Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here's your list

On Sunday night Ada decided she wanted to write a letter to Santa. Chris and I had not specifically suggested this, but neither had we discouraged it.

By the time Ada sat down to write her letter, I was frankly a little worried. What if she asked for things we have not planned on getting her? I have already done my shopping for her, Ian and Mira, and I was not prepared to have to make alterations or exchanges.

I should not have worried. Ada's list is more whimsical than practical:

Dear Santa, Here's Your List

Dear Santa,
Here's your list:
I want a cat that talks.
I want a magic pen.
I want a making snowman kit.
I am thinking I might include a box with snowman making items (carrot nose, rocks for eyes, scarf, mittens and a hat). I can probably locate a glitter pen that we can declare is magic. I am less sure about how to help her with the talking cat, but one never knows what might happen!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I hope it doesn't work that way

Ada and her pal are playing a pretend game that involves being teenagers with jobs:

L: We have to get to work! Our boss would fire us! Ada, do you even know what that means?

A: Yeah.

L: It means actually FIRE us, like, put us in the fireplace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Life, Flashing Before My Eyes

My Pummelvision from Nora on Vimeo.

I am not looking forward to death, but if the last few hours before I die were like an extended version of this, it would really help.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I am mad. What do you need?

Or, my godson, my blog-fodder:

Monkey Boy was home sick one day recently. While his mother ran around doing things that needed to be done, he sat in his pajamas playing his guitar with a piece of cardboard and singing this song, entitled I am mad. What do you need? 

What do you do you do you do you need? What do you need?
What do you need in the world right now? 
What do you neeeeeeeeed?!?
I think this may be my new theme song. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (Burrito Boy)

Burrito Boy 1

Burrito Boy 2

Burrito Boy 3

(yes, he does have a bruise on his forehead. And yes, the bruise is shaped like the star trek logo. And no, I can't explain that.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Reads

Some of recent favorites:

A post by Moose in the Kitchen about trying to save a wayward dog (and how it made her feel about San Francisco).

The blog Infinite Garage Project, in which Raina documents all the stuff her mom left behind in her house and three car garage.

Read anything Smacksy writes. She is hilarious and her son is wise.

Monday, November 29, 2010

another reason I am thankful that my children have so many clothes

About once a week I need to take Ian and Mira with me to pick up Ada from school. The most direct route requires climbing a flight of stairs on the way to Ada's classroom. If I want to take Ian and Mira inside in their stroller, I have to go around to the far side of the school, past the entrance nearest to Ada's classroom, and back down the hallways packed with elementary school kids trying to get out of the building. Have you ever seen salmon swimming upstream? It is a little like that, except that I am the salmon and the kids are the current.

To avoid the stroller-derby, I often bring a baby backpack along and, leaving the stroller at a bike rack, I transfer one kid to the pack and let the other walk with me up the stairs and down the hall to Ada's class. At first this worked fine, but now the kid in the pack gets annoyed that she or he is not the one granted freedom. (And frankly, the walker gets annoyed when I keep steering him or her away from all the fun things in Ada's classroom.) Getting the kids back into the stroller after we get Ada is also a problem.

The other day Mira lost the coin toss and was on my back while Ian got to roam. Mira complained the whole time I had her in the pack and both she and Ian were less than excited when I suggested they get back into the stroller for the walk home. Luckily, Ada decided she would like to walk with Mira.

The two girls took off down the block while Ian and I moved at a more leisurely pace. (He decided he needed to touch each pole we passed, yelling "pole!" and smiling broadly.) When we got to the end of the block, I had to negotiate two toddlers, the stroller and one "big" kid. Oh, and the actual corner was blocked off that day, as it was under construction to make it more accessible (workers were putting in a yellow rumble strip*). Ada had Mira's hand, while I held Ian's and pushed the stroller. Except that Ada didn't notice that the big pile of wet leaves next to the curb hid a fair sized puddle. Mira stepped off the curb and into the leafy puddle, falling over and soaking herself. Did I mention it was cold and rainy that day?

After our collective "oh crap" moment, Ada takes over the stroller while I hold Ian's hand and carry Mira football style across the street. Safe on the sidewalk I strip Mira of her pants, shoes and socks. She does not appear upset to be covered in icy, muddy water. Nor does she mind being stripped to her diaper on a cold and rainy street corner. What she does mind is being put back into the stroller. Crazy person that I am, I think she'll be warmer (and dare I think, happier) in the stroller, cozy in a fleece wrap.  Needless to say (but I will), she is NOT happy. She screams and stiffens. Meanwhile, Ian finds a stick and starts poking a puddle. Ada alerts me to Ian's entertainments, so I ask her to make sure he stays out of the street. I shove Mira into the stroller and ignore her wails while I strap her in. Looking up, I see Ada (on the sidewalk) watching Ian (in the street) happily standing in and poking a large puddle by the curb.

