Friday, October 16, 2009

On hiatus....

Amy's blog is officially on hiatus for a few more weeks while life is messy and hectic. Never fear, all eight of you will have plenty to read soon - I plan to get back at it by the end of the month!

All is well in W World, just very very busy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My life is one long blog entry

At least, that's what my girlfriend Charlotte just told me one the phone. *sigh* I blew it, huh? My great summer photography project went straight into the crapper. I don't know how those Project 365 people do it - that's far too much commitment for me. I think that I'm just bound to commit on a smaller scale - like to library books and pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

But such is life....

I'll be back later tonight to share some happy news, some sad news, and start my summer recap. The school bus pulls out in approximately 92 hours.

I am so ready.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day ?

Today's blog entry is titled "The Worst Day of My Life."

At least that's what the Chunk will tell people twenty years from now while he recounts this story over a foamy beer, striving to hold back the tears while the recounts the tale of losing his first love.

His first love of course, being Puppy.

Puppy came into our lives shortly after the Chunk did. My sister Sarah had started an adorable tradition when Banana was born, and has gifted each of my children a stuffed dog as a "welcome to the world" present upon their official entry to this big bad world. These fake furry friends have been with us to absorb tears, to help heal boo boos, and to get dressed up in all manner of new fashions, from doll bonnets to kleenex dresses. And so it was with joy that the aptly named "Puppy" (Banana's) and "Puppy" (Kbear's) gleefully enjoyed the introduction of the third member of their fiber filled family, "Puppy" (Chunk's).

Of my three children, Chunk has been the most attached to his puppy by far. Being dragged along by an ear at Chunk's side (or sometimes by a paw) he has accompanied us through weaning, walking, hospitalization, and surgery. He gets tucked in side-by-side with his master every night, and gets hauled to the grocery store by day.

We have never once lost a Puppy.

Until today.

Today we drove into Portland for the arrival of the first of many summer visitors. The well-loved Miss Toni is gracing us with her presence for a few nights before attending a wedding several hours South of the Gorge. Miss Toni was our steadfast babysitter way back in the day, faithfully caring for my girls at all hours during our time in Sycamore, Illinois. She helped take care of my girls beginning when Kbear was a tiny baby. She was there to help when my Dad died...when we miscarried...when I had surgery...and when I simply needed an hour to myself at the grocery store. And in the meantime, we enjoyed watching her work her way through college at NIU. When we said good-bye to Miss Toni, many tears were shed. We have missed her tremendously and I have yet to find a sitter that can take her place.

And so naturally we wanted to show her a good time on her short visit to our sunny piece of Oregon. Once she was safely on the ground and buckled into the minivan with many hugs and squeals of excitement, we travelled towards an Oregon showpiece - The Historic Columbia Highway and it's star attraction, Multnomah Falls.

Toni was appropriately awed by the beauty of one of our favorite spots. And while we made our way to the big mama, we hiked, took pictures, and absorbed the scenery. It was a cool and sunny day. My children were happy to have an old friend back, and I was enjoying a good cardio work out while pushing Chunk's umbrella stroller up and down the paved paths. Finally, slowly but surely, Multnomah Falls came into view around bend.

If you've never seen them, rest assured that the falls are absolutely spectacular. The upper falls are approximately 540 feet high and spill into the lower falls, which measure in at an impressive 69 feet. (You can see more details about the falls themselves here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_Falls) And in between the two tiers is Benson Bridge, a showstopper if you've ever seen one. It's an easy .2 mile paved hike to the bridge, and the view can't be missed. So naturally, we made the trek.

And that is when disaster struck.

There we were, jostling for space on the crowded concrete bridge...the girls are pointing and laughing and waving to the people 550 feet below. Toni is trying to capture the beauty of the falls with her camera. And I'm standing with both hands on Chunk's stroller, white knuckled in my determination to make sure that my only son doesn't somehow go tumbling down the ravine and into sure disaster. I like the bridge, but it makes me nervous to have my kids on it. I even set the stroller's brakes, pressing my foot down firmly to ensure that my smallest munchkin isn't going anywhere unheeded. And before I go any further, needless to say that despite the disaster that we encountered, of course I am first and foremost thankful that no one has ever gotten hurt during any of our many trips to the Falls.

The Chunk of course, was fine.

But Puppy...Puppy somehow took an impromptu flying lesson.

That damn stuffed dog sailed perfectly through the slats in the bridge - and landed ten feet below in a sudden-death-like-drop of grass alongside one of the tallest waterfalls in the country.

