humboldt county.

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Life has been  a little more out of the ordinary lately. We have had a very busy Spring and Summer, and now Sam is in the midst of some big projects that keep him up late into the night. Needless to say, we miss him and we are feeling a bit overwhelmed. So, after a few weeks of talk, Sam finally made some plans to take us away for a weekend up in Humboldt County.

Sam served his mission up here, and so it has a special place in his heart. It's a little like going home for him. And, I can't complain because it is one of the most beautiful areas of this county I have seen and really such a peaceful place to disappear for awhile. You can find yourself running around in your swimsuit one sunny afternoon, only to wake up to a moody fog-filled morning the next. The giant redwoods march right up to the edge of those rocky beaches where the ocean really likes to put on a show. 

One of my favorite days we spent at Moonstone Beach, where the tide was so far out that we could run and run and only be up to our ankles. There were little streams of water up and down the beach, and Eliza would run and splash with Sam while I had the luxury of actually laying down for a bit. We walked around and collected treasures, and searched for "bear caves" (sea caves) in the rocks. 

One of the nights we camped at Patrick's Point, where the sites were nestled in the lush ferns and you could hear the ocean all night long. Eliza was stoked about camping. She was giddy about the tent, and spent a long time just running in and out of it, or exploring the "jungle" with her binocular hands. She loved the camp food- a girl after her mother's heart. Although, she would only eat the s'mores if they were deconstructed and room temperature. We borrowed a friends' 4-man tent, which fit a pack 'n play just nicely, which meant Eliza slept just great! 

Those beautiful woods inspired some pretty magical imaginative play, as well. She requested many stories of fairies and talking animals, and was always on the lookout for bear caves and treasures that the fairies had left behind for her. I would lay on the floor of the tent, with Eliza in my arms, and tell ten stories in a row while Sam stoked the fire for dinner. There's nothing better than seeing her face light up with excitement. One of her favorites involved a mermaid that she met at the beach, who gave her a mermaid tail for the day and took her on an underwater adventure.

One of our favorite beaches is Trinidad State Beach where, in the past, we have seen so many pink, chubby starfish clinging to the slick rock. Unfortunately, the starfish were "asleep" this trip (ie. not there) and Eliza has not stopped taking about it since. "Starfish asleep?" But, she still had a great time sticking her fingers in the anemones and running up and down the foggy beach. She would run down the sand and Sam would catch her and toss her in the air, over and over- "again! again!"- until she was waddling around in circles, drunk and happy.

It was nice to get away, and just be together as a family. We stayed for three nights, and camped two of them. And, if I were to be honest, it was difficult with a toddler. But, I think it's worth it. She loves to go on adventures and we love to take her. I just have to constantly remind myself to keep my cool when things get a little crazy. Which, I'm becoming increasingly less good at? Is that bad to say. I feel like the terrible twos have such unique difficulties. She is no longer an infant, and she knows when she's being naughty. But, gosh, even when I am so tired from a long day and night of wrangling that skinny, little body around the woods all day... I roll over in the morning and see her little face pressed up against the netting of her pack 'n play just two inches from mine, and I can't help but laugh. "Mama! Wake up!"

eliza says, vol. 5

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Eliza is a big girl now. She is tall and lanky, and has a very strong mind of her own. She is an absolute roller coaster of emotions, and we are all just along for the ride. She knows what she likes and she is very particular about the way things should be. But, she is also a very kind soul and so in tune with the feelings of those around her. I melt every time she notices that I am feeling down. She will immediately climb up on my lap, hold my face with her little hands, lock eyes and ask, "What's wrong, Mama?" 

I was feeling so sick a couple of weeks ago, to the point that I was laying on the couch in a total daze from having stayed up all night. Sam got Eliza ready for church that day, and before they left she tucked me in, gave me a baby doll, a book, and a kiss. I just started bawling. 

