Yellow and Grey Shower for Baby #2

I would just like to publicly profess (for the millionth time) that I have the best friends and family around. Right before heading back to England, my cousin, Laila Eva, hosted a baby shower for me and it was just perfect. Since we don’t know the gender of the bun in my belly, she used a grey and yellow color theme which I am now considering using all over my house as it was so pretty. A month or so prior, Laila Eva had created a Pinterest board and asked me to add anything I would like to see or do at my baby shower. She then somehow managed to include basically everything I had pinned while making it look completely effortless. Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness in planning the food definitely did not go unnoticed. I’m confident that at 21 years old, I would not have been able to pull off anything like this and as usual, I am just in awe of my beautiful, talented cousin.

Tove shower invite IMG_0923 IMG_0921 IMG_0926 IMG_0924 IMG_0927 IMG_0925 Untitled-1

In between all the mingling and hilarious birth talk happening around the house (ahem, Molly, Kristi, Liv and Kim!), the kids discovered a frog outside which was basically more exciting than Santa Clause himself. There was squealing, jumping and feeble attempts at holding the absolutely terrified little amphibian. I love Boden’s excited face – so dang cute!

IMG_0941 IMG_0942 IMG_0944 IMG_0929 IMG_0930 IMG_0931 IMG_0936 IMG_0938

We played just one game which I found absolutely hilarious. Everyone had to draw a picture of a baby while holding the paper to their forehead. Humans are so weird sometimes especially if you just step back and look at the things we do. Everyone was a good sport and I loved that it wasn’t your typical baby shower game (you nailed it again, Laila Eva).

IMG_0950 IMG_0952 IMG_0954

Lena was my little helper; opening all the presents and inspecting everything carefully. She was even gifted a few things which I thought was really sweet and thoughtful.

IMG_0945 IMG_0947 IMG_0960 IMG_0963 IMG_0964 IMG_0969

My dad’s sister, Sheryl, brought one of the most sentimental gifts and totally made me do an ugly cry in front of everyone. Basically, any sort of crying in front of a group horrifies me so a full blown ugly cry is my worst nightmare. As soon as I saw the picture frame, I realized Sheryl had given me some of my grandma’s cross stitch pieces. I remember staring at them as a little girl and thinking they looked like watercolor paintings. There were three pieces depicting a little boy and girl playing at the beach – exactly what my brother and I did every time we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Raft Island. Cue torrential tears. Now the pieces are proudly displayed in Lena’s room; making me smile every time I see them.

IMG_0981 IMG_0988 IMG_0989

A big, giant thank you to everyone who came to the shower and for all the thoughtful gifts. I could not be more blessed!

IMG_1001 IMG_1012 IMG_1024 IMG_1037 IMG_1044 IMG_1051 IMG_1059 IMG_8753 IMG_8773 IMG_0919

Maternity Photos

Before I forget to post them, here are some maternity photos that my cousin, Laila Eva, took while I was home. I was about 22 weeks here so basically double the belly size and you can get a sense of what I look like now! She is so talented and I am in love with these photos. The outdoor ones were taken behind my parents’ house where I spent many days playing as a kid. How she managed to make it look so pretty is beyond me because it’s basically a gravel path with a bunch of weeds. And the indoor photos were taken at her parent’s house in front of the closet. We were just having fun joking around and thankfully, she didn’t provide the outtakes of me pretending to be in a Cover Girl commercial and looking like a completely nerd. Laila Eva, I love you and these pictures, too. Thank you so much for making magic yet again!

IMG_7083 IMG_7116 IMG_7591 IMG_7612 IMG_7615 IMG_7616 IMG_7625 IMG_7631 IMG_7643

Highlight Reel of Memories

This little life we have is good. Visiting with friends I’ve known for over twenty years. Watching them play with their children. Watching them play with my child. Seeing our little ones form friendships just a few years shy of when we all met. The gratitude can be overwhelming.

IMG_0842 IMG_0840 IMG_0836 IMG_0835 IMG_0834 IMG_0833

Drawing hopskotch squares for my daughter on the same cement where I have jumped a million times. Watching my dad mow the lawn in the same meticulous pattern he’s followed for 30 years. Retracing PopPop’s footsteps through the freshly cut grass – that smell and the feel of soft earth under my feet can take me back in a second.