My heart just about stopped when my sweet baby boy started to wail. It all happened in a blink, and yet I couldn't believe I had actually seen it. I mean, those things happen to other people, they don't happen to US. Surely that couldn't be MY baby boy's beloved Puppy friend snagged in the ferns below....but it was. I swiftly brought Toni up to date on our tragedy. She quickly herded the girls towards the trail and we headed back down in search of someone who might be able to help. And that's when it got rough.

"PUPPY!" Chunk cried in dismay, "PUUUUUU-PPPPYYYYYY"

Right then and there, my heart broke. The farther we walked from the bridge, the louder and more forlorn my sweet baby boy got. I bit my lip to keep from bursting into tears, swallowed my pride, and walked my tear streaked child's stroller to the information desk to see if anyone could help.

And Lord knows that they tried. The ranger was surprisingly unperturbed by the situation. Apparently it's not all that uncommon for them to try to retrieve camera cases, expensive sunglasses, and who knows what from the falls. They even have these neat grabber tools to help facilitate the job. However, they are rarely successful. Multnomah is a massive force of nature, and she doesn't eagerly give back her treasures.

For one brief second, while he held everyone captivated, Ranger Sam managed to snag puppy by one paw...only to lose him again - this time further down the steep ravine.

And so, defeated and dejected, I left my information at the front desk. Our ranger is going to try again tomorrow if Puppy happens to still be there but I have to admit, I'm far from hopeful. I think that Chunk's first furry friend is lost for good.

In our one stroke of luck for the day, Toni just happened to bring Chunk a stuffed Huskie dog in honor of our time at NIU. It's not the same. It's nowhere close and we all know it. But for now, it seems to suffice. Chunk is sleeping securely in his bed with his arm wrapped around this new friend.

And Lord knows, we won't be taking "Doggie" to visit the falls any time soon.


Pictures and updated blog entries coming soon - we've been on the run for two weeks straight and I haven't had time to write like I normally would. But call it a mother's guilt - I had to get this one off my chest tonight.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 10

And so the second Friday of our summer vacation has arrived. I had plans. We were going to attend the preschool story time and then stay at the library while Banana participated in Summer Reading before we walked over to the park for a picnic lunch.

I had plans.....but so did Chunk.

He woke me up bright and early with tears, a poopie diaper, and a tantrum to rival the current pop diva of your choice.

Needless to say, Chunk and I stayed home. And Kbear went to the library with Laura and her three boys. Normally, Banana would have tagged along with them but her social calendar was already full for the day. She spent her morning busily making fresh strawberry jam with her Grammy and when I went to pick her up, she was oh so proud!

Summer, Day Ten

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Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Surivival Blog, Day 9

What in the hell were we thinking?

That's the only thing running through my head tonight as I sit here and contemplate my day.

What in the hell were we thinking?

I'm exhausted. This morning my parenting soul mate Laura called around 9:00. I was wearing pajamas and making Kashi GoLean waffles. For the record, Kashi GoLean waffles taste kind of like an old dish sponge. But in a good way.

So Laura asks if we would mind giving her a ride either to or from an appointment that she has downtown at 10:30. And while I measured out 1/8th of a cup of syrup for my sponge waffles, I indulged a split second memory of our days with three kids and one car. I remember how much they sucked. And Laura is good to me. And there is an excellent chance that someday we will be mother-in-laws together. So it was really a no-brainer. Of course we would give them a ride.

An hour later, freshly showered and with a belly full of fiber-enhanced Kashi sponge waffles, I herded the kids out to van and we picked up Laura and her brood. On the way downtown, I suggested that instead of leaving them downtown to walk home, I could take all of the kids to the park to play while she had her appointment.

Laura does home daycare. She knows kids. She knows LOUD. And most days she has the patience of a saint. She cocked an eyebrow at me and I could see her imagining me tied to the teeter-totter while the kids made Chunk do a 360 on the swings. But the thought of attending an appointment WITHOUT her children was just too tempting, and I think she figured I'd just have to take my chances. And with that, we dropped her off and went down the street to the park.

And it was just fine.

No really.

No punch line.

The kids were awesome. I read my book and they had a blast. When Laura turned up we were so enchanted with our well behaved children that we completely lost our collective minds - we decided to take them to the thrift store.

One hour and seven dollars later, we decided to take them out for Chinese.

At this point, I'm not sure we're allowed back into either establishment any time soon, but it was fun.

And after THAT, just because we were feeling really wild and crazy, we meandered across the river and visited an animal sanctuary over on the Washington side of the dam. Until today, I honestly had no idea that there were zebras and giraffes living less than 10 minutes from my house. Pretty cool really.

Looking back on it now, snug at home and back in my pajamas with three kids snoring in their beds, we were absolutely nuts. But in that sweaty-overtired-mom-I-want-a-snack-I-have-to-go-potty-are-we-there-yet-god-I-need-a-coffee-or-a-shot-of vodka kind of way, it was a blast.