Eliza has found a passion for creating. She loves to make things, and so we usually end up at our big farm table with a mess of glitter. Luckily, we have an abundance of collected supplies, and so I am constantly pulling out paper and paints, glue, and sequins. She went through a phase where she was keeping a detailed "shopping list" in her head. She was always rattling off things that she wanted to buy- an Elsa dress, a crown and necklace, purple cupcakes, a pink baby bed. "I buy it, I buy it." It wasn't my favorite phase, and I didn't really like the idea of her wanting and asking for "things" so much. I think it's a result of being dragged on too many shopping errands. So, we started talking about making the things she wanted and it became her favorite game.

We made her babies a "pink bed" out of a box, with a tassel pillow and striped blanket. We decorated paper crowns with sequins and glitter paint, and even mailed one to her cousin. We made tiny tutus for her baby dolls, out of leftover tulle and elastic. One day, we went outside and found a birdhouse kit sitting on the curb for pickup. So, we took it inside, dusted it off, and Eliza added every bit of sparkle in the house. I was bursting with pride. Like, really. She painted, glued, and sprinkled that entire house- anything that she couldn't do herself was carefully art directed from the sidelines. It's now hanging on our front porch, and she smiles every time she sees it.

I am growing more and more anxious about recording the bits and pieces of this beautiful girl. Our lives are becoming increasingly more interesting and our days are filled to the brim, in the very best way. So, days will go by and I realize I haven't taken a single picture or written down even the smallest thought. I just haven't found the best solution.

But, in the meantime here are a few little sayings. I wish I was better at taking video, because she has such a unique, high little voice. So, just try and imagine...

Eliza says:

"I missed you!"- For awhile, Eliza used to say this all the time. And, in such a genuinely sweet way. When I would go to get her from her crib, she would gush, "I missed you!" She would smile and say it no matter the time apart, even if it was just minutes. Sometimes, she used it interchangeably with "I love you"- like when we were cuddled up reading a book she would hug me and say, "I missed you, Mama."

"silly, silly"- This one is from me. Whenever she is doing something funny, I will say "silly, silly." Or, if she wants to do something I don't want her to do, I might use it to dissuade her, like "Oh no! You don't want to do that! That's silly." So, now she will throw her head back and say, "No! Si-wy, si-wy!" 

"Hide a (from) Papa!"- Eliza loooooves to hide. And, she especially loves to hide from Papa. When she hears him coming through the door she squeals and covers her eyes, or runs to hide under the blankets in our bed. Or, when we are playing at home she will yell "Hide a Papa!" and burrow her little body into mine, while Sam pretends to look for her. She loves the chase, and she loves the scream when she's found, but they she HATES it when she realizes that it's over now that she has been found. She gets really angry and whines. So, unfortunately for Sam the game is to run from Papa, giggle, giggle, and then yell, "Go away, Papa!" once he finds him. Poor guy. But, I sure do love the snuggles under the covers while she hides from him.

"Papa fix it"- Speaking of Papa, he has already become her hero. She is convinced he can fix everything. When we were in Utah, we took the kids to see Inside Out in the theater. They had the best time, eating treats and squealing through out the movie (which I highly recommend!) I loved watching them interact so much, and when the personality islands started breaking and falling into the abyss the kids were yelling and pointing at the screen "Broke! Breaking!" And when all the noise of the movie died down, it got really quiet and Eliza said, very matter-of-factly, "Oh, Papa fix it." We were busting up laughing.

foot stomp- This isn't a saying, I guess. But, this miss has developed a very dramatic routine when she is mad about something. She curls her hands on her waists, scrunches up her nose, and stomps her feet. "No! Not fair!" or "Have to!" (I don't have to) I have been trying my best not to laugh...

"5 minutes"- When it's time to do something, or move on from something, Eliza gets 5 minutes on the timer. She gets to press the button on the iPhone, and can play with whatever she wants for those 5 minutes. It has turned out to be a perfect solution, because when that timer goes off she gets to press the button again and she rarely complains about moving on. And, let me tell you- it goes both ways! One time I was so tired, and kept rolling over in bed. Eliza kept coming in and poking me trying to get me to get up, while I groaned knowing that I would have to or she might blow up. And when I told her I was tired, she looked at me, held out five tiny fingers and said, "Ok, five minutes, Mama." HA! It was great. My little snooze button gave me five more minutes to doze.