Alarmed, I ask Ada if I hadn't told her to keep him out of the street. "I couldn't stop him" she says. Not wanting to stop to argue, I scoop up Ian (muttering my "no street, no street" mantra) and strip off his soggy boots before shoving him in the stroller. Chaos contained (or at least limited to two wailing toddlers) we slowly make our way home, where we all change clothes and have warm snacks and drinks.

Ah, parenthood. All's well that end's well, right? This story comes to mind a lot in the weeks since it happened. I think of it especially when people sympathetically say things like "it must be so hard to be at work and missing your kids." I do miss them but I don't miss building more memories like this one.

* You really do learn something new every day. That stuff is called tactile paving, apparently.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

November 8: Graffiti on White Wall

Must all shortcuts and conveniences be subject to so much epicurean bullying and such internal shame?

Frank Bruni
Loving Coffee Without Being A Drip

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Truer Words Were Never Written


I think she intended to make more comparisons between us, but got distracted.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Before the Month is Up

October Blue Collage

From the October (Blue) series. Ten color months down, one to limp through go.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is the first year that I have spent the bulk of my work days in Portland rather than an hour away in Salem. This is the first year that I have made a concerted effort to bike to and from work on my Portland days, the first fall that I prepared for rain and darkness with rain pants and lots of blinky lights. Day after cloudy day I get on the bike and pedal to work. (This is actually pretty easy - it is downhill almost the whole way, and not so far that I get to work sweaty or out of breath.)

With the time change, I have been conscious of the lights on my bike. This summer I got a new front (white) light, bigger and brighter than my old one. Unfortunately, it was slipping and tipping down as I rode. I took it off to fix it, and (predictably) forgot it at home on Thursday.

Heading out of the office that night I realized I did not have my front light. After briefly considering whether I should ride without a front light or call Chris for help, I realized that I had my old light in my saddle bag. "Lucky," I thought. "I'm stupid, but lucky."

I strapped on the light and hit the (dark, wet) road. On the ride home I thought about this switch to bike commuting and felt pretty good. I didn't mind the cold or the rain. With my gloves and rain pants, I felt protected. A few blocks from home I pedaled quickly through a busy intersection. Heading into the next (much smaller) intersection I looked left to see a car zooming toward me. In the couple of seconds I had to assess the situation, I saw that the car was going to hit me and considered how I could keep that from happening. I couldn't. Fortunately, the driver (who had gunned his engine in order to get across the intersection before the car trailing me blocked his path) slammed on his brakes. Instead of flying over the car's hood as I'd feared, I felt the front of the car tap my bike. Yes, TAP. I felt the contact, but I was not heart and neither was my bike.

Moving out of the intersection, I looked over my shoulder to see the driver stop and roll down his window.

"Are you okay?" he asked?

"I'm not hurt." I offered. "That was really scary." I wracked my brain for what to say to him to express how scared I was, how angry. But there was nothing to say - I wasn't hurt and I could not really force him to get out of his car and kiss my shaking feet. So I got back on my bike and pedaled away. I biked to work on Friday with the sense that if I didn't fear could keep me from getting on my bike for a long time.

A recent study indicates that accidents and injuries are fairly common for bicyclists. One in five regular bike commuters in Portland reported being injured in an accident. I understand that this is a risk of biking, but until now I had been lucky enough not to experience it myself. I am still lucky; I was shaken up but not injured.

Another example of my charmed life, I suppose, but also a reminder to be more careful and not ever think that because I have never had a close call before that I won't again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Superhero Supply in Brooklyn

You know baby
When I was taking my pantyhose
Out of their egg this evening
I thought, I'm gonna find that man
Who has the right shade of bottled tan
A man who smells like cocoa butter and cash

Scissor Sisters
Any Which Way

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House of Blllrrrgh

Last week Ian and Mira got a stomach bug. By Saturday they seemed better (ie, had gone a day with out vomiting). By Sunday morning I was nauseous; by the late afternoon I was throwing up. Ada joined me in this by the evening.

I stayed home from work Monday morning and hung out with Ian and Mira while Chris worked for a few hours and Ada snuggled in our bed. Mira was pretty perky but Ian had vomited again early in the day and was clearly not fully recovered. Ian came up to the couch and put his torso on it, while his feet remained on the floor. I rubbed his back and within a couple of minutes I heard... what's that? snoring.

sleeping Ian (long view)

Meanwhile, Ada posted the following on her door:

Please send me a card

She'd originally wanted to ask her friends for sympathy presents, but Chris told her it might be better to requests cards. (Despite the learner's spelling, she is not actually asking for a Toyota.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Etiquette, Holiday Edition

The holidays are coming, which makes me think about, well, obligation gifts. Off the top of my head I can think of the following categories of people I will or should be giving gifts to:

  • Nanny
  • House cleaner
  • Newspaper delivery person
  • Postal worker (if you are my parents, at least*)
  • Administrative staffer(s) who have helped me in the past year
  • Ada's teacher
Now this last one is the thing that got me started thinking about all this. I saw this idea on parenthacks for a teacher gift, which sounds delicious but made me think: ANOTHER person to whom I now have a seasonal obligation?