Here's the kiddos among the carnage following our lunch at Canton Wok!
Summer, Day Nine

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Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 8

While relaxing with the Chunk in our fancy lawn chairs-in-a-bag tonight, Skippy posted a new Facebook status message that read "Skippy is watching the girls play softba, yes, softba. It's not quite softball yet, but it's getting there." I thought it was cute and funny. But the bottom line is that it was also oh so true.

After surviving two seasons of fall soccer, this is our first attempt at girl's softball. Without a five week Chicago vacation to take over our summer, we needed to fill some time in a hurry. And it has been an absolutely hilarious whirlwind. Not to mention that just like in soccer, the level of improvement we have seen in just a few weeks is nothing short of amazing.

Our girls are playing on the same team. This makes my life much easier concerning practices, games, and snacks. They play with six other little girls that range in age from five to eight, and it shows. The bigger girls are GOOD. And our little rookies...they do their best.

Here are the basic rules to entry level girls' softball in our town:
While batting:
1. Everyone bats every inning.
2. You cannot be struck out. The coach gives you four pitches, and then you get the tee.
3. You should not be upset if you have to use the tee. You most definitely should not yell "Aw DAMN IT!" when they set it up like Kbear did during a practice.
4. No matter how hard or how far you hit the ball, you stop at first base. There are no doubles or triples. You hit a home run, you stop at first. That's the way it goes.
5. If the base woman is standing on the baseline, run her down. She should know better!
6. The last hitter is the "home run hitter" and that is the only time you advance more than one base - as long as the ball gets smacked in some fashion against the home run hitter's bat, all base runners go all the way around to home. Then it's the other team's turn to bat through their order.
7. You should not lap the runner in front of you.

While fielding:
1. You should pay attention. Otherwise you may take a ball to the face. Just ask both our girls.
2. You should not pick your nose.
3. You should refrain from making dandelion chains or turning somersaults.
4. You should wear your mitt. You should NOT chew on your mitt.
5. If the ball is hit to you, you should pick it up. Then you should probably throw it.
6. If for some reason you DO pick your nose, please do not attempt to snack on it while playing second base.
7. If you are standing on the baseline, prepare to be trampled. You should know better.

And in general:
1. There is no score keeping.
2. Have fun.
3. It's fun to have Dairy Queen as a sponsor because it gives you an excuse to go for ice cream.

Banana and Kbear usually follow the rules, but it's a game-by-game process although I will admit that they have gotten pretty darn good as the season has progressed. Both girls are hitting the ball regularly, and even if they don't have the hang of fielding yet, at least they aren't out there eating boogers.

And because it would be horribly unfair to post only one picture of my little all stars, here's one of each:

Summer, Day Eight

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Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Suvival Blog, Day 7

Of loaves and fish kites.....

Today's picture shows of Banana's artistic skills. Our local library is offering free art classes every Tuesday afternoon for school aged kids ALL SUMMER LONG. Unfortunately for me, the other two are still too young to participate. However, it gives Banana something to do that is hers and hers alone, plus it gets her invovled with the library. Best of all, it's free! So every Tuesday from now until the end of August, Miss B will have something new and lovely to show off. She was a little apprehensive at the start of the first class - especially after she found out I wouldn't be staying. But at the end of the hour, she had this fabulous fish kite to show off!

Now we cue the prayers of thankfulness for our local library, hallowed be its name.


Summer, Day Seven

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Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Days 4 through 6


This daily blogging/picture posting thing is hard. And honestly, our summer has been busy but it hasn't been completely and overwhelmingly exciting. Sometimes we just hang out. And as cute as my kids are, you all don't want pictures of them zoning on the couch watching "Hotel for Dogs" in their pajamas. Plus, then you'd see the Fruit Loops strewn around on my floor.

I'm kidding.....or am I?



Suffice it to say that our summer is moving along swimmingly. We have been trying to stay
busy. I have found that if I don't make some sort of plan for each and every day, we are all climbing the walls by about two in the afternoon and I'm ready to trade my kids in to the nearest band of gypsies. I have been trying to take lots of pictures, but sometimes in between remembering all three children, I forget to grab the camera.










The big news is that our local pool is open for the season. We've already been up there a handful of times and Chunk has been loving the wading pool. I have taken a ton of great pictures down there already, so here's some highlights!











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Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult


Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 3

Summer brings lots of different things. It brings sprinklers and pool floaties and an unlimited supply of otter pops stocked in the freezer. It also brings Summer Reading at our local library. Banana is old enough to participate for the first time, and today marked our first day.

