Long time no Family Friday! It is for the usual reason, AKA, we have been busy. The Saturday before last, we woke up to this.

That bright light in the midst of the snow is one of our 12″ tall pathway lights completely buried.

Of course Evie was over the moon with excitement. As soon as she woke up and looked out the window she wanted to go outside in her jammies. We disagreed that this would be a good idea, since flannel jammies, although very insulating, are not very waterproof; also since Evie gets super cranky without breakfast. So we made some pancakes and told her she could not go outside until she ate at least two of them. Daddy tried to make them as interesting as possible.

Ellie, however, was not so excited about the snow that she let it interfere with eating all her maple breakfast sausage links. Turns out the grease from maple sausages also makes an excellent hair product.

Who knew, right?

Ironically, with all Evie’s excitement and hurrying, she really did not get outside any faster than the rest of us. We all made it out the door at about the same time.

Actually Ryan ran outside in his sandals to take this picture before it got marred by all the footprints.

But finally, there we were, out in the great white winter of the 2019 Snowmageddon. Evie promptly went wild…

While Ellie was a little out of her depth.

She couldn’t even squish her feet all the way to the ground, there was so much snow, and sometimes she would fall down and then it would get in her face and neck, and sometimes her glove would come off and then her hands would get cold. Once her boot came off.

When she wasn’t following behind Daddy or Mommy shoveling a path, she was much happier when she found her way to the rocking chair on the front porch.

Other than that she had a lot of fun!

Mommy tried to show Evie how to make snow angels. She made quite a lovely snow angel herself, but she couldn’t talk Evie into flopping down on her back in the snow.

Silly child.

There is nothing like snow for wearing out your toddler. Also for wearing out a Daddy. Just shovel out an entire cul-de-sac by hand (they don’t believe in snowplows in Western Washington) and boom! a great workout was had by all.

This is what happens when Evie gets distracted and doesn’t finish her breakfast.

Ellie takes care of it after she gets down from her high chair.

On Sunday after Mass we had Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne and the kids, as well as Ben and Christine and their kids, over for a pre-valentine’s day Rom-Com viewing. We were going to watch the greatest romantic comedy ever made, (i.e. “The Quiet Man.”) However, while we were waiting for the food to come out of the oven we sent the kids outside to shake their sillies out and wiggle their waggles away. Ben went outside to haul them around in a sled…

Then Adam and Ryan went out to throw snowballs at him. Then they started making a pile of snow, and Ellie and Daddy started rolling snow-boulders…

So Christine had to take over pulling the kids.

Aunt Maryanne was called upon to shape the snow-lady’s more feminine characteristics…

Group photo!

You can even see the little snow-baby that Noah made right next to Edmund!

Then Ben and Christine had to leave so Christine could nap before going on night shift, so they didn’t get to watch the movie with us. It started snowing again later so Adam and Maryanne had to leave before it was over. But it was still a great time for everyone.

After a long day there is nothing like standing over a warm-air register in your flannel nightgown (That Grandma Ann made for her).

The fuzzy thing in the foreground is Ellie’s hair photobombing the picture.

For the next week we played in the snow more (it was one snow-day after another for Evie) while Ryan began his final clinical rotation in a nearby family medicine clinic. He is already learning important wisdom which will serve him in good stead in his future practice.

On Thursday we ran errands as usual.

Evie and Ellie were happy to wake up and find fresh baked cookies that Mommy made before she went to work. (Grandma Ann also made the farm animal dress. Ellie’s favorite is the duck.)

On Friday Evie’s class celebrated her birthday at school. We took a picture of her official birthday questionnaire for posterity:

Daddy was especially pleased that her one wish would be “Having a sword.” As it should be. The only thing better than a sword is a book.

Evie’s family birthday was on Sunday, with Deedee and Papa, Dude and Susie, Gigi, Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne and kids, and Ronnie and Amanda and RJ.

Evie would have like to have everyone else over. In fact, she did invite every living person she has met for the last two weeks over for her birthday party, but Mommy and Daddy are a little more selective, and a lot more logistically minded. As it was we about maxed out our capacity for a formal “sit-down” type meal. There is just only so much space at the table.

More of Grandma Ann’s handiwork (we got a birthday package in the mail, hence the new dresses).

Evie loves being the focus of any gathering. She informed us that she is “A special gift to the world,” and that her birthday is her favorite birthday.