Don't get me wrong, I really like Ada's teacher, and Ada clearly thinks she's fantastic. But am I supposed to buying or making her a gift? Isn't it enough that we are ceaselessly engaged in the financial support of the school, or bringing snack, doing the weekly class wash or volunteering for lunch duty, cooking assistant or PE helper? (Okay, I am not volunteering much, but Chris has done more than his share of this kind of thing over the past few months.)

So what do you do? Do you give the teacher a gift? The postal worker? The newspaper guy? (the latter is probably the most in need financially, and he has done a good job getting the paper on the porch this rainy season...) Who else do you give gifts to at the holidays? Why or why not? 

*My parents seem to have very good relations with their postal worker. I think this guy has moved on, but for a while they had a postal worker nicknamed Smokey, who left them a fantastic, idiosyncratic poem one year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wait, Who's the Map?

Ada, while watching Dora, responded to seeing the talking Map discussing the three landmarks on the map of the day:

"How can the map be on the map?"

Good question.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Keep Thrilling Me

Just one more reason why I love Portland:

Video by goldensummitinc

Friday, November 05, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week


is your dad a dealer,
'cause you're dope to me


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

To a friend who is getting ready to bring home her second child:

Don't worry that this new baby will be a stress to your first born. We all love our first babies so intensely. We worry over them in a way that is often impossible with the second or third. Your first is a strong child and will gain so much for having a sibling. There will be stress for everyone, but it is also growth. I know for Ada, the days she gets frustrated with Ian and Mira are outweighed by what they do for her. As a five year old she may not appreciate what it means to have siblings, but they are teaching her so much about love and joy (and yes, about sharing and compromise).

There are of course days when Ada thinks it would have been better to have been an only. She recently told Chris and me that she doesn't like our family with Ian and Mira. When we asked her why, she replied "Because sometimes Ian bugs me." Chris and I had to hold our tongues so we did not tell her that sometimes she bugs us. Instead, Chris politic-ly said that sometimes people in a family bother one another, but they also so things for one another. "Like what?" Like loving one another. Ian and Mira love Ada so much, even if they show that love in sometimes overly drooly, toddler-messy ways.

I recently read that having a sister makes people happier. I know it is true for me, and I am hopeful that my kids will feel their lives similarly improved by having one another. (and given how chatty Ian is these days, the rationale in the article may hold true for him too)

I am sure that this is how it will be for your family too. Your children will be enriched by having one another. Sharing the experience of growing up together will bond them, as will their happiness at having one another to share stories about their crazy parents. (Not that my sister and I ever do this, mind you. But I've heard some siblings do...)

I am so excited to meet your new baby and to see you four as you grow into being a family together.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Wonder Woman and the Herd

the herd
Giraffes live in herds, right? 

October 31: Wonderwoman in her blue skirt
One of the few pictures she'd let me take of her in full Wonder Woman get up

I take lots of pictures of him because he lets me
Ian Giraffe posing for his animal-loving fans

Mira in full Giraffe regalia
Mira was not at all interested in being photographed. She preferred foraging for dinner at the neighborhood party. Plus, the COOKIE! (and later, the CHOCOLATE!)

Giraffe boy
Simultaneously giraffe and ham

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Man Stuff

Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.

Malcolm Gladwell
Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Into the Sun(flare)

Running into the Sun(fllare)

A sunny cool day at the zoo. One of the many reasons I don't want to work full time right now. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

What does it say about me

What does it say about me that my first thought, on reading an email from one of my bosses asking if I can find some time in the next week so that she and the big boss would like to talk with me, that I think "oh crap, am I being fired?"

I had this thought, even though I have NEVER been fired. At no level of employment have I ever been found so lacking that I was asked to leave. I have always been the one to quit, and usually when I quit I have such a good relationship with my employer that I give months of notice, not weeks. (This has happened several times when I moved across the country or was pregnant.) I have never been fired, nor have I ever been told that my performance was such that if I did not shape up such measures would be taken.

So why, when I saw this email, did I think I was in trouble? Is this common? I can only imagine that this happens to a lot of people, upon receiving a terse but not clearly ominous message from a superior. If I am right, and it is not just me, why are we so sure that these messages portend doom, even in the face of no previous experience that would suggest we should read things this way?

