Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Club: The Game is Life Series

One of the few downfalls of my new job (and lack of commute) is that I don't really have any time to myself to read anymore. I used to spend more than two hours a day on the bus, which meant indulging in quiet time each morning with a book or a podcast

However, I have been sneaking in a tiny bit of reading... mainly on my Kindle iPhone app while I'm patiently waiting for Ryder to fall asleep at night. 

As if I don't have anything else to read (good grief, I've got an entire bookshelf full of unread books!), one day I impulse-downloaded Amazon's free sample of The Game, by Terry Schott. 

I was immediately hooked. 

I spent the next six months reading the first four books in the series whenever I had a free moment.

Not unlike other well-known science fiction stories (i.e. The Matrix), in The Game, Earth is a computer simulation. Although this topic isn't necessarily unique, I think the author did an absolutely excellent job of providing an entertaining and thought-provoking story filled with well-developed characters and interesting twists. I was engrossed from the very first page... I had to know what happened next!

The only downfall was that the book contained quite a few grammatical errors, which I found distracting and sometimes tough to get past.

And, unfortunately, there is a cliffhanger ending, which immediately made me realize why Schott offered this first book in the series for free on Amazon. Because clearly now I needed to immediately purchase Book 2 (Digital Heretic). Clever...

I dove into the rest of the series, and spent the spring and summer reading little tidbits of the subsequent installments on my phone or Kindle whenever I had time. Book 3 (Interlude - Brandon) was actually my favorite in the series, but Book 4 (Virtual Prophet) lost my interest a bit, and so I haven't actually started on Book 5 (Digital Evolution). And I think there may actually be a sixth book coming out sometime soon as well...

To sum up, these are fast-paced science fiction novels with a complex plot that easily and quickly sucks the reader in. I don't suggest reading them right before bed. If so, you may be up all night questioning the mysteries of the universe and your place in it...

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Summer Summer Time

We always like to fit in at least one good camping trip toward the end of the summer.

Typically we make it to Mayfield Lake at least once a year with a big group of our friends. However, since we missed last year for one reason or another, this was the first time Ryder was back at Mayfield Lake since we took him when he was just three months old

I think it's safe to say that he appreciated it a little bit more this time.

Throwing rocks in the water... one of his very favorite activities of all time.

We actually had a campsite booked for an entire week, so even though Stew and I weren't able to join them until the weekend, Ryder headed down with my parents earlier in the week to hang out with his cousins for a couple days before we arrived. 

I've probably been going to Mayfield Lake with Stewart for almost ten years now, and no matter when we go the weather is almost always terrible. And even when it's not terrible, it's not great. That's Western Washington for you. 

But by some miracle, this trip graced us with absolutely gorgeous, hot weather for the entire trip!

It was so hot that we didn't even spend much time at our campsite. Each morning we just packed everything up and headed down to the lake for the day.

The kids (and adults) had an absolute blast.


Ryder taking Mommy on a little rowboat ride.

Brett and Haley were there with their boat, which meant the little kids got to go tubing. 



And once they were done, the big boys took a turn, too... 



Watching grown men bounce around on a inner tube may just be one of the funniest things ever...

Mayfield Lake actually has a really great campground, and we did spend at least a little bit of time enjoying our campsite in the forest. 

Ryder is getting super good on his balance bike!

But of course if he has his choice he prefers Nana and Papa's scooters.

Nana was in heaven spending quality time with all of her favorite kiddos.

It was an awesome trip, but as usual it went by way too fast.

I can't believe that summer is already starting to draw to a close. 

Do you have any final summer trips planned?

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Adventures with Baby Sister | First Trimester

Shortly before Ryder's second birthday, Stewart and I decided that it was time to start trying for another baby. 

We always knew that we wanted two children, and during the previous few months, as we watched Ryder interact with other children, it suddenly became clear to us that we really wanted him to have a sibling.

It didn't take long, and by the beginning of June, we got our wish.


By the time I took the test, I was already three-and-a-half weeks along and still feeling great.

However, considering the horrible morning sickness that I experienced with Ryder, I immediately contacted my doctor and asked her for a prescription for anti-nausea medication. Not only was I unprepared to come clean at work yet (and, as a general rule, I prefer not to puke repeatedly in public bathrooms), we had a family trip to Hawaii coming up, and I certainly didn't want to spend my time in tropical paradise vomiting into the sand.

By the time we got to Maui, I was starting to feel the effects of being pregnant, but so far it was limited to feeling extra tired and occasional bouts of morning nausea. It was somewhat disappointing to miss out on all those tropical cocktails, but overall it was a great trip.

At nine weeks, I saw my doctor for our very first prenatal appointment to confirm the pregnancy and establish a due date. We waited anxiously, but it was only a second before we were able to hear and then see the tiny flutter of a heartbeat on the monitor.


By this time, our families and close friends already knew that I was knocked up, but we hadn't come clean to the general public yet. This meant that I slyly had to get through quite a few events without drinking... some more successfully than others.

I made it through Brett and Haley's 4th of July barbecue without arising suspicion, claiming designated driver status for the evening. However, I totally got called out at the wedding of one of Stew's friends the following weekend (no one was buying the fact that I wasn't drinking when we had a hotel room right next door). Rats. The following weekend, we went up to Bellingham for a little getaway, where I immediately had to admit my status when I realized that the first trimester was really no time for a strenuous hike, and I forced our group to slow to a crawl as we made our way up the trail. However, I was determined to keep my condition on the down low from the guests at my future sister-in-law's bridal shower, because I really wanted the day to be all about her. That time, I was able to pull it off. 

