Meet Penny

(September 2018)

If you know me, you know I am a dog person.  Not really a fan of cats (except for my parents barn cat, Missy, coolest cat I’ve ever met).  When we had to put our last dog down, I was not ready to get another dog since I was 6 months pregnant with Dylan and we were starting to look around for a new house and I knew I wouldn’t have time for a dog.  Fast forward 3.5 years…even though we are still not done with the work around our house, the major things are done and even though our lives are pretty busy and it never seems like a good time to get a dog, it felt like it finally WAS a good time to get a dog.

We knew we wanted to get a Labradoodle and I had spent lots of time researching breeders and talking with other Labradoodle owners. We settled on which breeder we were going with and told them we would be ready after we came back from our trip to Oregon.  The day after we got home, the breeder called me and told me there was a litter that was due to be born on July 17th and would be ready to come home mid-Septemeber.  The litter would be the color we wanted (reds/caramels) and the size we wanted (standard) so we put a deposit down and waited.  The boys were SO excited and kept asking every day when we could go pick up the puppy and we started talking over some names.  Over the next couple of months the breeder would email us updates on the puppies and a few pictures. This is a picture of the 6 females she sent when they were 6 weeks old.

A week before the litter was ready to come home, we went to meet the puppies and choose which one would be ours.  We knew we wanted a female (I need another girl in this house!) Of the 6 females, we had our pick of 4 (one was already taken and the breeder was keeping one).  It was so much fun sitting in the middle of the puppies and playing with them and letting them crawl all over us and lick us, the boys thought it was pretty great too!  Right away we knew one would not be a good fit for us since she was a very timid and kept hiding behind me and I felt like our energy level with the two boys would be too much for her.  And there was one that seemed to be the other extreme, she was very hyper and all over the place, so that narrowed it down to two.  The puppies did not have names, they were identified by the color of their collar.  At this point we were looking at Orange and Red.  Both dogs were so sweet, lots of fun, had great personalities and really interacted well with the boys and us and it was REALLY HARD to decide.  That’s when we started looking at the size.  The mom of the litter was a full standard and the dad was a large medium.  Red was more on the smaller size and would be a medium sized dog, Orange took after her mother and would be a small standard.  We knew we wanted a bigger dog so that was how we chose Orange.  After the decision was made, they took our first family photo.

In the car on the way home after picking out Orange, we talked over names again.  At this point the boys had narrowed it down to 2 names: Skye (from the cartoon Paw Patrol) and Penny (a name of a pup in the movie 101 Dalmatians).  So when we left I asked them which name they wanted and all of us liked Penny the best.  Then I was thinking about it, pennies are a coppery/orange color and we choose the Orange dog so it was meant to be!

The following weekend, Justin took the boys to Jacob’s soccer game and my aunt and I drove back to pick up Penny and bring her home. We all met back at our house and spent the rest of the day playing with Penny.

Penny absolutely LOVES the water! We are always filling up her water bowl because she keeps putting her front paws in it and splashing and playing with all the water, there’s nothing left to drink. Anytime we get the hose out to water the plants, she runs in the water spray and keeps “biting” water as it comes out.  And she is totally content when getting a bath.  I can’t wait to take her to the beach!

Jacob’s teacher had asked me to send a picture of Penny after we brought her home.  So I sent her these and she put them up on the big screen in the classroom and Jacob got to tell his classmates all about Penny.  It made his day!

In Dylan’s opinion “having a dog is awesome!”

These two are two little peas in a pod.

We have been pretty much home bound until she finishes all of her puppy shots. One day I dug out my old baby carrier and put her inside and went for a walk around the neighborhood with the boys.  I was only able to do that a few more times before she got too big, so then I started using the stroller. Just a couple more weeks until we can go on a real walk!

She does like riding in the car with me when I go to drop off/pick up the boys from school.  It makes for a very loud entertaining car ride when all 3 of them are in the backseat.

We often say we should have called her grumble butt, because when she is sleeping she will stretch or roll over and she lets out this loud grumble that sounds just like Chewbacca!

