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Photos from 2015

After several recent posts I’m realizing my theme, at least for now, is 2015. I guess I’ve gotta catch up.

I had so much fun taking photos in 2015, so here are my most favorite. I will say that for me, in my novice photography skills, the best photos are mostly ones of luck. Very few include the right lighting, depth of field, or focus. But I hope that I’ve caught the moment or the person, and the skills will hopefully sharpen as I practice.

Jason has been the encourager of my interest in photography, but he’s also been the technical man; educating me (and reminding me again and again) what aperture, shutter speed, etc., mean. He has helped me take the image I can see with my eye and use the tools in my hands to try and make that picture happen.

Jason even took a few of these photos, which makes me excited because it means I’m actually in some of them!

Enjoy–though I guarantee you won’t have as much fun looking at them as I did being in the moment and capturing them.


































These photos were taken with a Nikon D60, mostly with a 50mm lens.


Ian’s seventh year

I took this photo of Ian back in November, at his seventh birthday party.  I call it “The force is strong with this one.”


I love this guy so much.

Now here’s a haphazard compilation of my favorite moments/comments/observations from Ian’s seventh year.


Ian killed it at Halloween this year. He was truly the best Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi EVER. I thought it was a bit strange that he insisted he be this version of Luke, which is not common (Pinterest does not give a lot of ideas for six-year-olds who want to be the dark, brooding and intense Luke who almost goes evil). But being the amazing, creative mom that I am, we were able to totally get it together.  He looked awesome! And if you know him, you know Luke in black is a good fit for his personality.


A few months ago I asked Imogen to sit in Ian’s seat in the van, as we had to rearrange for some reason.  She flipped out and said, “I don’t want to sit back there, it SMELLS SO BAD!!!” I assumed this was just her being weird (she does have an incredibly acute sense of smell and eres on the dramatic side).  The whole ride she kept complaining about how gross it was and that Ian’s “stuff” was back there.

Later, as I was cleaning the van out I realized her wailing was totally legitimate. In and around Ian’s seat were molding apple cores, stale popcorn, trash of various sorts and ages, and a water bottle that was probably nasty inside (I didn’t look or smell for verification). It was like a teenage boy’s bedroom. I will not ask Imogen to sit back there again, and I really should apologize to her for being so dismissive of her concerns.

I can only imagine what Ian’s teenage bedroom will look like. Note to self: If Imogen ever gets into deep, deep trouble as an adolescent use “cleaning Ian’s bedroom” as a consequence.



I love how Ian’s glasses are too wide for his face and they constantly slip down on his nose.  When he looks up from Legos or a book he peers over his glasses like an old man. And when he’s annoyed or mad, it’s even funnier. I know this is probably terrible for his eyesight, but it’s so amusing I’m not going to do anything about it right now. Plus, I don’t want to pay to go the optometrist.

Speaking of glasses, I think we are on Ian’s third pair this year. Zenni keeps our previous orders on file, so all I do is click “purchase” and a new pair of his trademark red and black specs comes in the mail a week later.


I love how I have to bug Ian to get up off the library floor and get his books checked out so we can go. And I love how he reads all the way home, and then stays in the van long after everyone else has gone inside, immersed in some Star Wars book.


If you look closely you can see Ian reading under a book light. This was the first time requested to read in bed. I was thrilled!

Speaking of books, Ian is obsessed with the Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary (“Updated and Expanded!” he would say) he received from Vavu and Vava for his birthday. I can’t get the kid to put it down or get it out of my way. Every day he’s telling me “Did you know that in 2011 they made a Republic Frigade, a Battle Nabu Starfighter and Vulture Droid? And in 2012 they made the best set ever–the X-Wing Starfighter!,” No, Ian, I didn’t know that. But now I know. And we can eat dinner. Or do school. Or you can go pick up. Or you can go somewhere else and read that stinkin’ book.

[Side note: As creative research for this post I just asked Ian which Lego Star Wars sets were made in 2011 and 2012 and he listed them all of for me by memory. He’s actually not reading the Star Wars Visual Dictionary at this moment, but this is only because he got a fresh stack of books from the library. He also just read this post and pointed out that “Nabu” is actually spelled “Naboo.” I wouldn’t want to get that wrong.]