(Appropos of the above: I wasn't fired. The bosses asked me if I wanted to take on a new position with more responsibility and maybe even some staff, working on the same topic that has been my main area of focus over the past year. I am excited and nervous.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

July 25: Red Detail of Paintaing

You there, get my shoes!

Bert Cooper
Mad Men

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Want To Write

I want to write about how Ada got lice within 2 weeks of starting kindergarten. And how annoying it is to get rid of them. Or how every time I think about lice my head itches.

I want to write about how Ian tried to climb an empty shelf, only to have it fall on him. About how this made him bite his tongue, hard. How he bled briefly but was soothed by Chris and a bottle and how he would not let us see his tongue until the next day, which is when I realized it was really injured. (He's fine and the tongue is healing nicely, but he may have a permanent notch in the side of his tongue.)

I want to write about my job (though it is my general rule not to do that). I want to write (more) about how this work is compelling and taxing and satisfying and frustrating. About how hard it is to balance work with family and with any other interests or pursuits.

I want to write about how adorable it was to walk around the block with Mira. About how exciting it is that she is finally more interested in walking on her feet than her knees. About how my joy at this was in part due to the knowledge that her pants won't wear out quite so fast now.

I want to write about the joys of biking home with two kids laughing and joking behind me, delicious end-of-season tomato risotto with friends, and the warmth of my husband sleeping beside me.

I am too tired to write more about these things than I have just done. I am too busy to take blue photographs or to even remember to carry my camera with me. I worry that I am half-assing things all over the place but I am also so happy with my life right now. Someone smarter than me might point out that this is just life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They Call Me Compulsive Yellow

As I got busy at work I took fewer pictures. I also continued to be obsessed with the photo applications for the iphone, especially Hipstamatic. Yellow can be so dramatic.

Yellow collage

The full yellow set is here. October is blue.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Four children, two adults, one cow train ride, three hay bale towers, tons of pumpkins, six lunches, two other sets of twins spotted, two toddlers asleep within five minutes of getting in the car to go home.

Lila and Ada

Ian and Mira, 16 mo



One fun day.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Why Cell Phones Have Cameras (Wordless Wednesday)

 Why Cell Phones Were Given Cameras
Ian, who fell asleep on the 12 block ride home. 

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Friend, Gone. A Friend, Remembered

This weekend Chris and I took the kids to a memorial for our friend Pat. Pat lived across the country and was about ten years our senior. We met him through our college, as alums. He was a committed alumnus who served as alumni board president and enthusiastically volunteered on behalf of the college for many years.

We did not see Pat often. For a while we lived relatively close to one another. More recently we saw him on occasion and talked some by email. He came to town once a year or so, but had a lot of friends here. He had a lot of friends in general. I knew this, but at the memorial and by reading his facebook page I am realizing just how enmeshed he was with his friends. He remained close with a number of his classmates, but he also made friends with people like me and Chris, people who did not overlap with him in school but who he nevertheless sought out for friendship of varying levels of closeness.

Over the past two years Pat was in touch, calling or emailing to say he was thinking of us, that he was reading the blog and was happy to see the kids, that he hoped we were doing alright. Sometimes I responded, but not always. I was busy, tired, overtaxed emotionally and did not have time for what felt like another thing to put on my to-do list.  When I learned Pat had died I felt terrible, both for the loss of a friend but also because it called out my own failings as a friend. My failure to consider that his calls might be reaching out because he needed something. Or worse, that I knew he needed something but didn't want to reach back to give it to him.

Talking to his friends on Saturday I understood that he reached out a lot in a way, but that many people were similarly unaware that he was in such bad shape.

A group of us met on campus to make weathergrams from Pat's sayings, song lyrics he loved and other things that reminded us of him. Traditionally a weathergram is a very short poem about nature's beauty. I love using weathergrams in a memorial. The slip of paper hanging from a tree draws you in, it is ephemeral, it is beautiful.  

The weathergrams for Pat said, among other things: "I love my sons," "hee hee" and "Reagan is a dickhead." They also quoted Jimi Hendrix and included notes of care and concern from friends across the country. 

I wasn't sure how it would work to take the kids to this memorial, but both Chris and I wanted to go and this was the only way to make it happen. Chris and I biked the kids across town to the college, which felt like a treat for them and for us. As people gathered, talked and made weathergrams, Ian and Mira ran around laughing and crying and eating. Ada made two weathergrams in a made up language. She whined some and asked why we were sitting around, but overall it worked out. I saw some people I had not seen in a long time. I found out more about Pat's last months. I teared up a little, more than I wanted to but less than I thought I might. 

