Monday, December 22, 2008

We went for a family walk in the snow last night. It was so deep and not too freezing, but with a three year old in tow it was a little dicey at times. (I guess walking through the layers of ice wasn't doing it for her). Things improved once we walkled on the road, which was cleared of drifts and ice.

Anyway, I am loving the snow and don't want it to go. We need to be out playing in it more, while it's here, but then again the snow doesn't need us to do anything, it's just there, a beautiful backdrop as I've worked on several projects that needed to be done for Christmas. In the last two days I've knit a hat, made a lined tote with matching key fab, turned a felted sweater into a scarf, and made a new skirt for our Christmas tree. I have kid's nighties left to go and a scarf to knit before Christmas. Talk about a Christmas crunch!

I talked to my dad on the phone tonight, (he's called ME the last few days) and while I was reading to the kids tonight I got this panic about losing him. We will lose everyone we love sometime, but when your dad has brain cancer, it's more of an iminent threat. I started thinking about the MRI that was scheduled for the 8th but then that got rescheduled for the 17th and then cancelled and rescheduled for the
24th and how maybe he already had it but didn't want us to know, and maybe they finally said what they say in movies, like how long, and maybe he knows and when I talk to him on the phone and he says, "I'm just calling to see how the weather is," he's really calling because he won't be able to much longer. The imagination of a daughter whose dad has cancer, it's a terrible thing. He offered to pay halfsies on a surround sound system and we haven't given him an answer yet but I want to say "YES!" for the same reason he made the offer to begin with, because the kind response seems like the only response right now. My heart is heavy and The Family Stone would make me cry but we are about to watch Burn After Reading. Last night we watched Step Brothers. Will Ferrell will always make me laugh.

This post totally reads like an e-mail, and I muse at the fact that the snow seems to wash the formality from things. You watch the news and the reporters seem more like real people, having genuine little conversations about snowboarding in the middle of a weather report, which I love. They're acting like they should act every day, because they are relaxed, because the city is shut down and when things are shut down, anything you do is okay. The pressure is off. The snow takes the edge off everyone and everything, even a blog post. Every blog post should feel like a mind-clearing e-mail. Well that's what you get tonight anyway. Happy Winter!
Snow Sculpture on 4Runner, created by my husband

Look how much we got!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This fall the girls have been enrolled in two different sessions of swimming lessons that just wrapped up the other night. For three to five year olds, our city pool offers four levels of Catfish classes. Avery started Catfish 1 in the spring right after she turned three and then took Catfish 2 twice this fall, passing on to Catfish 3 the other night. Julia took Catifsh 3 and 4 consecutively this fall and successfully passed on to Frogs! Held in the deep water, she had some reluctance and anxiety about swimming lessons the whole time, but I'm glad I didn't let her quit. Gone are her Catfish days! Swimming lessons have been so good for both of them. They are WAY more comfortable in the water than before and can do all sorts of things. Bread sticks and Icees were their treat the other night after their last lesson.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This was the view outside our house this morning, and the snow continued to fall all day. What a treat! Tomorrow's Thursday and the kids won't have had school all week, and may not Friday, either. Basically it will amount to a three week vacation.

We've been busy indoors, fending off the restlessness that comes with being cooped up. We've watched several episodes of Kindergarten, which is the best show! The show documents a class of kindergartners and it is full of richness! The kids and I watch it together and really enjoy it. Since Julia is IN kindergarten, I think it especially resonates with her, but I also enjoy just watching the classroom stuff, being a teacher and all.

Julia made a ton of melty bead creations which we turned into ornaments.

Avery played in a box.......

and built this super cool castle.

We've also been reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and finished that today. Cute book. I don't think I've ever read it before but love how it has sequels, as we will no doubt enjoy those, too.

We bundled up and spent about a half hour in the snow today. Our snowman came together in about ten minutes.

Snow angels, check!

