Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is happening

I may not be able to help myself from this whole blog thing, it's so much fun to take pictures and write about our family. Plus everything is whirring by so fast that it really does help me remember. Speaking of memory, remember awhile back when I posted a picture of pots I had planted for our front porch? Remember it was a nice close-in shot? The reason was that our front porch is in a dismal state of being. It is very very old and very very rotten so much so that when Peter was in Eugene seeing a concert, I hosed it off and actually hosed a hole in one of the boards. Not pressure washed, but hosed. I sent him a text that said "hi honey! hope youre having a good time! Just hosed a hole in our porch. : )" Because you know, I had to keep it real while he was off pretending to be footloose and fancy free.

Apparently that was the final nail in the proverbial coffin and here we are preparing to build a new porch. The very first step of any project at our house - before planning or materials or anything  - is a little bit of exploratory demolition. The lovely folks who owned this house before us were not super handy and tended to repair things in a cheap, odd and unconventional manner to say the least. So today, Peter took that first step by taking down the railing and the facia to see what exactly is under that front porch (an entire set of stairs with door mat!) and how it's all put together (an odd assortment of various sized screws, nails and brackets) and what we can salvage from it (hopefully the under supports).

I could not be more excited, this porch has been one of my least favorite (that we can fix) parts of our house. In a few weeks, it should be done!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Legos and the end of the 365.

Miss E built this is Lego camp today -awesome huh?

Today is it. It marks one year since a random day in July when I sat down at the computer, hijacked my husband's blog (sorry honey!) and declared that I was going to take 1 picture a day for a year straight. And I did it! Sure the posts weren't always current, but still, every single day I took a picture (mostly of my darling kiddos) and recorded some (usually small) event in their lives. This year has seen our little family grow and change in so many ways. It has brought learning and travels and growth. It has also had it's struggles and sorrows but overall, this year? This random July 27-July 27? Will be remembered as one of the most blessed of my life.

Now to the future of this little blog. For the few of you who have been reading you've seen how hard it's been for me to keep up this summer. However I am still taking pictures every day and noting little things I want to record. For right now, I am going to make my first 365 into a photo book for our family, keep taking pictures and keep blogging. Probably not everyday, but probably frequently. At some point, possibly this fall, on some random day, I'll most likely decide to start a 365 again just because it really combines all my loves together - my family, record keeping, writing and photography.

Thanks to all who read this, I know it seems strange to share so much of yourself over the internet but honestly if it wasn't public I wouldn't write it at all. And yay me for finishing a project (said with fist pump while ignoring piles of half-done knitting, reading and home projects).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Coming home from work today, I knew Peter would need some time to decompress. Men are sad differently than women, I think, and although Peter did not know the firefighter who died well, they had worked together several times and as a member of the department the loss is felt deeply. I'm not sure how to really describe it. If you're a part of a fire department you understand and if not, it's hard to explain. It's felt deeply like a brother has died. Not like a co-worker, but an actual brother. The fact that this guy was young and it was sudden and traumatic makes it even harder.

After we dropped the kids off at summer camp, Peter and I had coffee and went to look at lumber for our front porch and just dinked around. Once we picked the kiddos up I went to work. After work I went out with some friends. I know it seems like I was abandoning him, but really I knew he needed some time to be alone.

This afternoon he set up our old tent to take pictures of and sell on Craigslist. Well the kids couldn't resist and soon enough I got an e-mail at work with this picture and the message "we're camping out in the back yard tonight."

When I returned home around 10, he was sitting up by the fire and the kids were peacefully sleeping in the tent. We sat for a little bit and then went to bed. I know this is weighing on him heavily but in a way that can't be expressed verbally. Thank goodness we have been together long enough that I know him this well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fluff and tragedy

This was a big day in a lot of good and really bad ways.

1) Miss E started Lego robotics summer camp today. Her biggest concern about this camp whether or not there would be any other girls in the camp. She loves legos, she loves computers but she's kind of at an age where she doesn't want to do something with just a group of boys. So, figuring that we live in a very affluent, educated neighborhood, I told her sure. I'm sure there will be other girls in the class. Well. When I dropped her off today there were NO OTHER GIRLS. She took a deep breath, kind of looked at me and I whispered "It's going to be OK, be brave and try it out" and she sat down at a table to work on her kit of Lego's. I left feeling a bit worried.

2) Then I dropped Mr. T off at his first day of a camp called Safety Town. It's all about police and firefighters and traffic safety and bike safety and he's on the purple team with the cutest 16 year old girl as his team leader. He's in love.

3) I went home and fumed a bit on Facebook (productive, right?) about how no one signs their girls up for things like Lego Robotics - which really, if you have a girl and she likes Lego's please sign her up for classes like that!