IMG_0848 IMG_0844 IMG_0861 IMG_0862IMG_0847 IMG_0845 IMG_0857IMG_0868IMG_0867 IMG_0865

Adding new traditions we never even knew as my life unfolds in a different country and becomes my daughter’s new normal. Homemade scones and clotted cream for a British tea party in America. Listening to my baby reminisce about her time with Mormor and realizing these are her precious memories of time with her grandma. Not so different from my own yet a generation of separation.

IMG_0876 IMG_0880 IMG_0871 IMG_0872 IMG_0873 IMG_0874

Practicing soccer and softball in the side yard with Mama’s old sports equipment. Same soccer mates. Same old man pitching the ball. Fresh faced little girl just beginning to learn new skills.

IMG_0893 IMG_0896 IMG_0897 IMG_0902 IMG_0904 IMG_0908 IMG_0909 IMG_0914

These are the times; these are the snapshots I hope she will remember.

Portlandia

At some point in my life, I will live in Portland, Oregon. Every time I visit, I find new things with which to fall in love. It doesn’t hurt that I have some amazing family in Portland who always show us a great time whenever we’re in town.

Lena and I hopped on the train from Tacoma and made the beautiful trek down the coast to the heart of all things weird: Portlandia. The cuzzies (as we call them) were excited to see my little munchkin and marveled that she could speak. The last time we saw them, her vocal repertoire consisted mostly of loud screaming so this was an exciting discovery for them. The Northwest has had an unusually warm summer so we thought some time in the water and sunshine would be perfect. As usual, Liv knew just where to go (seriously, you should be a travel guide or something, woman!) and we were off with our wild crew of kiddos.

IMG_0751 IMG_0774 IMG_0768 IMG_0760 IMG_0757 IMG_0752

We packed snacks, suits and some spray tubes then sent the kids into the wading pool while we lounged in the grass. The kids took a few random breaks to enjoy their lunches and warm up on their towels. Espen even treated us to some signature moves that were highly reminiscent of something his grandma and great-aunts would have done. Those Caspersen genes are dominant.

Untitled-1

The kids were supposed to change into dry clothes once we got home but Lena couldn’t really be bothered to put on anything other than these monster legs. She and the twins then performed an impromptu dance show which almost made me pee my pants. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Liv’s house where there hasn’t been at least one naked kid running around. Luckily, they’re now all old enough that we don’t have to worry about finding a puddle of pee though it certainly adds to the excitement of Naked Time.

IMG_0776

It was decided that we absolutely HAD to have burgers and a shake for dinner but could not seem to find exactly what we were looking for. I should mention that Liv and I are both pregnant and actually due just a week apart so this was a serious predicament we found ourselves in. Liv is acting as a surrogate and carrying twin girls so between us, there was a triple threat of pregnancy cravings for juicy burgers and icy blended goodness. We ended up driving to three different locations before finding what we were looking for and by that point, we were so ravenously hungry that we may have ordered like cavewomen. Also, I now want a burger really bad…

IMG_0813

The next day we got a little one-on-one time with Kaeden, had a lunch date at Nordstroms per family tradition, and strolled through a bookstore. Basically my perfect day. My other cousins came over that night for a barbecue and the typical sarcastic banter that comes with any family get together. We have six kids between us now and it was so fun to watch them all play together in the back yard. I got a little nostalgic wishing that this was Lena’s normal but who knows where life will take us in the future.

IMG_0785 IMG_0810 IMG_0808 IMG_0807 IMG_0806 IMG_0805 IMG_0802 IMG_0801 IMG_0799 IMG_0796 IMG_0793 IMG_0788

As usual, all the kids gravitated towards Uncle Leif as he’s basically the coolest big kid in the world. Even Lena, who is generally suspicious of adult men, latched on to Leif immediately, giggling hysterically at everything he did.

