Friday, December 28, 2007

*Peering out from under the wreckage*

I'm still here. I'm just buried beneath shredded wrapping paper, two dozen cardboard boxes, sixteen pounds of bows and ribbons, and about four thousand sixty even twisty ties - damn Mattel to hell for those.

Christmas was good. I promise to update my blog soon. Sit tight and stay warm.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas the Night Before Christmas....In Oregon


Twas the night before Christmas and all through the rental,
All the creatures were stirring, making Amy quite mental,

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Only a little bit covered in Bailey-dog hair.

And Skippy was bustling in the kitchen so busy,
For his Christmas tacos would make quite a tizzy.

And wrapping the gifts on the floor did I sit,
With a big glass of Baily's, the right spot it hit!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang up from the floor to see what was the matter!

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the vertical blinds in a dash!

The moon shone down bright on the Oregon grass,
And I couldn't believe my own tipsy ass.

Surely I thought, this must be a ruse,
For there's a huge wooden sleigh drawn by Oregon moose!

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The thudding and thunking of each huge moose hoof.

And as I was calling for Skippy and turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

While we stood there in shock, with our mouths hanging down,
He reached for my Bailey's and said with a frown,

"Oregon's cold on this bright Christmas night,
Go refill this glass, that should make it all right!"

So I hurried away to do Santa's bidding,
Because a cold chilly Santa surely wouldn't be kidding.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
For I think he'd already hit the neighbor's good sherry!

"I'm tired of cookies" he said with a sigh,
You Chicago folks know how to warm up a cold ride.

With a loud hearty chuckle he tossed down his drink,
Then turned 'round and opened his pack with a wink.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

He looked at us gravely, and said with a smile,
Remember that Christmas knows nothing of miles.

You've made some big changes, and had a new start,
But I know that it's hard when loved ones are apart.

So just remember you're lucky, to have love all around,
Love from so many - that's not easily found.

And with a wink and a smile he popped out of sight,
Back up the chimney into the cold Oregon night.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Oregon Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Friday, December 21, 2007

The best laid plans......

Yeah......

Um.............

So I'm sitting here addressing my Christmas cards. At one a.m four days before Christmas. I hope they make it. If not, well you all know that we love ya. But they NEED to make it, because they are crazy cute. I have crazy cute kids.

*sigh*

I bought all sorts of stuff to make all sorts of stuff. Peanut brittle and cookies and fudge and who knows what other ass-expanding goodies. I haven't actually made anything yet.

I had all these plans for while my husband was out of town. I was going to paint the town - or at least paint the living room. But at this point, I'll be happy if I get my laundry done.

I do this all the time. Every room of my house is about 75% clean. Except my bedroom. I'm afraid to go in there. That room is the reason all the other rooms are 75% clean - it's all in there. My tree is about half decorated. But it's up.

More than anything, I just want to have a nice Christmas with my husband and my kids. That's not too much to ask, right?

It is what it is.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random Christmas Thoughts

1. If your husband ever goes out of town, make sure the tree is up BEFORE he leaves. Do not kid yourself into thinking you can do it.

2. Putting up a tree that easily weighs half as much as you do is damn hard work.

3. No one knows how pine needles got in your pants. Just go with it.

4. Why bake cookies from scratch when God invented break-and-bake?

5. You may or may not piss off your neighbors if you are out on your porch at ten p.m. cutting the bottom few inches off of your Christmas tree. You will feel bad about this, but it can't be helped.

6. When in doubt, drag the whole damn tree inside the house, toss it down sideways on your coffee table on an old blanket, and saw the holy noel out of that baby.

7. Understand that somewhere when your mother reads this, she will laugh at you because when she asked you if the guy at the tree lot sawed the bottom off the tree for you, you lied and told her yes because you needed a minute to cover up the fact that you didn't know what in the hell she meant. (For those of you who read my blog regularly, we decided not to use our Charlie Brown tree that we hauled down from the woods all by ourselves. Our landlord asked if someone left it at our house as a joke. Not funny. But it made a great blog and I'm sure we'll do it again next year.) So anyway, sorry ma - now I know what you meant - and why we always hid for an hour from Dad while he got the tree into the stand every year.

8. When putting a Christmas tree into a Christmas tree stand, the tree appearing to be straight and actually BEING straight are two completely different things.

9. The damn tree doesn't need lights. You've done enough.

10. Your children can be kept busy for a minimum of two hours with one pair of safety scissors, a roll of wrapping paper from the dollar store, and seventy six rolls of tape. You just have to make sure you smile excitedly when you open Pinky the fuzzy whale for the eleventy-billionth time.

11. You've bought your kids enough. Stop worrying. No really. Stop worrying.

12. You've bought your mother enough. Stop worrying about that too.

13. Christmas Day in Oregon really shouldn't be too much different than Christmas Day in Illinois. I mean sure you'll miss everyone, but you can make tacos anywhere.

14. It is dificult to balance a twenty one pound baby on one hip and a seventeen pound package on the other while walking through the rain to the post office. It makes me thankful for good friends who watch my girls for me.

15. Christmas lights rock.

16. Christmas movies rock.

17. The squirrel jumping out of the tree in National Lampoon's Christmas vacation will ALWAYS be funny.

18. Your children will never get tired of asking how many days are left until Christmas.

19. There is a damn good reason that numerous holiday treats are made with copious amounts of alcohol.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Husband,

This is an open letter to you, my beloved and hard-working darling. I'm putting it here where you're sure to see it, since I know you get eight bazillion emails a day but that you do take time out to catch up on my blog.

Your children are on winter break. That means they are at home driving their mommy absolutely nuts. The cat threw up this morning. On my foot. And I think I almost killed our mailman when I opened the door this morning and he got a glimpse of my bedhead - at ten o'clock no less.

I understand that you are away from home and that you are probably working hard and that you miss us. I understand that you have a week of long hours ahead of you before you finally get to fly home two days before Christmas.

But if you tell me one more time that you ate Portillo's (AGAIN), I'm getting a lawyer. In fact, I suggest you start experimenting with ways to get of hot melty cheesy beef sammich 2000 miles on a plane without it killing me.

For those of you who live in Chicago, or have visited Chicago, you understand. It's a Chicago thing. For those of you who don't, trust me.

Signed with the utmost affection,
Your loving and devoted wife

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What do *I* want for Christmas?

It hit me today when I was out Christmas shopping with the smallest munchkin. The girls were at a "Christmas is for kids" church sponsored Vacation Bible School Day - or what one lady called the "mom can shop in peace" day so Chunk and I were finishing up some stuff around town. We were having a nice morning, chattering and cooing back and forth while I browsed through the Oregon Beavers shirts in KMart.

People love the Chunk. I mean, my kids garner compliments wherever they go - either because they are beautiful or because they are hellions, it depends. But there was Chunk, sitting up all buckled into the cart, grinning and drooling and da-da-da-da-ing at everyone who passed us by and people just ate him up. Which any mommy loves.

Then this sweet older couple walks by. The gentleman stops and says to his wife, "Honey, come look at this little one! What a cutie!" Of course I grinned and thanked him and answered the run of the mill what's-his-name and how-old-is-he questions and then this sweet old man crouched down to Chunk and around a big old smile he says to him:

"I betcha any old Papa could just spoil you silly."

My whole world just kind of slowed down right then and there. I actually felt like I was underwater all of a sudden. My throat closed up and my chest hurt and my ears got kind of fuzzy but somehow, I managed to keep on smiling and gave an obligatory chuckle and exchanged Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays with this sweet old man who only wanted to compliment my beautiful son and had no idea that with one sentence, he temporarily brought my whole world to a standstill. Papa...that's what my girls called my Dad.

Any old Papa......the words still echo in my head as I sit and type this.

My Chunk doesn't have a Papa. I mean, he DOES, and he always WILL. But not really. Not here. Not the one who was supposed to bounce him on his knee and give piggyback rides and teach him to fish. Not the one who would email me child recall notices religiously like an old mother hen. Not the one who would tell me everything I'm doing wrong...and then in the next breath tell me everything I'm doing right.

It just hit me all over again. Every so often even after almost three years it just slams home. My Dad adored my girls. He was the peanut butter to their jelly. And no matter how tough he was on me, he was just a big old teddy bear pushover softie with them. Kbear was just a baby herself when he got sick. They look at pictures and they know who he is, but they don't know him anymore. That hurts. There wasn't enough time. No amount would have ever been enough but we really got cheated. How does a man become a Papa at only forty two years old and only get to enjoy it for three years? How is that fair? How is that RIGHT? Nothing anyone can say can convince me that somewhere in the great cosmic universe there is some great good that balances that out.

