Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Biker Chick

Miss Avery is riding the "Bumpa Bike" these days. She just climbed on it yesterday kind of on the sly and tentatively pedaled her way around and around our cul-de-sac. The focus on her face cracks me up! I predict she'll be riding sans training wheels by the end of the summer, though there's no need to rush, of course.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Father's Day

My husband said his favorite thing about being a father was listening to his girls sing in unison. The girls favorite thing about him were, "When he took us to the sea lions,"(Avery) and how "he always gives us treats when mommy's gone,"(Julia). One of the things that I love about him as a dad is that he is so excited to see his kids when he comes home from work every day.

We spent Father's Day this year at one of my husband's favorite places: the beach. We got to enjoy three nights at a vacation cottage in Arch Cape which we bought at our preschool auction. Lots of exploring, time at the beach, and relaxation. Daddy also got some new Lucky jeans (which he looks so great in!) and a hummingbird feeder. Thanks for being a great dad hon! We love you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

As a kid, we lived in ten different houses between the time I was five and 18. I went to five different elementary schools between kindergarten and sixth grade.
It explains why all the muscles in my body tense up when I find out that they are selling the rental house we live in and we have one month to move!


We have been lucky to have this rental for four and a half years at a pretty good price. I am not sitting well with the idea of an intermediate change before we buy a house. I am really a creature of habit. I love our neighborhood, house, the proximity of everything, etc.

I am going to try and embrace the idea of change, very directly, that we did not plan on. I really hate the idea of Julia going to a new school but I guess that doesn't necessarily have to happen. I know there are other good schools, too.

I was just hoping the next change we made was to buy a house, not to rent a new one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Most little kids brush their teeth begrudgingly, but I especially remember my brother Ryan hated brushing his teeth. When he went without brushing my parents would warn him about about potatoes growing on his teeth.

Avery has heard all about this, and I just heard her say to Julia, "Sister, you need to brush your teeth. Do you want cucumbers to grow on them?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I remade my coasters into something I was happy with. I can't decide if they're coasters or small wall hangings. Anyway, they are being coated with glossy finish and left alone on wax paper this time. The backs are all the same, a dotted fabric I found in the fat quarters at Joann's.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If you're a reader like me, you can relate to being in a book funk once in awhile, trip after trip to the library yielding nothing but duds.

I went to the library yesterday to pick up a memoir I had requested about a father whose daughter became manic depressive at the age of 15. When I passed by the Best Seller shelf, there sat another book that I'd been wanting to read and I nabbed it, too. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg is now happily sitting on my bedside table, bookmark embedded. The memoir? I doubt I will crack it.

I knew I'd love A Homemade Life, as I've read the author's blog Orangette,from time to time. It's a good blog for many reasons, the main being the way she writes. I am very particular about the style of writing I enjoy. Not everyone has the ability to beguile me with their words. Molly Wizenberg just knows how to put words together, engaging me completely. The things she tells you about food and cooking forge an instant trust. I've tried a few recipes featured on her blog and all were satisfying and right. I'm especially inspired by her story: her blog became huge, she began writing for Bon Appetit, NPR, PBS, and then she wrote this book. In her book, each chapter starts with a tale about her life and ends with a recipe. Given her good taste and culinary expertise, you have to assume her collection of favorite recipes has got to be good. I feel lucky to have access to it and to the stories associated with each recipe.

Her dad, "BURG" is featured in the first chapter, along with his recipe for potato salad, which I can't wait to try. Her dad died of cancer recently just like my dad did. The author remembers her dad's feelings about food similarly to the way I remember my dad and meals with him. Her dad always had to "OOH and AHH" over a meal and how it was better than any they could eat in a restaurant. Similarly, my dad was known to say, "You know how much you'd pay for this in a restaurant?" as we sat eating terrific steaks and baked potatoes.