4) Then Peter called. With terrible news that I will get to at the end of the post because it makes everything else seem to frivolous.

5) When I picked up Miss E she was happily working with another girl (yay!) and they had made 2 lego ducks, hooked them up to a computer and a motor and had them spinning around. Miss E thought it was the awesomest thing EVER. (Mama breathes a sign of relief)

6) The kids and I went to Miss E's appointment with a plastic surgeon to follow up on her scar and have it checked out. Apparently, it will heal pretty well and she won't have to have any follow-up work done. Also the plastic surgeon (who was wonderfully great with the kids) was wearing patent leather stilettos. It was cute and weird.

7) So here's the bad news. And it's one of those things that's so bad it's hard to write about so I'm keeping this brief for now. Peter called from work this morning and told me that one of the firefighters from his department died yesterday. A young 30 year old, vital firefighter died tragically in a rock climbing accident. This is one of the things that really sets the fire service apart from other occupations. A death like this is felt around the department like the death of a family member, whether or not they were on the same shift or at the same station, because they are a family. It is incredibly sad and incredibly tragic and incredibly hard for everyone to deal with. There are questions and unknowns and black bands around badges and the readying of Class A uniforms. It makes my heart feel heavy for the department, his crew, his friends, his family, and his climbing partner who was witness to a traumatic and sudden death.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Last week my mom and I put together an order from a local farm that sells bulk blueberries. I ordered 10 pounds, not really knowing what 10 lbs would look like. I almost ordered 20 pounds just in case 10 was too small. In fact, 10 lbs is quite a few blueberries. The pictures don't do this bag justice. It's HUGE.

This morning Peter went to work so I woke up to a quiet house, ran a few errands and then went to get the kiddos and came home to cycle blueberries through the freezer and hang out with the munchkins. It's amazing how as much as I love having them spend the night at my parents, I'm always happy to see them in the morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bikes in the Park

This morning we headed to a local park to ride our bikes. This particular park has miles and miles of bike path to ride on, so I was pretty excited to ride a little distance with Miss E. Peter has been working on fixing up her old bike for Mr. T to ride on and it was finally ready. When we got to the park, Miss E and I rode off ahead while Peter walked his bike and encouraged Mr. T to try his out - with training wheels. He was reluctant to say the least, but I assumed he'd be happy to have a new (to him) bike and Miss E and I rode off. Soon she became worried that we were going to far so we headed back thinking we would meet Peter and Mr. T along the trail someplace. Nope. We got back to where we started and still not sign of them. Then I get a text from Peter "we're over at the playground by the soccer field". We head over there and sure enough they are lounging in the grass watching some middle school kids play soccer. We sat with them for a little bit and then I asked Mr. T if he wanted me to walk with him while he rode his bike on the PERFECTLY FLAT PAVED BIKE PATH.

I walked his bike over to the path and he got on and then he sat there. And pushed one foot down. And stopped. I offered to push him to get started, which I did gently and he pushed one foot down - and stopped. Then I asked if I should put my hand on his seat and gently push while he pedaled. He said yes, but the second we started going he screamed we were going to fast and slammed on the brakes. And that's how it went. Push one foot down, slam backwards on the brakes. Push another foot down and slam backwards on the brakes. I sat there, blandly smiling and encouraging while inside my blood pressure was rising. For the love of God, this kid wasn't even trying. And then it hit me. I do not have enough patience to teach him to ride a bike. Me, the patient one, the parent with the patience in our family, CANNOT DO THIS. To be fair, teaching the kids to ride bikes is clearly Peter's responsibility. Not because he's a boy, but because it's his thing. It is not my thing. But crap all mighty, Mr. T could conceivably be 15 before he takes the training wheels off. I really really wish we had started him on a scoot bike instead of training wheels but we didn't and it's going to be like swimming I think, slow slow slow.

Obviously, the main problem is he doesn't want to enough and physical ability runs second. We're just going to have to wait until he wants to do it and hopefully that will be soon! The saving grace of this all, is that he LOVES to ride on the trail-a-bike. I am just not a good rider with the trail-a-bike on my bike so that is going to kind of fall to Peter as well. least it will keep my blood pressure down.

Despite the bike thing, it really was a lovely morning at the park, and this afternoon we dropped the kids off at my parents for an overnight (thank you Nana and Grandpa!) and met some friends for dinner and a movie. So all in all, a lovely summer day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Super Hero Camp

Did I mention that there were Rescue Hero's at Mr. T's super hero camp? He is so excited about this camp and while I am on the fence about the quality of the teaching and supervision (yikes!), Mr. T is happy, I mean they have a sand bin. What's not to love? Although really, the supervision leaves something to be desired. Fortunately, Mr. T is a kid who follows the rules and I know he won't run off on his own, if he was a kid like that, I'm not sure I'd feel good about leaving him at this camp.