I miss him so much. No one is perfect. He wasn't. Far from it. But he loved us and he only ever wanted what was best for us. I hated that he always worried about us so much, and I miss having him around to worry. I miss that he was good and he was tough and he was loyal to a fault. I even miss that he was always right. I miss hearing his voice on the other end of the phone when I call home. After all this time sometimes it still surprises me that he's never the one to pick up. I miss him badgering us about whether or not we've had the tires rotated recently or the oil changed. I miss my Dad.

But today, even more than any of that stuff, I just miss my kids' Papa.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do the happy dance with me!

We officially have our own Christmas miracle!

After three hundred and three days of agonizing, emotional, gut wrenching, disappointing, and frustrating days.....


WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!


We countered back and forth with a buyer this week and just when I was starting to think that maybe it wasn't meant to be, we all agreed on a price.

It's not perfect. We're actually losing a little bit of money in the deal. But with the market the way it is, I think we have to file this under "win some, lose some" and cut our losses and move on.

So anyway, I just signed the sale contract!

It's not a done deal yet. He still has to confirm his financing. So say your prayers - we are so ready to cut that last material Chicago tie. If all goes well, we will close on January 15th. Cross your fingers - I'll keep you posted!

Off to find a fax machine!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The adventures of Amy and an axe.....

Yeeeeeeeeah......we have all this wood out by the garage that was too big to fit in the fireplace when our "cord" was delivered during the fall. Remember that fun blog? I mean, it's not a mess or anything, it's just sitting out there collecting dust. And spiders. And in the meantime we are slowly but surely working through the pile that is already stacked up against the house. So tonight we ran to Home Depot and bought an axe (an ax? axe? You know what I mean) so that we can split the rest and be warm and cozy.

Right?

Not so much.

I figured, how hard can it be? I'll go work off some pent up aggression from not getting my kitchen clean and dealing with my sassy four year old all day.

Now my shoulder hurts and my arm hurts and there's still a big old pile of wood out in the backyard. Unsplit.

In completely unrelated news, today is December 10th. That means that my birthday is in exactly one month. So I officially have only one month left to be in my twenties. Thirty is looming over the horizon and I'm not sure yet if it's friendly. But as long as Jacquie remembers who turns 30 first (she does by a whopping 16 days) then it's all good. I can be the baby for a little longer.

However it appears to be inevitable. I'm getting old.

Where's my advil?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I do this every year; a holiday rant

<------- first of all, cool picture huh? That's a pear tree. I think.


Anyway, I do this to myself every.single.year.

The obsession begins around August. I start to worry. I worry about the kids having enough for Christmas. I don't know why I do this. We really do make a HUGE effort to focus on family and the spirit of the season. It's not all about the presents. But it gets into my brain and won't stop pecking at me somewhere before Labor Day. So I start to buy little things here and there that I find on sale. I feel oh so proud that I'm shopping early. I am a Christmas frickin' goddess. I stash my early purchases away and then get caught up in fall. Halloween costumes and turkey take center stage while my gifts gather dust in the top of my closet, away from prying kiddos.

Then a few weeks before the big day, I completely panic. I become CONVINCED that my children are completely and totally neglected. They are terribly deprived. I am positive that the magic of the holidays will be dashed by my horrible procrastination.

So out I go, pushing my cart through the stores and avoiding other bleary eyed parents through my half closed sleepy eyes, tossing My Little Ponies, Barbie convertibles, and art supplies willy-nilly into my basket. Then I get home and decide that DAMMIT I AM GOING TO WRAP because I am not going to get stuck wrapping at two a.m. on Christmas Eve, no matter how FUN Skippy seems to think that is. Hot chocolate with Bailey's in front of a fire while LAUGHING at Skippy wrapping is way more fun.

So I gather my wrapping supplies and then suddenly, I begin finding little caches of presents all over the place. There's a tinkerbell purse under my sweaters and six books hit me in the head when I reach for the DVDs on the highest shelf. I come to the realization that my kids are spoiled rotten.

Oy.

I mean, they really aren't. They pretty much only get new toys for Christmas and on their birthdays. I'm a mean mean mommy the rest of the year. But every year it's the same song and dance. I don't know why I do it to myself.

Anyway, I haven't blogged in awhile. We've been busy. Only one more full week of school before a Christmas break that lasts almost THREE WEEKS. I'm already frantically jotting down ideas for things to do while the kids are off school so that we don't all end up drooling on the couch watching seventeen Spongebob reruns. (Not that we EVER watch Spongebob. Nope. Not my kids. Nope.)

To make it all even more interesting, Skippy is going out of town this week and he won't be back until the Saturday before Christmas. While all the other googlers are getting sent to Iowa and Oaklahoma, my darling husband gets to fly into Sweet Home Chicago. Color my jealous. I'm mostly annoyed that he gets to eat Portillo's and go holiday shopping at a real mall. And see my Mom. And eat Portillo's. And see our friends and eat MORE Portillo's. So I figure I'll comfort myself by letting the kids stay up late, eating junk food and watching movies in our pajamas, and spending too much money. That's what we used to do with my Mom when my dad travelled and I always thought that was a pretty good system. Plus it takes away from the Portillo's pain.

Anyway.....let me ramble some more. Why not right? I haven't blogged in a week and it's 11:20 and I wrapped presents so I feel like I accomplished enough to sit here for a bit. Plus I knocked my shin on the toolbox that is in here and now my leg hurts. And the baby is snoring and that's just about the cutest sound in the world.

Friday we had the school carnival - totally exhausting, and I didn't even do the bulk of the work. Yesterday I took the girls to a Christmas fair and we had so much fun - they made me the cutest ornaments. Then last night, Skippy and I went on a date. A real date. I know - that makes two in a matter of weeks. We've officially hit our date quota for the year. Let me just say that Google throws one hell of a holiday bash. We had awesome food, strong drinks, a mock casino, music, singing, raffles, and NO CHILDREN. The party was fantastic and the company was even better. I dressed up. I even wore MAKEUP. I know. Wow huh? I honestly am in awe of the two gals who did the majority of the footwork because they know how to throw a major bash. It really made me realize how many terrific friends we have made since we moved. I miss every one in the Midwest so much sometimes, but I feel so blessed to have all of these wonderful new people in our lives. And as a stay-at-home Mom, it feels so good to see Skippy in his element - I don't think he ever understood the GUILT I felt when he worked for FTD. He worked there because he had to. Things like food and heat and clothes are good. They require money. That requires a job. FTD was a job. This is job but it's so much more to us. He is surrounded by people who he respects and who respect him and he gets up every day and genuinely enjoys going to work. That makes me feel so good about the choices we've made in the last year. It's one thing to do a great job supporting your family - it's another thing completely if you're lucky enough to be able to do something you love in the process. A lot of that hit home for me last night, and it wasn't just the Bailey's talking.

So yeah. Good party.

Today we hung up Christmas lights. Ok. *Skippy* hung up Christmas lights. I decorated the inside of the house. I'm annoyed that I haven't found our box of ornaments in storage yet, but everything else looks great. Outside Christmas lights have long been a point of contention in our marriage. Skippy has a thing for all blue lights. I think they look...........um.........well I just don't like all blue lights. Then last year my mother-in-law Dixie found forty six boxes of blue lights on sale and she bought them.

Ok, it was really only nine boxes but you get the idea.

So now I have blue lights on my house. And I actually LIKE it. Banana was so tickled when Skippy finally let us come outside for the big reveal - she has been begging for Christmas lights since last year when I was pregnant and by myself and wasn't about to get up on a ladder. I promised here that wherever we lived this year, we'd have lights and Skippy delivered beautifully. Now I just have to find the ornaments for the tree. They are probably in a box somewhere labelled POTS AND PANS sharing space with an old bike seat or something, but I'll find them. Eventually.

So there you go. Ramble over. I think my coffee has worn off sufficiently for me to go crash. It's been a long and busy week. We're ready for Santa and Ho Ho Ho and presents and friends and food in the coming weeks but the next few days will revolve around getting Skippy to PDX and off to the windy city. Where he's going to eat Portillo's, the horrible brat.

Good week. Good party. Good shopping. Good lights.