On the Legos subject, Ian is absolutely, hands down, the best Master Builder I have ever met. And I’m not just saying of the seven-year-old kind. He comes up with incredible stuff. He will select a new set partially based on what pieces come with it so he can create something else he’s already been thinking about.



Here’s the display he created for the HEE’s Expo event:




Ian spent a good portion of his seventh year in this coat. For some reason once he puts it on, he doesn’t take it off, regardless of whether he’s in or outside. And he keeps the hood up a lot of the time.

After it’s second season in use, that coat is really getting too small, which makes him look even more comical.



Every once in a while Ian asks me to snuggle, usually before bed time. It’s like wrangling a giant, large-footed baby who has every muscle flexed. But I still love it. I call him carpet head because man, that kid has got some thick hair!



The other day Ian said, in front of both his sisters, “I love Imogen and I love Bebo, but I love Bebo a bit more.” I waited to see if Imogen was offended and she didn’t seem to notice, so I think I just changed the subject.  Then yesterday Ian gave Imogen a big chunk of his chocolate bunny and said, “I’m giving this to you because you’re the best sister ever.” Imogen responded with, “Well, it was mine anyway since I gave it to you as a gift.” I suppose this is a good example of the rise and fall of their affections for one another (and what a typical day of their living and playing together looks like).


This year has been wonderful as far as chores are concerned. Ian rarely ever whines about emptying the dishwasher, folding his clothes, or picking up. I LOVE IT. He’s not jumping up and down to help out, but I appreciate his logic; if he gets the work done he has more time to play and do what he wants. Fine by me.

What he does whine (and yell) about is doing school.  He’s a great student and he’s super smart. Once he gets to work and applies himself I think he feels encouraged and enjoys learning. But almost every week day I say, “Okay, we’re going to start school now” and he flips out. Like backtalk, sassy, yelling, awful-face reaction. It’s like I’m looking at my angriest self in the mirror.


One day was particularly bad and so his journal entry topic was selected for him: to apologize to his mom and explain how he thinks it made her feel when he yelled at her. He begrudgingly went about his work, but less than ten minutes later he approached me with this:


In case you have trouble reading this, I will translate. It says, “I’m sorry I yelled at you Mom. I think it made you sad. Do you forgive me? Are you ok?”

I asked him to read it to me and when he got to the end he choked up. And then he got made because somehow he’s learned that being tender and vulnerable is not a good thing (maybe from me? just a thought . . .) Anyway, I snagged a hug and told him I loved him before he ran off.


Ian has become an even better gift giver than he was last year.  His Christmas gifts for others were so perfect.


I can’t help but comment that Jason looks like a crazed lunatic in this pic.  And there’s Ian’s old-man glasses!



And lastly, Bebo with the lamby Ian got her with his Awana bucks.



I think I may have mentioned before that we sponsor a seven-year-old boy from Haiti named Gregory through Compassion International. We do this, in part, so Ian can connect with another child his age who lives somewhere vastly different, and who needs God’s love in some very specific ways.

Ian has participated over the last few years in writing letters, drawing pictures, and sending little gifts to Gregory. But a month ago we received a letter that Gregory’s father had died. Because his mom died several years ago, he is now a complete orphan. When I told Ian he got overwhelmed and started to cry. Then he pulled himself together and ran off with a sense of resolve. He grabbed all of his saving and giving money and wanted to give it to Gregory so he “can be happy again.”


Ian sending his letter off to Gregory.

We called Compassion that day and made a special donation, and Ian and I prayed with the customer service rep on the phone. I asked Ian, “Are there any bible verses that you think would encourage Gregory right now?” He shrugged at first, but then decided on Psalm 23, since he had just memorized it. So I wrote it out on a piece of paper and Ian colored on it. The Compassion rep confirmed with me that it will be translated so Gregory can read it himself.


Speaking of Psalm 23, here is how I haphazardly tried to explain it to Ian when he was memorizing it several months ago. It was a fun conversation. Having to explain life in simple terms is really good for my soul, and I hope it’s good for him, too.


