Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I haven't blogged in over two weeks. Lots of stuff going on and a bit of shit hit the fan. But everyone is fine and I will update soon. Like this week.

Lots of love from the W family.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's the second Sunday in May...

( First of all, more kudos to Denise over at Photosensitive Portraits in Hood River. http://www.photosensitiveportraits.com/ )

Happy Mommy Day!

To all of you who have ever found cookie crumbs in your bed, pretzels in the couch, and a Cheerio in your bra....

To all of you who have felt the bone chilling fear when you have to call your child one too many times in the department store, only to have them pop out of a clothes rack right next to you...

To all of you who go grocery shopping for from-scratch-all-organic-locally grown groceries for dinner and then take your kids to McDonald's for lunch...

Happy Mother's Day.

To those of you who have found yourself shivering in the cold at soccer practice,

Scrambling for a pre-school snack that everyone will eat,

Or planning a spring birthday party with a frocast of snow...

Who find yourselves
Going to PTA...
Going on field trips...
Going to dance recitals....
And going crazy in general...

Happy Mother's Day.

To all of you who know the joy of a child sleeping on your chest,

Who know the torture of pregnancy heartburn, insomnia, and stretchmarks.

All of you who have accidentally kicked the dog when trying to latch on a new baby to nurse,

And all of you who have yelled "WHERE IN THE HELL IS MY DAMN EPIDURAL?"

Happy Mother's Day.

To all of you who have struggled to juggle a career and parenthood, your boss and your family,

All of you who stay home and lose the laundry battle on a daily basis,

To those of you who can't remember the last time you had a pedicure,

And all of you who don't care,

Happy Mother's Day.

Here's to all of you vomit-moppers,

You butt-wipers,

And you magical owie kissers,

Enjoy your day today.

To my girlfriends who wrestle children of their own, having you in my life makes me a better Mom; you sympathize with my trials, celebrate my victories, and help me on this path that I love struggling on down. I am thankful for each and every one of you for making me feel normal. Most of the time.

And to the most important Moms in our lives...

Happy Mother's Day to Dixie. There will *always* be potato soup for you when you come to visit! You may be my mother-in-law but more importantly, you are my friend.

And to my own Mama...I don't know how I got so lucky. Even now you teach me so much. You are my personal heroine. My confidant, and my best friend.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Writing out my blogs of Mom's visit has been an exercise in writing the longest blogs EVER. Oh my GAWD.

We're going to make this short and sweet. Saturday the Cherry Fest rocked. Sunday we all slept in a little bit more than usual and then we picked up Mom and Jack, plus their luggage and the eight thousand six hundred, and fifty four tshirts and other assorted souvenirs that they bought while they were out here, and we headed to Portland with the whole kit n' caboodle.

Per Jack's request, we went in search of Otto's Sausage Kitchen - they make and sell one of the top ten hot dogs in the country. Their t-shirts say so. I know because my Mom bought tshirts for Jack and Skippy and myself. Good stuff.

Then we went to OMSI. We have a family membership so it was well worth a couple of hours just hanging out. Mom treated us all to a laser show in the planetarium (by that I mean she paid for tickets, not that she actually controlled the lasers) and that was a lot of fun. It was set to music and really pretty dang neat. Banana danced, Kbear stared, and the Chunk fell asleep.

After OMSI we made a quick stop at POWELL'S BOOKS - it deserves all caps. Trust me. And finally, we went to dinner and made our way to Mom and Jack's hotel where we said good-bye. I only cried a little bit. It really wasn't too bad this time because we were already making plans to be in Chicago this summer. So we gave hugs all around and finally, after six days of jam packed family fun, we headed home.

Love you guys and miss you already! It was a blast!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ok, this is it: Mom's visit, part four: The Weekend

I'm going to finish this if it kills me. Sitting here and writing it all out has made me realize how much we squeezed into six very short days. Holy cow man.

So Friday brought us Show and Tell, lunch at Google, and fun and awesome pictures of the kids in Hood River. I think we wrapped things up pretty early that night because we knew that Saturday would be busy - it was Cherry Fest Day.

The Cherry Festival is honestly a heck of a lot of fun. Busy and crowded and chaotic and fun. This year Skippy was even able to join us for the parade and we sat with some other Goog friends so that was a blast.

The parade is looooong. There's floats for every business in town, rodeo queens, one group of drag queens (no, seriously), churches and organizations and politicians and you name it - it takes about two hours. And before it starts, there is a motorcycle rally type ride where all of the bikers donate a stuffed animal to local hospitals and children's organizations and then ride the parade route - this year there was almost 2000 bikes! Talk about noise! Pretty dang cool though.

