You Know You Live in the Country When…

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you can visit a complete stranger’s pig farm and they are super-duper cool and give you a tour showing your munchkins their 70+ baby piglets.

We had the pleasure this morning of visiting a pig farm.  The owner graciously allowed us to come for a visit and told us all about the pigs and even let Jos pet one.  It was such fun and we are so appreciative of her taking the time out of her day for our visit.  Although now, Joslyn wants to get 2 pet pigs! HA!

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Oh, the joys of trying to get a photo with my big girl….  She is constantly on the move! :)

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Hungry little piglets!

We visited just in time as all of these babies will be going to different homes/places this weekend.  We hope to spot some of them as grown pigs at our local fair this summer.

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Communication: More Than Words

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When we hear the word communication, our minds often think about spoken words, which I understand.  It is truly SO much more than that though.  It is the way we look at each other, how we move our bodies, our smiles and frowns, laughter, kindness, respect, hugs and snuggles, and so much more.

As a sign language interpreter to some of the most amazing deaf children years ago, I experienced this firsthand.  Their ability to communicate was simply beautiful and they taught me that a look, an expression, a gesture can be so much more powerful than a simple spoken word.  My relationship with these girls ran deep. I loved them and still do.  They will forever have a piece of my heart.

As a mother now to one of the most sweet, funny, amazing little girls with a “severe phonological delay”, communication plays a big role in our lives.  We go to speech two times a week, she is in a preschool with an amazing teacher who helps guide and encourage the other children as they try to navigate this communication challenge and understand (just as I once did for deaf students), we (myself and J’s Dad) understand most of what she says but we still struggle at times and communication can take longer and require questioning and digging a bit more to understand,  we celebrate her accomplishments (this week she was able to blow one of those birthday party blower things for the first time & she was SO proud), we get frustrated (as does she with us when we can’t get it although she is pretty darn resilient and adaptive), we wonder if we are doing everything we can for our girl, we think about this word “communication” daily, we worry about her relationships with others and what will happen in the future, we cry and are sad about it at times, but most of all, we are so thankful for this daughter we have been given and all the amazing abilities she has.

We know that the speech therapy process can be a slow one, which is hard, but there is no other choice.  We want what every other parent in the world wants…for our child to be accepted, loved, happy, and understood for who she is.  We know that she will get there but it is going to take time, patience and practice, LOTS of practice.

I guess I am writing about this because it helps me to get it out and because I want to say THANK YOU to my friends and all those parents out there that teach their children empathy, kindness and respect.  THANK YOU for teaching them that Every.Single.Person in this world learns in their own unique and special way and that it is A-OK! Our world is an awesome place because of all of our unique abilities, it is what makes life more rich, meaningful and interesting.  THANK YOU for teaching them to treat others how they want to be treated and to always be a good friend.  Jos has some amazingly patient and kind friends and you better believe that behind every one of them is an amazing set of parents who are modeling these things to their children. This means more to us than I can say and we are so thankful to have such wonderful people in our lives. Thank you.

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Nala

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Miss Nala turns 9 tomorrow!  I can’t believe that it was 9 years ago that Justin and I made the drive to Yacolt, WA to pick her up.  We put her in her crate and she cried so, of course, I let her curl up in my lap until she fell asleep. So tiny, so sweet, so able to wrap Mom and Dad around her paw from the beginning.

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This sweet, food driven, blanket loving, bed hog most definitely has a place in our hearts that will forever be occupied by her alone.  Gosh, I remember those sharp puppy teeth, trying to teach her to walk on a leash (she does well at times but continues to have a mind of her own), taking her to puppy kindergarten, celebrating her birthdays with her friends and special treats,

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all the walks and hiking adventures,

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she was there for the important moments,

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all the trips we went on together,

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how she welcomed Joslyn into our family (so curious but so gentle),

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how she adores both of her human sisters now,

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She is the BEST dog.  There will never be another like her.

Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day for us though as it will be the last birthday we get to celebrate with her.  As some of you know, she has been diagnosed with Grade 3 Mast Cell Tumor cancer.  Grade 3 is the worst it can get and unfortunately, we can only hope to keep her comfortable at this point.  On a positive side, the doctors tell us that pain is minimal with this type of cancer but I still wonder.  I certainly know she is uncomfortable and the tumor seems to have increased in size significantly over the weekend.  I haven’t wanted to write about this yet because I knew that thinking about it and going through these photos would bring a flood of tears that I was afraid wouldn’t stop but tears can be good and right now, that’s what I need.  We will forever be grateful to Nala for the love she has brought to our lives, the connections we have made as a result of having such a wonderful canine companion and for all the fun, laughs, adventures and snuggles we have shared.  She has always made us feel loved, always wanting to be near and getting so excited to see us (she also does this with her Nanny).  Simply said, we love her.

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These are from a walk today. The second one is the head tilt she does when I say the names of her friends. :)

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She was so excited to see her pal, Ozzie, today but then she slowed down and didn’t really feel up to playing although she did jump a couple of logs. I am just thankful for the little bits of joy we get to see in her even if they aren’t as frequent right now.

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Thanks to all of those in blog land (Nala used to have her own blog ;)) and all of those right here who have been a part of our Nala’s life.  You have made and continue to make it special. We don’t know how much time we have with her and maybe she will surprise us but we do know that we are trying to enjoy every moment with our precious Nala right now.