As the sun started to go down, Chris took Ian and Mira home while Ada and I joined the others on a walk across campus, placing weathergrams as we went. Ada took the "hee hee" paper, and chose a low tree on which to hang it. We got to the main entrance to campus, where a young garry oak sat in a hole ready to be filled with dirt and Pat's ashes. We took turns spreading the ashes and shoveling the dirt. I explained to Ada what was going on (including a vague explanation of the ashes as what remained of Pat after he died) and she did pretty well with it. Remembrances were read and Pat's memory invoked. We agreed that he would love to be remembered with a tree that stands guard on campus, greeting visitors and new students. 

After the ceremony Ada and I walked back across campus, examining some of the weathergrams and even explaining to a couple of students why the papers were there. It felt good to be able to tell strangers that we'd hung the papers in a friend's memory, how much he'd loved the school, that I was sad he was gone. The young men asked what his name was, which seemed right. Pat would have enjoyed making a connection with these young men.

Ada and I rode home in the dark. It was late, and she still hadn't eaten dinner. We stopped to get hamburgers and fries. It seems tangential to mention this, but Pat loved his sons so much and his memorial made me want to hold my children close. I wanted to extend this time with Ada, wanted to ride through the night with her for hours. One day too soon she won't want to do this with me any more. 

My weathergram for Pat read "distance is nothing among friends" but maybe it should have been "love now." I would like to think he would have agreed with that sentiment. 

October 2: Blue Stripe
Ada, waiting for the hamburgers

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

July 29: Detail of Red and White Quilt

You have to be impressed by a plucky Spanish provincial, in the dangerous days of Nero and Domitian, who could manage to earn a handsome living writing dirty poems for the urban sophisticates of ancient Rome.

Steve Coates
My Poetry is Filthy - but Not I

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Work continues to take a lot out of me, but in a good "this is exciting even if it is a lot of work" way. Apparently it isn't just me feeling this way. The Washington Post had an article last week saying that state employees are feeling the stress of implementing the federal health care reform law.

Taking advantage of the good weather on Saturday, we took the kids (including Ada's pal Lila) to the pumpkin patch. I'd show you photos but Flickr is acting up. Maybe tomorrow.

I managed to make a crumble out of the quinces that grew on my mystery fruit tree. I am not sure it is good enough to make me want to keep the tree, but it tasted reasonably good.

We celebrated my pal Susie's birthday with a fancy dinner on Saturday night. The food was good but the company was excellent. I had so much fun and laughed more than I have in a while. It was so great that it made the next morning worthwhile (I was on duty with Ian and Mira from 6am on). 

What is keeping you busy these days?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weekend in the Woods

This past weekend Ada, Chris and I went to the woods with our pal Juniper. We were going to camp, but then it rained a lot (especially at night). We were staying near Juniper's dad's cabin, so we ditched our tent in favor of a little trailer her dad built (and lived in for a few years as a younger man).

Sleeping Trailer

It is a tiny bit longer than it is wide. Basically just big enough for the three of us to sleep on the bed platform, with a little extra space for our backpacks. It was super cozy and with the three of us was nice and warm, even as the rain pelted the roof. Plus, how can you not love a tiny wooden trailer with a wood stove and a dutch door?

Juniper's dad is a committed yoga practitioner, who has a whole set up in his cabin. This includes what looked to Ada like a swing.

Ada enjoys the yoga tools

She spent a lot of time swinging on the rope and generally acting like a circus performer. Good thing that J's dad is great with kids.

On Saturday Juniper, Chris, Ada and I went for a hike in the woods. Ada wasn't crazy about the first half of the hike (a lot of uphill) but did like the trail mix we'd brought and the beautiful setting. (If you were going to see a unicorn anywhere in Oregon, it would be in these woods.) At one point in the hike Ada and I found a tree with numerous fairy houses at its base. Ada decided to winterize the fairy houses by putting moss in the doorways.

Ada Winterizing the Fairy Houses

Do other people's kids have a thing for fairies? Ada has no doubt that fairies live in the gaps at the bases of trees. She believes it so fervently that I have started to think it must be true.

While Ada was helping the fairies, Juniper found a nice big Chanterelle mushroom. We cooked it on Sunday to eat with our eggs. In addition to hiking and sleeping in (until 8:30! unheard of at our house) we ate s'mores, fed chipmunks and enjoyed the local natural hot springs. Unlike last time we took Ada to this place a couple of years ago, she got in and enjoyed the tubs. She also loved running from the tubs to a calm place by the river and jumping into the cold cold water before running back to the tub. Clearly this girl has some of her dad's Swedish blood.

Sorry, no photos of that. But really, no one needs to see photos of me sprinting from the river back to the warm tub, yelling all the way.