And now, Daddy's off work to join us. Woo hoo!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tonight I asked Jooge to go check to see if it was still snowing in the backyard. I figured she would open the slider and poke her nose out, inspecting the air, but she disappeared. I went over to the slider, and looked out to find her leaping and running through the drifts of snow. In her tights. It made me laugh.

Let it!

Holy Crap! This picture doesn't do it justice but it snowed all day today. Portland area highways all require chains, it's that wicked. School is already cancelled tomorrow in every district within a 20 mile radius. The snow is really dry and powdery and it's really windy so white dust is constantly swirling around. It's WAY too cold out to even play in the snow. (Wind chill=14). Go, snow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Picture Book Shout Outs...It's Been Awhile

The fact that I immediately rush to the new picture books whenever we visit the library makes me both wise and greedy. Here are some of our latest favorite finds...

Half a World Away is the sweetest story about two preschool pals who live nearby one another and play together all the time. Then one moves away and for some reason, maybe because we moved a lot when I was a kid, this part was so sad to me. GREAT illustrations.

Trout Are Made of Trees is a great story helping kids to realize the connections in nature. The illustrator, Kate Endle, has an Etsy shop with collages I covet, which have inspired me and my collages.

Little Blue Truck
had really great illustrations.

A Visitor for Bear was a wonderful story about a bear who liked to keep to himself, turning away a friendly mouse, until he realized how different and fun life was with a friend around, and he began to enjoy the mouses company and didn't want him to leave.

Help is a wonderful story about a mouse who is a afraid of a snake until snake ends up saving it from danger.
Again, great illustrations. Also great message.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We got our tree up a week ago. This was our second year going to Bob's Garden Center's Tree Stand. Sadly, this year they had no Frasier firs, which after last year I have decided is my absolute FAVORITE tree. Nobles are great, too though. I'm laughing remembering our Noble from 2006, which totally DOMINATED our diminutive living room at eight and a half feet tall. Woah. Now though, we've toned it down and like the six foot variety. Also, it is COVERED in ornaments. Irregardless of the ornament crowding, this little guy really needed me to buy him at Goodwill this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It kills me that my kids never want me to muck with their hair. Maybe had I been the kind of mom that combed her kid's hair into cute hairstyles each day when they were younger, they'd be used to it, and sit while I styled away. Now, most mornings, I run a brush through their hair, to the sound of shreiks, and still, we come to school with hair full of sleep-induced personality. HOWEVER, the heavens shone down upon us the other day because I was able to get Avery to wear a pony tail! Look how DARN CUTE she looked! By about 10 am at school it had completely fallen out though.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"Helps To Know What You're Entitled To"

Today my husband discovered that not only does Intel provide him, as an employee, with a complimentary peice of fruit each day*, not to mention unlimited free beverages daily, his Vault Card gives him discounts on many many area restaurants, some which we patronize.

I am working on the computer when he begins listing them off.
"If we ate at Arby's, we would receive a free Regular roast beef sandwich with the purchase of a regular fries and drink."

"By the way, at Carls Jr. we could receive a free star burger with a purchase of the same sandwich at a regular price."

"All those times we were ordering from Garlic Jims we could have been getting 20% off."

"You know we could have our groceries delivered by Safeway? Three dollars off, with my vault card."

Later, "We should be getting 10% off our T Mobile Bill each month."

"If we want to eat at Merchant of Venice, we could have a second order for free. Same for Orenco Station Grill. 20% off at the new "FU" place. (PHO)"

I can't stop laughing. Not that I'm not grateful for all the deals Intel gives us.

"Back," he bursts, "50% off?!?"

But then his voice BOOMS: "10% off all services at Larry Miller Honda plus free pick up and delivery service!! They should be coming and picking up our car and then bringing it back to us when they're done AND we should be paying less."

My husband figures had we been using the 20% discount his vault card earns us at Pizza Schmizza, plus dedicatingly employing the Pizza Schmizza punch card, shucks, we'd have a paid vacation to Hawaii by now.

Oh the perks.

