Dining Room to Play Room Conversion: Open for Business!

So, I forgot to take "Before" photos for you all, but I think my mad skills at wordsmithing can set the scene: it used to be a big beige room with six chairs and a big table covered in papers, craft supplies, and for some inexplicable reason, rain gear. Also, let me first announce that this is still a bit of a work in progress. As you can see, a lot of toys haven't moved into their new shelfy homes yet and taken over my beautiful color-coded arrangement of books. There's not a lot on the walls yet, and that is mainly because these walls are made of 90-year old plaster (including horse hair insulation!), and so every time you try to insert nail or screw, basically a big chunk falls on to the floor. I also have some delightful floor carpet tiles on order, so eventually I will be able to remove the blue tape the is currently the Line of Demarcation where toys are not allowed to impede safe passage through to the kitchen. You get the idea.

Based solely on the count of how many strangers on public transportation and in random stores the boys have told about their new play room being "FINALLY Open for Business," I think the work is going to pay off big time over the next few years. They have pretty much spent every waking hour in there for the past few days.

Also, I cannot take all the credit here. Aaron basically blew off work for the last week so he could be around to console me when big pieces fell off the wall or I discovered that none of our walls are formed in anything remotely resembling straight lines or regular angles. He installed this awesome new light fixture and lent muscles galore to the construction process. And also Jack was pretty helpful too. He even helped me level and hang that chair rail above the chalk board, so it was a total family effort, and I think we are all pretty psyched about it!

Dear Jack and Oli,

Photo credit: Lauren Bodie

Dear Jack and Oliver,

Usually one of my favorite things to do in the fall is write you a letter for your birthday and put it up here on the family blog for posterity. This year, the fall got away from me and so I guess I'm writing you a New Year's letter instead. One letter for two boys, together. Forgive me.

It's actually kind of strange to be writing you a joint letter because, for the first time since Oli was born, you two have started in the last year to shed the "two-peas-in-a-pod" vibe that you've always had. I was hopeful in the fall that being at different schools would invigorate you both to define yourselves independently from your brother, and I can see that starting to happen in your friendships with each other and with other kids. But you've both struggled a bit to find your place at your schools this year. I spend a great deal of time most mornings explaining to you why the government insists on children attending school, and why I happen to agree with the government on that particular sticking point.

Jack, most of your complaints seem to center around being bored and with not being able to do whatever you want whenever you want. Specifically, the lack of challenging work and, more than anything, not being allowed to jump around manaically with your friends while screeching and rubbing their earlobes. While I am so surprised that school is not the fun and fulfilling experience I hoped it would be for you (yet), I can't say I am totally surprised that you are in a funk about the lack of earlobe rubbing at kindergarten. I promise you that I will be understanding and help you over the next months and years to define what your needs are and I will help you communicate those needs to your teacher so that you can grow to love school as much as I know you can. Please promise that you'll keep and open mind and keep trying.

Oli, most of your complaints seem to center around the fact that you just would really rather never leave our house under any circumstances if you can avoid it, no matter how much fun you will inevitably have out there in the big world. Maybe part of this is not having Jack around you enough, and maybe part of it is that I'm just such a spectacular housekeeper that our house is like heaven on Earth for you! Just kidding, we both know it's not the latter. I think you are just in that tricky stage of wanting with your whole being to be independent in every way, and needing equally badly just to hold the hand of someone who loves you all the time. In the last couple months, you have taken to screaming "I hate you, Mama!" many times a day; sometimes this pricks a bit, and sometimes it actually ends up being a bit comical. I know you don't hate me. I think maybe you want to be sure that no matter what you do or say, I will still come running when you need a hug or someone to wipe your butt. Baby, I will always come running for you.

The point being, gentlemen, that as you grow and develop your own personalities and give me glimpses of your future selves, I love you and cherish you each uniquely more than I could ever explain. Even though I am personally challenged by you, I'm grateful for it. I am learning so much right now about the kind of parent I want to be, and the truth is, I want to be better. For you. Not perfect, because everyone has vulnerabilites and I want you to know that about me so you won't be scared when you discover your own vulnerabilities. I just want you to know that I see you. Each of you. I respect who you are right now and I respect that you will grow and change and I will be right there with you as you figure out what kind of men you want to be. 

All my love,


We have two kids! (aka, oops)

In the grand tradition of second kids getting less attention than first kids, here are Oli's back-to-school pictures. We forgot to take them before school, so they were taken at pickup. Then we forgot to post them online for a week. It's no small consolation to me that he is happy to his core and so far unaffected by my spaciness. He is enjoying his class and new friends. So far the best part of preschool continues to be play-doh. Love you, Boo, you are truly delightful in every way! (though I could occassionally do without the screeching...)


It would probably be an ok time to write something all mushy and sentimental here, and if I'm being honest, I am totally feeling mushy and sentimental about all this and let's just say tears have been shed. But actually, this is so awesome. He's so excited, already loves his teacher, knows a couple kids in his class from preschool, literally could not wait for me to get the hell out of there this morning so he could get down to The Brass Tacks of Kindergarten. So, way to go, Jack! You're growing up great and doing exactly what you should be doing and I'm proud of you (and if I'm crying it's only because I'm so freaking excited!!!!). Love, Mama

Our New Apartment!

Here's our new Palo Alto apartment. Haven't taken any pictures of the unit from outside yet...but the landscaping is still being done so that will come later. So far we really like it here and may consider extending our rent for the whole year. We miss you all TERRIBLY and can't wait for everyone to come visit us here. We send our love from Californina!

Jack and Baby Tayler

We had such a great time being back in Idaho to meet Tayler the last few days, but no one was more taken with him than Mr. Jack. It seems that every human, even a 5-year old one, knows that when you are holding a sweet little baby, the proper protocol is to nuzzle his sweet head and just take in that addictive new baby smell. Welcome to the family, Tayler! We've been waiting for you, and your cousin Jack is already making big plans for the next time you are together!

Almost time!

Graduation is only 9 days away. I have finished my classes and will be turning in my final paper tomorrow. That means one more presentation next week and then I'M DONE! Can't believe how quickly the three years have gone by. But, I can't wait to get home for the summer and have a beautiful wedding!

P.S. Can you find me in the photo?

Updates on Halle

Thank you so much to everyone who is following Halle's progress right now. We will not be posting specific information about her condition on this public website. Brian, Nikki, Cindy, Don, Gord, JoAnn, and Aaron and I are here in Portland with her. No one can accept phone calls in the ICU area, as cell signals interfere with the machinery that is helping her breathe, so your calls to family members will likely go unanswered. Please do not take this personally. If you are wanting to have the most recent information as it is available, please make sure you are Facebook friends with me (Sarah Longwell) and/or Halle's other aunt, Paula Merk. We are communicating and sharing information as quickly as we receive it. We will also pass your messages to them, so feel free to let us know if you have something to share. If you are not on Facebook, please get in touch with us using the email link below and we will find another way to keep you informed.

As always, Halle and her family are grateful for all your well-wishes and fervent prayers for strength and healing.


Email Us: halle@thelongwells.com

Charleston, SC

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Charleston, SC. Before heading home we checked out an old plantation.

More Engagement Photos

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