Ian and Mira stayed with their grandparents, who seem to have survived fine but who may not fully recover for a few months. Actually, Grandma and Bunka were great and Mira and Ian were happy to see us but not so happy that it wasn't clear that they'd had a great weekend with their grandparents.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It Isn't Easy Shooting Green

Green collage

Better late than never, I suppose. Green may envy the attention I lavished on the earlier months.

I am working on September: yellow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Visiting a Bend Blogger

On Thursday I drove to Bend for work. The meeting itself was maybe not worth the trip across the mountains, but definitely worth it was my visit with Jennifer. She was kind enough to give me a call when she was in Portland at the start of the summer, and meeting her confirmed what I believed from reading her blog - that she is someone I would enjoy knowing.

I had originally suggested we meet up after my meeting, but after a busy day of work, a several hour drive and an evening community meeting I was a little toasty. Luckily Jennifer agreed to meet me on Friday. We drove to a trail just outside of town for a walk by the river. It really is gorgeous there, and it smells so good. Whenever I am in drier climes I remember how much I love the smell.

We walked quickly and talked non-stop. We talked about children, food, defensively lefty acquaintances, writing, lava, parenting, american history, travel, how our experiences in the outdoors have changed us, and of course blogging and bloggers.

When I come to a new place I tend to think about if and how I could fit in there. I instinctively conduct a mini-scan, as if I were preparing to settle there. I have momentarily fallen in love with a lot of places, from Seattle to Montpelier. Bend is beautiful and it was fun to enjoy it with Jennifer, who clearly loves living in Bend and having such easy access to the outdoors. It made me feel so warm about Bend that I was sorry to be leaving town after such a short visit. I am not moving to Bend, or anywhere, anytime soon, but I am so glad to have gotten to visit.

Sky in Bend
In characteristic fashion, I didn't take pictures of the most beautiful parts of my visit. 
The sky was nice, though.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week


Let's go to my room, pig!

Invader Zim

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Well that's settled

At a light, waiting to turn onto the freeway onramp:

Ian: Cah! Cah!

Me: Yes! So many cars! And look, a train!

Ian and Mira: (rapt attention to train passing)

Me: What could be better than a train?

Mira: Cat!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I tell her

What I tell her, versus what I do when she is not around:

I tell her: Dessert is not every day. It is a special treat.
I do:         Almost daily indulge my desire for something sweet.

I tell her:
We don't eat in the living room.
I do:         Eat in the living room.

I tell her: No more snacks, it is almost dinner time.
I do:        Snack while making dinner. (then again, I still eat dinner)

I tell her: We are eating, so let's put away the toy/book/piece of junk holding your attention.
I do:        Read/work/text while eating.

I tell her: Go to sleep so you'll be rested for tomorrow.
I do:        Stay up too late fiddling around at nothing.

What do you tell your children and then turn around and contradict through your actions?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

On Sunday afternoon I was changing Mira's diaper. I saw Ian walk into the kitchen, and then it was quiet. Too quiet for my taste. As I finished up with Mira, Ian came in. I saw this:

What I saw first

Intrigued, I walked into the kitchen and saw this:

What I saw second

Needless to say, we are still getting the hang of keeping everything away from the edges of the counters. What I can't figure out is why Ian didn't immediately eat all the blueberries he spilled.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Greek-Inspired Sculpture

Although there's still pain in my chest,
I still wish you the best,
with a...
"fuck you!"
Ooo ooo oooo

Fuck You
NB: Do not click the link if you are at work and can not shut yourself in a room alone. The video is not safe for work, as the quote above might suggest.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Park, Preserve, Park

One day I will have stuff to say, maybe after I drop Ada off at kindergarten on Friday (YES, school does not start for Portland kindergarteners until FRIDAY. Pathetic.) In the mean time, some shots from our wanderings this weekend (park, nature preserve, park). I am just sad I don't get any photos of the amazing al fresco Japanese feast Ellen made for us on Monday night. Happily, I did take pictures at the lovely impromptu Labor Day bbq lunch we enjoyed at Mike and Steven's (grilled pineapple!). Both of which make me love my friends and neighbors and want to cry that we are near the end of the summer (as evidenced by the torrential rain that coincided with veggie pick up on Tuesday).

Oh, guess I did have some things to say.

On to photos:

Tire Swing
My big girl.

Mira and Watermelon
Never have a bummer with...watermelon.

ian stop action
Chris thinks this is the shot Ian should use to apply to become a J Crew model. 

Mira in the Park

Face First Down the Slide
for Ian, it is face first down the slide, always

Monday, September 06, 2010

Why Going To Work Is Easier Than What Chris Did All Summer

My stay-at-home parent friends have my undying respect. Included in that group is my husband, who this week concludes his summer-long sojourn into the stay-at-home world. This is not to say that he'll never be home with the kids again, but this week he returns to work after being our children's main caretaker over the past several months.