*I have seen a random orange littering the road near his office, presumably tossed from a car by a cackling, disgruntled employee.....

Monday, December 08, 2008

Growth spurts have dictated new shirts and a lot of t-shirt embelishing lately. Fun.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sadly, I have no photos to share. Just words, about a wonderful cultural experience we had today. We went and saw Lineage Dance perform. My sister-in-law Meghann is one of the amazing dancers in this group and they WOWED us today with their performance. It's one of those experiences you can't really explain, except that while I was watching, I was just so full, so moved, so amazed, so captivated. Both my mom and I welled up at different points. My husband was completely blown away. My daughters sat rapt the whole time. (Well, except for when Jooge was shouting, "Meghann!" hands outstretched). The gift each of them has for dance is something I want for my girls. Imagine being able to do something creative with your body and soul to make themselves and others happy. Also, Lineage performs to earn money for other non-profit organizations, which is super super cool. Today they were dancing for Growing Gardens.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thriftin' It Up

I found this at St. Vincent De Paul's for $4.00. I'd been looking for a little desk for the kids for awhile. It will require some TLC, but it's salvageable.

I also found some very dear vintage handkerchiefs and a yo-yo covered potholder made of very old fabric. It's framable, I think.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Today during an episode of Charlie and Lola I scrambled to get our Plamobil Advent Calendar assembled. An episode of Handy Manny was required for me to finish. Avery calls it our "Avalent" Calendar. I hung it in the bathroom, of all places. I trusted that we could handle unopened presents left unsupervised. Then I heard boxes being ripped open and had to intervene. Back on track for now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We had a great weekend at my parent's house. Thanksgiving dinner, hiking, Zsa Zsa live and a lemon drop, a whistling tea pot in the gift exchange, my mom's buttermilk pancakes, No Fun Club meetings, a trip to Wallmart, a terrific Dutch Brother's coffee, laughing with Meghann about "crumbs," Thrift store success with a child's desk and the SWEETEST vintage hankerchiefs, smiles from my dad, an afternoon with the husband, sunshine, a walk with my mom. We saved the bowling for next time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Every year my family does a gift exchange. Everyone draws a name and spends $50 on a gift for that person. This year we decided to mix it up a little and spend $10 on something at Ross for a White Elephant-esque gift exchange. My brother jokingly brought the above hand to the counter to pay for it, sticking out of his sleeve. Much to her dismay, his wife was the one who ended up with it. She kindly "left it behind" with a note for my other brother: "Always Remember Christmas
2008." Ryan kindly passed it into our car when we weren't looking, with another note.
I wonder who will be "TOAD" next? All family members, be forewarned...

Friday, November 28, 2008

In our family, no holiday is complete without a family member riding an ATV on the lawn.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today, on Thanksgiving

Happy 50th Anniversary Carl and Sara!

Happy birthday, Ry!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This family photo is circa 1987, I believe. I remember well the outfit I'm wearing: blue pleated skirt made in home ec and a radibonzical yellow sweater with matching earings. I was also wearing matching yellow dressy shoes, that were half flat, half pump. The fact that my brother Andy's sweater was the same shade of yellow as mine was blaringly strategic. My brother Ryan's hair was so gelled it was crisp to the touch. My mom reminds me of the whole camp shirt layering concept. And then there's my dad's glasses, which I'm happy to say were replaced not long after this photo was taken. The new ones were very Sally Jesse Raphael.

Gotta love the family photo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We've been bombarded around here with catalogs and I'm not green enough to go through the whole process of taking our names off whatever list we're on so that we stop getting them. We scope 'em out, use them to dream about what might end up under the Christmas tree, and then we recycle them. As green as I get, people.

How cute is the new cover of LAND OF NOD's catalog? I appreciate its' collaged colorfulness. Julia wants everything on pages 36-37 and 42-43. I am encouraged by the fact that her selections are required for crafting, and if I've tried to cultivate anything in my children, it's creativity.