Before we brought Penny home we were in a good groove, with the boys new school schedule and no major home projects going on.  We were comfortable and started having time to do more fun things, we had some good babysitters so Justin and I were able to get out more often, then we got Penny….and life instantly got chaotic again!  It is a lot like having another newborn in the house and starting all over again.  But it is so worth it!  While I was growing up, we always had dogs as part of our family, and I love that the boys will too.  It is so fun seeing the boys run around with her and our trainer has taught the boys lots of fun “games” they can play with her that are teaching the boys and Penny good behavior traits.

And those razor sharp puppy teeth have put holes in lots of pajamas, t-shirts and shorts.

And when she is calm she likes to lay in front of the gate in our backyard and watch the gardeners and golfers go by.

And she knew when she would nap under the couch she was safe from the boys.  Now she is too big to fit under there, but she still lays next to the couch and sticks her head under.

If I am being honest, life with two young boys and a puppy is absolutely insane and exhausting.  But she is the perfect addition to our family and we love her and I wouldn’t change it for anything!

School Days

(August 2018)

We had SUCH a fun summer.  It was filled with LOTS of pool time, weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) trips to the beach, Vacation Bible School, Lego Camp, and plenty of time spent with friends.  And then, just like that, summer was over…Usually, I am ready for the boys to start school and get back on a regular routine, but this year I was not.  I don’t know if it was because we were having so much fun, or if I was just not ready for Jacob to start Kindergarten, or both.

I know Jacob was ready for Kindergarten, he loves being around his friends and learning new things.  And even though I had 5 years with him at home with me, I wasn’t ready to send him to school 5 days a week.  The beauty of preschool was he got to have time at school to learn and be with friends and I got a little break, but it was only a few mornings a week and the rest of the time we had together to play, go on adventures, etc…yes, there were lots of frustrations and struggles during that time.  But there were more fun experiences and snuggles and now that he is at school full time it has really made me realize how precious the last 5 years really were.

So leading up to school starting, it was all everybody was talking about and Jacob was excited.

He was especially excited to be going to the BIG kid school where a lot of our other friends and neighbors go.  One of them started Kindergarten with Jacob as well.

And when it came time to go into the classroom, we found Jacob’s desk and got settled in to listen to a little welcome from his teacher.

Then when it came time for the parents to leave, that is when Jacob surprised me and he wouldn’t let go of me and kept asking me to stay with him.  I was not expecting that from him at all.  Of course my heart shattered in a million pieces and after I peeled myself away from him, I was able to hold it together until I got to my car where I let the tears flow.

After that first day, there was no more reluctance, but he did want me to walk him onto the playground the first week, which I gladly did.  Then he realized how much fun the car drop off is, especially since it was quicker and would give him more time to play on the playground before school starts.  So now it is a drive by, with a quick kiss while calling out to his friends from the window and drop off in front of the playground.  He has found his new groove, made lots of new friends and enjoys playing with his old friends.  We all really like his teacher and I love hearing all the stories and things he tells me about school.  One thing I was a little “worried” about was Jacob having to eat his lunch at the nut free table. Since he is a social butterfly, I knew he would want to eat with his friends.  After picking him up on the first day, the first thing he told me was his friend that he made at Vacation Bible School over the summer also has nut allergies and sits at the nut free table with him, and he was SO excited about that! And since then he has made friends with the other boy who sits with them as well.

Jacob is at a really fun age right now and I do miss him while he is at school.  But I love all that he is learning and I love that he is reading books to me before bed at night and I love the questions he asks and I love when he surprises me with the things that he knows.  And I am excited to see what these next few elementary years will bring.

Even though Jacob is at school all day, I still have Dylan at home with me.  He started his first day of 3 year old preschool the same day Jacob started Kindergarten.  He was so excited that daddy was taking him to school in his “fast car”.

Since this was his second year at his school, he had no problem easing into his new classroom and is really enjoying his time there.  I have definitely seen his independence and confidence grow in the last few months.  I think he is finding his place as his own individual at school instead of as Jacob’s little brother.  He has some new friends as well as old ones in his class. I love the bible stories he tells me when I pick him up and I love when I ask him what he made that day he tells me it is a surprise and will show me when we get home.  And on the days he does not have school, I love that he is always willing to run errands with me and when I call him my little sidekick, he giggles and says “Noooooo, I’m Dylan.”

I can’t believe how fast these monkeys are growing!