Good night.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

An Oregon Christmas Tree, part two

So anyway, a permit, a chainsaw, and a small bit of holiday insanity are your Oregon Christmas tree prerequisites. Here's how it works:

Step one:
You get up much MUCH earlier than you normally would on a Saturday to make sure that you have all of the necessary gear to go Oregon Christmas Tree hunting. This includes boots, coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and extra mittens and warm socks for everyone, including two small excited little girls who have no idea what's going on but are sent into peals of excited laughter at the mere sight of their snow pants. You also have to find the baby's carrier and snowsuit, the dog's leash, and an ear/headband thingy that is big enough for your husband's bigass head. Is it any wonder that *I* forgot *my* coat?



Step two:
You get in the car and drive towards a mountain. Preferably a mountain with trees. Because that's the whole point of this whole expedition. Any big ol' snow covered mountain will do, but because we were really looking for an AUTHENTIC Oregon Christmas Tree Hunting Experience, we of course headed for Mt Hood.


Step three:
Communicate with friends and apologize because you are running late. They are waiting. You of course apologize profusely, and then realize that everyone KNOWS that you are on time 99.9% of the time and after all, you do have three children. And a dog. And Skippy. It's all good. Continue driving. Very soon, it begins to look like this.







Step Four:
At this point, you finally meet up with your friends. You are in the tiny town of Parkdale, Oregon - pretty much right in between the civilization that is Hood River, and the wilderness that surrounds Mt Hood. The snow is deeper here, and it's soft powdery stuff - a skier's dream snow. You're here because in order to go cut down an Oregon Christmas Tree, you have to have a tree cutting permit. For five dollars, you get a nice neon orange tag for your tree, a map, and two pages of instructions. It's actually more complicated than it sounds. For example, you can't cut within 100 feet of a trail. You can't cut within 200 feet of a water source. The tree you cut down must have another tree within eight feet of it. And so on and so forth. Kind of fascinating really. You read while your husband drives and your kids draw funny faces on the fogged up back windows. When you finally reach your destination (for us, Little John Sno-Park), you realize that this ain't your Daddy's tree farm.


Step Five:
You get your family out of the car and get everyone bundled into their snow gear. This includes stuffing your annoyed baby into a snowsuit like a sausage and then stuffing said baby-sausage into the snuggli carrier WHILE wiping his nose and getting two little girls into snow pants. All of this takes approximately four and a half days. Thankfully, you have very patient and wonderful friends.


Step Six:
You take a headcount, strap the baby onto your chest, and start walking. This begins as a rather rowdy and cheerful event, with all sixteen members of your party throwing snowballs, exclaiming over the beauty of the scenery and making some funny although horrible Donner party jokes. You are immediately thankful that the event organizer's father has a chainsaw strapped to his back. Thus begins the quest for the perfect tree.


Step Seven:
You look at trees.


Step Eight:
You walk some more.


Step Nine:
You look at some trees.


Step Ten:
You pull your five year old out of a snowbank for the thirty seventh time. Thankfully, she still thinks it's fun.


Step Eleven:
You walk some more.


Step Twelve:
You shake some snow off of some trees.


Step Thirteen:
You fix your four year old's gloves, AGAIN. Then you repeat steps 9 - 13 several more times.


Step Fourteen:
You realize that your feet are cold and you can't feel your butt. Oddly enough, you are having an absolute blast.


Step Sixteen:
Finally, at long last, the chainsaw fires up. The snow is falling in huge fluffy flakes and the trees start coming down to the jubilant cries of TIM-BER and "No Skippy, that one is too big babe." It was actually really fun. The first thing you realize is that these trees....they are different. They aren't like Christmas tree farm trees, all perfect and full and shaped like a first grader's green construction paper triangle. These suckers have character. And when each family/couple/group found their tree, it was really pretty neat. There was a great sense of accomplishment. I mean, it's not like we walked along a clean paved path, surveying the available trees the way one would check out the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Nuh uh. There was no trail. We used a "path" of sorts that some snow mobiles had created earlier and we were hiking up and down hills wading through snow that sometimes came up past my knees. It was AWESOME. Can you blame Skippy for looking proud?

Of course, then you realize that not only must you walk all the way back, but now you have to drag a tree along with you. And your kids are tired. And now you REALLY can't feel your butt anymore. Which of course brings us to step seventeen.




Step Seventeen:
You walk back. Let's just leave this step as it is okay? You really don't want me to elaborate.


Step Eighteen:
You prop your tree up against the car. Your very own real live OREGON CHRISTMAST TREE. You realize that you're not done yet. Somehow you still need to tie that puppy up there. You still have to drive all the way home.

But right now, there is a monster hill waiting, and there's more important things to do. You're going to go sledding with your kids.


So. There you have it. How to get a REAL OREGON CHRISTMAS TREE WITH FRIENDS WHILE YOUR BUTT IS NUMB, in eighteen easy steps. Pretty darn neat huh?


A HUGE thank you to all of our friends, especially B&Y for putting it all together, and Y's folks for letting us all tag along and putting that chainsaw to good use! Tonight after our kids went to bed, Skippy and I were talking about the day and we agreed that even though it was a hell of a lot of hard work, it was one of the best and most memorable things we've done with our kids since moving out here. This is a beautiful place to raise a family and we're so happy to have you all in our lives!

I'm going to get a bunch of pictures up on Picasa - AmyM took a million great shots, and I got a few as well - when I get them up I'll update the blog with a link!

And before you ask, no we haven't gotten it into the house yet. It's snowing outside and we've got an awesome fire going tonight. And my butt just thawed out.

An Oregon Christmas Tree, part one

Wow.

That's really all I have to say.

Just......wow.

Today we went and got our first Oregon Christmas tree. Getting the Christmas tree was always a big deal when I was growing up, at least until I went away to college which was about the time my folks got a fake tree, LOL. Every year, a few weekends before Christmas, we would all pile into the car and head over to the local Christmas tree farm, which was just a few miles outside of town. We'd collect our farm-provided saw, and then we'd tromp around until we found the perfect tree, which my Dad would then cut down with the farm-provided saw.

Then the guys who worked at the tree farm would drag the tree down to the car and help my Dad load it up, but only after they gave it a ride on the tree shaker, which would basically vibrate the holy CRAP out of the tree to shake off any loose pine needles, small branches, and nesting squirrels. For some reason, I think the tree shaker was always our favorite part.

Slightly chilled and very cheery, we'd drive home and all hide from my Dad for an hour while he wrestled the tree off of the car and into the tree stand. We'd hide because well, this usually involved swearing. And sawing. And adjusting. And a little off the top. Or the bottom. And some more swearing. Poor Dad.

Then we'd decorate the Merry Christmas out of that baby.

Getting your tree in Oregon is different. It requires a five dollar permit, a chainsaw, and a mountain.

More to come. It's dinner time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remember Thanksgiving?


That holiday about a week ago? The one I never blogged about? Well I feel bad about that.

Suffice it to say that it was a nice day. Turkey was consumed in mass quantities, Skippy's smoked ham came out beautifully, and we had way too much food. We spent the day with friends going through sale papers (my idea of Tday nirvana) and playing Rock Band. Scrabble, pie, and tired kids.

Anyway, I'm sorry I never got around to a nice long blog about every detail of the day. We were all working on not getting sick, or getting better and overall it was exhausting but a lot of fun. The obligatory picture is adorable isn't it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's an INCH of snow people!!!!


How in the world was I supposed to know that school would be cancelled over an INCH of snow?

No. Seriously.

WHERE I COME FROM (have I said that enough lately?) an inch of snow has little kids' noses pressed up against the windows, vehemently praying for more - enough for a snow day - like, six inches more. That's not even enough to go outside to make a snowman in. The day after Skippy left last year, it snowed almost sixteen inches in thirty six hours at my house. My pregnant butt had to be helped out of my driveway by a snowplow because I couldn't shovel. THAT my friends, is snow.

So anyway, last night it snowed. (See last night's blog.) We were excited. It was beautiful. So on and so forth. This morning we are up and about at seven just like any other school day, sorting out backpacks and hunting for socks and boots and mittens. I bundle the girls into the car, and off we go. I absentmindedly turn on the radio just in time to hear that Kbear's pre-school is closed.

Now this made me raise my eyebrows, but I wasn't REALLY surprised - Teacher Mary is a one-woman show and she lives on the unincorporated side of town with a long gravel driveway that she probably doesn't want people navigating if there is even the slightest hint of ice. So no biggie. Then I hear that Banana's elementary school has a late start, with no morning Kindergarten.

What? I must have heard that wrong. There is an INCH of snow on the ground. The sun is shining and it's already starting to melt off my car.

Like a ding dong, I continue on up the hill and sure enough, it's a snowy ghost town. No school this morning. No other cars in sight. If a tumbleweed had bounced off my hood at that very moment, I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised.