This morning while Mr. T was at camp I watched a friend's daughter for him while he worked and she and Miss E played with Sadie (sister's dog) all morning. While Miss E has not been in the greatest mood lately - I think her mouth hurts a lot) she did have a good morning playing with her friend. That's about it. A general, basic summer day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Here's what sisters do:

My sister called me about a week ago and asked if we could watch her dog this weekend. The conversation went something like this:

"Can you watch Sadie this weekend?"

"I don't think so, mom is watching our kids Saturday night and Peter and I were debating heading out of town. Plus, I'm not sure she'd love to be locked up in our little house with Ginger (our dog who is super social, Sadie is not)"

"Really? I'm sure she'd be fine, it's just that your place is much closer to where we are headed...."

"Sorry. We may be gone for the night. Try mom and ask her"

"I guess I will, it's just that mom's house is kind of out of our way..."

OK. Fast forward to today. 6 pm to be exact. I get a text from my sister "Can we drop Sadie off at your house and you can take her up to mom's?" So, I ignored the text because I didn't really want to. Even though Peter and I weren't going out of town, it's an extra half hour drive and I've watched her kiddos a lot lately.

Fast forward to 7:30 tonight. I am turing out the kids lights and she PULLS UP AT OUR HOUSE. She comes in with her kids and the dog and says (I swear to God....) "Hi! We were on our way and Uma (my niece) had to go potty, she just wasn't going to make it...." Meanwhile, Uma and Felix are going crazy with my kids who were super excited for a surprise visit from their cousins. Then she says "as long as I'm here, is it OK if I leave Sadie for you to take to mom and dad?"

Well played my sister, well played.

(This picture is of my nephew riling up the kiddos at bedtime. Thanks buddy. Also, did you notice the curtains in the background? We finally hung up our 20 foot long curtain rod - no joke - and now have curtains like real grown-ups.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hiking with Nana

Miss E and I went hiking with my mom today. For a few years now, we (our family) have been trying to plan a winter trip where you cross country ski into a cabin and then spend a weekend skiing and snowshoeing from there. It's a bold move to contemplate this plan, which will involve a mile and a half ski in with four children under the age of 7, but we are going to do it some year. My vote is to do it when they are all old enough to ski in themselves but it may be sooner than that. Anyway.

My mom wants to hike in and look at the cabins in the summer before we commit ourselves, all 10 of us, to skiing in to cabins that we've never seen. So today, she and Miss E and I went up the mountain and hiked to find them. Our first surprise - surprise! - was that the paths we ski on in the winter, are actually ROADS in the summer. Roads with cars on them. Bummer. Then in the end, we didn't find the exact cabin but we have a pretty good idea now of what type of a ski-in we are looking at and what the cabins are like.

Miss E was a trooper on the hike. Not much complaining and she was pretty excited to be with Nana and I AND that we hiked by a meadow used as a resting place on the Oregon Trail! It's the little things you know?

Also, do you see the size of my mom's backpack? We hiked 3 miles total. ON ROADS. I will raise my right hand and swear, even though she didn't open her pack, that it had a full emergency food kit, fire starting kid, emergency blanket, extra layer of clothes, and an extra water bottle in it. I'm not kidding. That lady is prepared.

(Back posts are finished through July 12 - so close to catching up!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Powell's will make it all better

I neglected to mention yesterday, in the midst of all the trauma, that Mr. T started summer camp this week! This is a big deal because it is the first summer camp he has ever gone to by himself. No Miss E and it's not at his preschool. This is big-boy, don't know anyone else, 5 days straight summer camp. And so far, he's rocked it. He did great getting dropped off and both days has come home excited about what they are doing (Superhero camp!) and wanting to go back. He's met a few kids and I'm trying to get him to play with the one girl in the camp because she might be kind of lonely and Mr. T is a nice friend to have.

While he is at camp, this is kind of Peter and I's week of mornings with Miss E. Too bad the week started with a trip to the ER and stitches, but it will get better. She slept OK last night and hasn't had any more pain than ibuprofen can handle. The soft foods diet seems to be palatable but at the bookstore this morning she insisted that a chocolate chip cookie, if it was broken into really small pieces, counted as a "soft food". I agreed.

Which brings us to what our special thing was for today - a trip to Powell's books, only the biggest and bestest book store around. We don't go there very often because it's downtown and well, we live a bit of a ways from downtown, but it's so worth it when we do. She picked out four books and then one for Mr. T and one for me (I helped pick out that one). I love that she loves books so much. Our entire time there was spent perusing the shelves, looking over all the possibilities and lamenting that she could only get 4. On the way back to get Mr. T we stopped at the library to get the next few episodes of Little House on the Prairie and a book about the Oregon Trail. We have a lot of reading ahead of us!