I am so excited to keep reading this book. I'm only six chapters in and I am convinced I will love it and want to own my own copy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saying It

"Love, also disappearing, would like to tap the two murmuring ones on the shoulder. Love would like to say to them, 'Speak more fearlessly-this is the only-say what you can.'" -From The Silence by Jane Hirshfield

I've been thinking a lot about courage, and specifically the courage to say things to the people I love. It's something I've always struggled with. There are things I wish I would have said to my dad, but that I did not, and he's gone. Sure, I can get them out still somehow, but the words that might have repaired parts of our relationship or coaxed out what I needed and deserved, remain stuck in a moment that's gone. Now, my relationships with everyone seem precious. John Mayer's song, "Say" came on the radio the other day exactly when I was thinking about this...

"Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open"

Anais Nin said, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage." What have you been waiting to say to someone that can't wait any longer?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Julia,

As I write you are sound asleep. I know because I just checked in on your sleeping self, tall body curled, scraped knees and bruises punctuating your long legs. It's official: you're six years old today. SIX! When I first began this blog you were only two. I can't get over how much you've grown up this year, literally and otherwise. You are completely new and yet completely familiar.

I think you will always be a lover of nature. Pill bugs have grasped your curiosity lately and you have adopted one from the backyard you have named Carson. We had bad ants in our kitchen and you were very upset that daddy was putting out traps to capture them. You are a lover of animals, especially dogs. Whenever we go to someone's house who has a dog, you spend most of the time hanging out with the dog. The other day we were all riding in the car and you said you wanted a dog that wore clothes. You would have loved a pet turtle or lizard for your birthday. Nothing grosses you out. You hold pythons, you let slugs slide across your hand.

These days you spend your down time listening to books like Ramona and Her Father and Because of Winn Dixie on CD. Sometimes you listen to them twice. We still read together, too. If you could be anywhere, you would choose to be outside, riding your bike, playing with the neighbor boys, running and wild. Dresses are kind of a thing of the past, now you mostly wear skirts and sometimes even....the ocasional pair of jeans. Keens are always on your feet. You love riding your bike to school, trailing mommy and Avery in the Burley. You are into the Smurfs and playing school, and frequently suggest that we should make clothes for The Littles, though your mother never really helps you bring that desire to fruition. Now, you see the woods as I used to, imagining the Brook Tinies playing on the banks of a creek. You have discovered KidzBop and sing the songs not quite understanding their meaning, but more sophisticated when belting the lyrics in your perfect pitch. Your dancing has sassed up a bit, too: lots of shoulder moves and quick turns. The ultimate compliment to you right now is to say, "Hi, Nancy Drew." We recently saw that movie and you LOVED IT.

When it's time to eat you try bites of new foods, thanks to the rule we initiated at a family meeting. This is a HUGE change because you used to see new foods and FREAK OUT about them. Oddly, you also used to say, "I'll eat it when I'm six," but so far becoming six has not made you a completely different eater. Pancakes are your favorite food. You love it when I give you whipped cream "stars" on your hand. You've discoverd Edamame and that Pizza isn't bad. At meals, it is also IMPOSSIBLE to get you to sit at the table in your chair. You perch on the side of your chair, or prefer moving or walking around while you eat. The one thing that seems to work is if I suggest you sit like Nancy Drew, straight, in front of your plate.

You have a heart wide and deep. You handle disappointment better that you used to though you still get very embarrassed if you think an adult telling a story about you is laughing at you or that you are in trouble. That will probably never be comfortable for you. We work through it, often in a pile where you've knocked me, but we do. These days your sister really gets under your skin especially when she's in your space and you don't want her to be. You say, "Selfish!" in this taunting way when someone isn't helping you get your way. Despite your ability to be intense, in many ways you are easygoing. You notice things, like the breezes and the scenery. We sat together next to the lake last weekend when we were camping and you noticed how beautiful it was. I hope you are always able to connect with life this way and say something appreciative about it.