Grandma Betty (Gigi) and the girls.

Ellie too was enjoying all the people over as she had an all-but-unlimited supply of people to read books to her (have we mentioned that her favorite word is “boop” [book] and her favorite activity is bringing books to any adult who stops moving and demanding that they read it to her?)

Ellie also stole the spotlight a little bit by confidently walking up to the bathroom door and requesting to sit on the potty (non-verbally) and actually peeing in the potty… twice! We had not even started training her yet, but she figured it out on her own has been doing it a couple times a day ever since. You better believe we are positively reinforcing the crap out of that. (hee hee hee. See what I did there?)


So Evie is now a four year old. She is now very grown up, and very wise, and knows a lot of things, and is very good at so many things. If you don’t believe me, just ask her. She’ll tell you herself straight up.

We tried to calm things down a bit the rest of the week. Daddy likes to relax in the evenings, since he seems to work late every night at this new clinic.

We visited Deedee and Papa last weekend.

Ellie says, “Guck! Guck!” (Truck! Truck!)

Alas, with being four comes the unpleasant task of the four-year-old well child check. Evie is done with doctors. She has decided she wants nothing more to do with them, and was, in fact, quite anxious and distraught over breakfast.

She can be a bit of a worrier sometimes. She said she was going to like doctors when she got big and becomes a doctor, but she is not going to like them while she is little.

Ellie, on the other hand, is not a worrier at all. She threw up twice in the night and still woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to make scones for breakfast.

If she were selling scones, I would buy all of them. (College fund bakesale, anyone?)

And also, just like that, the snow is gone the crisis is past, winter is back to its usual rainy self, except for today which was gorgeous.

Those are the earthly remains of the snow-family in the background. The rest of them, we hope, has gone on to a better place… that is, into our lawn.

That’s all for this week, folks. God Bless, and have a wonderful weekend.

For 9 months and 20 hours she bore Eve’s ancient curse,
On her via dolorosa through the still
Hospital halls, from Tabor to Calvary Hill.
Then stripped, and flogged with spasms from bad to worse
And stalled far short of crowning, she felt her worth
Fall with the fetal heart tone’s slowing trill.
Compelled to accept not ours, but Our Father’s Will:
“Father, into your hands we commend this birth.”
Cruciform on the O.R. bed she lay
And one of them opened her uterus with a scalpel.
At once there flowed out blood and amnios.
“Behold your daughter!” In my arms there lay,
Screaming, slimy, blue and palpable
The Love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

One of the hardest things about being big is that you have to do jobs. Poor Evie is figuring this out the hard way. Evie’s job is to put the silverware away… and it makes her very sad. (Well, now she has two jobs. Her other job is to pull her socks out of the pile of clean laundry and pair and fold them.)

On one occasion she was particularly unmotivated to put her silverware away, and she buried her head in her hands and cried out, “Dad! You’re hurting my life!”

I wasn’t quite sure how to take that. I thought that was a line she wasn’t supposed to come up with until she was at least 12, but she has always been precocious, and she goes to school so maybe she picked it up from some of the other kids. At any rate, I did as we usually do, i.e. calmly reiterated that she had a job to do and couldn’t do anything else until that job was done.

Evie goes to a Montessori school. I have done a lot of reading on the Montessori method, although not as much as I would like (competing interests, you know?) and one of the things that has always struck me most about the philosophy of Maria Montessori is her insistence on the inherent desire of a child to learn. She takes seriously what many grownups would call “play,” instead calling it by its proper name, “Work.” That is, when the child is engaged with all her senses in learning about her world, she is doing that work which is most proper to the child, and yet never ceases to be proper to the adult. The goal is to forestall the usual result of twelve years of American style public education which teaches kids to learn what they need to pass the tests, so they can get good grades, so they can go to college, so they can earn money… I don’t think we usually get past that part in our planning and ask why it is we want to earn money. Instead, Montessori education seeks to encourage and liberate a child’s natural intrinsic curiosity, and to let it flower and develop throughout her school career.

To that end, much of the learning in a Montessori school is self directed, i.e. students are given considerable leeway to choose tasks that they are spontaneously interested in, and only guided to less favorite tasks if the teacher sees that they are neglecting it too much. They are almost never set a task by someone else and told to accomplish it whether they like it or not.