(back posts are done through Country Fair and July 10 - almost all caught up for the end of my 365!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

First ER visit


This is what happened today. Peter and I made our first ER visit with a kid.

Miss E was messing around on her stool at the bar, somehow fell forward and smashed her face into the counter top. Let me just say, there is nothing like the feeling that hits your heart when you get a phone call at work from a husband who sounds tense while your daughter is FREAKING OUT in the background informing you that she has to go to the ER to get stitches. And I knew, even as I was grabbing my stuff and running out the door, that this was not life threatening. Or even a really big deal like a broken bone. It was stitches. 5 of them. I kept telling myself that as I drove "It's only stitches. She's going to be OK. Focus on your driving, don't drive too fast. You need to get there in one piece. It's only stitches. She's going to be OK". That mantra kept running through my head as I raced down the freeway.

Once I got to the ER, she was already in talking to the triage nurse and had calmed down from a full on freak-out to continuous crying, border-line hysterics. They took us back right away and then all of a sudden there was a doctor and two nurses and Peter and I in the room all jabbering to her at once about what was going to happen. The doctor kept saying things like "we're going to give you a little pinch, like a bee sting" blah blah blah blah. Poor Miss E was now freaking out because she had a hole in her lip and was overwhelmed by all these euphanisms she didn't understand and everyone talking to her at once. Finally I just found her eyes and said "Miss E, they are going to give you a shot in your lip and put in some medicine to numb it so you don't feel it. Then they are going to put a few stitches in the cut to close it. It's too big for a bandaid. You are going to have to lie very still."

She seemed to calm a little bit once she knew what was going to happen but then they brought in a back board with straps on it like a straight jacket for your entire body. Well. If it was me, that would be worse than the actual needle. And I know Miss E, she has a high tolerance for pain. I mean, she whines about all the little crap that happens to her body but when it comes right down to it, she's one tough cookie. So they lay her back and start strapping her up to where I can't even hold her hands. I told the nurses that she wouldn't need that on her legs or body as I was unstrapping it. I left the shoulder strap on so her hands couldn't fly up but just held onto her hands and told her I would stay there (Peter had to take Mr. T out of the room) for the entire time.

Oh this was hard. It was so hard to see her so hurting and scared and everything happening so fast. The worst part was putting the needle with the anesthetic in it in her face. I mean, a needle going right into her chin followed by a TON of fluid. She did really good, took some deep breaths and held still. Then she had to lay there for a minute and the bright light was in her eyes and the shoulder straps were on it and it just wasn't comfortable at all. We moved the light and then they started stitching. She could see the entire thing, and wanted to see it but she was really really scared. It was hard for me to sit there and be calm while my terrified little girl was strapped down to a table with another nurse holding her head still. At one point she said she was hot and her little hands were sweating so I just blew on them which seemed to instantly calm her down. Something about the feel of my breath on her palms cooling them down gave her something to focus on beside the fact that she was getting her face sewn back together.

In the end, the stitches were done and she calmed a little bit although she was still crying. The ER was OK, not great. I see why people go to specific children's ER's but there isn't one close to us. I asked Peter if anyone had checked her for a head injury or if they had just focused on fixing the bleeding and he looked at me like I had two heads. "Well, yeah. Of course I checked her for that.". Oh right. He's a firefighter. I forget that sometimes.

After the visit, I found myself second guessing our choices. Should we have insisted a plastic's doctor did the stitching from the start? Should I have unstrapped her shoulders? Should I have asked them to give us a minute to help her calm down (I'm not sure she could have calmed down before the whole thing was over)? Should I have asked more follow up questions? Should we have insisted that Peter and Mr. T stay in the room or would that have been too many people? Should Peter have stayed with her instead of me? I mean I am the mom, but he has a way in hospital and doctor settings that is very calming. I don't know. In the end, it happened the way it did. Hopefully we won't have a next time to prepare for.

Also, note to ER personnel: At age 6, a princess sticker as you are leaving in NO WAY changes or makes you forget the fact that you had a needle jabbed in your lip and then 5 stitches put in. The nurse acted surprised that Miss E didn't jump at the chance to pick out a sticker. Yeah. I think if you offered her a pony at that point she wouldn't have giving a sh**. So a sticker? Really?

Now we face a week filled with a liquid diet, antibiotics twice a day, a visit to a plastic surgeon and then the dentist after her lip has healed. But she is OK. The hospital experience, while more traumatic for her than us at the time, will be quickly forgotten by her (not so much for me...that was intense and hard) and her lip will heal. I don't think she will have much of a scar after we treat it with some of that scar disappearing stuff. We were lucky. And I wish all parents have their first trips to the ER happen after the age of 6 and only involve stitches. There are so many out there who aren't that lucky and my heart goes out to them. For me though, stitches is enough.

