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!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We made paper people this weekend. Good times.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Real Winner

Just in time for holiday shopping I have a recommendation for those of you looking for a great game for preschoolers. Rated Best Toy by Family Fun magazine in 2007, I boughtSchmetti Coloretti for Julia last Christmas when she was still four. She loved it. Now she's less interested (but will still play) and my three year old is particularly enjoying it. In the game, kids learn about color mixing and patterns while racing to assemble butterflies from 24 iridescent and patterned wings. I plan to get this for our preschool teacher for Christmas instead of a personal gift, because what preschool teacher wouldn't appreciate a new good game for the classroom?

Friday, November 07, 2008

I started out making these for a friend's birthday but now they hang together over the stove. They were born from two random pieces of 2X4 the kids had taken from a woodpile at their friend's house. I sanded them down, covered them with paper, (I could have painted them, too) then decoupaged little scenes on them with paper. I pounded a nail-less sawtooth hanger on the back of each to hang them with. I'm getting a big thrill out of the collage/decoupage thing these days.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On a recent sunny, autumn day, we loaded up our bikes and took a ride on the Banks Vernonia Trail. The section we rode, west of Pihl Road, was gravel, not the smoothest surface for a kid. Julia pressed forward. Avery followed me in the Burley. I took advantage of our frequent stops to take some photos.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

During one of our recent visits to my parent's house down south, we visited Wildlife Safari. If you've never been, it's like a drive through zoo. I like it better than a zoo though because the areas where the animals are don't feel like cages. The above giraffe came walking up the road towards our car, then crossed into what looked like a fairly realistic habitat. In other highlights, my dad got pecked by an Emu through the window. Those Emus and their evil eyes.... But the Ostrich came close, too, without being scary and now we're kind of into Ostriches around here.
After the drive through part there's a little park you can walk through with several animals, including flamingos! Yep, when do you see THEM? Also little photo ops....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

He did it. Promise looms.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Your Life is an Occasion. Rise to it."

Tonight we had a family movie night and watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I had no major expectations for it, but was pleasantly surprised by the visuals, the characters, and the message.

At one point in the movie a sock monkey sits forlorn on the shelf, wishing to be noticed by Jason Bateman's character. They show him again later, head still hanging. After those scenes Avery looked like she was going to cry and Jooge kept whimpering, "Wasn't that sad, about the sock monkey?" There's a hint of a happy future for the sock monkey in another scene, but I'm not even kidding,they both cried after the movie was over, just about the sock monkey.

I don't know where they get it, because I wasn't welling up AT ALL during the speech Dustin Hoffman's character gives about death.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tonight Julia said, "Can you believe all the stuff I'm doing?" A smile dangled from her words.

Like, READING! She's been totally sounding out words on bothStarfall and in books and putting them all together to read. Everything, everywhere, she's curious about what it says.

I guess it's a given that since she is using Starfall she's also USING THE COMPUTER. You know, sitting at it, using the mouse, clicking around. Navigating.

She's been WRITING words, sentences, and stories in her journal by sounding them out.

Of course you've already heard she can RIDE HER BIKE.

PLUS, there's a loose tooth in her mouth. Yes, I'm not even kidding.

Five and Julia really jive.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick Or Treating 2008 Highlights:

The ever-sensitive Princess Julia broke into tears when we left our neighbor Jenny's house. "She hurt my feelings," she sobbed. Jenny had loaded her up with handful upon handful of candy only to keep saying, "Too small," about her basket. A few deep breaths and we were on our way.

Avery, as Heidi, made her trick-or-treating debut this year, shy about saying "Trick or Treat" and eager to be done because she really wanted to get home to sample some of her candy.

Apparently a 9 foot tall Grim Reaper on stilts was somewhere in our neighborhood but we didn't see him. Phew. Even I would have had bad dreams about that one.

I was able to extract all the peanuty candies from their stash, or so I thought, until Jooge took a small bite of an eyeball, only to realize it was peanut butter filled. No major effects other than a little rash on her chin. I gave her a Benadryl.

I gave them five peices of candy the next day and Jooge at one point said, "I think five peices is too much candy." Two forgotten rolls of Smarties were spotted nearby. Okay, next time, we'll have less, sure, if that's what you want.

I can appreciate them where they're at, a little tentative, a little sensitive. There's plenty of time for pillow cases full of candy, longer treks around the neighborhood, and bolder declarations of "Trick or Treat!"