After picking them up on the first day, we went out for frozen yogurt to celebrate!

And since we are already a few months into the school year I have their school pictures to share.

And I have no idea how they got my kid to do this pose!

And even though the summer tans have faded and we miss the beach and the “lazy” summer schedule, I know it’s going to be a great year!

Around the Ranch

(July 2018)

Okay, I’m attempting to wrap up the rest of our time in Oregon, so this may be a bit of a long one…

Even though the reunion events were really just two full days, it was nice that some families came a couple days earlier, and some families stayed a couple days later.  So I feel like we got to spend time with everyone.  After the 4th pretty much everyone left, except for 2 family camps.  And as a parent of young children, the beauty of our set up was we didn’t have to entertain our kids all day long. They all got along so well and they had plenty to do to keep busy. They played in the arena, they went to the pond to catch frogs, they hiked up the hill behind the barn to find turkey feathers, they flew kites and played games and had snacks together and I felt like I could really sit down and do nothing.  Which is exactly what we did that day.  We sat in the shade and talked, we set up two marble board games and and played all afternoon, we moved the tables and chairs to the front porch and had our meals together.  It really felt like vacation!

The next day, we drove up to the fish hatchery and had a picnic lunch and explored the area.

And Jacob has really taken an interest in taking pictures with my phone. And these two that he snapped are pretty good!

Before we left we went into the small museum they have and I couldn’t resist taking the boys picture in front of the fish tank, to compare to the last time we were here two years ago when Dylan was just learning how to walk!

Making “fish faces”

Then it was back to the ranch for some more marble games before they left the next day for the rest of their camping adventure.

We still had a few days left at the ranch. We went on a few shopping trips to check out the new Tractor Supply store that just opened, and Cabelas and we found a local brewery for our lunch stop.

When we got back to the ranch, I was realizing that I was taking more pictures with my phone rather than my camera.  It obviously is more convenient than carrying around a heavy camera, and I was too busy just enjoying the moments over the last few days that I didn’t want to leave to go get my camera so I kept pulling out my phone to snap pictures.  And yes, the recent models of cell phones do have some pretty great cameras, but I also know that nothing beats the quality of a picture taken with a good camera. And while that may not matter to most, it is a passion of mine.  So back at the ranch, I got my camera and we set off for the arena to play.  The boys got these pop guns at Cabelas so Jacob was pretending to shoot the bad guys and working on his bull riding technique.

And they were being silly on the swing.

My dad and Justin were busy cutting up the logs on the hill behind the barn.  I love our mantle so much, Justin started making some shelves for our bathroom with one of the logs.  So my mom and I filled up the back of the cart with hay, loaded up the boys and drove out to the hay field to feed the cows.

After we finished, we drove up the hill to my parents neighbors house to say hi.  The boys love being out on the ranch, doing their chores and riding and driving all the equipment, I am so glad they get to have this experience.

And this one is always in his happy place with the dog.

Then we went up the hill behind the barn to see the logs that the guys cut up which turned into another hunt for turkey feathers.

And I love taking pictures back at the house from up here

And Justin made some walking sticks with all the turkey feathers the boys collected along with the big sticks they found.

We met up with my parents friends for breakfast one morning and went back to their house afterwards so the boys could play on their tractor bikes like they like we’ve done every year for the past few years.

After they took turns climbing on all the equipment and riding the tractors, we went back to the ranch.  My dad and Justin kept working on the shelves and made some new marble boards.

And this little monkey got his tree climbing fix in

And we played around in the barn after feeding the horses.  I love these silly boys of mine!

And for the reminder of our time, we played the marble game on the new boards!

And that is a wrap on this year’s Oregon adventure!

St Paul Rodeo

(July 2018)

The morning of the 4th of July, we all piled into our cars and drove to St. Paul for their big 4th of July Rodeo and Carnival.  We got there with some time to spare, so we had some fun at the carnival.

And explored the rodeo grounds on our way to our seats.

The kids all sat together, and all the boys agreed that their favorite part was the Rodeo Clown.

The adults enjoyed the show too.

When the rodeo was over we had to walk through part of the carnival to get back to our car, that is when we found the mechanical bull! Jacob said he wanted to do it, so we signed him up and he went for it.