An inch of snow. I'm seriously baffled. Now in hindsight (now that I'm home and warm and have a Starbucks in front of me) I'm really not that surprised. I mean, we have like, one plow for the entire town. And they don't salt the roads. And we have a lot of outlying rural bus routes that would be dangerous in any kind of snowy/icy weather. So I understand the two hour delay a little better now.

I just wish I had checked before I hustled my kids out the door. When we got home our neighbor (who also teaches at B's school) was outside shoveling his sidewalk and we had a good laugh at my expense. Then he told me that they called it at like, nine last night.

Color me an idiot.

What cracks me up is that it's supposed to be fifty degrees today. But mid-afternoon, the year's first snowfall will be long gone.

But hey, live and learn. And try not to feel stupid. Right?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Let it SNOW!!!!!


Oh yes indeed. Our first official Oregon snowfall is falling as I type!

See, we made this deal with our girls. They share a room and sometimes getting them down for the night is....less than pleasant. So Skippy made this handy dandy little chart where they get a sticker for every night that they both go to bed and we don't have to go in there and raise holy parenting hell. Right now, every twenty stickers, and they get a prize. Next chart we'll probably do every 25, but anyway it has just absolutely worked like a charm.

We've owed them their first prize for about a week now. Tonight they asked if we could go to Burger King. I know, hand over my mommy of the year award for not making them yet another home grown 100% organic meal for mere pennies here at home but a prize is a prize and what kind of parents would we be if we backed out on our promises? They wanted Burger King and the Dollar Store. Easy peasy.

So we left the Chunk with Skippy and went out for a girls' night. Many chicken nuggets, fries, and fizzy drinks later, we headed to the dollar store. Thirteen dollars later (don't ask) we walked outside and it was SNOWING.

They totally freaked out. We're talking super excitement. I was pretty darn tickled too - the flakes were so huge and fluffy - it was like someone had shook out a huge feather pillow over our heads. You could actually HEAR them coming down.

And then my sweet Banana looks at me and says, "Mommy, this is the BEST PRIZE EVER."

Like I made it happen.

How do I top that?

A blessed event...


Oh yes indeed. A blessed event has occured in our household. Last night, for the first time in almost eight months, Skippy and I did NOT have a baby in our room. I was able to fall asleep without hearing every little snore, sigh, and snuffle from the end of the bed.

Poor Chunk has been stuck sleeping in our bedroom since the day we brought him home. He started off in the basinet, and then graduated to the pack-and-play. We have had a queen bed set up in our third bedroom for our never-ending stream of visitors, between Dixie's coming and goings, my Mom's visit, Jax, Sarah, and so on. So yesterday my mother-in-law helped Skippy and I get the damn thing all pulled apart and sealed up, and then he and I took it to be stowed away in our storage unit. Then we brought the crib home.

That was a beast in and of itself, but it's all put together now and it looks just beautiful (Thanks Aunt Jane!) and he's napping in it right now as I sit here and type. I would have loved to see Skippy and Dixie actually wheeling the ENTIRE thing through Home Depot yesterday (they were in search of a few new screws and didn't want to chance coming home with the wrong ones), but I'll be darned, they got it all worked out.

Last night I tucked him in at 8:30 and that little scamp slept until 5:15 this morning.

Oh. Oh happy day. Happy, happy, day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ok, in my defense....


There is actually a really good reason that I haven't been back to finish wrapping up Kbear's birthday blog for four days. We have all been sick. Like, hacking, wheezing, snotty nose, three boxes of tissues a day kind of sick. One of us gets better and then someone else comes down with it. And of course, being the Mom means that you usually get it last, after you're all worn out from taking care of everyone else.

So anyway. Kbear's birthday party was a success. We took everyone bowling at the little alley downtown, where the smaller munchkins had a blast and the adults enjoyed the luxury of using bumpers. We were all pretty bad. Like, embarrassingly bad. I topped the group with a whopping 151. But it was fun. Then we all trekked through the rain to our cars, buzzed back up the hill and enjoyed pizza and cake at the house.


Speaking of cake, check this bad boy out. Pretty cool huh? The day before her party, K and I were sitting at the computer looking at cakes on Family Fun's website and she saw that one and absolutely flipped out. So Skippy worked some magic with fruit by the foot, gumballs, and two frosted 9x13s. I was pretty impressed. AND it tasted good. K was thrilled when she blew out her big number four and the ten "bowling pin" candles.

By the time we cleaned up the food, opened presents, and said our thank yous and good byes, everyone was pretty wiped out. But we had a really fantastic day. It seems like she grew up overnight when we weren't looking, and she told me later that night that it was "the bestest bowling party ever." Music to my ears.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am so ashamed....

My baby girl's fourth birthday has come and gone with barely a mention from me! Although in my defense, I've been the only semi-healthy person in a houseful of sick people. We even pushed her party back a day due to a Friday afternoon fever. It has been majorly sucktastic all around.

But yes, it's true. My little girl is four. Four is like, officially not a baby anymore. Two is definitely considered a toddler. Three is kind of transitional. But four. Four is a little kid. A not-so-little-kid, at least in the eyes of her mommy.

So here we go - Kbear's fourth birthday, in review.

Saturday night Skippy and I snuck out of the house after bedtime (leaving the girls with my Mother-in-law) and Chunk helped us make a stealth run to Walmart, where we debated the merits of several (okay, two) itty bitty little girl "big girl" bikes. Skippy won out with his choice of Disney princesses - WITH a matching helmet of course - and we picked up a few more things (because it's Walmart and we now have to drive twenty miles to get there) and went on our merry way back home, where I proceeded to try to WRAP a bike with only one roll of paper, half a thing of tape, and a dog. In the end I managed, with only one side of the handlebars sticking out, but I figured that would be part of the fun.


So Sunday morning dawns with pouring rain and a birthday girl who was awake at about quarter to six. She comes sprinting into our room yelling "MOMMY! DADDY! THERE IS A BIKE IN PAPER IN OUR LIVING ROOM!!!!!" Thankfully, this was NOT at quarter to six. After presents (another banner year for Tinkerbell stuff) we started in on breakfast. Staying true to our new tradition, Skippy made BLUE blueberry muffins, green bacon, and orange butter with pineapple and orange juice all around.

Then we took naps. *insert intermission elevator music here*

After that, we BOWLED. More to come later!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The air up there....

Is COLD!!!!!!

I'm telling you, I'm still adjusting to the weirdness that is living in a mountain/foothill/not-flat-like-Illinois region. Last night it was COLD. Like, really cold. And rainy. And just kind of blah. It rained all day - on Kbear's birthday no less, but that's another blog. Anyway, it rained and rained and rained. My sister-in-law Terri came up for K's party and said they had snow all the way to Dufur (I know I've told you I didn't name the towns, stop laughing) and last night on the news they were calling for snow in all the passes, and along the entire Cascade mountain range.

SNOW???? Did someone say snow? I love snow. Snow rocks.

So imagine my disappointment when I woke up this morning and saw that we had only gotten rain, rain, and more rain. And then imagine my amazement when I hopped into the car to run Banana up to school and saw cars coming down the hill just COVERED in snow.

*Imagine me raising my eyebrow here. If I could do that. Pretend I can.*

I was puzzled.

Apparently when you live in Oregon, a little bit of altitude makes a big BIG difference. At our house, we had rain. Not even a mile up the hill at the elementary school, there was snow sticking to the grass. Not too much farther up from there, the foothills were absolutely covered and just beautiful.

Strange.

More to come. I have to recap K's birthday. The kids have been sick and we've been busy, but I promise we'll get all caught up later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Supermommy flies again

Whew. This morning I ran 56 thank you cards up to the elementary school for PTA when I dropped Banana off. Each card had a handwritten note to each staff member, plus a pretty little typed insert inside that I painstakingly cut out informing the teachers and staff that the PTA was bringing in food for after school today, and during the day tomorrow in honor of American Education Week. The thank yous took me "only" four hours last night.

Then I took Kbear to preschool, dropped Skippy off at work, and ran two MORE freshly written thank yous to school for the two teachers who weren't on my list, plus some fresh flowers that I picked up between the Google and home. Came back home to build a fire in the fireplace because it's a balmy 63 in my house this morning. At two I'm meeting another crazy PTA mom so that we can pick up the deli trays and sandwiches and get them up to school. Before then, I really hope to shower.

Since stopping back at home to nurse the baby all I've managed to accomplish was a chat with the neighbor, wiping the baby's poor little nose fourteen thousand times, putting a pot of soup on the stove, and clipping some coupons. Now I have to go pay the water bill and swing by the bank to get Banana's jacket, which she left there almost a week ago. Then it will be time to pick the girl children up from school and come home for lunch.

