla?”).  It’s pretty crazy, and it seems like it happened overnight.  I wish I had a video to show you, but he always manages to clam up right when I get out my phone.  Typical of a boy.

3. Final Finals.  

As I’ve mentioned already, I won’t be continuing at my current job in the fall.  While this is a good thing and I’m very excited for what’s to come, it does make me a little sad.  It was tough to say goodbye to some of the kids that I’ve had a few years in a row.  It was even more sad to say goodbye to some of the other teachers.  While I won’t be going too far (we aren’t moving or anything), it will be strange to not see their faces everyday anymore.

Here’s a few pics of some of my coworkers and Mark getting ready to read the Bible for Morality class.

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A few of my students gifted me with flowers and donuts from one of my favorite places.  Yum!


Donuts… mmmmmmmm!

4. The Great Clean-Out of 2014

Since I won’t be going back to my school, I had to clean everything out of my classroom.  I had every intent of diligently going through all of my files and every piece of paper I have in order to make sure I didn’t lose anything of real value or manage to hang on to something that I should toss.  This was not the case.

Literally, I threw every file I have into boxes and said that I would deal with it later.  I opened up a Dropbox account (how have I managed to live without this?) and copied all of my school digital files in there.  I’ve managed to go through a fair number of the digital files, but I haven’t managed to do anything with the paper files.  They are currently sitting in the garage and waiting to be gone through.  We’ll see if I get that done this summer, as I hope to do because NO ONE needs this many boxes of paper.

5. Graduation

Ryan’s sister graduated from college and we are all super proud of her.  She’s going to be moving back one in a week or so, and it will be nice to have another babysitter around, er, I mean, see her more often.  🙂

The graduation ceremony itself was pretty long, but Mark did a great job looking at all the people and assuming that all of the clapping was for him.  I also was pleased to find out that if you feed a one-year-old one Cheerio at a time, they will sit and eat for an hour.  Lovely.

6. The World Cup

Ryan is also a soccer coach, so we’ve been watching lots and lots and lots of soccer.  If you like the World Cup (or just soccer in general) and you haven’t played this little game from the New York Times, you totally should.  It’s pretty fun.

Mark thinking everyone is cheering for him:


Watching with Dada:


7. My mom is coming for a visit (!)

This means that I’m cleaning like a crazy person.  One of the curses of having a mom who teaches you how to clean properly and that you should always clean for guests is that you feel obligated to clean for her before she comes.  Obviously, my mom is wonderful and wouldn’t care a lick if the house was in complete disarray.  After all, she and my sister both clean my entire house the day after I gave birth to Mark.  Really, if you’re looking to do something for someone who’s just had a baby beyond the whole casserole thing, clean their house.  It was amazing.

Because I’m cleaning everything, I’ve managed to conveniently mop myself into a corner.  Which, really, is the only reason that I have time to write this post, being as how she lands in less than two hours.  Hooray!  Now, to tip-toe around the wet spots and start on the dusting.

I know I’m a little early on the Quick Takes this week, but when the link is available, you can go over and check out everyone else over at Team Whitaker.

Five Faves (vol. 9): Teeeeeeething.

Mark is still sick.  I don’t think he has croup anymore (can it just go away like that? because I think it might have), but he’s all snotty and coughing and teething and hating on all kinds of stuff.

And, oh, the teething.  He’s working on his fourth tooth (top front left) and it’s a-killin’ him.  What better way to show my solidarity with him than by posting my Five Faves of Teething Things?  Andherewego… (P.S. — There are almost no pictures because I’m pretty sure you know what 90% of these things look like.  And, plus, Mark making the suck-fish face looks exactly the same, no matter what thing he’s sucker-fish-facing on.)

1) Frozen Bagels

Easy.  Get some mini-bagels and put them in the freezer.  I’ve found that the wheat ones work the best.  They just tend to defrost faster than the white flour ones.  Baby then can gnaw on them as they get softer and it’s great.

Some people tie a string around them and tie the other end to the high chair so that when the baby tosses the bagel, it doesn’t go on the floor.  Mark just starts eating the string.


2) Frozen cucumbers

Pretty much the same as above, just slice them in about 1″ slices.  Make sure you take it away from babe before it gets too soft and they can choke on the seeds and skin.


Look, Mom! No hands!

3) This teething ring thingy

I don’t know what it is, but Mark only likes this teething ring.  We keep it in the fridge and it’s great for bringing him down from his hysterical “oh-my-gosh-my-mouth-hurts!” panic attacks.

I think he likes that the water part is cold, but the part that he hangs onto (the blue part in this picture) actually warms up pretty quickly.  Mark hates holding things that are cold.

4) Doors, cabinets, etc. 

I always know when Mark is teething because he tries to eat EVERYTHING.  Most especially, he likes to try and eat things that he couldn’t possibly get in his mouth — doors, windows, the dishwasher, etc.  He tries to gnaw on them with his sucker-fish face.

This is not as attractive or as sanitary as it sounds.  Also, never in my life did I think I would utter the words, “Stop sucking on the oven door!”

5) Sophie the Giraffe

I know, you can’t read a “list of things to buy for baby” where this isn’t on the list.  I, too, was skeptical.  “No way am I ever paying that much for a teething toy!”  If you learn nothing else from being a parent, you learn that saying you’re never going to do something means that you’ll be doing that exact thing in a month.  So it was with Sophie.  The price went down on Amazon, I had a gift card, and not that long later, Mark was happily gnawing away on the giraffe’s head.  As one does.

Five Faves isn’t being hosted on Moxie Wife this week, so you’ll have to head over here instead.