Mom and Jack seemed to enjoy the parade - mostly I think they enjoyed watching it with the kids. Even the Chunk was into it - the girls had more fun waving at everyone and scavenging for the thrown candy in search of tootsie rolls for daddy, but it was still a blast.

After the parade we decided to attack the street fair. There's food and crafts and kids' stuff - you name it, it's down there. Skippy had to work the Google booth later in the afternoon, so we just hit a few things before we decided to head up the hill for a break and a nap before coming back down. First we made a mad dash to find Chunk a bike helmet - the hospital gives them out for free every year but they go fast. We did find one - it's pink, but it fits his little Chunker noggin so now I'm hoping to get his bike seat mounted on my bike so we can start cruising around town.

Then each of the girls got to do one thing. So while Skippy and Banana waited in line, I took K to shoot the fire hose. Is she cute or what?

When she was done and happy, (which took all of five minutes, my Kbear is easy to please) we went in search of Banana and Daddy over at the rock climbing wall.

Yup. *sigh* The rock climbing wall.

Here she is getting ready to go

Fearless little monkey isn't she?

Once Banana's feet were safely back on the ground (where I myself prefer them to be) we left Mom and Jack (who I think were in need of a break) and trekked up the hill and homeward for short naps and a break from the sun.

Around three, we hit the fair hard again. Skippy was hard at work signing people up for gmail and picasa, showing them google maps (god I love me some google maps) and generally being at one with his geek-ness. Mom and Jack and the kids and I strolled the fair for a little while longer and along the way, Mom talked me into letting the girls get their faces painted. I had been avoiding the booth because well....it's expensive as hell for a bit of paint.

But come on, it was Nana's treat and you can't tell me that THIS wasn't worth it. (that was taken later at the carnival, but I'm getting to that.)

After all that, we were honestly pretty street faired out. It was time to say good-bye to Cherry Fest and go in search of some dinner. Unfortunately Skippy was still up to his elbows in old people who wanted to know about that "new fangled Google thing" so he couldn't get away quite as quickly as we would have liked. So instead we went for a drive. I was in search of Rowena Crest Viewpoint - I had tried to find it earlier in the week without success but thanks to a phone call to my friend AmyM, this time we got lucky. Rowena Crest is pretty cool - it's just a few miles out of town and you can see all of our little city, along with a gorgeous view of the Gorge and the river. It was sunny and beautiful and well worth the fifteen minute trip up. I even got this cool picture of an old barn.

FINALLY, Skippy was done playing Google-instructor and we all went out for pizza. We were hot and sweaty and slightly sunburned. And tired. And just plain old tuckered out. So what did we do?

We went to the carnival of course!

The carnival was a hoot. And expensive hoot (rides are three bucks a piece now, what is up with THAT?) but still a hoot. We did come to the realization that Banana is pretty much officially too big for the kid rides now - as soon as we arrived she started squealing "THE TORNADO! DADDY! I WANT TO RIDE THE TORNADO!" and she wasn't having anything to do with the "baby rides" after that. Kbear and I rode some insane tilt-a-whirl like ride that seriously made me question my parenting skills - her little body was slipping all over the dang seat and I was seriously afraid she was going to go flying right now, despite her screams of pure joy and the fact that she was yelling "MAMA! I'm not scared see??? I'm LAUGHING! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

I on the other hand, was scared shitless. Watching them on the merry go round was a welcome respite after that adventure. I took so many cute pictures at the carnival, and props to Jack for attempting to get pictures of us on the rides - I know it's not easy! But finally we were out of tickets and now we were even more tired, hot, sweaty and plumb tuckered out than before so we said our good-nights and dropped Mom and Jack off and did baths and bedtime stories all around. It was a good Cherry Fest. And it was hard to believe that the next day it would be time to say goodbye!

(I'll finish tonight. If I have to stay up and chug a Red Bull, I'll finish tonight!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mom's visit, part four: Show and Tell

Ok, first things first - see that adorable picture of my girls? The one that looks like a freakin' oil painting? That was taken during the Friday afternoon of my Mom's visit by this wonderful and amazingly energetic woman out in Hood River who was using the girls as photography models in exchange for free pictures. And since I'll always take free pictures of my kids, you can imagine how I was on cloud nine when I saw THAT! Please ignore the watermark - it's a proof. I'm sure that once I have my own copies I'll be showing them off every chance I get. So let me give a quick shoutout to Denise at Photosensitive Portraits - you rock girl!