I wonder if they would just give Banana's jacket to me through the drive up window? Hmmmmm.

I REALLY hope I can fit in that shower.

More to come, hope you are having a good day, whatever you are up to!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Has anyone seen my cape?


Tomorrow I have to be (duh duh da-duhhhhhh) SUPER MOMMY.

Runner of kids to school. Superb kicker of husbands into the shower. Colossal baby soother. And defender of all things PTA.

Gonna be a loooooong day. I think a preemptive hot bath is in order right now.


In unrelated news, had Chunk back at the doctor today to see what's going on. Did a chest Xray just to be safe. (Aunt Jane, they totally didn't have a "monkey chair" - they just had me hold his little legs and they held his arms while he blew spit bubbles at the light) I have to give major kudos to AmyM for watching my older two monsters, who I'm sure put her in need of her own hot bath. My kids seem to have that effect on people. Everyone else is good. Kbear was too tickled this morning when I told her that this is the last Monday EVER that she'll be three years old. Banana had a day off from school for Vet's Day. Skippy stayed up until 1:00 in the morning making cheesecake for the first annual (and possibly only annual) cheesecake smack down at the Goog.

I talked to my Grammy yesterday (belated call to thank her for the kids' Halloween cards and McD's money) and she told me that "she hears I have quite a blog" from all the family. I'm so glad you guys enjoy reading it - I definitely enjoy writing it and keeping you all up to date on our random and not-so-random happenings. Southwest has tickets round trip for $200 after the holidays - get your butts on a plane would ya?

And now I'm off to take my bath. Tomorrow I have to save the world. Love to you all, Oregon people and non-Oregon people.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sick babies are no fun


My poor little dude. He is just not feeling good. It started off last week with a runny nose. Then we had a little cough - just a little dry cough that would make you look up from what you were doing to make sure he was okay.

I figured it was the weather changing. I figured it was teething. I figured it was nothing.

Now we've got a deep, full chested, looking at me with big doe eyes MOMMY MAKE ME FEEL BETTER wrecking cough full of phlegm. Ugh. Poor guy.

AND he has his first tooth coming in. Owie.

Please God, don't let anyone else get it. We just sent out invites for K's birthday party next weekend.

Please let my poor little man feel better soon.

*sigh*

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Too busy to be blah.

Did the run around today.

Got up (Thank you daylight savings time, you don't suck so much on a school day). Took a shower. Got the girls up. Got the baby up. Kicked Skippy into the shower. Got the kids cereal. Nursed the baby. Kicked Skippy into the shower again. Helped the girls get clothes. Helped the girls find shoes. Kicked Skippy into the shower AGAIN.

Took Banana to school. Came home. Changed the baby. Took Kbear to school. Took Skippy to work. Stopped for a much needed white chocolate mocha. Went to my MOPS meeting (Moms of Pre-Schoolers) where we made a kickass craft that I can't wait to actually try - we made a little coffee filter full of stuff to make spiced cider in the coffee pot. Since I only use our coffee pot when we have coffee-drinking company, it will be fun to give this a whirl. Chatted with other mommy friends. Got Chunk out of the nursery. Left early.

Picked up Kbear. Tried to help contain her excitement over ANOTHER birthday invite. Realized that every other preschool Mom is way more brave than I am, because I just can't bring myself to do the "whole class" birthday party thing just yet. Brainstormed other birthday ideas for Kbear while we drove across town to get Banana off the bus. Got Banana off the bus. Ran up to the elementary school for some PTA stuff I needed.

Ran home. Nursed and changed the baby. Surfed the net for ten whole minutes.

Went to lunch with two mommy friends. Three mommies and nine kiddos. In the McDonald's playplace. Where it echoes. Yeah.......

Came back home. Took Tylenol. Got my PTA stuff together. Picked up my friend Amy who bravely agreed to do babysitting during the PTA meeting. Thanked Amy profusely.

Ran my first solo PTA meeting. Spent some PTA money. Kicked ass.

Came home. Cleaned the living room. Bribed the kids with Halloween candy to help for twenty minutes. Actually did a decent job. Sneaked an extra mini-Snickers into my belly.

Made dinner for the kids. Put the very tired baby down for an evening nap.

Skippy came home. Promptly fell asleep in the recliner.

Cleaned behind the TV. Reorganized approximately eight million, forty three thousand and fifty seven cords.

Tired.

Night.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Screw you, Daylight Savings Time


It really messes up your whole universe when you have kids.

My kids are early birds. They always have been, little monkeys. So yesterday instead of waking up at seven, they were up at QUARTER TO SIX. ON A SUNDAY. Can I cry now? Once I accomplished donuts and my Sunday newspaper I was a little better but I pretty much muddled through the day and went to bed before nine last night.

No seriously, what happened to my life? I remember when nine at night was prime nap time for an hour before heading out. I remember when nine meant that ER was on, or it sounded like a good time to start that term paper that was due the next day. But apparently when you have kids and it's time to "fall back" nine means nighty-nite.

So now it's 3:20 in the morning and I'm sitting here blogging and surfing the net, catching up on email, reading my mommy board, and generally being annoyed that I can't sleep.

It was a wonderfully uneventful weekend. We didn't have any company. There was no soccer. We slacked off on the gym (again) and just kind of hung out. I watched my neighbor refinish an antique steamer truck for me. Colored with the kids. Watched a movie. Grocery shopped.

And in more exciting news (at least exciting to me) Skippy and I had a REAL DATE on Saturday night. Like, with a babysitter and everything. Oh my god it was heaven. I got to wear pretty clothes and put on make up and go out to dinner with friends for three whole hours. The company was fabulous, the food was okay, and just being out with no crayons or kids' meals or having to cut up someone else's food was beyond fantastic. So that was fun.

Now I think I'll catch up on one of my favorite blogs (http://thepioneerwoman.com/) and go back to bed like a normal person. Tomorrow's agenda includes no school for Banana, dance class for Kbear, and making chicken noodle soup.

Friday, November 2, 2007

She didn't wave


I have to tell you all what happened today. Because it made me sad. And it's silly to be sad. Skippy kind of chuckled at me when I told him this story and gave me the "DO NOT GET SNIFFLY" look of spousal death. But I got sniffly anyway.

Remember the beginning of the school year, just eight short weeks ago? Remember my five year old who didn't want to go into school without mommy, who cried every day for the first week? Who latched onto my leg on the first day and had to be pried off when it was time to go in while I walked away from my big girl struggling not to sob?

Remember my elated blog on the day she decided that maybe school was going okay, and that mommy didn't have to walk her in every day? We've settled into a nice routine, the Banana and I. I drive her up to school in the morning and we pull into the line of cars waiting to drop off other kiddos and I give her one last pep talk about having a good day, listening to her teacher, etc all to a chorus of "Yes Mommys." Then we pull up to the ramp (the school is at the top of a big hill and the kids have to run up a HUGE ramp to get to the door) and I hop out and get her coat zipped and hand her backpack over. Then it's hugs and kisses and she runs off, ALWAYS pausing for a minute to yell "WAVE MOMMY!"

So then I stand there (probably annoying other parents who are dropping kids off with my refusal to move out of the way) while she runs up to the top of the ramp and turns around and waves. A few weeks ago she would wave, and I would wave, and then she would stand there and wait until I had completely pulled away before going into school. I always doubled back after turning around to make sure she had actually gone in. Then things improved. She would wave and I would wave, and she would immediately head inside. I don't know if that had to do with renewed self confidence or the fact that it's started to get chilly or what, but it was an improvement.

Today I kissed her goodbye and she headed for the ramp while I stood next to my open car door, watching her go and waiting to wave. About halfway up the ramp I heard "HI BANANA!" and saw her meet up with a teammate from soccer. I felt a rush of pride that my big girl is making friends. I could see them chatting away like five year olds do as they made their way to the top of ramp.

And then she went straight inside.

She didn't stop. She didn't turn. She didn't wave.

She just went inside.

I should be relieved. I should be happy. I should be proud. And on some level I am all of those things.

But I'm also a little sad.

I mean, she didn't wave.

It's funny when you have moments when you realize that in so many ways, you need your kids as much as they need you.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm so not crafty....Halloween Part Two


If you know me, you know that you can give me a pair of scissors, a needle and thread, a bunch of material, an old washcloth, and some scotch tape and I won't know what in the hell to do with it. My sister-in-law could probably turn it into a prom dress. My friend Charlotte could probably make a blanket, without even using the scotch tape. I just don't know what to do. I'm not crafty. I WANT to be crafty in the worst way but alas, it's apparently not where my gifts were bestowed. Somewhere the patron saint of Martha Stewart and Heloise, and Paula Dean took a look at my infant form and said, "Nope, not happening."