I have a sense of what Chris dealt with while I was at the office, enjoying the comfortable chairs and the witty banter of colleagues. I am home with our children one "work" day a week. I am all the more awed by Chris' equanimity in the face of everything that goes on at our house, having lived through the chaos of one recent day at home:

5:50 am - wake up with Ian, who for some reason wakes up 30-60 minutes ahead of schedule when I am getting up with the babies.

6:30 - Mira wakes up, Ian pitches a fit when I give Mira her morning bottle. When offered his own (pretty much empty) bottle, Ian responds by screaming harder and grabbing for Mira's milk. I get Ian some more milk and calm is restored.

7:00  Ada and her friend emerge from her room. Ian sees them and goes crazy with joy. This causes the older kids to laugh and run back upstairs. I corral the kids and tell them to come down stairs so they don't wake up Chris (or at least so that he might be able to fall back asleep).

7:10 - Ada and her friend want to play with playdoh; I negotiate that they can take over the kitchen for this activity after we all have breakfast.

7:15 - Make eggs for breakfast. Respond to special order for "flat eggs" from friend because he asked so politely, everyone else gets patented "cheesy eggs."

7:30 - Help Ada and friend set up playdoh activity in kitchen. Convince the friend that we do not need to use every one of the 24 colors Aunt Karen sent Ada for her birthday. Shut gate to kitchen so that babies don't disturb older kids' Very Important Work.

8:30 - Ian is crabby crabby crabby, so Chris and I put the babies to bed before Chris leaves for work.

8:45-9:20 - Listen to Ian and/or Mira cry, talk, sing, etc instead of sleep. Once Ian finally quiets down, Mira starts chattering for a while. Consider but eventually reject idea of complaining to Chris about this by email. Instead text visiting out-of-town friend about timing of park date. Text other friend about joining us. Call parents of Ada's play date to organize pick up, thank them profusely for doing the shlepping.

9:30 - It is finally quiet. Scrape a zillion small globs of playdoh off the kitchen floor. Clean up residual Ian/Mira messes from the morning. Get text from woman scheduled to pick up kid friend for swim lesson - her keys are locked in her car, can I drop kid off at her house?

9:40-10:00 - Participate in Ada/friend's collaborative lego play. Extricate myself from this activity to clean up a little more.  Text with friends about adjusted park timing.

10:00 - Someone is awake upstairs. Ignore noise with the hope that the kid will go back to sleep.

10:15 - Noise now includes shaking that indicates kid standing and rattling crib. Knowing it is futile to expect more nap, I go upstairs, grab the two kids and take them into the bathroom so I can put my contact in. Listen to Mira complain loudly when I put her down.

10:20-10:40 - Come downstairs as Ada's friend and her father arrive to pick her up. Say goodbye to Ada, get Ian and Mira ready to go (change diapers, put on shoes and socks) and walk sleepover friend to his next engagement.

11:10 - Return home and decide to feed babies before heading to the park. Ian refuses to eat more than a single morsel, but spends his time squishing cherry tomatoes so that no one else (including his omnivorous sister) will want them either.

11:35 - Prepare to leave the house. Change diapers, put on sunscreen, collect snacks and sippy cups, check bag for other supplies, attach trailer to bike, find and dust off bike helmets, strap kids into bike, put on helmets.

11:45 - Finally leave the house. Arrive at the park as friend is leaving me a message saying "I'm here, where are you?" Play at the park with two friends I have not seen in a long time. Chase children, dole out snacks, chase children, talk to friends, chase children...

1:40 - Sense that Ian is near a melt-down and head home. At home, prepare for naps by diapering, doling out milk, putting kids in bed. Listen to chatter while I make a sandwich.

2:00 - Ian and Mira are quiet. Sit on porch playing with new software. Sign up for BTA's September Bike to Work Challenge.

3:05 - Go inside as sun is broiling the back of my neck.

3:10 - Hear kids wake up from nap. Sigh and roll eyes that nap was so short.

3:16 - Finally go upstairs after listening to kids chatter to one another on the monitor. Hope that there are no poops to deal with.

4:30 - Take Ian and Mira to pick up Ada at her friend's house. Lug the kids into the house, convince Ada to leave, and lug everyone back into the car.

5:20 - Allow Ada to visit the neighbor's house to play and remind her to tell you if she wants to go anywhere else. Start cooking dinner, while running between the kitchen and dining room in order to: (1) repeatedly tell Ian not to stand on the chair; (2) stop Ian from repeatedly climbing onto the dining room table; (3) taking the blackberry away from Ian when he climbs on the table to get it. Wonder how Ian will survive toddlerhood. Consider saying "why can't you be more like your sister?" about five thousand times.