One of the coolest things she wants is their "I'm Not Bored Anymore Jar." It's an idea I'm totally going to copy because I am NOT paying $29 for theirs. Actually, $29 isn't too bad. But it's filled with "funky art supplies" like googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue pens, etc. They also sell the coolest Frames Wallpaper. Once it's up on the wall you can draw in the frames. I saw a similar wallpaper here.

Now, I need to pry the catalog out of Julia's hands long enough for little Bubbie to paruse it for gift ideas. IDEAS, because I will not be buying anything at Land of Nod. I'm just being inspired by it, that's all. And the cover of the catalog, especially.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My husband took the day off work. He had spent time over the weekend on a getaway snow camping so today he was anxious to spend time with the girls and tackle some projects around the house. He took Julia to school and then took Avery to Dim Sum and I had, like, almost two hours solo in the house. I am never in our house alone. For a moment I felt anxious about how to spend the morsel of time in the best way. Then, I relaxed, knit and "watched" a tivo'd episode of Grey's Anatomy. Thanks hon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blue sky today and a walk in fresh air with my family. Thanks for this.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We went to our third preschool auction last weekend. It was the usual good time, except this year, I was a tad more harried, balancing the social aspect with being a table captain, bidding here and there, but not scoring anything. It was strange, because ususally we have a THING to bring home but this year we bid on and won the three night vacation beach rental, which will be RICH to use in 2009. Can't wait.

ANYWAY, all this to say both my tote and my bird collage got so many compliments at the auction I was inspired to make another collage, which is pictured above. I'm having so much fun making these and I would love to sell them. My bird one made $35 at the auction. Maybe 2009 will be the year of the Etsy shop for me. We'll see....

After the flower collage I experimented with collage on a new background, a simple wooden storage box. I like the end result, but this one will be a gift, amazingly, it made the cut. Still, it's fun to have it around until I give it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jooge and her dad went hiking at Multnomah Falls last weekend. She got a good workout. Of course quality time with daddy is a big treat. I am loving the whole idea of them hiking together.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yesterday when I picked Julia up from school, her teacher, Mrs. S. told me they were singing "You are my Sunshine" and Mrs. S. didn't know the lyrics to the second verse. Apparently, Julia sang the second verse for the whole class in perfect pitch and gave Mrs. S. goosebumps. I feel lucky that we got a teacher who knows the value of sharing such moments because it put a huge smile on my face.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've Got a Deep Sea Diver For a Daughter

They say that three year olds are still distinguishing fantasy from reality. Take my brother, Andy for example. Around that age he used to be full of stories about all the things he did when he was in the army.

The other day we were reading a book about jellyfish and Avery told me, "I saw lots of jellyfish when I was a sea diver." She gave a little nod and raised her eyebrows, like, "Yeah mom, I'm serious, that really happened."

I let out a laugh, because I couldn't help it. Her earnestness, alone, was hilarious. Then I covered up the truth by explaining, "Yeah. I was just laughing because I was thinking back to when I was a sea diver, too." (Trying not to laugh more).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hello Our Names Are Simon and We Like to Do Draw-Rings

We've been big into drawing and coloring around here. I LOVE their artwork. Given the interest both girls have in drawing, it's easy to help cultivate that interest and ability. An ability to draw is a huge confidence builder for kids. Art, I believe, is one of those gifts that keep giving.

When I was teaching I used this book for drawing lessons. I also did an art lesson from this book where I took the kids through a step by step process on how to draw an animal. In the book the lesson is for drawing a lion, but you can use any image of anything and break it down into steps. I tried it with the girls the other day with owls and they turned out so great! They are five and three years old, and look at how they turned out! I was amazed how focused they both were, and how they followed each step. Julia's is on top, Avery's on the bottom.

This segued into some fantastic penguins by Julia.

Avery makes amazing faces with really big eyes.