"secrets"- Sometimes we tell each other secrets. I push aside her hair and whisper things in her ear. Then, she will cup my ear and almost always whisper, "I lub you, Mama." (heart eyes)

"Thank you, Mama"- I cannot tell you how often she tells me this. And, when she does, she positively gushes. I wash her baby's tiny pajamas and she wraps her arms around my legs and says, "Thank you, Mama!"

"I spy"- We taught Eliza how to play "I spy." We usually play when we are trying to distract her, or get her to eat more food at dinner. When we play, she cups her hands around her eyes like she's looking through binoculars. I never taught her this, but I totally love it (I think she might have picked it up from Daniel Tiger). She looks through her "binoculars" pressing her face right up against the found objects sometimes. 

dresses- It goes without saying that Eliza loves dresses. She doesn't approve of anything else. And, I'm pretty sure that she doesn't approve of most of my outfits. In fact, today she picked out a little dress, a pink sweater, sparkly shoes, and assorted accessories. Then, looked at my (stylish!) striped top and jeans and asked, "Wearing pajamas, Mama?" No, this is my shirt. "Oh... I no like." She is a firm believer in all things puffy, ruffly, and sparkly. She wants a pink, sparkle mermaid tail, and she desperately wants to get married so that she can wear a wedding dress. She talks about Sunday all week long, because it's the day that she gets to wear her fanciest outfits, and the only day that Mama apparently looks decent. Hey, kid, I'm a mom here. Stop getting food and bubble solution on all my clothes and I might put in a little effort! I love my little girl. It reminds me that I need to have a little fun with my style. I used to be the girl that wore dresses every day of the year, and boasted owning only one pair of pants in college, which never came out of my drawer. 

"stories"- This is my favorite addition to our lives, to date. It started when we were camping up in Humboldt County. Eliza and I were laying in the tent, while Sam got the fire started for dinner. I asked Eliza if she wanted a story. We've told stories in the past, but they used to just be a detailed account of her day in theatrical form. That night, though, I decided to add a little magic to them- and now she can't get enough. Her favorite stories usually involve fairies, ponies, or mermaids who come and give her special powers or take her on an adventure. Sometimes, it's the President of the United States who thinks she is the smartest little girl in the world and wants her to solve some problem. Sometimes it's a broken bird who she nurses back to help, who then offers to give her wings so she can fly. Or, sometimes it's characters from her favorite books who become her best friends. But, every time, she lays in the crook of my arm and stares out into space, smiling or laughing at the good parts, and when the story ends she quickly asks, "any story?!" (another story)

sister visit.

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Last month my little sister came to visit for a few days, and Eliza hasn't stopped talking about her since. She inquires as to when we will see Danielle again, and plans very detailed outings future outings. For example, once she told me that she wanted Danielle to take a train from Arizona to California so that they could go buy a pink mermaid costume. 

I've been meaning to have Danielle out here since she graduated last December, and we finally found a week in July to party around the Bay Area. We shopped and walked, and ate a lot of great food- so much so that I think I made her sick! One night she didn't feel well, but didn't want to wake us up, so she went outside and threw up in our front garden. (ahh!) I felt so awful. 

But, besides that incident, we had a really great time. One of my favorite things we did was go rollerskating at the Church of 8 Wheels in San Francisco. It's a roller disco in a beautiful, old converted church. Picture stained glass windows, and a roller rink full of the absolute best characters imaginable. The regulars there, with their well-worn skates and light-up wheels made me want to convert. We had a great time, and only fell once!

Eliza loved having someone to play dress-up with, and she especially loved making homemade pizza. She made a tiny pizza crust and then covered it with a massive mountain of flour. Then conquered that mountain, leaving a fine layer of dust on every surface of the kitchen, in between her toes, and streaked in her "Elsa braid." It took me a few days to clean it all up, but it was completely worth it. 

I can't remember the last time Dani and I had some one on one time together. So, this was a special visit for me. I'm so proud of her, and I really can't believe how much she has grown in the past few years. My little sister is a legit adult now! Love you, sister.