It’s been a smattering of things, and I wish I had some heartfelt, God-inspired words directly for Ian this year, but I don’t. I’ll just say I’m so very happy to be his mom and to have shared another year with him.

I love you, Ian bo bee-an. Here’s some more great pics of you this last year. You’re still pretty cute, even though you’re so old now.

(In chronological order, starting with Ian’s 6th birthday and ending with his 7th.)






















Painting by Elizabeth VanSnellenberg


I suppose I’ve got to start somewhere so I’ll start with today

First I was going to write about our amazing summer. Then time passed and it was going to be about Ian turning seven.  Then a recap of our happy and full 2015. And Beatrice’s birthday passed over a month ago, and still nothing.

Ugh. I’m not sure if my writing muscles are just really atrophied or I’ve got complete a block.  Or I’m just busier or happier doing other things.  Or I’m stumped creatively. Or maybe it’s all of those things.  I don’t know.

I do know writing has always been a part of my life in some form or fashion and that I will regret not having documented memories in this season (especially when it is such a good one!).

So, I’m just going to get going with something simple.  Here’s some random smatterings of what we did today, mostly unedited and unfiltered.

For starters, I stayed in bed way too late and even coaxed my children into snuggling in bed with me. This was possible because yesterday they spilled water all over the TV and it’s accoutrements and I unplugged everything so TV was not an option.

I always end up frustrated with their bounty of energy, but I still invite them to snuggle anyway. Why can’t they just CHILL OUT and relax after they’ve clocked a good eleven hours of sleep in their own beds??? I expect the older two to be able to, since Beatrice can and she’s two years old. She parks herself right on top of me and plugs her mouth with her thumb. Then she proceeds to listen to me kick the the other two kids out of the bed for fighting or kicking me in the face, or something else equally as annoying. And then she’s got me all to herself!


Us snuggling (but some other morning).

I made up for the lazy mom start to the day by making a fabulous green smoothie with all kinds of goodies in it. The kids sucked it down and Beatrice, the pickiest eater that ever was, even asked for seconds. And this time I snuck in liquid whey and they didn’t even notice. Boo yah!

Afterward Ian sat at the kitchen table and wrote in his journal and did his math without whining (another score!). I’ve been working this week on consistency in our school work time, especially because he doesn’t have HEE classes for mid-winter break. We are on day four (of five) and I’m seeing progress with the ‘tude. Of course next week everything will change when our schedule fills again, but at least for a couple days I can feel like an effective homeschool teacher.

While Ian did his school work Imogen folded her clothes in a reasonable amount of time and with no whining. And then she put her clothes away in her dresser. This is MIRACLE upon MIRACLE. As the Bible says, “Train up the child in the way he should go, and later he will not depart from it . . . ”

Speaking of teaching your children to be successful and productive citizens, I am very haphazardly potty training Beatrice.  I don’t even really want to put that statement out there because it sounds like I’m somewhat committed, which I’m really not.  I asked her if she wanted to go pee in the potty (since she conveniently had taken her diaper off and was running around) and she said “Why yes, of course, I thought you’d never ask!” and then sat down to pee.  That was Wednesday.  She’s gone in the potty four times since then. At any given time of the day she may or may not be running around naked, “potty training.” This is not-so-serious business.

I have to laugh at myself because I very distinctly remember the night before we started potty training Ian.  I was a nervous wreck. We had this huge plan to NEVER go back to diapers. Hah! Potty training that kid was the WORST. I thought it would never end and I cared way too much.

After school and chore stuff I got dressed at the early hour of 10:45am so we could go to the chiropractor. I woke up this morning with practically a lion’s mane going on which, after a few hours, had tamed down to a nice bushy wave. You can’t plan perfect bedhead.  It’s something that just comes down like manna from heaven–except it only comes down once in a great while. And then at least one part of my appearance was awesome for a day, and with no effort on my part!

We had some sun this afternoon, and so I went outside (it’s rare, I honestly don’t go outside as much as I should). I’ve been trying to make an attempt to say yes to the kids when they ask for individual play time, so I joined Imogen in the play structure and we played house. Toward the end I was getting tired and the sun felt so warm and nice, so I pretended to be sick so I could lay down.  Imogen got out her doctor’s kit and saved my life. Then I played the doctor and saved hers. That was a nice little happy ending.