Then Dylan said he wanted to do it, so we signed him up and he had to wait for a couple people to have their turn before his.  And the boy before him was older and was actually one of the participants in the rodeo with his number still pinned on the back of his shirt.  So the man operating the bull gave him a wild ride since he knew he could handle it.  And next in line Dylan was watching wide-eyed.  When the older boy got bucked off, the operator ran the bull as fast as it would go with no one on his back.  When he was done, he looked at Dylan and said, OK your turn…Justin put him up on the bull and he was not having it and wanted down.  Since we already paid, I asked Jacob if he wanted another turn and he said yes, so he got to go twice, and loved it!

On our way home we stopped at our favorite pizza place, Track Town Pizza in Eugene for dinner.  We pretty much took over the entire place!

When we got back to the ranch, several of the families started packing up their “camp” since they would be leaving early the next day.  The sun had started setting and the clouds were beautiful that evening.

After we got all the kiddos to bed, we did what we had been doing every night since the family started arriving, sitting around the tables lit up with camplights, with our drinks and talking and laughing until it was way too late.

It was a really fun time together as family and I look forward to what our next reunion will bring!

Herbst Family Roundup

(July 2018)

On the morning of July 3rd, we all got dressed in our reunion shirts, had breakfast and started our day together on the ranch.  My parents had some belt buckles made so I rounded up the guys to get a picture of them wearing them.

And since you can’t really see the belt buckle in these pictures, here it is. My dad’s brand of the C in the house is a a slight modification from his fathers brand.

Then Justin set up the rockets and all the kids got a turn pushing the button to blast them off.

We saddled up the horses again and rode around in the arena, we played games, and we sat around and talked and caught up with each others lives.

Family is family. You can’t choose your family. No family is perfect. And it does take an effort to stay connected in the busyness of life, regardless if you live in the same city or several states away.  I have learned over the years that we have been blessed with a wonderful family.  Leading up to this family roundup, when I would tell people that we were all going up to Oregon to spend a few days together, I did get some positive responses, but also had many people look at me funny and say “Ugh, that sounds awful” or “I couldn’t stand to be with my family that long” and a few others along those lines.  That makes me sad.  I have many fun memories with my family growing up and I am so thankful that we continue to make the effort to come together and be a part of each others lives.  And a big reason why we are so close is because of my grandparents.  Being that they were part of the greatest generation, they really valued family, faith and hard work.  They have passed those values down in the generations of our family.  They were present in our lives, always brought the family together to celebrate holidays, special occasions and we took many family vacations together.  Now they are both gone, and our family continues to make an effort to get together, to connect and catch up.  Unfortunately, this year there were a few that could not make it due to work/school commitments, and they were missed.  But 37 of us made a pretty good group!

And I know that Oma and Opa were smiling down on us and celebrating along side us. And I thank them for starting this big silly family.

Oma and Opa’s 4 kids

And with their spouses

The Christensen Family

And there were several of us taking pictures of all the great grandkids on Rene’s (Oma) Roost.

And when I saw the one that my Aunt took, my eyes filled with tears and it was another confirmation that Oma and Opa were with us looking over their great grandkids.

And for being good for the family photos I rewarded the kids with popsicles.

In the late afternoon we did a big potluck dinner, and had cake to celebrate the littlest family member, Austin, turning 3 years old.  Eating birthday cake and chatting with cousins.

I wonder what they were talking about?

After our tummies were full, some of my parents friends arrived, one who is a Cowboy Poet.  He provided us with some after dinner entertainment that was very much enjoyed by all.

And before the day came to an end, we had a big water balloon fight! The kids were tired, happy and completely soaked from head to toe, so then it turned into bedtime.

It was a long fun day and it didn’t end there, I’ll be back with more!

Oregon 2018

(June/July 2018)

This year my parents hosted a family reunion at their ranch in Oregon on July 3rd-4th.  So we planned our two week trip up there to overlap with the reunion dates.  The first few days after we arrived, we were busy with shopping at Costal to stock up on new shirts, boots, belts, gloves and other ranch necessities.  The girls made the rounds to Costco and the grocery store to stock up on groceries.  The guys were busy setting up the different swings and bucking bull in the area for the kids to play on.

Dylan was busy breaking in the pile of pea gravel that was delivered for the kids to play with.