I'm going a little bit out of order with my Friday recap. Let's see....we did the picture thing after we had lunch at The Goog. It was noisy and hectic just like it always is, but it was also prime rib day so naturally there was a crowd. Mom and Jack got to meet some more of our friends, we threw Oregon Google tshirts at them, and they got to go onto Google's campus, which roughly 99% of this town hasn't had a chance to do. So that was fun.

But before lunch, and before pictures, we had already concluded yet another adventure in our wild and crazy visit.....

After rolling into town just in time to toss tired munchkins into bed on Thursday night, I woke up bright an early at seven on Friday morning to get the Banana off to school after three days of playing hooky to hang with Nana. Before you yell at me, the kid has literally missed two other days besides these, when she had the flu. And Nana doesn't come into town every day ya know.

So anyway, I rolled Banana out of bed and shuffled her up to school. After all, I had a lot to do in the next hour - we had to be back up to the classroom in time for Banana to show and tell her choice for the week - NANA!

I picked Mom up and I could tell she was feeling nervous. We stopped at Walgreens and bought bubbles - because I mean really, what kid doesn't like bubbles? And I think she thought that would keep them from booing and hissing. As if they would have, but Mom was definitley nervous.

So with Kbear in tow to watch the performance, we hustled back up to school just in time for Ms. G to give Banana the green light - Nana was center stage.

Here's a rundown of Bree's two minute speech:

This is my Nana

She lives in Chicago (see how Mom demonstrates? Rock on with your bad self, Vanna White)

These are some pictures of me with Nana. No, you can't have bubbles yet, look at my pictures dang it. See Nana? NO! There's NO BUBBLES YET!

And finally.....

Say CHI - CAH - GO!!!!!

Mom's visit, part three: The Lighthouse

And no Seth, more of part two was just that - MORE OF PART TWO. This is part three. So there. Brat.

God I really need to wrap this up. We've been insanely busy lately but I won't even get into all of my assorted errands and fixer-up projects and the fact that every muscle in my body hurts today from bending over in the flowerbed all weekend. Remember those wooden cutouts people used to put in their yards of the little lady in the red polka dot dress with her ass sticking out for all the world to see? That was me. All weekend. Except I don't have a red polka dot dress. But anyway....

Thursday of Mom's visit was our last day at the coast. And thankfully it dawned with sunny skies and puffy clouds - at least for the time being, the rain was gone. We jumped at the opportunity to do some outside stuff and after running around all morning getting the rental house put back together (that's the only drawback to renting a house instead of doing the hotel thing - there's no maid service), we dropped in over at the Pig N' Pancake (an Oregon Coast original) for breakfast and then jumped onto South 101 heading back towards Newport.

The sunny skies held - it was breezy and cool - just right for a little hike up to Yaquina Head Lighthouse. After a quick potty stop in the visitor's station, we were ready to go!

Talk about pretty! The gorgeous weather was staying with us and a the hike to the lighthouse was just the right length, just the right grade, and perfect all around for big people and little people alike. We paused to admire the views, watched about a ZILLION birds take off from a huge rock formation, and then finally we ooooooohed and ahhhhhhed when Yaquina Lighthouse finally came into view around the bend.

Now unfortunately for Kbear, you have to be 40 inches tall in order to go up the lighthouse steps. And she was just shy of the required height. So Skippy (who wrecked his knees years ago playing baseball) volunteered to stay grounded with the Chunker's stroller and a slightly put-out K while Banana, myself, Mom and Jack made the spiralling hike up to the top.

The ascent was a little rough, I'll admit it. But the view was worth it. Banana was fascinated by the "lighthouse keeper" at the top spouting out facts and answering questions and it really WAS pretty neat to poke your head up by the big lamp and survey the view. I don't know how the Lighthouse keepers of old did it - going up and down those stairs several times a day, hauling who knows how many buckets of lamp oil with them all in the name of ocean safety. They must have had thighs of steel and great buns!

We slowly made our way down, took eight million more pictures, checked out the view from the ground level observation deck, and began the hike back to the van. And on the way, Skippy made a discovery.

Sometimes I forget that Skippy spent the majority of his childhood here in Oregon. For as long as I can remember, he has been telling me about this beach that he loved when he was little - he called it "whispering rocks" beach because instead of being covered in sand, it was made up of round black cobblestones, worn completely smooth by the ocean tides. When the tide is high and going out, it sounds like it "whispers" as the water rushes through the stones. As time has gone by, he has long since forgotten the true name of the beach, and even forgotten where it is. It's become a little bit of a personal quest to rediscover it.

Well as it turns out, the beach is actually called "cobble beach" and it is a protected nature area that is part of Yaquina's surrounding parks. As we were hiking down the hill and Skippy realized that he had found his treasured childhood location, we all backtracked and worked our way down the steps to check it out.