(Posts are filled in through July 4!)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Sorry for two food pictures in a row- I promise it wasn't planned.  Also, it's POURING down rain today. Like, really raining. As in Portland February-style rain.

Here's what the kids and I did before noon today: made doughnuts (for the first time ever!), watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie, grabbed the recycling bag and constructed a robot out of it's contents (Miss E), drew several renditions of the Joker and some monster called a Driack (Mr. T). We did not get dressed.

Here's what Peter did before noon today: Packed up a soaking wet tent. Rode his bike about 30 miles.


(vacation posts are done through July 3! Catching up is a good thing.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Raspberry Jam

Today's project: 3 batches of raspberry jam, freeze 4 huge bags of raspberries. We were supposed to go hiking with my mom but it rained and although she and I would have been fine, the kids are not yet Oregon-hearty hikers. Instead we went to a movie with my parents (Winnie the Pooh, the kids loved it, I fell asleep) and then came home to rest and make jam.

Oh. And I took Mr. T to farmer's market this morning. No big thing but something that has recently been added to my list of things I can't do with the kids by myself. As the kids have gotten older, the list of things I can't/won't do with them has gotten very short. So far this year it has: swimming, amusement parks, fireworks, farmer's market, and that's about it. Not too bad huh? Farmer's market is pretty crowded and trying to keep hand and or eye contact with both kids is difficult in itself. Add in trying to balance a few crates of berries and bags of stuff and the begging for popcorn and it never ends up fun. This year I just swore off doing it entirely. But. After we picked 2 crates of raspberries yesterday, I wanted one more so I could just check raspberries off the list for the year. Since I only had Mr. T this morning and it was a little rainy (= less crowded), I figured we would try it out. And you know what? It's totally doable with one kid and no crowd. We had a lot of fun, Mr. T and I. We ate choquettes, looked at the fountain and bought some berries. It was, as Mr. T would say with a big grin, "easy peasy lemon squeezy".

(I'm still backfilling the blog from vacation. As you can imagine, pretty much everything is behind right now and the kids and I have been out and about having a fun summer. I'm excited to share all my pictures of our great start to summer. Things are done through July 1, then it gets a bit spotty. I'll fill in though, really I will. )

Friday, July 15, 2011

Raspberry picking

Peter left this morning for Cycle Oregon - a three day bike ride and the kids and I went berry picking with my mom. Miss E is quiet the picker this year, but my mom is the master berry picker of us all - her skills are something I aspire to and she is able to pick while Mr. T talks constantly to her. For like an hour or two straight. At one point they had moved to another part of the patch, leaving me in the blissful quiet, and a woman stopped me and asked if Mr. T was my son. When I told her yes, she said "he's quite the talker!" and I replied "yes he is."  (understatement of the year there) and she continued on "It's so refreshing to hear such a young boy talking a lot, and his vocabulary is wonderful! You are very lucky." And it was just one of the sweetest things to hear. I love getting little reminders like that about how great my kids are. Because the ARE. It's just when you've listened to Mr. T talk for practically every waking hour of every last day sometimes you forget how great it truly is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Miss E and the Raspberry Bush

We have a huge yard but it's pretty picky about what it will grow. If something will grow well, it grows really really well. If something won't thrive, it really won't. We have shade and slugs and 100 foot fir trees and dry soil. It's a tough combination. I have found one kind of sunny spot on which to eek out a vegetable garden but the slugs seem to have other plans. What is working are the tomatos and the yellow raspberries though. They are hard charging and we should have a lot of both. The peppers, beans and peas? Ehhhh...not so much. I'll take it though, I kind of like having our wild, untamed, natural yard for the kids to tromp around and eat raspberries in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Play Date

My friend Amanda came over to play today. She brought her daughter for Miss E to play with (1 month apart in age - we met in our bradley classes while pregnant). She also brought her son for Mr. T to play with (about a year apart in age - apparently they are more responsible with birth control than we are) and she brought her dog for Ginger to play with (4 years apart in age but who's counting).

We all played very nicely with each other.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good Days and Bad Days

On the bad days, I see Miss E as defiant, angry, uncooperative, whiney and snappy.

On the good days, I see her as independent, fun, empathetic, smart, focused, creative and kind.

On the bad days, I see Mr. T as unfocused, whiney, pestering, overly sensitive and un-empathetic.

On the good days, I see Mr. T sweet, fun, imaginative, kind and loving.

On the bad days, I feel my parenting is not so great. That we have done something wrong along the way, that I'm not handling things right and that maybe I'm not as good at this as I thought I was. Maybe Peter's screwing up the kids. Maybe I am. I don't know what is the right way to handle issues that come up. I feel frustration, anger, short-tempered and exasperated.