And Jacob would not let us forget to make a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. So we made that a priority first thing one morning before heading to the Hobby Store to get some rocket engines and other fun things.

We rode around on the horses.

We put up 4th of July decorations all around the ranch.

Did a little bit of target practice.

Then little by little more and more family started arriving over the next few days.

The pea gravel pile was popular in the mornings.

The kiddos got a turn riding the horses.

We spent time visiting.

And eating (or painting faces with) popsicles.

And grandpa took the kids for a ride in the hay fields through the herd of cows.

Pretty soon everyone had arrived and the ranch was an official campsite!

Time to get this party started!

SD Fair

(June 2018)

Do you hear that noise??? Nope neither do I, it is still, it is quiet….Both boys are in school right now and I am FINALLY taking some time to get caught up here! So here goes.

Growing up I have memories of going to the fair in my hometown every year.  I was also part of a dance team that performed at the fair, so most of the pictures are of me and friends in our dance costumes, eating cotton candy and riding on the rides.  We’ve gone to the fair several times over the years and it is getting more and more fun as the boys get older.  This year our window of time to go was pretty limited, since the boys had 2 weeks of Vacation Bible School, then we were leaving for Oregon and the fair would be over by the time we got back.  Unless we went on a weekend, which I can’t stand doing those kind of things during “peak” times.  So on a Friday, Justin was able to leave work early, and I ran to Costco to get the fair package tickets before picking up the boys from Vacation Bible School and we met at home and drove to the fair.

We wandered through the exhibits, the theme this year was “How Sweet It Is”.  It was all about how candy is made. We visited the cows, goats, sheep, llamas, chickens and other farm animals. And of course we spent lots of time in the Family Fun Zone where the boys (and mom and dad) enjoyed the rides.

Dylan’s favorite by far was the bumper cars.  Not sure if it was because he had control of the car or because this was the one time that it actually OK or encouraged that he keep “bumping” into his brother.

And Jacob’s favorite was the Bungee Jump.

Of course when he was done, Dylan wanted a turn.

Ontop of the sweets, we also ate fried food.

And on our way out we stopped in the arena to watch the monster trucks race around.  When the show was finished, one of the trucks was giving rides.  So daddy and Jacob hoped on the Monster Truck, which became Jacob’s other favorite thing about the fair.

It was a fun impromptu family date and I am so glad we made it work!

This is THREE!

(May 2018)

Dylan’s birthday celebrations pretty much lasted a week!  The weekend before his birthday on Cinco De Mayo, we had a birthday party.  Dylan loves to jump and play in bounce houses, so we knew we had to get one for his party.  The best part is they deliver it early in the day, so we have it for the boys to play in for a few hours before the party even starts.

This is my kid who really has an interest in Superheros.  His favorite by far is Hulk, then Batman, then Spiderman. So Superheros was the theme of the party and we all wore our Superhero shirts.

His cake had Hulk smashing through a brick wall on top

Now when you ask him how old he is, he holds up 3 fingers and says “I’m this number.”  You have to ask him what that number is, then he will say “Three!”

We also had a Batman pinata, which is always a hit with the kids.

And Nonie supplied the Spiderman balloon

Another favorite is always the cake!

And after cake, we opened the gate out to the golf course to let the kids run free. And while the kids were playing and burning off their sugar high, the moms settled down at the edge of the sandtrap to chat.

And we stayed there until it got dark.  It was a really fun day for the kids and parents too!

That week at school, Dylan’s class had a dance party to celebrate his birthday and he got a birthday crown from his teachers.  The morning of his birthday, he put on his crown and asked for waffles for breakfast.

Later that morning we met some friends at the park to ride bikes and play.  When Dylan started telling me “my body is growling” that led to lunch at one of Dylan’s favorite places In-N-Out!

The following week, he had his 3 year old check up.  He passed his vision and hearing tests.  He is growing like a weed and is now 3 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 34 lbs 10 oz. And here is his 3 year old picture with the giraffe and woolly mammoth.

Time needs to slow down…

Flower Fields

(April 2018)

One thing that I’ve been wanting to do for years is go to the Carlsbad Flower Fields.  One of the perks of being a stay at home mom with young kids is you can do these kinds of things during the week when it is not as busy as the weekend.