I never could get the TV plugged back in so I put the kids in front of the computer and suggested they watch something new. Ian got all whiny about it. I’ve decided Garfield is lazy and a glutton, and I’m tired of him. So, they ended up watching a new version of Inspector Gadget, which I suggested. Whine, whine, whine. I told Ian I liked it as a kid, maybe he would, too.

I went into the bedroom to work on my bible study and it didn’t take but a minute and Ian and Imogen’s laughter was echoing through the whole house. Apparently they liked it. I keep thinking of Steve Carell’s face as Inspector Gadget. I haven’t seen the movie but I have a feeling he uses his pronounced nose and goofy glare to really play up the character. Wait–maybe he didn’t even play Inspector Gadget? I really don’t know. These are just things I think about.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to pass the time, knowing that Jason wasn’t going to be home until after the kids were in bed. Some days it goes by faster than others.  I really wanted this week to be a slow one where we could bum around the house and not be anywhere special, but after a few days I suppose it’s making us all a bit restless. The minutes ticked by.

Eventually I threw plate of taco chips covered in BBQ pulled pork and shredded cheese (aka “fancy” nachos) down on the table for the kids and then fed them ice cream. Actually, the box said it was a frozen dairy dessert.  It is a bit concerning that a product can’t officially call itself ice cream, but not concerning enough for me to not give it to my kids. I have very little parenting shame these days.

Lately Beatrice has been saying “Daddy, wrestle!”, even when Jason’s not around, and the other two were asking to play their favorite roughhousing game with me tonight, so I obliged.  The game is entitled Meaty Thighs.  I’ve been playing it with Ian since he was pretty little. I pretend to be the Meaty Thigh Monster, and I go to sleep.  All the sudden I get hungry for, well, meaty thighs and attack them for my routine meal.

They all think this is an AMAZING game. I like it’s predictability and that I’m particularly good at being a monster. Unfortunately Ian is getting tall and wirey and his thighs aren’t so meaty anymore. It’s like they need to be put in the slow cooker for a very long time. Beatrice, on the other hand, is a smorgasbord of thick and marbled meat!

The game eventually turned into a pillow fight of which I lost and fell dead in the hallway.  Ian believed himself to be victorious and didn’t even seem phased when I later told him I faked it and let him win.

Now the kids are supposed to be in bed and of course they are up here in my face at 9 0’clock.  Ian says, “I have a cool animal fact. Did you know that baby koalas are the size of a jelly bean when they are born? They are that small. That’s even smaller than Bebo. It’s like you could eat them.”

The kitchen sink is empty, the table is mostly cleaned off, and I *think* the kids are finally asleep.  I’ve ironed and picked out Jason’s clothes for tomorrow and all I have to do is make his lunch.  Geesh, I sound like his housekeeper and his valet (but not as emotionally erratic as Mr. Bates . . . okay, maybe I am). Bates aside, I refuse to get up at 5:30am and dress Jason.  That’s where I draw the line.

Oh yeah, and I’m his parent, too, since I guess I’m waiting up for him. He’s out way past curfew!

It’s nice to write, however much of a rambling it is, and it’s also nice to realize that today was a pretty great day. I am thankful this is like many other days we have had in the last year–which I hope I eventually get around to sharing about.




Dinner at the Haggard’s

On this beautiful Sunday evening, the Haggards have just finished a fabulous dinner.  It was a Haggard staple, Quinoa Burgers.  We found this recipe a few months back and have tried a number of variations off of it.  Tonight’s version was unexpectedly the most exciting to date.

Trying to have a day of rest, we don’t plan a lot and the meals are usually simple affairs.  To keep things easier, this lazy afternoon has been a tag team of sorts.  Elisabeth made the quinoa mix and I did the cooking.

Everything was going fine until the last four burgers went into the pan.  As I was scraping out the bowl, I licked one of my fingers.  “Oh, that’s got some kick!”  I ask Elisabeth if she put any red pepper in the mix.  No, she says, I did put a little black pepper and some paprika from the little plastic bag in the cupboard.