And despite all of this, I decided that this year I was going to make my kids Halloween costumes. I was tired of buying cheap character crap at the store and dangnamit, I was going to MAKE them the most kickass kids costumes EVER.

Yup.

Good thought.

I started buying materials in September, when my obviously addled brain gave birth to this grand plan. And then it sat. And sat. And it sat some more. Skippy would occasionally nudge a pile of tulle or kick around an old straw hat that I scavenged from the thrift store for a quarter and raise his eyebrows at me. To which I gave my patented response - a slightly put-out and cranky "I'm GONNA DO IT!" (And I wonder where my kids get it.)

Anyway, when last week rolled around I figured I'd better get moving. To my credit, Kbear's costume was already done - I had bought her butterfly wings (I'm not THAT crafty) and made her an adorable matching tutu and found black leggings and a leotard and she was good to go. It was Banana's costume that had me concerned.

A scarecrow. How hard could it be?

Ok, it's not so much that it was HARD, it's just that I am a complete costume making novice. I took an old hula skirt, an old pair of overalls, and a pair of scissors and went to town with needle and thread. Several hours of blood sweat and tears later, I had the legs done and sore pinpricked thumbs. Said thumbs then necessitated a trip to Jo Ann Fabrics, where I bought two rolls of my new-un-crafty best friend, Stitch Witchery. It's this wonderful gift from the crafty Gods that allows you to iron any two fabrics together. I was sold. I pulled out my iron, dusted it off, and went to town, fusing cotton to straw and then attaching old cotton patches cut from overgrown play clothes and and black "crow feathers" all over the place. Once I added the glue gun to my arsenal, it was all over.

When I was all done, I had two pretty darn cute freaking costumes:





















And what of the Chunk you may ask? What wonderful handmade costume did I concoct for him? Well......I'm afraid that it's true what they say about the third child. You really do kind of get over the whole baby thing. I mean, when Banana was born we were allllllll about "Her First Halloween!" OH! It's HER FIRST HALLOWEEN! It was a big deal. Kbear got the hand-me-down costume two years later, and about two thirds of the excitement. So by the time we've gotten down to the chunk, I guess it's kind of worn off. I mean don't get me wrong, I still totally get that it's his "FIRST HALLOWEEN" but I'm not in such a fervor to make sure he has the perfect costume because it's not like he's trick or treating and really, I don't think they have managed to make a baby's costume yet that doesn't at some point irritate the hell out of the poor munchkin wearing it.





So he was a bee.

A totally sweet and adorable bee.

No really, doesn't he look just absolutely THRILLED?



Once we were all costumed up it was time to go trick or treating. First we attacked downtown The Dalles. With about two thousand other people. It was fun in that crazy somewhat organized chaos kind of way. We ran into friends, basked in the compliments on our adorable costumes, and engaged in what I will now call drive-by-trick or treating, where basically your kid got candy every ten steps or so because 90% of the fun and funky eclectic little shops downtown participated. It was a blast in a nutty kind of way.

Once Skippy met up with us downtown (That only took four phone calls to each other while we were standing on the same block semi-hollering over the noise "NO WHERE ARE YOU AT?") we headed back to the car and piled in to head over to Spooky's for free pizza. How cool is that? Kids under 12 with a costume get a kids' pizza and drink. Dinner? We don't need no stinkin' dinner man - we got reese cups and free pizza. And sandwiches for Skippy and myself.

Thus nourished, we trekked home where Skippy the brave combined fatherly forces with the dad next door and they took three very excited and sugar high little girls up and down the street, showing off for the neighbors and coming home with even more mad loot. Chunk and I stayed home and passed out candy here at the house, where I got dirty looks when I insisted that the junior high and high school kids actually SAY trick or treat.

And at long last, we clicked off the porch light, shucked off costumes, and dumped out our haul, which fills my HUGE wooden salad bowl. I'm doling it out slowly and whatever is left at the end will go to Google with Skippy. Of course, once we take our cut of tootsie rolls (Skippy) and Snickers bars (me) that should put a significant dent in it.

I hope everyone else had a safe and successful Halloween. Until next year!

Pumpkins, Halloween part one.

And so another Halloween fades away. Whew. What a crazy one it was. I'm happy to say that after a week of forgoing all important housework, taking breaks only to pee and nurse the baby, I am finally out of Halloween costume-making hell. Although I will say that my kids looked pretty darn cute.

Halloween festivities began for us on Tuesday night with pumpkin carving. This is an annual event where the girls bug me all.day.long, chanting "Can we do pumpkins now? Can we do pumpkins now?" incessantly while I'm trying to do everyday normal things like oh, take a shower or eat. When the evening finally rolls around they are more than ready. They want to carve. They look like miniature cannibals on some exotic island, knives poised and ready, eyes gleaming, and excitement mounting.

Then Mommy reminds them that before you can carve a pumpkin, you have to clean the pumpkin. Mean old mommy.

So we cut the top off and everyone peers inside at the stringy goopy stuff that is pumpkin guts. I hand the first pumpkin off to Banana on about 4,328 sheets of newspaper (that will still somehow fail to contain all the goop by the end of night) and give her a scraper and tell her to have at it. She gleefully plunges her hands inside, only to yank them back out, spraying goop on the walls and seeds at the cat and yells "EWWWWWWWWWW that's so GROOOOOSSSSS Mommy!" and running off to wash her hands.

And so mommy ends up scraping out the pumpkin. Which mommy also thinks is pretty gross and not much fun, but when you're the mommy, that's just what you do.

Rinse and repeat with Kbear, who at least wants to help pull seeds out of the goop to roast, and an hour later we finally have two goop free, scraped out clean pumpkins primed for carving.

Here's the kiddos attempting to clean their pumpkins out:








Then of course I had to step in and finish the job, but it made for good photo ops.












Then it's Skippy's turn. If *I* got stuck cleaning pumpkin guts, at least he has to deal with two little girls who apparently think they attended some international pumpkin design school and want their carvings "just so." So after many sheets of paper, multiple rough drafts, messy marker smeared hands, and head scratchings later, and we finally had two pumpkin designs. Well, we had one - Kbear's looks like a circular scribble with mismatched eyes but we ran with it. Skippy starts cutting, with lots and lots and lots of "help."

Finally, an hour later the tea lights get lit and we have our finished jack-o-lanterns:



All of this of course, is just a precursor to the rest of our Halloween fun, but that's another blog for later today. Right now I have to run my sugar-hung-over kids to school.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lucky number seven, a philosophical blog


Seven months. That's how old the chunk was at exactly four o'clock today. It's hard to believe that the skinny squalling little red faced newborn is the same chunky little army crawler who is in the process of taking over my living room.

He's doing just beautifully. His days are spent eating applesauce and biter biscuits, working on crawling, and refining one hell of a howl when he doesn't get his way. He smiles and laughs more than any baby I've ever seen and I'm taking every chance I can to snuggle him because before I know it, he's off again in search of laundry to knock over or a cat's tail to pull or a big sister to antagonize.

It's hard to believe how fast time flies. When we moved here, I was pregnant. I knew no one. It was cold and gray and I wondered how I was going to survive being away from my Mom and all of my friends and my (huge) extended family. Two and a half months later, Chunk was born and the weather started to warm up. I started making new friends, attending Goog-sponsored family events, and I felt like I had been given a precious gift - the chance to enlarge my circle of friends and to rediscover who I am and who I'm meant to be as a wife and a mother and a friend and an Amy.

I still miss my Mom dreadfully. I'd give anything to go to Chili's with Jax for a margarita and a chocolate molten cake. Seth's hugs don't email very well and Sarah's visit was way too short. But that doesn't mean things are bad. In a lot of ways, things are better than ever. I feel so blessed to have met so many new and wonderful people and to live in such an astonishingly beautiful place. Sometimes when the Chunk wakes up to nurse at the far-too-early hour of five a.m. I pause in the kitchen to get a drink of juice and see the mountains turning pink. And then I go snuggle back into my still-warm bed and listen to my sweet baby breathe before my girls are up and bouncing for another day and Skippy heads to a job that he loves and I think that really, I'm pretty damn lucky. Seven months has gone by in a flash, and to show for it I have the most gorgeous baby boy anyone could ask for. And I realize that I've barely scratched the surface of all that I still have to do.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

All good things must end.....