Now let me tell you. It was pretty damn neat. There are literally thousands of smooth black rocks, warmed by the sun and silky to the touch, just piled up on top of one another, some as big as tennis balls and others just pebbles. It's really beautiful in its own way.

The trick is walking on them. It's kind of like trying to go up the down esclator while wearing roller skates with an elephant strapped on your back. The Chunk and I (no dummies) opted to plop our tushes on the rocks - where he happily sat and banged two of them together - and watched the rest of our gang slip, skid, and otherwise work their way down to the water and the tidepools. There were a few spills but otherwise we all emerged from Cobble beach in one piece, Skippy feeling elated that he finally rediscovered one of his favorite spots and was able to share it with the kids.

At this point, we were tired. And hungry. And (dare I say it?) ready to say goodbye to the Oregon coast in favor of the Coumbia Gorge, and home. After a leisurely lunch at Mo's (home of the best clam chowder) and a quick walk on Taft beach (another special place for the W family for a multitude of reasons) we finally brushed the sand off our bottoms, organized our car snacks, took everyone to go pee, and finally hit the road for home.

And I promise, REALLY promise, to wrap this up later today! Life has been crazy lately!

Friday, May 2, 2008

More part two, more of the coast....

Wednesday morning dawned with.....well you guessed it.....more rain. Despite Mom and Jack's scoldings that I needed to stop worrying about the weather, you could tell that everyone kind of thought it sucked. I mean, rain is part of the Oregon coast. You totally expect some rain. You don't expect a dousing downpour that lasts all day and doesn't even let up long enough to let you go beach combing. That sucks no matter how you spin it.

However we persevered. After a yummy breakfast of Mom's scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit, we headed for the Coast's shopping mecca - one of the largest outlet malls in the state. And remember folks, there's no sales tax in Oregon. Sweet. So we shopped till we dropped, had ice cream (seeing a theme yet?), mom bought the girls adorable rain coats, and we generally had a good time and even managed to say fairly dry. Then we scrunched back in the van and headed South on 101 to Newport - the Oregon Coast Aquarium was next on our agenda.

The coast aquarium is really neat. It has both indoor and outdoor exhibits and focuses mostly on sea life from around the Pacific Northwest. The bummer is that it's hard to visit the outdoor exhibits when it's pouring down rain. Which of course, it was. It did let up briefly during the seal feeding so that was nice but otherwise we spent the next few hours feeling perpetually damp and running in and out of the building trying to see everything. The kids thought it was rockin' and they didn't even seem to notice the weather, so honestly in my eyes that made it all worth it. I even managed not to shudder when the girls played with the crabs and who knows what else in the touch tank - and AGAIN, if you missed it the first time around, the one and ONLY time you ever want to hear anyone say that they have crabs is at the aquarium touch tank. Rules to live by.

After the aquarium we were honestly pretty tuckered out so we went back to our glorious little beach house and Skippy made spaghetti. The girls watched The Wizard of Oz (and giggled through my Mom's awesome dance renditions), the sofa bed tried to eat us, and everyone generally had a great evening.

Tomorrow I'll tell ya all about Thursday and our kick ass trip to THE LIGHTHOUSE. Brace yourselves folks, it just gets more and more exciting.

Mom's visit, part two: The Coast

The sun was peeking out when we left Portland, but as we headed along on our merry way Westward, the clouds started to pile up and the rain started coming down.

Mom and Jack were being really good sports about the weather, but let's face it - if you're going to the Coast, you'd much rather than sun than rain. SOME rain is expected, but not the steady shower we experienced through much of the afternoon. At least we had a stop in Tillamook planned - cheese factories are of course housed indoors and I think we were all hoping that maybe the rain would let up while we went to *BEHOLD THE POWER OF CHEESE* (Remember that commercial?)

Tillamook is pretty cool. When we went there with Jacquie, it was a weekend and the production line was shut down. But on a Tuesday the place was a hive of activity. The girls were absolutely fascinated. Hell, *I* was pretty fascinated too - it was fun to watch them slice through one hundred pound blocks of Tillamook yumminess and then watch the baby blocks go through the wrapping machine. And then of course, there's the store downstairs. Mom practically went grocery shopping. We got cheese curds and yogurt and crackers and spreads and bricks of sixteen different kinds of cheese. We could have built our own factory-direct cow. And after THAT, it was time for ice cream.