That responsibility falls on the parents.

So you may ask, (as I ask myself) if we like the Montessori approach so much, and especially appreciate the use of intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation, why then do we not follow suit at home? Why do we assign her a daily task that she must accomplish whether she likes it or not, and then enforce her completing it to standard by what can only be described as extrinsic motivation?

The simplest answer is… because that’s life.

No matter where she goes or what she does in life she will find herself under authority, and she will be directed by that authority to accomplish tasks. Maybe she will agree, maybe she won’t. Maybe she will like them, maybe she won’t. If she likes it, well and good. If not, she will need tools to fall back on, mental and emotional tools that allow her to get through things she does not want to do, and not just do them but do them well.

This is where the silverware comes in. It is an opportunity for teaching her skills like stress management (“if you feel yourself getting upset, it is okay to stop and take a deep breath to calm down); delayed gratification (I know you want to go do this other thing, but we cannot go until our jobs are done); organization of chaos (spoons go here, knives here, forks here); breaking a large, overwhelming task into smaller, more manageable subtasks (I know that pile of silverware looks huge, but how about you just pull one piece out of it? It’s a spoon! You can put one spoon away. Good job. Now you can pull out one more. That’s a fork! You have just put one more fork away. etc.); and pride in accomplishment (Good work! Do you see how nice and neat that drawer is? You did that all by yourself!)

But there is another reason for insisting on chores, which is subtler and more important. In fact, it underlies a good deal of our instances of saying no, or enforcing unpleasant things, e.g. eating food she doesn’t like, or not singing the same two song lines over and over again at the top of her lungs in the car.

Evie is still at the age where she is the center of her universe. Being a very articulate three-year-old, she expresses this in words unusually well, and not being an adult she has not yet learned to dissemble and hide her feelings under a socially acceptable veneer. So she has a couple of phrases that she throws out on a regular basis that chill us to the very soul, and all of them boil down to “But I want to do whatever I want to do.”

In a very real sense, that is what is wrong with our society. The overarching zeitgeist of 21st century America is “I want to do whatever I want to do.” It is completely natural, albeit unpleasant, in a toddler. It is death to any possibility of community in an adult. Mind you, most adults don’t fully grow out of that mindset, we just become more subtle about hiding it from other people. In fact, most of us hide it so well from others that we never suspect it ourselves. Most people don’t realize that this radical selfishness is alive and well in their souls and may even be the driving force behind most of their actions.

That’s a bit of a digression, but it is relevant because we do not want Evie to grow up that way. We do not expect her to be an utterly unselfish teenager, but we do expect her to be able to recognize that there are limits to her selfishness. That is, she may want to do whatever she wants, but she should know good and well that she cannot do whatever she wants. For people like Ryan (whose character trait, alas, this is and which she inherited in full force), this is the first step in learning empathy, sympathy, and ultimately love.

In the end we want her to be able to live in a community. The sine qua none of community is that its members must subordinate their wants to the good of the other members of the communities. This starts with household chores. Sure, putting silverware away is a great way to teach skills that will be advantageous to her in the workplace, whatever that might look like in the mid-21st century. But if all Evie learns from it is how to delay gratification and get rewarded for hard work it will have been worse than useless. No, the reason she puts silverware away is because it is good for the community. It is good for our family for us to be able to find our silverware when we need it, and for it to be clean and tidy, and not strewn all over the kitchen. This is a real task, with real value to the family, to Mommy and Daddy and Ellie, that Evie can really do. It really matters to us that she does it and does it well. It is a real contribution to the community.

This is the same reason we make her eat food she doesn’t like. The world does not revolve around Evie’s taste buds, and we can neither cook a separate supper for each person, nor always be all eating the same two or three meals that we know she will eat. It is good for her (as it is good for all of us) to be able to try and enjoy new things, to be able to eat a decent portion of something that someone else has made for us, without complaining, showing gratitude for the effort and consideration without letting on that it was not to our tastes (I cannot even count how many times this ability has stood me in good stead overseas).

Are we hard on her? I don’t think so. I think we set high standards and expect her to live up to them, because we love her, and because that is what she needs. She does not need us to pander to her whims, give in to her temper tantrums, or freak out with her emotional crises. These are all developmentally appropriate responses for her age, but not for our age. Our job is to model and teach better strategies, better coping skills, better responses, and a better outlook on life while being patient with her abilities right now. We are not enforcing behaviors, but teaching a way of looking at the world that is compassionate, responsible and selfless.