IMG_0812 IMG_0828 IMG_0830 IMG_0819

Our final day with the Portland cuzzies was spent melting at Oaks Amusement Park. I’m sure we were a sight to behold – two pregnant women, one carrying twins, with a trio of boys and one lone, blonde girl. We had promised the kids a big adventure and when we pulled up to the park in the full-to-capacity minivan, there were some seriously excited squeals from the backseat. Since neither Liv not myself were in any position to go on rides, Kaeden stepped up to the plate and was an amazing big brother to the three younger ones. He helped Lena climb all the stairs, went down the giant slide with her and always made sure she was buckled in and knew where to hold on. True to form, my little daredevil went on every ride she could without a hint of fear.

IMG_6099 IMG_6102 IMG_6104 IMG_6108 IMG_6112

All four kids gravitated toward one particular roller coaster and ended up choosing that as their favorite. I was slightly concerned about whiplash and brain injuries but they seemed to love it. And no one puked the entire day so that was a success. We did one final train ride before strapping the kids into the carseats to pass out and then headed back to Liv’s before Lena and I caught the train back to Tacoma. A big thank you to our ever-generous hosts, the Cruse Crew, and to the rest of the family for making time to hang out. We love you guys and are really looking forward to the day when we live close enough to mock each other on a daily basis!

IMG_6111 IMG_6110

(re)Making Memories

I am incredibly lucky to still be friends with my childhood classmates. Through boyfriends, marriages, babies and cross-country moves, Tricia and Alicia have always been there for me. On my last trip home, Alicia was pregnant with Boden (who also happens to share my birthday) so I was really looking forward to finally meeting her little guy. We decided another slumber party was in order only this time, I would have an actual bed rather than sleeping on two crib mattresses. That resulted in no sleep and a public meltdown from both Lena and myself – something I think we all wanted to avoid this time around.

unnamed-1 IMG_8249

There was a Family Fun Day going on at the new local park (why was this place not around when I was a kid growing up in the Harbor?!) so off we went to get our share of bounce houses and bubbles. Grayson and Lena were in their element so we let them run wild in the hopes they would later pass out from exhaustion.

IMG_0683 IMG_0684 IMG_0687 IMG_0688 IMG_0689

We also checked out some army tanks which Grayson (and Marc) thought were pretty cool. I’m just sad that my tan has faded now that I’m back in the land of tea and crumpets.

IMG_0691

Someone had the bright idea to get popsicles for the kids and with the 90 degree temperatures, we quickly had a giant, sticky mess on our hands. Despite being the youngest of the group, Boden demolished his popsicle first though the majority of it ended up covering his clothes rather than making it into his mouth. It was a food coloring nightmare.

IMG_0699 IMG_0701

We decided to head back to Kyle and Alicia’s but not before Lena threw an epic tantrum due to being hot and hungry. It was one of her more impressive performances and I finally had just had enough so I attempted to pick her up and carry her to the car. I hadn’t really thought through my outfit choice because as I lifted her writhing body off the ground, she managed to pull down my top and strapless bra. It was also at this moment I heard a voice say, “Hey Tove! Haven’t seen you in forever!” Of course this would be the moment I run into a former classmate whose name, of course, I can’t remember. In a last ditch effort to avoid a massive show of public nudity, I pinned Lena to my chest, said a quick greeting (something along the lines of “Hey! It’s been a long time. I’ve just been living the dream, as you can see!”) and made a beeline for the car. I stuffed a melted protein bar in her mouth and we were off.

After enjoying some lunch and watching Grayson pee in the kiddie pool, Boden went down for a nap and we took Grayson and Lena out to the garage to check out Kyle’s cop car. The lights and siren were a big hit and Lena even got to try on some handcuffs. The picture of Grayson in the back of the vehicle is faintly reminiscent of a certain parent of his who had a little wild streak back in high school. I’m not naming names but you’ve got a 100% chance of guessing right (love you Pat and Marc-y Poo!).

IMG_0703 IMG_0709 IMG_0712

Kyle was a good sport and even let the kids try on his hat and vest. And then they got to talk into the loud speaker which I’m sure the neighbors loved. Hearing toddler voices magnified was hilarious and the kids loved it.

IMG_0715 IMG_0718

After a full day of playing and Lena essentially beating Boden at every opportunity, we threw our little stinkers in the tub and called it a day. It’s crazy to see what little mini-me’s they are though let’s hope they don’t do EVERYTHING their parents did.