And soccer too. LOL

We officially survived the first year of kid's soccer. Oh. My. God. What an eight week whirlwind.

I will say that it's amazing how much progress five little five year olds can make in two months.

The first game: Six little girls stand in little trios opposite each other on a mini field. The coaches blow their whistles. All the little girls keep standing there, shuffling their feet and kind of looking at each other like "You kick it!" "Noooo, YOU kick it!" until finally, someone halfheartedly nudges the ball into play. Practices are spent mobbing the poor coach and asking when it's time for another water break.

Fast forward to today's game. Six little girls spread out across mid-field, shifting their weight from foot to foot and looking expectantly at the coaches, poised to make their move at the first tweet of the whistle. When it comes, they're off, pushing, shoving, and throwing elbows for all they are worth. THESE princesses take no prisoners and you'd better get the hell out of the way. There's tripping, there's falling and rarely, there's tears. We've gone from a walk in the park to a three and a half foot war zone people, and it's impressive.

So yeah. Soccer was fun. I'm soooooo very glad that it's over though. We did get a chance to get to know some fantastic parents and we were pleased with our coaches - talk about a big commitment. Every so often I think about trying to coach next year and then I realize that I must have temporarily lost my mind.

I think we're going to take the winter off from activities. I'm determined not to over schedule the hell out of my kids like so many parents do, but at the same time I feel like I have to give them as many opportunities as I can so that we can find something they can genuinely enjoy, something that inspires their passion as they get older. But for now, I think we're going to just focus on the holidays, go play on the mountain, and other stuff like that. Kbear will stay in dance, and *maybe* we'll think about swim lessons for the Banana.

After all, softball starts in the spring. *wink*

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lazy Saturday...or NOT


So have you ever decided that it would be a great idea to host about fifteen people for breakfast on a Saturday morning in your rental that you hate that barely has enough room for your family, bright an early the morning after you've worked until midnight the night before?

No?

Only me?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....

So yeah. A bunch of fruit loop locations were hosting events for the Heirloom Apple Days in Hood River this weekend. If you don't already know this fun little fact, an heirloom apple is a variety that has been around for 100 years or more. You rarely see them in stores and orchards work hard to make sure that they don't just disappear. Neat huh? Don't say you never learned anything form my blog. Anyway, we decided (okay, because I know Skippy reads my blogs, *I* decided) that it would be fun to host an early morning breakfast this weekend, before we all formed a caravan out to the loop for some fruit filled, tractor riding, apple pressing, goat petting fun. We told everyone to come on over with some juice or some fruit or some breakfasty type contribution, and we'd have hot cinnamon rolls ready and waiting.

Which of course, brings me to the cinnamon rolls. Oh god the cinnamon rolls. They are a Skippy-specialty. Little fluffy spirals of cinnamon and sugar goodness topped with a little bit of cream cheese heaven. Soooooo damn good. Soooooo not fat free. Two dozen rolls disappeared in about ten minutes, along with copious amounts of potatoes, apples, juice, milk, and homemade applesauce. So now, thanks to Skippy, our Google breakfast clan is all walking around with a little bit of cinnamon happiness glued to their hips or thighs or ass. But good lord it was worth it. I mean really, they deserve their own blog, but I digress.

Breakfast, and then the loop. That was the agenda. I left the baby with Skippy and loaded up the girls (who were of course bouncing around in their car seats all hopped up on that cream cheese heaven I mentioned) and we hit the road, four cars, eight grown ups, and four kiddos geared up and ready to go. A half hour later we arrived at our first stop - Cody's Orchard. There, the kiddos got to each pick out a piece of fruit and have it washed and ready to eat while the grown ups shopped - I picked up some pears to embark on some more baby food making craziness. Then we took a tractor ride through the orchard - which was actually really fun. By the time we got back to the fruit stand, the were getting ready to make cider using an old fashioned press and all of the kids got to take turns giving it a whirl, and then trying the result, which they thought was just about the coolest thing ever.

After Cody's we lost one of our carloads to the kiddo-nap-Gods, (which was a bummer) and the remaining three continued along our merry way to Draper's Farm. At Drapers we got to peruse numerous fruit bins, including several full of the famous Heirloom apples, we petted goats and pigs, swung on the swing, admired the mountain - which was absolutely stunning I must admit - and took one slightly terrified trip to the leaning port-a-potty of doom. Then, I admired Ami's leg of lamb that she purchased, which I myself would have no clue how to prepare. Then I looked at Ami with a bit of awe, because apparently *she* knows what to do with a leg of lamb. But then again, I have a husband who makes kickass cinnamon rolls and I'm slowly learning to cook stuff that doesn't come out of a box, so I suppose it's all a wash.

After Drapers we lost yet another carload full of nap-bound-kiddo and moved on past pear trees and alpacas to Mt View Orchards, where a Germanfest was in full swing. From music to brats and potatoes and all-you-can-drink cider, we were happy that we had decided to make the trip. We indulged in a German-style picnic lunch - with decidedly American hotdogs for Banana and Kbear - and took a breather while my girls did everything they could to destroy the (thankfully) indestructible playground equipment and then I bought yet MORE apples (plus some Asian pears) and at long last, we began our backtrack.

No trip out to the loop is complete until you've stopped off at Packer's Cookie Stop and Bakery (lucky number 13) and pick up their dinner-plate sized cookies - a steal at five for five bucks - and indulge in a peach smoothie or huckleberry ice cream cone or in my case, a caramel apple cider. And yes, you guessed it, I bought more apples. But in my defense, these were different. Feeling adventurous, I invested in a few "winter banana" apples: a new variety that is supposed to taste like a banana. I thought that Skippy might enjoy them because much to his chagrin, he has a fairly serious allergy to bananas despite the fact that he loves them. He hasn't tried one yet but we'll have to see what his official review is when he does. I'd be curious myself but I brought home a bunch of golden delicious for my own personal stash.

At that point, the cinnamon induced haze had finally worn off and it was time to leave the valley and return to The Dalles. Laden with cookies and at least six different types of apples and pears, we got back home around three.

And we took naps.

Can you blame us?

Now it's time for a bath and bed. I've earned it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Funny Things My Kids Have Said Lately....


I overheard this conversation between Skippy and Kbear one morning. K was watching some little blurb on one of the kids' channels about snakes.

K: Daddy? Can I have a snake?

Skippy: Maybe someday when you are a little bigger you can have a little snake K.

K: Can I have an anaconda?


An ANACONDA people. LOL

And out of nowhere in the car one day....

*sniff*

*sniff*

Me: Banana do you need to blow your nose?

Banana: No mommy.

*pause*

Banana: Mommy? Where do boogers live when they aren't in your nose?


Now how in the heck do you answer that one?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And finally, part three of I've been a bad, bad blogger....


Ok. So I'm going to wrap up Sarah's visit in this blog, so help me God.

Thursday was the thrift store and hippie pizza. Friday.....well Friday we did the Google.

Oh yes indeed. Sarah got to go to Google for lunch on Friday. You need to understand that this is a big deal - Skippy's MOM hasn't even been to Google, despite numerous requests. Hell, 90% of The Dalles hasn't been to Google. Plus it was steak, chicken, baked potato and salad bar day and who in the hell can pass that up?

So we took her to lunch. Got her some Google swag. Introduced her to bunches of people, who of course all thought she was adorable. It was really pretty cool. Then we just hung out. Made her a Mii that night on the Wii. Played some Scrabble with Skippy and our friend Amy. Stayed up too late.

Saturday we braved the Harvest Fest one of the farms was having. We survived for about an hour and a half before throwing in the towel. But the kids had fun. Pictures are on picasa of course, or will be shortly. More sister bonding ensued. It was all good.

Sunday brought sleep and soccer. Then we threw a fiesta dinner party with some friends from work and played more scrabble. Ate lots of tacos. Talked about what a kickass week it had been.

Before I knew it it was Monday morning and I had to take her back to good old PDX for her flight home. Goodbyes were hard. We've always been close, but after ten days together in my Oregon-mommy-world, I think we both felt that saying goodbye was kind of rough.

She landed safely in the windy city last night, and I'm sure she's glad to be home. I can't wait for her next visit. Love you boog.

Part two of I've been a bad, bad blogger....

The waterfalls, continued.

After we hiked up to the top of Wahkeena Falls and got soaked in the process, we came back on down and piled back into the car to drive the quarter of a mile to the big puppy, Multnomah.


Here's Banana with a big leaf she found.



Here's Kbear looking cute as usual.