They've been begging for another "drawing lesson" and we gotthis Ed Emberley book at the library that I think we'll use next.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Serious, Modeling My New Hat

I got this Ambler hat at REI recently after eyeing it for awhile. The knitter in me thought,"Maybe I could make that," but I'm afraid there's only time for wearing this one, snug and warm, and making hats for other people.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back when I was teaching, I had a boy in my first/second grade blend for two consecutive years named Nik. Nik was SUPER interested in all things Army. Born from two military parents, Nik was bound for Westpoint from day one. He wore his Ranger t-shirt and beret often.

Teachers aren't supposed to have favorites but I am here to tell you that Nik was mine.

Bright and responsible, Nik was easy to connect with. I once asked him to do something and he replied with, “Roger!” He always sat rapt and absorbed whenever I read from a chapter book to the class, cracking up over things that sailed over the heads of his classmates. I can picture how he looked when frustrated with clenched hands and a grimace. He pored over Tin Tin books that I checked out for him from the public library.

He once made me a little square of construction paper with a circle cut out of the middle. Suspended in scotch tape in the middle of the circle was a little piece of orange crayon. He had written, "I like skool” on the paper and it hung forever on my filing cabinet in the classroom, even after Nik was no longer in my class and I had his younger brother, Devon.

Last fall I was surfing around and decided to visit the website of the high school Nik and classmates were now attending. I saw many familiar names, but never Nik's. Curious, I googled his name and I got some shocking, tragic

I cried again and again. I felt just sick. It had been nearly ten years since I taught him, yet his death impacted me as though I'd just seen him the day before. For this to happen to any student was terrible. But Nikolas Salerno? Nothing was supposed to happen to him other than a long career as a U.S. Soldier!

One thing I found in my memorabilia is a photocopy of Nik's handwriting assignment to copy the following poem. I saved it both because his handwriting marched upright like a soldier across the page and because it was a sweet sentiment.

It is called Night.

Stars over snow
And in the west a planet
swinging below a star-
Look for a lovely thing
and you will find it,
It is not far-
It never will be far.
-Sara Teasdale

We think we will have opportunities to reconnect with the people we meet along life’s path, but we aren't guaranteed that. I can’t tell Nik how thankful I was to know him. For now, all I can do is look for a lovely thing and find it. Suspended in my mind wearing cowboy boots and perpetual grin, Nik will never be far. I will find my memory of him again and again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I got the idea here to do a thankfulness tree. The tree itself wasn't tough to construct out of paper. We wrote things we were thankful for on the leaves. The kids were really on a roll with this, especially Avery. She's thankful for jerky.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What in the world causes my t-shirts to get these little holes in them? All of my t-shirts, every brand, get these in the front, down low near the waist. My best guess is that maybe my bra strap hooks catch on them in the wash? This is big stuff, people. I'm mystified.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I made Grandma Becky's buttermilk pancakes this weekend and here's the recipe in all its' splendor. I've been really trying to make them so that they turn out as good as when my mom makes them, kind of tangy and light. Good luck.

Grandma Becky's Buttermilk Pancakes
First, whisk together and let sit:
1 overflowing cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. soda

Next, whisk together then mix into buttermilk/soda mixture:
1 egg
2 T. oil

Next, whisk together:
1 cup flour (little less than a cup)
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
and combine with wet ingredients by incorporating in small increments until batter is smooth. Ideally, the less stirring, the better. That one small thing has made all the difference in these turning out like I like them.

Heat skillet to 300 and pour small circles of batter onto skillet, turning pancakes when small bubbles form. Serve with your choice of toppings. These are really good buttered and dusted with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

This weekend Molly and Lucy came down from Seattle. Lucy is two now, and such a hoot. Molly is an amazing mother and a good friend. I always really enjoy our visits. We had some good food and the kids played pretty well together, given their age differences. I was proud of how Avery and Julia ("Julie") played with Lucy this time, especially compared to the last time she came, which is when Avery had a really hard time sharing because SHE was two.

We got out to the "Blue Heron Park," a favorite destination of ours for scampering about. The girls even bathed together last night.
Thanks for coming, you two! We love you!