IMG_0723 IMG_0732

The next day, we hired my cousin, Laila Eva, to take some photos of us with the munchkins. We brought along plenty of tricks from bubbles and crackers to toys and chocolate but still managed to get a few tears. Luckily, Laila Eva is incredibly talented and you would never know all the bribery and cajoling taking place behind the camera.

IMG_0738 IMG_8007

I’m obviously a little biased, but these three monsters are awfully cute if you ask me.

IMG_8048 IMG_8052 IMG_8318 IMG_8324 IMG_8333

It’s so great to watch my friends as moms as well. Both these girls are hustlers, working full time jobs with crazy hours and still managing to raise kind, loving and smart little dudes. I could not be more proud of them and I am really thankful Lena has so many strong aunties in her life to look up to. I know we all hope our little ones will grow up to be close like us and despite living far apart, we are doing our best to facilitate that.

IMG_8067 IMG_8186 IMG_8113 IMG_8123 IMG_8140 IMG_8147 IMG_8345 IMG_8349 IMG_8361

We also staged a repeat photo from my senior pictures which makes me die laughing every time I look at it. My mom refused to pay for professional photos because I had colored my hair and she didn’t like it. So we had one of our friends take photos of the three of us in my parents yard and called it good. Laila was a great sport and helped us reenact that fiasco complete with an attempt by the kids. These just make me happy and I think this is going to become a tradition now. I love my friends!

IMG_8449 IMG_8464 IMG_8493 IMG_8484 IMG_8567 IMG_8543 unnamed IMG_8548

Mt Rainier

Mt. Rainier…. ahhh. This glorious tower of rock and snow is not to be missed when visiting the Pacific Northwest so in honor of our visit, my parents packed up the car and we headed for Paradise. Of course, after refusing to pee at the designated rest stop, Lena announced she needed to potty. Thankfully I had brought along our Potette – if you travel with a toddler or have a small bladder, this is a handy little apparatus to keep around. Plus the pictures are hilarious. Also, please notice the forlorn look on Laila Eva’s face as she was stuffed into the very back row of the car. This sends me into a giggling fit every time I look at it.

IMG_0572 IMG_0569 IMG_0570

Since there were four Caspersen women in the car, our first stop was to a picnic area where we could eat lunch. It doesn’t take long to figure out that you need to keep us fed at regular intervals if you want to avoid a hangry meltdown. Plus the air conditioning/heating situation in the car was getting intense as my dad and brother were in charge and doing a rather incompetent job. So it was a matter of safety that we all get some time in fresh air to cool our jets.

IMG_0575

Because she’s a saint, Laila Eva subjected herself to a day with all of us and Lena could not have been more pleased. Tante Laila is on par with the Frozen princesses in Lena’s eyes and that is a high honor in the toddler world. I love how Lena is looking up to her in this photo.

IMG_0581 IMG_0585

Lunch consisted of open face sandwiches (obviously, gotta have some Norwegian pride), grilled chicken leftovers and remnants of Lena’s birthday cake. At one point, I looked over to find my 95 pound mother double fisting the cake with frosting everywhere including down her neck. This is a face with no shame in it’s game. Mormor is a sugar addict.

IMG_0588 IMG_0593

The guys had fun showing Lena all the different birds and she loved that they kept stealing food from the picnic tables. My dad even took her to the base of the waterfall where I’m sure she was subjected to stories of Fossegrimen and other naughty trolls.

IMG_0595 IMG_0600 IMG_0601 IMG_0604 IMG_0606 IMG_0609 IMG_0612

Laila Eva and I decided to go check it out as well which may not have been my best plan. Lena came with us but got tired on the climb back up so I carried her on my shoulders. I got some interesting looks coming back up the hillside with my 20 week belly and toddler in tow.

IMG_0614 IMG_0619 IMG_0622 IMG_0628 IMG_0631

Then it was on to the Visitor Center for another short hike. The weather was gorgeous and it wasn’t horribly crowded so we were able to get some nice pictures. This little deer was hunting for snacks as we approached the trailhead and seemed completely unphased by all the cameras pointed in it’s direction.