Of course the challenge implied in that mission is to be compassionate, responsible and selfless ourselves. Evie is a sharp cookie, and will never be impressed by words that are not backed up by actions.

For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:6-11 RSVCE.

It’s hard being an Evie sometimes. Last Family Friday was actually on a Saturday because our Friday afternoon was spent at the ER.

This little lady was trying to go down our driveway on her tricycle at full speed, and at the bottom she cranked the handlebars too hard and ended up spilling pretty hard. It was hard enough that she had a broken clavicle to show for it.

After her experience with doctors last year (or I guess now it would be the year prior to that) she absolutely HATES medicine. (She also doesn’t like doctors anymore, but insists she wants to be one when she grows up. I suppose if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?)

Ellie has been making the most of being the only able-bodied child. “Evie is too ouchie to eat her breakfast? Don’t worry! Ellie will help!”

Evie absolutely refused Tylenol or ibuprofen, grape flavor notwithstanding. She refused any beverage she suspected might be concealing medicine. Since Daddy and Mommy did not feel like pinning her down and forcing it into her via syringe, she just went without. This meant that she had the full pain to bear, and was very tired and cranky, and every time she got stressed she would get worked up almost instantly, which would make the muscles in her neck spasm. It seemed like we spent the whole day Saturday coaching her to sit up straight, breath deeply, relax her muscles, which was hard because she was tired and cranky and just wanted to slouch on the couch, which would compress her chest and shoulders and put a crick in her neck and start the pain cycle all over again.

The upshot of all of this is that we had a sad and sorrowful little girl on Saturday. Turned out, because of last week’s stomach bug festivities, Saturday was also the day we were scheduled to go up to Deedee and Papa’s house to celebrate Christmas. So Evie spent the visit mostly on the couch, except when we ate supper. She was a little mad at Mommy and Daddy because we wouldn’t let her just sit and watch movies the whole day, despite her insistence that she just wanted to do everything she wanted to do (her words). We insisted that she visit and talk with Deedee and Papa and Dude and Gigi, and eat supper at the table with everyone else.

Hard hearted. That’s us.

Other than that, however, it wasn’t too bad of a party. Lots of presents, and as always, great food. Evie and Ellie got thoroughly spoiled.

Mommy had to help Evie open her presents, because it’s hard to open presents with only one hand.

After the gifts were all opened we put on some Christmas movies for Evie and Aunt Dude (who absolutely loves Christmas movies) and Ellie went to bed, quite exhausted from too much Christmas. Then the rest of the grownups played “Ticket to Ride.” Ryan won by only one point. Grandma Betty was right behind him.

Kathleen finds Ryan the Rail Magnate very a-track-tive!

She thinks my tracks are sexy ;-D

The next day was Sunday, as tends to happen after Saturdays. We had our own special Christmas miracle at Mass when our wounded child who was too weak and injured to sit up from bed or stand up out of her chair, suddenly became well enough to hang out with her friends and eat two plates of food at coffee hour, (complete with getting into and out of her chair all by herself!)

It’s true what they say, that pain is all in your head.

She had more fun playing with the neighbor kids that day when they came over to give her “get well” cards. And she did a wonderful job “reading” a book to her baby sister.

Since then she has been getting steadily better, except when she has jobs to do like silverware or changing her clothes or taking a bath. Kathleen and I have learned a lot about pain by watching her deal with it, without the benefit of pain meds, but more on that in another blog.

Monday was a stay-at-home day for Daddy and Mommy had a short day at work, so we tried to get some spring cleaning done. Daddy continued his battle with the garage (Evie thought the tire pump was fascinating!)

While Mommy tackled the desk and cupboards in the Family room.

With a little help from our monkey-baby, Ellie.

New Year’s Day (a.k.a. the Feast of Mary Mother of God) was a beautiful day with much relaxing.

We started with a very fancy breakfast, complete with sparkling apple juice for toasts, and The Most Beautiful Omelet Ryan Has Ever Made! It was bacon, mushroom, spinach, sundried tomato, mozzarella and goat cheese, and it was delicious, although next time I will turn up the spinach and turn down the tomatoes.