On the good days, I feel like I'm a pretty good parent. I love my kiddos and they love us and they are both thriving. I am attentive to their needs without hovering and overall, I've not only got this whole thing handled but I'm doing it pretty well. I feel happy, confident, content, and loving.

Fortunately, overall, there are many many more good days than bad days. Some days I only have a bad day with one kid and not the other. This last week or so, there have been several bad days and I don't know what is wrong. I've guessed that the transition to summer and the lack of schedule is throwing everyone off. That they need more activities and independence or that they need less activities or independence. I just don't know. I know that right before Miss E masters a new skill (like reading chapter books) we go through a short period of behavior difficulties before everything smoothes out. I think her brain is so focused on learning the new thing that it's hard to remember the mundane day-to-day of socially acceptable behavior. But seriously people, the way it's been going I fully expect her to start spouting out some calculous tomorrow. Like I said, I don't know what's going on. I'm not even sure how to handle it but I've been doing my best to stay calm and firm and see the good and rise above the battles because the minute she senses a power struggle of any form, she's immediately like "Oh yeah, you want to fight, well it's on beeeaaaatch*". And sometimes we have to engage in a power struggle but mostly I try to avoid them (without letting her have free reign of the house) because it's exhausting and in the end, a huge fight is not good for any of us.

Like I said, fortunantly there are many more good days than bad days.

But it's exhausting. Especially doing it alone. Although, in some ways it's easier to deal with alone so I guess that's a wash.

*Not really. But kind of.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peter's New Bike

He calls it The Ring - the one bike to rule them all. Which considering he went from 4 bikes down to 2, is pretty accurate.

If he were writing this post he would have all kinds of things to say about the bike, it's components, the brakes, what he's going to change on it, the pedals.....blah blah blah.

It's a bike. He likes it. The End.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How you know you have good friends

You get invited out for an evening of drinks and food and vacation pictures and you reply back that you can't go because your husband is working. This happens a lot, which is OK. It's just part of firelife. But at this point in time, said husband has been gone a lot and a night of drinks and friends sounds just about right.

Friend 1 e-mails back and volunteers her lovely 16 year old son to babysit your kids at her house so they can play with her daughter as well.

Then Friend 2 e-mails and offers her husband to watch the kids while we go out. You go with Friend 2 just because she had 2 kids about the same ages as yours.

You bring her lovely husband a 6 pack of beer to pay for his babysitting services because while you haven't offered, you are sure they would not take money for it.

You enjoy a grown-up evening of drinks and food with said wonderful friends. And ruminate on how lucky you are.

And then Mr. T stuck his face (mouth open) in a dirt hole. Which was both adorable and gross.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getting Stuff Done

So last night, a very over-tired and over-stimulated Miss E threw a tantrum at bedtime. A certain very-tired Daddy in the house, decided he had had enough of the tantrum and took down Miss E's beloved fort she had created under her bed. Now, there is a very long drawn-out version of this story and that certain over-tired Daddy has apologized but nevertheless, that is what happened in a nutshell.

This morning, a now kind of pissed off Miss E woke up, picked a fight with her brother and when banished to her room for a behavior improvement, emptied the entire contents of her room onto the floor. She essentially one-upped her father. Everything on the shelves, the bed, the dresser drawers and in the bins, went into a big heaping pile on the floor and there she sat perched on her desk looking at it all.

Well. I had stuff to do today to the tune of putting up some curtains and planting our flower pots so I said nothing about the room and we all got dressed and went to Lowe's. At this point I told Miss E that I had intended on getting some new shelves for her room (I really had) but that we couldn't put them in there right now because of the mess. So we picked out curtain rods and shelves and storage bins and flowers and lights and went home. While we were at the store Miss E kept saying to me "I'll never be able to clean up my room" to which I would mildly reply "oh, I'm sure you'll figure it out".

I knew in the end she would need some help but I wanted her to ask me instead of me offering it. We went home, I hung up a curtain rod (with minimal damage to the wall thank you very much) and started to plant some plants. I heard Miss E in her room picking some stuff up and finally she came out and asked me to help her. I told her I would help for 10 minutes and then I had other work to do. So I set the timer, we both went in and cleaned for 10 minutes and I left her to it. For the rest of the day, she worked away picking up her stuff. I put in a few 5 or 10 minute cleaning shifts but overall, she did it herself. At the end of the day her room looked pretty good and it felt like a success. She didn't yell or get angry, I didn't yell or get angry and she cleaned up the mess herself. I don't think she'll dump her room like that again now that she knows how much work it is to clean up! And the curtains and flowers look pretty good too if I do say so myself.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oregon Country Fair

As we drove up to Country Fair today Mr. T yelled "hey look! That guy's wearing a tutu!" and then giggled. Oh boy, I thought to myself, this could be a long day. And yes, the parking guys were all wearing tutu's. We explained to the kids that this was a place where people came to dress up HOWEVER they wanted and that we could look and say we liked their costumes but not point and laugh. Of course, once we got there, they were so enamored with looking at everything that they just loved every single bit of silliness about the fair. The stilt walkers, the guy dressed as a tree, the dragon parade, the hula hoop girls, the drums, the tie-dyed flags, and on and on and on.