It was a typical beautiful spring day in San Diego, so I packed snacks and loaded up the boys and we drove to Carlsbad.  When we arrived, I was shocked at how crowded the parking lot was and the line at the entrance was several blocks long! I drove around for a while looking for a place to park, and each time I passed the line, it seemed to be getting longer and longer.  I started getting a little skeptical, not necessarily because of the amount of people, but the challenge of keeping the boys occupied in the long line was not sounding so fun. So as I was driving around, I was talking to them and I told them there was a long line and nowhere to park and maybe we should come back another day.  They both said “Noooooo!”  So I told them if I could find a place to park, they needed to promise they would be good, patient little boys in line, and they promised they would and really wanted to go in.  So after 20 minutes of circling and waiting, I finally found a place to park.  When we got to the back of the line, I realized that they had footprints painted on the sidewalk that showed the path to the front.  The boys thought that was so cool and we made it a game of moving up and staying put on your own footprints.

It worked so well, until… we came up to the tractor…then the game was no longer fun and they were climbing and making tractor noises and playing in their own little world as I kept moving up in line.

I was almost to the front when I finally caught their attention and they came running to catch up with me.  These little monkeys were great in line and we finally made it in!

Since it is such a big place, it really didn’t feel that crowded.  The boys were handed “passports” that showed all the different places to visit where they could find stamps to stamp their passports.  They loved having something to work towards and It was neat because it took us to sections that we probably would not have visited or even known about.

About halfway through the mission of getting all the stamps in the passport, I asked the boys to stop in front of the fields so I could get some pictures since I did bring my camera.  First we had a little fun, and I asked them to give me a silly face.

Then I asked them to show me their muscles.

Then they were just being their usual silly selves

And then they actually took an interest in the flowers and started smelling them.

Then they wanted to go on the tractor ride.  It took us around the entire fields and up at the top we could see the ocean.

And they gave us an opportunity to get off and take pictures with the ocean in the background.

When we got back down the hill we got ice cream and visited all the other places to get the rest of the stamps in their passports. We went to the Christmas Poinsettia greenhouse, the candy land playground, the Orchid greenhouse (which was pretty amazing) and the boys favorite was the flower maze.

There were a couple times when they decided to turn and go in opposite directions through the maze, after regrouping and explaining that we all needed to work together and stay together, we found our way out. And we even took more time to stop and smell the flowers.

It was a fun day and so worth the fight to find a parking spot and the wait in the long line. And we will definitely go back again.

SD Orioles

(April 2018)

To follow the fall soccer season, Jacob wanted to try TBall in the spring.  TBall is a little more of a commitment than soccer was, but we had a great group of parents and coaches which made it a lot of fun!  Our team was the Orioles and just like soccer our colors were Orange and Black.  Being that this was TBall, it was a first experience for all the kids playing which meant there were no shortages of funny incidents.  There were plenty of kids who preferred to draw in the sand while out in the field instead of stand ready to catch the ball, or stare blankly ahead, picking their nose as the ball rolled in between their legs.  There were kids who threw the ball to 3rd base while the coaches are yelling for him to throw it to first, and my favorite was the boy who kept running to third base instead of first every time he hit the ball.  As we neared the end of the season, the kids really started to get the hang of the game.

After a few weeks of just practices, we finally had our first offical game, and the boys were so excited.

Jacob LOVES to be chased, and asks me a hundred times a day to chase him.  It used to be a fun game to play with him, until the day came when I could no longer catch him.  He is fast!  So when learning to play TBall, we told Jacob that he needs to run the bases like he is being chased by the ball. That became his favorite part of the game.

I can tell he’s concentrating here since he’s sticking his tongue out 🙂

High fives from the coach.

There is just something about TBall/Baseball that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling.  Honestly, I don’t follow professional baseball and I think it is pretty boring to watch on TV.  But going to a live game (especially with cute kids playing) is a lot of fun.

Then there is this guy…

When we were buying Jacob’s bat and glove, we had to get him a glove too.  So when he was not running around with the other little siblings during practice and games, he was practicing his own technique for when he is old enough to play.

And he was Jacob’s biggest fan

And mom and dad too

Here’s to Americas favorite pastime!