I wish I could say that I made it for Kathleen, but Kathleen doesn’t like omelets, so she contented herself with green pancakes and sausages. However, if she did like omelets I would have made her The Most Beautiful Omelet Ryan Has Ever Made!

Wonders continued never to cease as we played Evie’s new board game, “Don’t drop the minion!” (A.k.a. “Don’t break the ice.”)

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday all kind of blend together. No one is really sure what day of the week it is. I know we had chips and chili sauce for supper one night, because Ellie wore it proudly. Not a big deal, since she LOVES bath time.

And then Mommy discovered that Ellie had been playing with Evie’s markers right after her bath.

How did she know?

She caught her red-handed!

So welcome to the Kraeger house, 2019. Next week should be wild and crazy, and the week after that, and the week after that, but it’s all good, because God is All Good.

God Bless, and have a wonderful weekend!

One of these days we seriously are going to make Family Friday a bi-weekly or even monthly thing. It seems like every Friday we are too busy Familying to Friday, which is only a problem if you insist upon Family Friday-ing. Take, for instance, last Friday.

We had a great time with our MC friends at a music ministry session with singer-songwriter Andrea McDonald. Of course Evie stole the show with a song that she made up on the spot.

We partied late into the night until Ellie was sleep drunk and could no longer even stand upright.

Sleepy time!

That is, we stayed out almost until eight-o-clock!

I know, crazy right!

It had been a fun week, albeit busy, with Mommy at work and Daddy trying to knock out four months honey-do before restarting school. We had made time for a lot of together time…

We made a shelf!

We had even made it up to Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne’s house for a little welcome-home-hey-how-you-been-long-time-no-see party.

We had a good time, and my how Edmund and Annarose have grown! Edmund is super tall and trimmed down, and quite the dapper dresser. Annarose has gone mobile with the world’s fastest commando crawl. Edmund objects to this development, because it means that she can now intrude upon his playing, but, c’est la vie!

We went out for a family favorite meal…

Pho at Pho Tai in Lakewood. Evie loves the noodles, and Ellie demolish two gyoza, a pile of noodles and a few ounces of Daddy’s grilled chicken and rice.

By Thursday we were all set up for a great family weekend going clamming at the Ocean. Deedee and Papa picked up Evie early from school so they could get to the beach before the tide went out and get clamming right away.

Meanwhile, Daddy and Ellie trekked down to Olympia and picked Mommy up from work before heading out to the ocean. Ellie liked Mommy’s work. It has lots of stairs.

We got to the beach in the cold and wet and scraped about in the sand for an hour or so until the tide came in above the clam beds. All in all we got 25 clams before we headed to our vacation house for the night.

There we got in jammies and made hot cocoa. Evie was so excited to find that her room had bunkbeds that she couldn’t sleep for ever and ever amen. First she wanted to sleep on the top bunk. Then she wanted Papa to sleep on the top bunk. When he declined she thought Mommy should do it. But Mommy also declined, so she tried to recruit Daddy. As a last resort she even tried to convince us to put Ellie up there. It just broke her little heart to think of that lovely top bunk not being slept in. It seemed like such a waste.

Of course, then the weekend took a turn for the… unexpected. Somewhere around midnight (Evie was still not asleep) Ellie started puking. She puked over and over again until she was dry-heaving, and then she dry heaved off and on until about 4 AM before going back to sleep.

(Parenting pro tip: whenever possible, schedule your stomach bugs for weekends when you are away at a vacation rental. Then you don’t have to wash your towels and sheets, you just turn them in and get new ones! You’re welcome.)

So instead of going out in the morning for sightseeing or what have you we were recovering, watching Christmas movies, playing brainteasers while waiting for the baby clothes to wash, and playing board games while the kids napped.

By and by it was time for the clamming to begin again, and it was here that the plot once again took an unexpected twist when we discovered that both Papa’s and Daddy’s boots had been stolen right off our front step. Since we declined to go clamming barefoot on a Washington beach in December, that effectively kiboshed that clamming expedition, and we had to be satisfied with our previous haul of twenty-five. Instead we went bowling and Daddy tried to teach Evie how to play pool.

The fun continued after we got home, when Evie jumped on the puke-your-guts-out-all-night bandwagon on Sunday night (Mommy had to work on Monday). So Christmas Eve was a messy affair, and Deedee and Papa were having similar issues, so we had to cancel our Christmas Eve get-together.