Finally, we were Tillamook'd out. I have no idea how long we were there - time inside the cheese factory runs on it's own accord, kind of like Willy Wonka's place. But eventually we made our way out the door, over-laden with cheese and tshirts and ice-cream-covered-kids, and we continued on our way to Lincoln City.

Oh. And it was still raining. Damn it all.

It took about another hour and a half to reach Lincoln City. We caught beautiful glimpses of the coastline through the downpour and played the ABC game with the girls while the baby took a sugar-crash-induced nap. I was a little nervous about what would await us in Lincoln City; it was the first time we were trying the beach house route instead of the hotel route and I didn't really know what to expect. I mean, the lady I worked with was super nice and the pictures of the place were darling but then again, there was "the Kentucky vacation" of my childhood.

Did I ever tell you about the Kentucky vacation? NO???? Let's just say that a glossy brochure doesn't ever mean squat. Mom and Dad rented a "quaint cabin in a forest setting with all the amenities of a resort" somewhere off of Kentucky Lake. We were all set to go on yet another Connolly family fishing and Yahtzee playing extravaganza. Little did we know that after driving ten hours, the "resort amenities" would be a scummy green pool breeding the state's mosquitos, a handful of vending machines, and the assistance of a staff that had fewer teeth than the Chunk. The "cabin" was made out of cinder blocks and seemed more inclined to host wasps than people. Actually, it all looked an awful lot like this

My Dad took one look around, told us to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING, and disappeared for a few hours, mercifully finding us a fantastic little house right on the lake, but holy hell what an adventure.

So yeah. I'm kind of jaded about rental houses. Or maybe it's scarred. Anyway, I was nervous.

Turns out my worries were for naught. Because "The Sunbeam" in Lincoln City turned out to be a little ceder sided piece of adorable heaven. For a hundred bucks a night we had a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and a loft for the kids to sleep in. There was TV and movies and games and it was really just perfect, and only a few blocks from the beach.

We went grocery shopping and bought way too much food while our faithful driver and navigator Skippy and Jack took much needed snoozes and when we got back, we said screw it all, made the kids dinner, and ordered Chinese.

And we listened to the rain. Which was STILL falling.

Got to run!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mom's visit, part one

Last Tuesday the alarm went off bright and early at seven a.m. just like does every other weekday. I blearily leaned over to smack the snooze button mercilessly to catch seven more blissful minutes of snooze time and then suddenly BOLTED out of bed, grabbing my robe on my way to the shower.

This wasn't a normal Tuesday. I wasn't about to start the school runs. It was the Tuesday we had to GO GET MY MOM! And Jack too. Poor Jack - in my excitement over seeing Mom I kind of forget to give him props. But he dealt with my insane kids for six days so I give him major credit too.

So let me revise: It was the day we had to GO GET MY MOM AND JACK!

Immediately I launched into major-mommy-wife-shrew mode, kicking butts out of bed willy-nilly and tossing clothes at everyone. Then I loaded the van for a few days at the coast while Skippy did some dishes. We're not real big on traditional roles around here - SKIPPY did dishes and *I* loaded the van.

But anyway....

Mom and Jack had gotten in way way waaaaaay late the night before so we finally headed out the door for Portland around nine, with duffel bags and snacks shoved into every nook and cranny I could find to allow room in the back for luggage. I briefly considered bungee cording Kbear under the seat but realized that one of her legs would poke out so we made do with what we could and hit the road.

Around 9:15 the phone calls started. Mom asking where we were. Mom asking when we'd get there. Mom making sure we were okay. Mom asking how much longer. We had to get gas. And I needed coffee. And Mom called fourteen more times. But finally - FINALLY - we pulled up to their hotel.

"Should I call their room?" I asked Skippy. He snorted.

"Are you kidding me? They will be in the lobby." Mr Condescending replied as he parked.

"Noooo honey, I bet I should call their r--"

And there they were, Mom practically sprinting across the parking lot and the kids pretty much spilling out of the van in a bundle of excited squealing hugs. I hate when Skippy is right. But at least Mom (and Jack) were here. We were ready to begin our adventure....I mean, our visit.

I have to pause here and once again give props to my van. My little bargain of a used minivan has held up remarkably well under the assault of the W family. Once we got all the luggage in, we stuffed people into every available seat and we were off. Keep in mind that even though my van technically seats seven, they never promised you'd be comfortable. But we were together, and we were on our way down to the road and heading to the coast.

But first things first. We needed to stop for lunch. If you're ever on Highway 26 heading to or from the coast, may I recommend you stop at Camp 18 - good food and really neat atmosphere. An hour later, we were stuffed full and contorted our way back into the van. Tillamook loomed ahead and within it, the holy grail of cheese.

More to come!