You have made lots of friends in kindergarten this year, and have still kept a special spot in your heart for your friends from preschool, Wynne and Jordan. You are quite tight with Zayla in your class, though had no problem listing off about ten names of classmates that you would have invited to your birthday party. School has been good for you this year. You've become a reader, somewhat reluctantly, but you are blossoming in your abilities despite the fact that you are also ready for a break. You have begun writing daily e-mails to Grandma Z. One of your birthday gifts was a new special notebook that you were very delighted to have, and that you promptly set about to write in about life.

This year I brought Krispy Kremes to your class in celebration of your birthday. Sister and I drove to pick them up and the boxes were warm. When we came into your classroom your face lit up when you saw us. I was feeling especially sentimental, realizing that we were taking time out of your school day to celebrate you. Everyone sang and waited for you to have the first bite and then it was all over. There were many thank yous but at the end your, "Thanks for bringing donuts, mom," meant so much. I was also flooded with amazement about how fast the year has gone and where you stand now, ready to end one chapter: kindergarten, and move onto the big times: first grade!

While mourning the tiny bits of you that are falling away in your trail, I love who you are becoming. You laugh with abandon. Keep laughing that way. You play with zeal. Always play like that. You are a beautiful person and your life stretches before you with promise and hope. I am lucky, so very lucky, to be able to be along beside you, watching who you become.

I love you!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Someone has been painting
across the backs of bus benches,
blotting out the advertised beneath
with green so the strong silver letters
appear clearly at corners,
in front of taco stands
and hardware stores.

Whoever did this
must have done it in the dark,
clanging paint cans block to block
or a couple of sprays-
they must have really
wanted to do it.

Among the many distasteful graffiti on earth
this line seems somehow honorable.
It wants to help us.
It could belong to anyone,
Latinas, Arabs, Jews
Priests, Glue sniffers.
Mostly, I wonder about
what happened or didn't happen
in the painter's life
to give her this line.
I don't wonder about the person
who painted HIV under the STOPS
on the stop signs in the same way.


Did some miracle startle
the painter into action
or is she waiting and hoping?

Does she ride the bus with her face
pressed to the window looking
for her own message?

Daily the long wind brushes YES
through the trees.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

Friday, June 05, 2009

As a kid I loved the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, the most memorable being Ramona the Pest. We just finished Ramona and her Mother today. This book is especially rich because it's about Ramona's relationship with her mother, something I can relate to differently being a mother.

In this book, all Ramona really wants is to be her "Mother's girl." Beverly Cleary is the master of characterization, painting a picture of Ramona by giving us access to the thoughts and feelings that would actually be the thoughts and feelings of a seven-year-old who just wanted to be her mother's girl. Take this classic scene for example, when Ramona reaches her boiling point and decides she is going to run away:

"As Ramona watched her mother fold underwear for her to take away, she began to understand that deep down inside in the place where her secret thoughts were hidden, she had never really doubted her mother's love for her. Not until now....She thought of all the things her mother had done for her, the way she had sat up most of the night when Ramona had an earache, the birthday cake she had made in the shape of a cowboy boot all frosted with chocolate with lines of white icing that looked like stitching. That was the year she was four and had wanted cowboy boots more than anything, and her parents had given her real ones as well. She thought of the way her mother reminded her to brush her teeth. Her mother would not do that unless she cared about her teeth, would she? She thought of the time her mother let her get her hair cut at the beauty school, even though they had to scrimp and pinch. She thought of the gentle books about bears and bunnies her mother had read at bedtime when she was little.

'There!' Mrs. Quimby closed the suitcase, snapped the latches, and set it on the floor. 'Now you are all packed.' She sat down on the bed.

Ramona pulled her car coat out of the closet and slowly put it on, one arm and then the other. She looked at her mother with sad eyes as she grasped the handle of her suitcase and lifted. The suitcase would not budge. Ramona grasped it with both hands. Still she could not lift it.

Hope flowed into Ramona's heart. Had her mother made the suitcase too heavy on purpose? She looked closely at her mother, who was watching her. She saw-didn't she?-a tiny smile in her mother's eyes.