Well, what we thought was paprika, turned out to be cayenne pepper.  1 1/2 tsp later and we have some fiery paddies.  In the end it was a blessing.  We didn’t know how many aliments cayenne pepper treats until we looked it up.

Here is to a few nights of heart healthy leftovers and bum-burning BMs.

Don’t do this often, but I am procrastinating.

So this is Jason.  Yes, I am still a part of this blog, though no one would know it.

Anyway, I am sitting at the desk and should be studying my Account 131 book.  But it is beautiful outside and I figured I was due for a break.  Heck, I had been at it for at least 30 minutes.  About outside.  Well, it is snowing.  Lots.  Well, not Minnesota lots, but definitely Seattle lots.  Heck, I just saw some neighbors snowshoeing on the sidewalk out in front of the house.

The snow is beautiful and relaxing.

(If you are asking why I am studying Account 131, then we haven’t been in touch recently because lots has changed in the Haggard House.  I will try and post about that at a later date.  Today, I just intended on this short love note.)

That is all I have, but not to be outdone in the blogging world, here is a picture of what I am looking at.



Ian at three

It’s amazing to think that just a year ago Ian’s vocabulary was only a handful of words.  In January his language skills took off and now he’s a major gabber (aka Haggard).  Sometimes it’s hard to get him to stop.  Once he could communicate more freely it was amazing to hear him talk about things that had happened months ago.  He’s got quite the memory.

Not only has he grown up, but his toys have, too.  This was most apparent to me when, very largely pregnant, I was constantly having to get down on the floor to pick up little toys.  No longer are the days of blocks or chunky trucks or big bouncy balls.  Now he’s got Thomas trains and Cars cars and legos and puzzles and game pieces and little worker guys, and the list goes on and on.

Ian hasn’t outgrown his love of books, which I am very glad about.  Reading is probably my favorite activity to do with him. This year we pulled out some of my favorite books from when I was a kids, ones that up until this point have been too advanced for him.  He’s recently started getting into board games, and I’m looking forward to playing those with him, too.

Ian had a lot of big changes this year.  And, like pretty much every other person I know, he’s not a big fan of change.  He’s learning (as are we as parents) how to help him talk through his feelings and not just act out in frustration and anger, which are typically his default emotions when he’s upset (hmm, wonder where he got that from).

His first big change was potty training.  We are still in process on this one.  There have been highs and there have been very low lows.  There has been pee in my bathroom in places I didn’t know existed.  I have cried and Jason has yelled.  But there have also been dances of joy, lots of gummies consumed and a lot of DVDs watched. And in the last month or so I see Ian taking more ownership and pride in his potty skills.  I think maybe we started too early with the whole thing.  And now, months in, Ian’s deciding for himself that he wants to do this.  We live and learn just as Ian does, I suppose.

The second change was moving Ian into his big boy bed.  This transition was pretty easy.  As I write this he’s snuggled up under his camo blankie, Grandma blanket, and Mama blanket with his kitty cat, bear bears, puppy dog, lamby, and batt. I can hear him talking and it sounds like some kind of Aboriginal language.  They all must be having some kind of tribal pow wow up there.

Third, and biggest of all changes, Ian became a brother.  For him, taking on this role has been a jumble of different things: anticipation, excitement, pride, tenderness, jealousy, irritation, desperation, mischeviousness.  One moment he’s being too rough, the next he’s practicing gentleness perfectly.  He gives her the evil eye and then makes a silly face so she’ll give him a belly laugh.

You gotta hand it to the kid.  It’s been a big year for him.  It’s so easy for me to forget that as we adjust to big changes in our household, Ian has to, too.  I am so proud of him.

Just now I hear Ian hiding at the top of the stairs saying in his whiny voice “Mommy, I want you to come snuggle with me because I love you.”

You melt my heart, Ian bo bee-an.  I’m so proud of you for being such a big boy this last year.

Tired and weary

Haggard, that is.  That’s been the general theme around our house for the last few months.  It’s been hard to have energy to do much beyond general upkeep (which actually feels like quite a lot).