6:15 - Put dinner on the table and gather everyone to eat. Give up trying to soothe Ian, who dissolves into a puddle of (very loud) sadness when Chris arrives home and tries to do anything other than immediately pick up Ian.

7:00  - Put babies to bed, and begin the process of helping Ada with her bedtime.

8:30 - Collapse on the couch, all children now safely in bed. Remember that there are toys all over the floor and join husband in daily maintenance cleaning/toy pick up.

* ** * ** *

I only do this stay-at-home thing once a week. I am exhausted just thinking about it. If there is any doubt in his mind or anyone else's, I really appreciate all Chris did for the kids and for me this summer. Thank you, Chris. The nanny is returning this week and now maybe we can all get some rest.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Milk and Biscuits

It was a small moment, but I was so charmed by Ada this morning: 

Ada (holding plate of jam-slathered buttermilk biscuits): can I have some water to go with my biscuits?

Me: Are you sure you don't want some milk?

Ada: Which would be better with biscuits?

Me: Well...milk goes very well with biscuits and jam.

Ada: Okay!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

House Guests and Other Noises

We got back from the beach to a mostly clean house. Except. In the kitchen we found a weird mess of dust bunnies and plastic lids. The windows were closed, so it wasn't the wind. The rest of the house was fine, so we just shrugged and cleaned up the mess.

On Monday Chris emailed me.

Subject: Mystery Solved
T'was a rat. :(

He'd seen the rat that morning, as it scurried from under the hoosier, across the dining room and into a gap by the pocket doors. (not that you asked what a hoosier or pocket door is, but I am helpful like that)

That night we heard some scratching in our wall and were mesmerized as we listened to the on again, off again noise.

The next night Chris set traps, and while we watched Mad Men we heard one of the traps slap closed. Ugh. I refused to look, but from Chris's face I am sure it wasn't pleasant. I feel a little conflicted about using a killing trap, but not enough to have taken steps to handle it another way. I was so much more squicked by the reality of a rat in my house than I'd imagined I would be. I felt much better once the rat was gone.

Except that not more than 10 minutes later, we heard the scritch scritch scritch sound again. We probably should have known that there would be more than one. Luckily, we'd gotten more than one trap. We left the traps out and went to bed.

The next morning I got up with the babies. I dutifully went around picking up the traps before the babies discovered them. First the two glue traps, and then the spring loaded trap. Leaning over, I noticed that it had been sprung. Huh, that's weird, it's sprung but there is no rat in it, I thought. That's when I noticed the dead rat a few inches away, under a chair. I was so shocked I did that involuntary full body wiggle of ewww! I didn't quite jump on a chair, but I was too much of a wimp to deal with the dead rat myself. I made Chris come get it so that the babies would not get a chance to go after it.

The next night involved no rat sounds, thankfully. However, at 3am I woke up to Chris walking out of the room. He briefly went downstairs and upon returning said that he'd heard something. He got back into bed, but we both lay, heads cocked, listening to some kind of weird scratching noise. At first I thought it was in our room, but then Chris realized it was coming from outside our window. He peeked out the window and saw a dark shape moving from the neighbor's vertical rain pipe onto their second floor porch. It was a racoon, climbing the drain pipe, he said. Eventually we relaxed and fell back asleep.

The following day I took Ada and Lila on a bike ride to the ice cream store. When I got home, Chris had news: Last night? It wasn't a raccoon. It was our neighbor. Apparently Sam found himself locked out, his cell phone was dead or not with him, and he could not wake his house mates by knocking on the door. He decided that the best way in was through the second floor balcony, so at 3 am he'd scaled the rain pipe to get into the house. And now we know that our neighbor looks and sounds a lot like a really creative raccoon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Okay, Indulge just a FEW more pictures

The set up: look, blue sky!
A little family photo from right before I messed up the larger family picture.

I took several full family photos with the timing (note to self, next time bring the remote!). Sadly, before I realized that they were fairly blown out, the kids and adults all decided they were done with photo time. You can see a couple of them here, which range from more blown out to more crazy looking participants (eyes shut, arms flailing, etc). Oh well, better luck next year.

Anthony and the kite
Anthony flying Ada's kite

Fancy Girl and Seahorse
Ada with my glasses and her new seahorse 

Can you see how high we climbed?
Ada enthusiastically climbed the huge sand dune four times

more sunset
One of a few really lovely sunsets
What these pictures do not express is how much I love my family. I really enjoyed the week, and as I told my sister when we returned to Portland, I was only sad that I had not gotten more. I am greedy for their time, and want as much of it as I can have. Even though Karen, Anthony and my parents live only a state away, there is never enough time. I often want to paraphrase that line from Where the Wild Things Are: I'll eat them up, I love them so. 

It is nice to have these reminders of how lucky I am to have such a great family, and occasionally even the time to enjoy them.