'You tricked me!' cried Ramona. 'You made the suitcase too heavy on purpose. You didn't want me to run away!'

'I couldn't get along without my Ramona,' said Ramona's mother. She held out her arms. Ramona ran into them. Her mother had said the words she had longed to hear. Her mother could not get along without her. She felt warm and safe and comforted and oh, how good her mother smelled, so clean and sweet like flowers. Better than any mother in the whole world. Ramona's tears dampened her mother's blouse. After a moment Mrs. Quimby handed Ramona a Kleenex. When Ramona had wiped her eyes and nose, she was surprised to discover that her mother had tears in her eyes, too."

The best chapter in the book, "The Great Hair Argument," includes a classic adventure with the Quimby women at Robert's School of Hair Design where Beezus just wants a haircut like "the ice skater on television" but it is Ramona who comes out like a Pixie getting all the attention.

So worth a read, Ramona and Her Mother kept the attention of both Julia and Avery who listened and laughed, Ramona's antics guaranteed entertainment.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I made these collaged coasters the other night from plain wooden coasters I found at Goodwill. It had been so long since I'd done a creative project that I almost couldn't delve in and begin. I did and I was pleased with how they turned out. They are decoupaged with glue, many many layers, (if you zero in on this picture you'll see that it's still drying but it dries clear).

After the glue dried I coated them with several layers of clear enamel spray. I did well at first spraying them and allowing time for the enamel to dry. Then, after the last coat, I turned them over too soon to spray the other side and the fronts stuck to the paper they were lying on. I tried to get them off but the paper came off with layers of the glue and in some cases the original part of the collage. I was so sad! I managed to sort of save them, but need to do some more work. Not sure when.

Sigh....such is the life of the crafter on a time crunch.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ten Ways To Cook Up Some Honest Fun

1. Make a plan to hang out with long time family friend Shauna J.
2. Report to Vogue Nails for pedicures, choosing Conga-Line Choral and Finja, a beauteous Metallic grey
3. Drink iced coffees
4. Report to Goodwill stat and stay for hours and hours realizing
a.) Goodwill is much more fun to hit with a pal
b.) I am usually in and out of Goodwill too quickly to ever really scope the shelves
c.) Challis hunting = good times
d.) Goodwill has earrings? And what's up with all the FAN shaped earrings?
5. Leave Goodwill with many a groovy purchase, having bonded with Thomas Brown, Goodwill Checker Extraordinaire
6. Report to Salvador Molly's for yummy Macho Nachos and Fish Tacos
7. Accompany meal with Mango Margarita, Mojito and serious conversation
8. Venture towards the Starlight Parade downtown Portland whilst chewing some delightful polar ice gum
9. Stand in line at Safeway to use the bathroom, deciding the animal on Shauna's bracelet is, indeed, a "PYUOOMA," and making some new friends who enjoy running(noticing, silently one woman's perfectly coiffed hair)
10. Hope to sit peacefully and watch the parade, but instead greatly anger a lady when wedging selves into a gap near her son
11. Feel sheepish
12. Have a hard time enjoying the parade especially when the fifth grader sitting next to me keeps coughing on me
13. Finally relax
14. Get the heebie jeebies when millions of Star Wars Storm Troopers and Darth Vadar appear out of steam (Come to think of it, even the massive high school bands were creeping me out a little, they seemed to serious and sinister!)
15. Head home at 11, pleased with the day

We Found Moon Shoes! Moon Shoes! Totally had a pair in college. Now, so does Shauna.

After donning a precious blouse that reminds her of her grandmother, Shauna takes pause, her Challis poised as she ponders her current dilemma: should she buy the Lani Anderson book, My Life in High Heels, or just check it out at the library?

What's that in your hand, Shauna? Could it be a genuine Avon aftershave encased in a Quail-shaped bottle? Be still my beating heart.

Stay tuned for our next adventure, when we hit The Building Supply Salvage Yard and train for a 5K. Aw yeah!