From then on, I had only a few weeks to go. 

My brother's wedding was coming up the first weekend of August (right at my 12-week mark), and I really wanted to make sure that their day was special; I didn't want family members talking about me and my pregnancy, thus taking their focus away from the bride and groom. However, it was getting tight, literally, as my belly started to swell.

Things seemed to be progressing much more quickly this time around!

Days before the wedding, I shopped frantically for a dress that would hide my growing baby bump, and each day getting ready for work and selecting an outfit that would hide my widening midsection became more of a struggle. The wedding was a blast, but I was fairly relieved once it was all over and we could finally come clean.  

Due to the fact that I will be 35 when this baby is born, my pregnancy is technically classified as "high risk." My doctor just kind of rolled her eyes at this distinction, but the bright side was that it qualified us for early genetic screening.

This meant that we got to find out the baby's gender at only 11 weeks!


Traditionally, the Alway family only produces boy children, so Stew and I couldn't have been more shocked and excited about the fact that I was carrying a baby girl. Secretly it was what we had both been hoping for, but neither of us expressed out loud.

I wish I had a photo of my cheesy smile and tears rolling down my face when I first found out.

That being said, I did kind of have a feeling that this baby would be a girl. Mainly due to the difference between this pregnancy at my previous one. I was already through the first trimester, and had somehow bypassed all the horrible things that I experienced with Ryder: awful morning sickness, a miscarriage scare, extreme exhaustion, horrible back pain, an insane work schedule, and turning into a complete emotional basket case. (Actually you may want to confirm the validity of that last one with Stew...)

Anyway, because being pregnant with baby #2 was so drastically different, intuition told me that this little angel just might be a girl...

And I was right! 

We could not feel more fortunate and overjoyed at the impending arrival of our daughter.

I just can't say it enough: We are so...

LUCKY. IN. LOVE.

We can't wait to meet you, sweet baby girl!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

We're having another baby!

Guess whooo's going to be a Big Brother?!


Yep... we're having another baby

Ryder is excited to announce that his Baby Sister is due in February, 2017.

Lucky in love doesn't even begin to describe it... 

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Little Brother Gets Married

My little brother got married!

I don't know exactly how this happened (seeing as he's just a child), but somehow over the years it seems my baby brother grew up, became a man, met the perfect woman, and married her. 

YAY!

AJ & Morgan officially tied the knot on August 6, 2016.


We had the best time celebrating with them!

Of course the wedding involved an entire weekend of family festivities, including mani/pedis with the bride and her friends, fancy hairdos with my mom and sister, the ceremony rehearsal and dinner, and late nights sitting up gossiping and chatting (always my favorite part of any family event). 

The rehearsal dinner took place on the waterfront in downtown Olympia. I have no idea where Stew and Ryder were for this photo, but they're around somewhere...

On the big day, we waited anxiously to get things started with the flower girls and ring bearer. I knew Sophia and Aubrey would do great, but I was a little concerned about how Ryder would perform under pressure...
Our attempt at a family photo (although the Littlest Alway was not being very cooperative).


The wedding took place at a super cool farm-like venue in Yelm. Of course Ryder was in heaven when he realized there were horses on the premises.


And giant tractors? This place was a kid's dream!

After a long day of waiting, it was finally, finally time to get things started. I have absolutely no idea what words of wisdom my Uncle Tom was telling my brother at this moment... and I probably don't want to know.

As predicted, the flower girls gave a stunning, flawless performance.
And Ryder didn't do half bad! Apparently he threw an epic fit right as he was supposed to head down the aisle, but he made it... almost. Toward the end he started getting a little upset about the flower petals the girls had dropped, saying, "Mommy... it's messy!" and trying to pick them up. Ah, he's definitely my child.

And here is the real star of the show... Morgan, my beautiful new sister-in-law. She looked absolutely breathtaking.

I was in tears as I listened to the sweet words that these two said to each other. It's so clear how in love they are, and how they're absolutely each other's best friends. 

Finally, officially Man and Wife!


Introducing Mr. and Mrs. AJ & Morgan Getchman!

The reception was absolutely fabulous, jam-packed full of family, friends, food (and of course an open bar!)


I know it's hard to believe, but that's Mom in the center, although she looks like she could be our sister.

We clean up real nice if I do say so myself!

Sibling Pic! We couldn't be happier for our baby brother.

And we just had to snag our new Sister on the dance floor for a photo.

Initially, Ryder was pretty excited about all the dancing.

But as the night wore on he started to get pretty tired. Although Daddy had more and more fun as he continued to visit the bar...


I'm pretty sure I have this EXACT same photo of my aunties at our wedding...

It was an amazing weekend of celebrations, and the wedding was seriously the event of the year for our family. It's such a wonderful feeling to have something so amazing to celebrate, and it was so much fun to be a part of everything. 

I'm so excited to see what's in store for these kiddos next...

Congratulations to the newlyweds!



We cannot wait to watch the two of you grow together, and we are so incredibly lucky to be a part of your lives. 

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