Then of course Daddy was queasy in the tummy all day Christmas Eve into Christmas morning, and Mommy was queasy all Christmas day and into the next morning.

We are not that great at taking family photos.

And the day after Christmas Mommy felt better and went back to work and… Ellie got sick. She had a bad case of the runny-nose which caused her to sleep poorly, which in turn caused everyone else to sleep poorly, except Evie.

Ellie is pretty cheerful about it, though. Here, for instance, is a picture perfectly encapsulating the difference between Evie and Ellie.

Evie pines for the snack that might have been (chocolate). Ellie enjoys the snack that is (grapes and oranges).

Yesterday we made pizza while Mommy was at work. Evie measured and counted all the scoops of flour and poured them in the mixer all by herself. Ellie helped make press out the dough for her first time ever. She actually did pretty well about not tearing holes in the dough, and it blew her mind when she could see her hand print.

And now we come to the climax of our post, our week, and (hopefully) our year… drum roll please!

Evie had to go to the ER. She was riding her tricycle down the driveway and turned too sharply and upset herself. We took her to the ER for some x-rays and turns out she has broken her first bone!

She picked a good bone for her first break. A clavicle. Not particularly dangerous, and they tend to heal really fast and really well, especially in little kids. And she has a sling with doggies on it!

And that’s all for this week, folks. We feel like the moral of this week has been, “keep your head up, things could always get worse.”

Or perhaps, “When life hands you something yucky, like snot, do something cool with it…

Blow snot bubbles.”

Well, it is finally here; that moment every mother longs for and dreads (or at least one of those moments); the time when your baby becomes a not-quite-so-much-of-a-baby…

It was Evie’s first day of School!

Evie First Day of School (1)
Ah! That little Goober!

She loves it, of course, as we knew she would. Evie First Day of School (2)She ate hardly anything, which was also not unexpected and was overtired and consequently cranky that night, which, again, was not to be wondered at. Thus she takes the first step on the long road to academic achievement.

Speaking of taking steps…

Family Friday 172 (14)
Ellie loves having a grownup hold her hands so she can practice walking.

Mommy and the girls spent most of the weekend at Deedee and Papa’s house, because Mommy was on call almost the whole Labor Day weekend.

Family Friday 172 (13)
Evie is teaching Ellie how to keep house.

They played on the deck and had tea in the playhouse. Evie serves an excellent tea.

They worked in Papa’s garden.

Family Friday 172 (15)
Almost the end of the season, but the strawberries are still coming on strong.

Evie discovered dominoes.Family Friday 172 (17)

While Ellie ate them out of house and home.

Family Friday 172 (3)
Ellie vs. Egg. Ellie won!

Family Friday 172 (12)
They are rehearsing their duet.

They even went hiking and picnicking and camping.

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Of course, most of this time Mommy was driving back and forth to the hospital getting called here and there and there and here.

Family Friday 172 (4)
She still found time for snuggles. Because they are important.

After all that excitement there were two tired little girls on the ride home.

Family Friday 172 (2)
Not to mention a tired Mommy.

Our own garden is almost done for the year as well. The corn is coming in, and then after that it will just be the cantaloupes.

Family Friday 172 (16)
Evie is a big helper.

We got a new book this week! Uncle Matt wrote a children’s book called “Philbert LaRue had a Hole in his Shoe.”

Family Friday 172 (9)
Evie read it with great interest.

Family Friday 172 (10)
Evie in her Philbert LaRue shoes.

Meanwhile, we don’t have any pictures of what Daddy has been up to, but we are pretty sure it looks something like this.

Except Daddy doesn’t put his finger inside the trigger well until he is ready to shoot.

Actually, this is more accurate…paperwork

That’s all for this week folks! Stay pretty if you can, classy if you can’t and remember, when all else fails, almost anyone can make it in the Army.

Family Friday 172 (19)
Just getting ready to go to Deedee’s house.

God Bless. Keep us in your prayers.





This has been a sad week for our family. Family Friday 171 (17)Daddy had to go on a trip and won’t be home for a long time.

Thanks be to God we had a wonderful weekend together before he left.

Family Friday 171 (1)
Ellie LOVES playing in the pool, and she rocks the best pool hair ever!