It began in January, as I entered the second trimester.  Shortly after the last round of family left for holiday visits I came down with the flu.  It wasn’t the most miserable flu, as the worst of it came and went in a few days.  But its residual effects, a racking cough and exhaustion, dragged on.  Then it turned into a cold, which Jason and Ian also got.  We were out for the entire month.

February looked better.  We got the exciting news we were having a girl.  I got some of my energy back for a stint and started planning future things.   But then Ian got a cold again.  And then again.  And I felt tired again, a lot of the time.  And it seemed we would never resume a normal schedule.

By that point, I realized a few things had to give.  What I mean by that is that I called Jason one day at work, muttering a bunch of non-sensical words in between sobs and the phrase “I can’t do it anymore!”  I realized I could barely keep up on the dishes or laundry let alone fulfill commitments outside the sphere of our home.  I was just too tired.

So, some things went off the schedule and I *tried* not to feel guilty about it. It was hard to admit that I just couldn’t/can’t do everything that I was doing even a few months ago.

Since then I think upkeep has gotten a bit better and I am feeling less stressed, though it still feels like we are surviving, not really thriving.  There are days when things get done and days when they don’t.  Nights where I sleep well followed by nights where I don’t.

I don’t mean to sound entirely doomsday–there are bright spots in there.  Planning for baby girl has been one of them.  The bottom drawer of Ian’s dresser is currently hers and I am slowly accruing cute little things that I pick up or have been nice surprise gifts from friends and family.  I’m dreaming about how I want to set up Ian’s room to accommodate both him and his sister.  I’ve started gathering home birth supplies and making lists of things I want to have prepared post-birth.  I love planning.

It has also been fun to see Ian get excited about baby sister.  He talks about her every day. He tells me how he will play trucks and build lego houses with her.  I found a great book at Value Village called Waiting for Baby, which we read often.  A few days ago he said to me “I want baby sister to come out.”  I imagine that to him it will feel like an eternity has passed by the time she comes into the world.

Ian is also potty training,which has all-around been a positive experience.  It took him a few days to figure it out, but since then he has been doing well.  He is very proud of himself when he keeps his undies dry and exclaims “THREE GUMMIES!!!!!” when he goes poopy in the potty.  This is followed by picking out his three gummies and telling me what color they are, right before he eats them.

Ian is also doing his first kid’s race on April 17th.  He has been training for it.  He tells me “Ian race!” as he runs around the house or back home from the park.  Jason is running the correlating 10k on the same day, so he’s also training.  The other day he took Ian in the BOB out for a run and when they got to the bottom of the hill Ian ran all the way up to our house.  I think they will both do fantastic.  I, on the other hand, am not training for anything.  I’m lucky if I do a kegel or two a day.  And yes, I know I need to do more of them.

Speaking of Jason, he is also still tired.  He comes home from work and a lot of times finds me waiting for relief from a day with a two-year-old.  He is wonderful at playing with Ian and actually likes doing chores, but a man can only handle so much.  He implies this when I call him at work and I can practically hear him over the phone rubbing his eyes while he tells me they hurt.  He has his burdens.

With all these relatively minor ups and downs, we are hanging in there.  We have been pretty healthy over the last few weeks.  The weather is looking more like spring.  Yesterday I worked in the garden and today we spent some time in the sun at the park with friends.  We have family visiting in April, probably the last visits before baby girl comes in June.  I am almost in the third trimester, I can’t believe it.

Now that I’ve spent all this time explaining (complaining) about our status quo, I will say that we are blessed.  I say this mainly to remind myself.  God is taking care of us, and I see Him refreshing me when I become lonely or spiritually dry or have an ungrateful or worried heart.  He is gently leading this often ungentle heart.

On this day, a good day, I’m planning future things again, which is always a positive, hopeful sign.  I’m thinking about summer–a climbing structure for Ian in our backyard, drinking mojitos, planting some potted flowers, buying sunblock.

Yet I am more aware in this season that it is a day-by-day thing.  I don’t know why that is surprising to me.  God intends it that way.

Though there aren’t a whole lot, here are February and March photos.