IMG_0632 IMG_0638 IMG_0644 IMG_0651

Lena had just about reached her hiking quota for the day so it took awhile to get her up the trail. She really wanted to wash her hands for some reason so my mom was a good sport and helped her rinse off on the side of the trail. I was getting crampy from carrying her up the last trail so my dad toted her around on his shoulders before heading back to the Visitor Center for some ice cream.

IMG_0654 IMG_0656 IMG_0658 IMG_0660

Right before the end of the trail, we saw another beautiful wildlife specimen which Lena informed us was Sven, the reindeer from Frozen. She was pretty excited about this latest discovery especially as it was so close to us.

IMG_0664 IMG_0666 IMG_0669

We did a quick run through of the gift shop and picked up a Christmas ornament thanks to my mom. Then some ice cream and a family photo and we called it a day. It had been years since I’d been up to Mt. Rainier but the views are just as gorgeous as I remember. Hopefully, I’ll be a bit more agile my next visit so we can explore more of the park – though with two munchkins in tow that might be a bit ambitious!

IMG_7982

Pacific Northwest Paradise

Before we left for Washington, my cousin mentioned she would be teaching at a local preschool for the summer and they were holding different sessions themed around art and nature. I knew Lena would love it (and I was in desperate need of some kid-free time), so I signed up the Bacon Bit for the four day camp. Each day, the kids would head outside to the nearby nature reserve and learn all about colors, numbers, animals, plants, etc. I loved the idea as we had looked at enrolling Lena into a Forest School in England during our preschool search. I also knew she’d be well looked after by her Tante Laila and I would have five glorious hours each day to myself. Here’s the little munchkin all dressed up for her first two days; standing on the exact same steps as me on my first day of school. While she’s sporting a monogrammed lunch box rather than Barbie and The Rockers like I had, the amount of sass in this little package definitely matches that of her Mama.

IMG_0300 IMG_0309 IMG_0306

At the end of camp, Lena came home with all sorts of new artwork which is now proudly framed in her room. And since she had her own personal photographer on hand each day, I was lucky enough to get these great photos showing her hard at work getting all smart and grown up. I could seriously eat this kid, I love her so dang much!

IMG_7017 IMG_7750 IMG_7736 IMG_7687

After the first day of preschool, we had a very tired toddler on our hands. I know my dad was in heaven here snuggling his oldest grand baby.

IMG_0127 IMG_0130

The entire time we were home, the weather was absolutely perfect. So we got lots of sunshine and pool time which was heavenly. My parents had carefully picked out the perfect pool in anticipation of our arrival and had it all set up each afternoon so we could head outside and cool down. The foot picture cracks me up because we all have the infamous “Caspersen toe.” I’ve been mocked for this nubby excuse for a metatarsal my entire life and now, my own flesh and blood has started in on it. Every time Lena looks at my feet, she asks, “Mama! What happened?” and points to my littlest piggy. The funny this is, she has yet to realize the curse has been passed on to her as well!

IMG_6951 IMG_6987 IMG_6971 IMG_6965 IMG_6961 IMG_6959 IMG_6952

My hometown has changed and grown by leaps and bounds since I lived there so I was excited when my mom mentioned they were now holding outdoor summer concerts in the Harbor. We met up with Tricia and Grayson one evening for a quick listen to some live jazz and a visit with local sea life. I truly believe you’d have a tough time finding somewhere as beautiful as Gig Harbor on a warm summer evening. There’s a reason people put up with all the grey and rainy days and these pictures are the perfect illustration of that. The beauty and atmosphere is indescribable – and at times it feels like you’re in a movie because it’s so perfect. It definitely made me miss living there and got the wheels turning about where we might like to be stationed next or think about retiring once Jason is out of the Air Force. Time will tell!

IMG_0318 IMG_0371 IMG_0364 IMG_0363 IMG_0355 IMG_0351 IMG_0348 IMG_0343 IMG_0339 IMG_0336 IMG_0335 IMG_0332 IMG_0331 IMG_0329 IMG_0324 IMG_0322 IMG_0320 IMG_0319