Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Simple things

We have had a very wonderful end to November and start to December here at our house. In the midst of a busy season, we've dug in and tried to make simple, sweet memories together. Wearing a newly sewn nightgown, having a snowball fight, going to a tree farm to hunt for a Christmas tree, and decorating the house together have filled our quieter moments. In this season of Advent, of waiting for Christmas to come, we are finding joy together doing simple things.

Maya wearing her new nightgown made by Marmie. Notice that Baba has a matching nightgown too!

A Thanksgiving snowball fight. From left: Aaron, Sam, Grandpa Russell, Maya, Annemarie and Aunt Chrisy.

Maya sledding down the hill in our front yard.

Maya and Sam's Thanksgiving "snow turkey."

Picking out our Christmas tree.

The kids at the Christmas tree farm with Bapa and Marmie.

Posing in front of our decorated tree. Maya and Sam hold their favorite ornaments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reading in Bed

A week or so ago, I woke up to the sound of cute little voices down the hall. When I finally dragged myself out of bed to go investigate, I found both my children snuggled in Maya's bed reading a book. Maya was reading as many words as she could and Sam was pointing out interesting things in the pictures.

I always love my children, but at that moment there was so much mama goodness bubbling up from inside of me that I thought I would burst.

Maya reading Richard Scarry to Sam.

Two fantastically wonderful kids. What mama would ask for more?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Farm

Today we visited Biringer Pumpkin Farm. It's a place I've been going to for many years with my family (probably almost 35 years, to be honest). It was a cloudy day, but we hearty northwesterners braved the drizzle for some outdoor harvest fun.

Here are my parents, lovingly called "Bapa" and "Marmie," with Maya and Sam.

Maya and Sam loved all the fun things to do and see at the farm. One of Sam's favorite things is a tractor, so the two goofs posed in front of this one, all smiles.

Amy, Colby, and Parker joined us this year. Last year, all three of them came as well, only Parker was still growing in his mama's belly. It was wonderful to have his adorable face in our pictures this year.

Here is a picture of the four of us. I loved this spot because I think the texture of the wood's grain behind us is especially interesting. It's a rare moment when our whole family is in one picture (since I'm the one normally behind the camera). We loved this time together today.

Sam found a REAL tractor to drive (although as you can tell, it's not actually moving) which totally made his day.

I took this shot myself while riding the wagon out to the pumpkin patch. I love that Sam has deep blue eyes while Maya's are a chocolate brown. I don't think I could even tell you which color I prefer--both are so beautiful to me.

Here, my sweet kindergarten girl pauses to flash me her million-dollar smile.

The kids each take their time picking out the perfect pumpkin.

And at the end of the morning, Marmie and Bapa pose with their three grandchildren to commemorate this day. We have a picture of my siblings and me with my grandparents in almost the exact same spot at Biringer Farm (probably 20 years ago). I love this shot best because of its imperfection--it tells a story of that moment.

One of the biggest blessings about living back in the Pacific Northwest is the chance to spend time with my family on a regular basis. Mornings like this one, where we gathered for a few hours to enjoy this beautiful and festive setting, remind me what a gift it is to live close to people you love. If somehow we could pick up the Russell family and move them to Everett, our hearts would be teeming with the love of family.

Happy Fall, everyone. Happy season of falling leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, spice cake (I have the best recipe), and time together with the rain falling outside.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Maya's First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Maya's first day of kindergarten. This morning, our family plus my parents, my sister, and my nephew accompanied Maya on the one-mile walk to Whittier Elementary. She was wearing one of her new "uniform" outfits, and she seemed very excited.

Upon arrival at Whittier, Maya got a little sad and scared, so her tears were central to our parting, but when we returned to pick her up at 11:15 today, she was all smiles. She LOVED kindergarten.
A cute pre-kindergarten smile.
And here you can see her cute plaid jumper and white-collared shirt.
Maya walked alongside Marmie and held her hand for much of the trip.
Here are Marmie and Bapa with their grandchildren.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wedding Weekend

We spent this past weekend in the mountains of California at Aaron's cousin Crystal's wedding. Maya was the flower girl and I sang in the ceremony. It was a lovely, if brief, trip filled with wonderful celebrations and time to be with family.

Here is Maya with Crystal, the bride.
Maya ADORES her Aunt Chrisy.
The four of us at the wedding.
A rare shot of me and my girl (normally I'm the photographer)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

35th Birthday

I turned 35 today. I feel blessed and lucky to have such a wonderful life, surrounded by the people I love. My family came over to our house for dinner, and Aaron hosted a wonderful party.

I'm grateful for all the goodness in this life I live.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August Clean-Up

The laurel hedge that grows in our neighbor’s yard truly has a life of its own, and a few days ago Aaron decided he’d had enough. Armed with the pruning shears and a ladder, he set out for victory. The kids and my mom cheerfully helped us clean up the remains of the hedge, and now a whole new patch of sunshine streams into our backyard.

I have to admit, I love the extra light in our bedroom too.

The Autumn Garden

A few weeks ago, there was a huge spread in our local newspaper about planting an autumn garden. Because we live in a very temperate climate here in the Pacific Northwest, things will grow in the garden through November or December.

Taking cues and suggestions from the writer of the article, I cleared a garden patch at our new house, purchased some seeds, and planted what I hope to be a hearty Fall harvest.

Here are some pictures.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, here’s a picture of our new house. We didn’t buy it, so we can’t truly claim it as OURS forever, but we are enjoying our new nest.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Here's our cute little nephew at six months old. He spends every other Friday morning at our house, and we just love our time with him.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Fun

When Mama finally finished recording her new CD and we moved all our stuff into our new house, then summer for the Russells could finally begin. We started off our playtime in the sunshine by making a trip to Grand Coulee, Washington, to visit some dear friends who lived there. On the way home, we swung through the Cascade Mountains for a visit to my family's cabin in Plain. The kids LOVED the playground and swimming pool.

And here are the kids in our new house, playing Little People in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. Our house boasts nice hardwood floors, plenty of light, and fun spaces for playing.