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Easter Egg Fun

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We colored a few Easter eggs yesterday.  I think this may have been the first “official” time we have done it.  Jos tried at a friend’s house last year but I think she only did one (she wasn’t feeling well and we ended up leaving the egg coloring party early) but this year, she was really into it.

My favorite method was to place a hot egg back in the carton and let Jos pick some crayons out to color them.  The crayon wax melts right onto the hot egg.  It was really fun!  Jos touched the egg only twice before learning it was best to hold on to the side of the carton.  They weren’t hot enough to hurt her but it gave her a little shock. Momma turned them over for her so she could color the bottoms. ;) Wish we would have done more this way but since I hadn’t tried it before, we only experimented with two.  We will do this again and maybe just for some fun hard-boiled eggs that have nothing to do with Easter.  I love when munchkins stick their tongues out in concentration… So cute!

For the rest, we just used food coloring and vinegar. Easy peasy and the $1 store whisks were the perfect size for holding the eggs.  I got this tip from my friend last year at her Easter party…

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Addi kept trying to eat the whisk with the egg in it.  Nala too.

Jos did crack one of her eggs so she peeled it and shared with Nala.

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Our finished eggs.  The crayon ones are the top two on the left and the green one on the  top right was one Jos made at preschool.

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Easter Egg French Toast Dippers

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We had half a loaf of homemade bread leftover from a spaghetti and meatball dinner a couple of nights ago so we decided to make French Toast Dippers this morning.  Jos loves them because they are so easy and fun to eat.  As I was making them, I started wondering how I could relate them to Easter.  I recalled an idea on Pinterest  for making Easter Egg Pancakes so the Easter Egg French Toast Dippers idea was born.  I am sure this idea is somewhere on Pinterest too, but I still felt clever for at least a few minutes this morning. ;)

Easter Egg French Toast Dippers

1 small loaf of bread (whatever you prefer)

4-6 eggs

milk

cinnamon

vanilla

fruit

Cut bread into thick slices and then cut each slice into 3-4 smaller pieces.  Our bread this morning was perfect for the Easter egg idea as the ends were a bit shorter and rounded making great tops and bottoms for an egg shape.  If your bread isn’t this way then you could easily round the ends with a knife.

Crack eggs into a shallow dish (I use a pie plate), add in some milk (about 2-3  tablespoons), add your vanilla (about 1/2 teaspoon), and then sprinkle cinnamon on top. If you desire, also add in about a tablespoon of melted butter (we didn’t do this today). Whisk it all together. Dip bread into the egg mixture making sure to coat all of the sides.  Let the excess drip off and then place them in a greased pan.  Cook over low-medium heat, turning to cook each side (tongs are great for this).

Arrange them in the shape of an Easter egg and use your choice of sliced fruit to decorate them. Let each person, big or small, decorate their own. :) Serve with a small bowl of warm maple syrup.

If you prefer, you can also bake them on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Rolling them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture before frying or baking is also yummy.

As I said, we used leftover bread so it wasn’t a full loaf. I think I had about 5-6 thick slices before cutting into smaller pieces.  Adjust your ingredients if you have more bread.  I always feel like I need more eggs than most recipes call for anyway so end up adding more.  4 eggs was perfect for our leftover loaf this morning.

Jos and I each had 4 and the rest are in the freezer and waiting to be reheated for an easy breakfast during the week. Oh, our Nala dog had one too! :)

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Addison & The Puppy | Months 5, 6 & 7

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I am playing catch-up and posting the past 3 months of photos with Addison and her puppy.  I love how on the top row (Month 1 – Month 4) she is still leaning on her puppy and by month 5 she is starting to be more upright and grabbing for her toes and then by this month (Month 7), she is solidly sitting up.  So fun to see the progression.  Not to mention, when I look from Month 1 back to Month 7, it just blows my mind.  How quickly time flies and babies grow! Bittersweet, for sure.

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Weekend Hiking Adventure #2 | 2015

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On this weekend’s hiking adventure, we were accompanied by special guest, Dusty Crophopper.

This hike took us to a waterfall.  The weather was nice, a little windy at times, but the sun was shining, birds were busy chirping and building nests, desert parsley was blooming, balsam root flowers dotted the hillsides, butterflies were fluttering about, fire ants were on the trail scaring my girl ;), spiders were scurrying out of our way and the sky was perfectly blue with big, fluffy white clouds.  We were surprised that we actually made it all the way to the waterfall with a 3 year old and an almost 9 year old dog, who is not quite herself these days, but we did it.  Jos walked the entire way there by herself and most of the way back.  She did get a shoulder ride from her Daddy for part of the return trip. We had lunch by the stream…ham, cheese & mustard sandwiches, chips, red peppers and “green chocolate” as Jos says which is Green Tea chocolate from Japan courtesy of Auntie Etsuko. Addi hung out in the ERGO for most of the hike taking in the sights and sleeping but she got out of the pack during our lunch break and got to dip her toes in the cold stream.  I think she liked it.

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Nala girl, always looking back to make sure whoever is behind is still making it. :)  Sweet girl.

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The “Grumpy Old Troll” appeared out of nowhere making us solve riddles before we could cross the bridge.

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