We really just hung out and relaxed together, which is just fine. Not every day has to be an adventure.

Family Friday 171 (2)
Evie and Daddy built a most wonderful lego house together.

And Ellie is SO CLOSE to walking!

The closest we got to adventure was going out to Ft. Steilacoom to visit a circa 1908 soda parlor that Kathleen read about on the internet. We got there right as they were getting ready to close, (an unfortunate consequence of half the family requiring naps every afternoon) but the nice gentleman let us in and made sodas for us anyway.

Family Friday 171 (3)
Evie was very good at ordering, not so good at ordering politely.

The soda fountain is the original 1908 soda fountain, still fully operational. Daddy had an egg soda, Mommy and Grandma had green rivers, and Evie had a blueberry Italian ice.

Family Friday 171 (4)
Ellie was not expecting to have her picture taken.

We will definitely have to go back next year after Daddy gets home and really look around, maybe sample some of the food. The whole building is a museum with artifacts from Historic Ft. Steilacoom, but unfortunately we did not have time to look at everything because they were closing.

Instead we went to Sunnyside, and played on the playground.

Family Friday 171 (12)
Evie showing her baby sister how it’s done!

Kathleen pointed out that for some reason she and I have gone to Sunnyside before every one of my deployments since I came to Washington.


Let me see….

Thailand, 2012; Just friends. Nepal 2013; Dating. Philippines, 2013, engaged.

Our post-engagement photo at Sunnyside.

I didn’t deploy in 2015, although I went to some schools. I don’t think we came to Sunnyside before Thailand in 2016. Didn’t deploy in 2017. Now here we are in 2018.

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She can climb the playground all by herself!

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This big girl is learning how to swing all by herself!

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Grandma and Ellie enjoying an amphibious ride.

It’s been such a short time, but it seems like so much water under the bridge. We have an Evie and an Ellie! That is just wonderful.

Unfortunately, then it was time to take Daddy to the Airport. So he said goodbye to Grandma…

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And we drove to SEATAC. It’s strange how the babies seem to catch wind that something is going on, even when they are too little to talk. Evie did the same when I left for SLC in 2015 and Thailand in 2016. Evie’s way of dealing with it has always been to be crankier, sleep less, push the boundaries more. Ellie is really too little for that, perhaps, but she definitely knew something was up. She has been clingier and snugglier, and kept asking Daddy for hugs.

Evie, of course, is old enough now to know that Daddy is going away, and to understand that it is going to be a long time. Unfortunately, she is not old enough to have any realistic conception of how long a long time is, which makes it very hard for her to understand when to expect Daddy home and when not to expect it. It’s hard for a three-year-old to count months when she barely recognizes days as discrete units of time.

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It was a sad ride to the airport. Evie kept insisting that she had a ticket to get on the airplane with Daddy.

She even handed the imaginary ticket to Daddy so he could read it. According to her it said, “Evie can get on the airplane this day.”

We were able to cheer her up for a little while by helping her to look forward to taking a trip altogether as a family next year (God willing, next year is going to be busy).

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That made her smile.

But she was still in tears most of the way home.

Fortunately, healthy three-year-olds can’t stay sad forever. All that grief made her tired and hungry, though.


And now we settle into the deployment routine. Daddy is going to be busy of course, but the person who is really carrying the brunt of it is Mommy. Kathleen still has to work her 40 hour work week, plus call. She also has to juggle the childcare schedule with Grace and Deedee and Papa, make sure Evie gets to and from school on time (more on that next week!) and provide as much continuity and security for the girls as she can.

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Thank God for modern technology!

Sure she is a super-mom, but we could all still use your prayers for a while.

That’s all for this week. God Bless and have a great week, and please enjoy your time with your family as much as you can. It is more important than you likely realize.



Dear Evie,

Since Daddy won’t be around for a long time to sing bedtime songs with you, I wanted to save this video for you to watch. I love you, and I will come back to you. Remember, it is okay to be sad. When you are sad because you miss me, don’t be naughty and disobey Mommy. Instead, tell Mommy that you are sad, and ask for a hug, so she can help you feel better. You can ask Deedee and Papa too, or Gracie, or Uncle Adam and Maryanne, and they will be happy to give you hugs and help you feel happy again.

Remember, even when Daddy isn’t around, Jesus and Mama Mary will always be with you.