Here's Aunt Sarah at Multnomah Falls

We really really wanted to take the hike to the bridge, but it was just too wet and too cold and we decided that instead we would potty and dry off. So we hit the bathrooms, the gift shop, and then the restaurant on the lodge. Now that was classy. Or maybe it was 'K'lassy. I have to set the scene you see. You walk into the lodge and it's this big beautiful rustic old building. There is a massive fireplace and it smells like woodsmoke and cinnamon. There are tables with white linens, fresh flowers, and tea light candles, and a small but elegant menu that obviously charges extra due to the ambiance.

So what did we do? We asked for a table by the fireplace, sat our wet butts down, and then Sar and I each ordered a glass of Oregon wine.

And french fries for the kids.

Wine and french fries.

Klassy I tell ya. But fun. We rolled back into town around dinnertime and just hung out for the rest of the evening.

Thursday was a day to nap, veg out, and make mini-meals. Around four o'clock we decided we should go do something. So we went thrift store foraging. That was far more fun that it really should have been. We got some crazy mad loot and after almost two hours, we packed back into the car and headed across the river to Bingen, Washington, where we took Sarah to our new favorite pizza place, Solstice Cafe. For those of you who live out here, if you haven't been to Solstice yet, you have to go. It's good stuff. And if you have kids, it's a parental heaven because they have a great kids menu and a fantastic little play area. Skippy calls it our "crunchy granola pizza place" because everything is locally grown and organic. But it's good.

Before we knew it, the weekend had arrived! But that's another blog. Right now I have to go make lunch!

I've been a bad, bad blogger, intermission.


Ok. Now that I've run the girls to school and gotten the baby up and woken Skippy up for work and kicked his butt into the shower, I'm going to take a few minutes and enjoy my freshly picked-up Starbucks white chocolate mocha on my couch before I have to run Skippy to work and then attack the grocery store. But first I have to share this picture. I think it's pretty much the funniest picture EVER. My friend Amy took it this weekend. The baby weighs eighteen pounds. The apple weighs two. My recap of Sarah's visit is coming, I promise.

Part one of I've been a bad, bad blogger.....

I don't think I've updated since we took Sarah up to Timberline Lodge. Now that was almost a week ago and we put her on a plane back home yesterday. I really have no excuse, other than the fact that we were having too much fun for me to find time to blog. So here we go,

THE REST OF SARAH'S VISIT, IN REVIEW:

Wednesday. Wednesday was our designated "Waterfall Extravaganza Day." After a fabulous day of snow play on Tuesday, we decided to head out to Multnomah Falls on Wednesday. So we picked up Banana from school and hit the road, heading West on 84 for about an hour to begin our day with lunch in Troutdale. Yes. Troutdale. Shut up, Sarah laughed too. I didn't name the towns people.

First we had lunch at McDonalds, where apparently, Kbear had some deep, life altering experience with the wall mural. We think it was speaking to her:


Sarah, being Sarah, enjoyed some pre-pressed chicken product goodness. She's going to hate that I posted this picture on my blog, but what are big sisters for?


And then we began our backtrack. Troutdale (stop laughing) is at mile marker 17. We headed down the Historic Highway, coming back East and made our first official stop at Vista House, known as the "Gateway to the Gorge." It's also known by our family as "THE MILLION DOLLAR BATHROOM" because that's pretty much all it really is. It's this really neat little building with awesome lookout platforms WAAAAAY up on the hill where you first come back into the Columbia River Gorge. So you can stop there and do two things. You can take pictures, and you can go potty. We did both. The weather was okay. It was overcast and kind of drizzly. In other words, it was fall in Oregon. We still got some nice shots though, and they are all on my picasa site.



Then we continued our eastward track towards the falls. Multnomah Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in North America, and it's one of my absolute favorite places in all of Oregon. It's actually the biggest of a group of seven waterfalls all along this one stretch of the old highway and it's absolutely breathtaking. We hit the first one coming in from the West, which is Latourell Falls and took some great pictures. Then we moved on to my favorite smaller fall, Wahkeena and took a .2 mile hike to the top. Awesome hike, except for the part where it started pouring. There is really something that feels counterproductive about looking at a waterfall in the rain. But I think Sarah enjoyed it anyway.



I've got to run the girls to school. TO BE CONTINUED.....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Playing catch up with Sar's visit.


We have been on the go pretty much non-stop these last few days. I'm going to backtrack and start with Tuesday, when we took Sarah up to Timberline Lodge.

I did all of my crazy mommy running around Tuesday morning while the girls were both in school (this included taking Skippy BACK TO WORK - Yay!) and then once everyone was back home we had a quick lunch of thrown together goodies and we hit the road.

It was 55 degrees in The Dalles, under grey skies with a light drizzle. We were in high spirits as we headed out on the Mt Hood Scenic Byway from Hood River. The only bummer was that it was too overcast to see the mountain. It's really an awesome sight on a clear day but we figured we would take what we could get.

The drive was beautiful. Fall is funny here in the Pacific Northwest. You have tons of evergreens and then all of a sudden BAM! you'll have this bright beautiful yellow maple or red oak tree that just splashes color all over the place. It's awesome.

We stopped a few times to take pictures along the road. The kids were well behaved and Sarah and I had even more kickass sister bonding time. We really can talk about everything and anything. It made me so happy to have her here, driving along in the car next to me. We stopped off really fast a Trillium Lake and although the view left a lot to be desired (the mountain was totally covered with clouds and fog) and the weather less than appealing (steady rain), we were able to snap some quick shots and continue on our way.

In Government Camp we turned off of the main road and onto the road that leads up to Timberline. It was raining and about 45 degrees - already a ten degree drop from The Dalles. You pass three neat little waterfalls pretty much as soon as you turn off so we admired those and kept working our way up the six miles to the lodge.

After about three miles, I could have sworn I saw a snow flurry. And then another. I glanced at Sarah to see if she noticed it and saw her scanning the landscape as well. We said nothing to the kids.

But another half mile down the road there was no denying that it was SNOWING. The thermometer read 33 degrees and the most beautiful big fluffy flakes were falling from the sky and coating the trees. We grinned like idiots while the girls did their best to rupture my eardrums squealing with delight.

By the time we got to the lodge a few miles later, it was coming down fast. Talk about pretty - the girls were ecstatic and me and Sar were pretty darn tickled too. We hustled everyone into the lodge and explored for awhile, hit the gift shop, sat by the big fireplace, and then went upstairs and had salads, milk and cookies, and sodas by the big picture windows and watched the snow come down.

Then we went out to play. You can see a few pictures on picasa. Suffice it to say we were wet shivering messes by the time we got back into the car, but it was so worth it. We got to play in the snow in October! All in all, not that much fell - probably half an inch. It was just enough to make the place look like a fairy tale, and not so much that it was dangerous to get back down the mountain.

Considering we almost didn't make the drive, it was so worth it.

Yesterday we hit the falls. I'll have to write about that tomorrow. Right now I have to get munchkins into bed! Pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/freckledmama/AuntSarahDoesOregon

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Snow and sleep


Been busy busy busy with our houseguest.

Didn't do much yesterday. Vegged out.

Took Sar up to Timberline Lodge today. It was pretty awesome. Played in the snow.

More details to come.

Now it's time for some snoozes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sisters......


Wheeee it's been a fun and crazy weekend. My little sister Sarah is visiting from Chi-town and we've been going, going, going. It has been so fun to just hang out. Sisters are great. I mean, they don't care if your house is a mess or your cat is a total pain in the ass or if you're having a bad morning because your five year old can't find her soccer cleats. They just love you.

I picked Sar up yesterday at PDX with Banana and Chunk in two. She was bleary eyed but ready to start exploring so we hit Saturday Market in Portland. Today I introduced her to the hilarious world of five year old soccer, which you may know from my other blogs, is an experience much like I imagine acid to be.

It's been a good weekend, and a great visit so far. I did manage to slice open my finger with the apple slicer this morning, which resulted in an ER visit this evening but it doesn't even warrant its own blog. They just got me all cleaned up with some of that medical super glue stuff, issued strict instructions to come back immediately for stitches if it reopens, gave me a new tetnus shot (OUCH) and sent me on my way.

The kids are thrilled that thier Aunt Sarie is here. She's enjoying the mountains, and we're just enjoying her visit.

We have a busy week ahead of us. Dance class tomorrow for Kbear, and a doc appointment for Skippy - hopefully they will clear him to go back to work for the sake of everyone's sanity. Then we're going to try to pack in the waterfalls and hopefully a trip up to Timberline Lodge and some other stuff before we send Sar back to the Windy City. Everyone have a fantastic week! *loves*