It was actually good that a lot of it went over their heads because there were some decidedly inappropriate (for children) costumes  - naked people, painted naked people, young girls wearing lingerie, a guy only wearing a pair of women's underwear and a pig's mask. Yep, they had it all. Fortunately the kids were so overwhelmed with the colors and sounds and amusement of the place that they didn't really focus in on individual costumes.

We spent a lot of time parked in the Chela Mella Meadow, which was kind of the kids area. They had a kids stage and when we got there they were running a talent show where whomever wanted could get up and do their thing. My nephew got up there and told a joke to the crowd. Before he left, I asked what he was going to do and he said (with a devilish grin) "I'm going to tell a joke and NOBODY'S going to get it". Oh you go little man. Right on up there. And he did.

For the rest of the day we wandered around, ate food, listened to the drum circle and ate more food. Mr. T particularly enjoyed his snow cone (GMO free and with out high fructose corn syrup thank you very much) and Miss E loved the quesadillas.

Next year, Peter and I have talked about trying to come back and camp for the three days - just the two of us. He may be able to work at the fair, enabling us to camp there and see all the after-hours performances.

As for the kids, we are definitely taking them back for a day next year. Miss E has already told me she wants to dress up (although please please please let it not be in her underwear). Maybe then Mr. T will wear a tutu as well.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Picture FAIL

I am so not kidding you when I say this is the BEST of the three pictures shot with my camera today. By husband, of course. I tend to shy away from pictures of people eating just because, well, it's universally not flattering but husband snapped away. He was gone last night to Eugene to see a concert and spent this afternoon at home before he had to go to work tonight. This is starting to feel like a long stretch of being alone with the kiddos and a sick kitty cat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heart Break

One of our cats, one we've had for 16 years is nearing the end of his life. Now, we are not the cat-are-our-babies sort of people, but we do love our kitties and this one, Samson, in particular has seen Peter and I through our entire relationship. He is also Miss E's buddy. He sleeps in her room, on her blankets and bumps his head against her hand for scratches. He sits on her bed while she's crying. She feeds him and makes sure the dog doesn't eat his food.

Tonight it occurred to me that because I have a daughter who wants/needs to know what is going to happen before it happens,  I should probably prep her for some bad news in the Samson department. So at bedtime, we talked. I told her that he was very sick and very old and that while we had taken him to the vets we still don't fully know what's wrong with him. He could have days, he could have months. We just don't know. As I was carefully speaking these words to her, her eyes filled up with tears and the sobbing started. Oh, the heartbreak. It hit me THEN how truly hard this was going to be. Not only would I be grieving for my kitty cat but so would she. And I understand things like life-span and quality of life and what the limits of healthcare are. She doesn't. Stuff like this is so hard to explain to a 6 year old. Or maybe the hard part is that it isn't hard to explain to her, she gets it, but the emotions are hard to feel.

Truthfully, I don't know how much longer we have with our Sammy but I know it's probably not long. We talked about making him comfortable and letting him sleep in her room a lot. Giving him lots of fresh water and just loving him as much as we can, together, for the next few days to see if he will get better. And after that, I don't know. We didn't talk about that tonight because truthfully, her emotional response was a bit more than I expected and I'm not sure the correct way to address it. Hopefully I'll have some time to work it out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stuff to do

Despite it's late start, summer has come barreling at me full force. Today I found myself staring at a to-do list as long as my arm coupled with a migraine.

Peter has been working A LOT.

We have been gone A LOT. (Neither of those things is going to be changing much in the near future...)

My yard needs work and watering and my kitty cat is sick and requiring a lot of care. There are flowers to be planted. The house is a mess. We are not unpacked from vacation. There is a week's worth of mail sitting on my desk. Checks need to be deposited, dog food needs to be purchased. These things called "bills" need to be paid. Strawberries need to be frozen or made into jam. There are friends to call and e-mails to respond to.  The third book of the Hunger Games needs to be read. And oh yeah, those little creatures I call my children require feeding several times a day.

Despite my bitching, our vacation was beyond WONDERFUL. Maybe the best we have taken with the kids. Posts and pictures will go up as I make the time. Peter working a ton is a good thing as well, even though I am spending a lot of time as a single parent, it's better for our family overall. So, I am going to put my head down, tackle things one at a time and just get it done as I can.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I am officially adding fireworks to my short list of things I can't/won't do alone with the kids. Too stressful. You know what else is stressful? Returning from a week long trip the evening before a holiday and then having your parents over for dinner. At least it was my parents and it was OK that the house was a mess and there was camping gear hanging all over the yard.

Our tradition on 4th of July is to go berry picking and then have dinner with people (whomever) and do fireworks at home. Last year, for the first time, we kept the kids up and went to see the big fireworks. I am trying to keep holiday traditions mostly the same whether Peter is home or not so it's not like "Sorry kids, Daddy's at work, holiday's cancelled." Instead we just go on without him. So we did go berry picking this year with my mom and although we are at the very very end of strawberry season and the picking was hard,  Miss E impressed me with her picking skills. This is going to be a good year of berry picking for her.  We ended up buying some berries from the farm and then all sat and had ice cream before heading home for rest time.

My parents came over for dinner and we lit off sparklers afterwards. Last year, Mr. T was TERRIFIED of the fireworks. He spent the entire time hiding in the house and we do not let off crazy fireworks in our yard. Mostly sparklers and a few fountain thingies. This year, when Miss E and I went to get the fireworks last night, I carefully selected a few that would not be loud/bangy or too crazy to have in addition to the sparklers. Still, Mr. T sat on the deck the entire time. He did one sparkler with me holding it with him and one with Nana holding it with him but that is it. He was outside though! And not freaking out! So, win.

Miss E on the other hand made short work of about 60 sparklers and would have done more if we had purchased them. She is all in on the fireworks.

The one thing we didn't do was stay up to go see the big show. This was less about Peter not being around as it was about just getting home from vacation and having some very tired kiddos. Next year.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heading Home

Last day of vacation and the only pictures were taken with my ipod. This morning  9 of us went out to breakfast before we split up to head our separate ways home.  The picture is of my niece and brother-in-law at the restaurant.

We are all tired but it was the best vacation. Just the best. When we got home, during a little rest time, Miss E wrote an account of our trip for her journal and shared it with me, and gave me permission to put it here. So here is our vacation through Miss E's eyes:

My Trip to the Wallowas

We rode in the car for 7 hours. Then we saw a deer sleeping in our camp site. So we stood back so the deer had some space. And then he walked away. After that we set up our tent. And made dinner. We had hot dogs for dinner and pasta. And the we figured out that the bathroom stinks. Then we had free reading and went to bed. Before bed we built animal beds and roasted marshmallows.

Day 1. When we woke up the next morning we had breakfast. Then we went to have a shower. And went on the tram. We saw furballs and snow. Then we went to get ice cream. After that we went fishing and guess what! I caught a fish! After that we had dinner and roasted smores. We went to bed.

In the morning we had eggs and toast for breakfast. On our camping trip we also: went on bumper-boats and went out to dinner at the brewery and slept in teepees and saw our cousins and rode bikes and went fishing and saw a snake. And drove on a 3 hour drive back.  The end.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hot Tub

Whew. We have been on vacation for a long time at this point. The kids have had enough of being outside - especially poor Mr. T. His sensitive skin and eczema are not liking all the sunscreen/sweat/odd showers and general dirtiness. He and I stayed at the house almost all day today so he didn't have to put on any sunscreen. Miss E elected to stay home with us while everyone else went to the park/on a bike ride. It worked out fine because we all needed some down time.

In the afternoon all 10 of us headed to a brewery for lunch where we met up with an old college friend of Peter and I's. After lunch it was home and somehow the kids decided the hot tub was the place to be. It was at least 85 degrees out but they insisted to all of them (except Mr. T - the chlorine is a no-go for him) hopped in out of the hot tub, alternating between playing the hot water and squirting each other with the hose.

Tonight all the grown-ups except me boarded their bikes and rode into town to watch the Ween concert and I put the kiddos to bed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Painted Hills

Today was another travel day (John Day to Bend) and on our way to Bend we stopped at the Painted Hills to hike a bit. I would love to post a ton of pictures of this place, better yet, you all should go visit. The hills are so vividly colored with greens and reds and oranges and browns, it looks unreal. This picture in no way does it justice. Although the kids did a great job hiking - Mr. T made it the entire way! And they enjoyed their post-hike lollypop. Yes, if you hike a mile in the desert you get a lollypop.

This evening we got to Bend and my my sister and her family at the house we are renting for this weekend. Peter and I went out on a date to dinner and a movie and just wandering around while the kids stayed back at the house playing with their cousins. Our friend Casey arrived late tonight. Overall, it's been a fun way to settle into a weekend with the family. And after 5 nights of sleeping in my sleeping bag, a bed is a really nice change.