I just happened to snap this shot of my younger two heathens while Banana was inside learning all about the fabulous rewards she will reap once she reads for 1000 minutes this summer. Just outside of our library is a HUGE (I mean massively ginormous) tree trunk. Being the fearless little monkeys that they are, K and Chunk had a blast climbing onto it and giving me two big smiles.

Happy summer, Happy reading!


Summer, Day Three

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Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 2

With the warmer weather, comes the compulsion to garden. Even in our age of email, laser surgery, and microwaved gas station burritos, there is a primal need in us to harvest and gather like that which drove our earliest ancestors. The desire to reap what you sow. And in my case, it's simply the inclination to stick a few plants in the ground to see if I can nurture them enough to keep them from whithering away.

I am not a gardener. I desperately WANT to be a gardener, but I seem to have a really difficult time keeping green things alive. I think it has something to do with giving them water. As in, that you NEED to give them water. And over the years, through some trial and error, I've started to get the hang of the most basic gardening principles. So it's a matter of pride that I've actually managed to construct a gorgeous flower bed in my front yard this year. When we moved in it was a horrendously messy tangle of weeds, grass, and overgrown shrubs. Once I pulled out a waist-high bush only to realize that once upon a time, it had been an oregano plant. I completely tore the entire area apart and started from scratch. And if I do say so myself, it looks beautiful. I am so freakin' proud of it.

High on the success of my flowerbed, I moved on to rehabbing the corner of our yard. I so full of myself after my flowerbed triumph that I decided to bypass the novice marigolds for this overly sunny spot and I dove headfirst into the challenge of maintaining a rose bush.

My tiny rosebush beckoned to me one afternoon while I was at Bi-Mart. I was picking up mulch and vegetable seedlings. Mulch and vegetable seedlings are things that sensible people buy when they realize that they are not gardening material. Vegetable seedlings are cheap, so if (when?) they die, you can just bury the cracker-dry evidence in your garbage can, buy another ten seedlings, and pretend it never happened.......not that I would know. And mulch has the advantage of not being alive. Bonus.

So there I was with my red pepper plants, perky tomato starters, and cucumber babies. And something about that little rose bush by the register called my name. "You can dooooo this" it beckoned me. "Take me hooooome" it implored. And being the tenderhearted wannabe gardener that I am, I gave in. Besides, I figured that it couldn't be any harder to hide a cracker-dry rose bush in the garbage than it is to hide a few kindling-like tomatoes......again, not that I would know.

So just like that, I had a rose bush.

I get that for some people, this isn't a big deal. It shouldn't even be a big deal for ME - after all, I have managed to keep three kids, three cats, two dogs, and a husband alive. But as my girlfriend Charlotte points out, those are all things that squawk if not fed and watered regularly. Plants just look more and more sad while they droop away, glaring at you balefully. So keeping a rose bush alive will be a challenge unlike any other I've taken on in my short career as a green thumb. And in an effort to make myself more accountable, I'm showing all of you my tiny fledgling rosebush, as it appears on our second day of summer break. In about two months, I'll take another picture of it so that we can compare.

Hopefully, it will still be there.

Summer, Day Two


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Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jody Picoult



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 1

I officially have a second grader.

Now that is some scary stuff my friends. Banana finished out her school year with flying colors. We continue to be thrilled with our choice to send her to the charter school fifteen miles down the road - along with being one of the best schools in the state, they also recently won an award for fostering healthy eating and good nutrition. We also enjoyed the spring performance, complete with healthy renditions of "High Hopes" and "Hey Good Lookin'" among others. There is nothing like 142 elementary school kids singing their hearts out...at the top of their lungs.

Banana had a fabulous last day of school. Along with the fact that the entire summer loomed ahead of her, she was also celebrating her seventh birthday. My big girl is SEVEN. It's hard to believe. And when your birthday is on the last day of school, what do you do? You buy Popsicles for the whole dang school of course! And then they all sing happy birthday to you in between the end of the year assembly and the games on the playground! And I've got to say, I didn't know that 180 Popsicles could disappear so quickly! That brings me to today's picture:

Summer, Day One

Other cool last-day-of-school-birthday-celebration-extravaganza-events included the school family BBQ, feeding the baby cows that someone brought by, and riding the horses that another family trucked over.

You've got to love raising your kids in Oregon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Currently Reading: By the Light of the Moon, Dean Koontz

And so it begins....

It's official. My kids are on Summer break. From now until early September, we're all stuck with each other without the respite of preschool or Banana's eight hour school day. There's no more running to the bus at 6:08 a.m. No more homework. No more remembering to send in a check for lunch money. No more preschool tuition. No more snack helper.

It's just us.

I am determined to make it a good summer. Like everyone else, we are watching our pennies and riding out the economy so we're going to get creative. We have lots of plans, including the park, the pool, the river, and a big dose of old fashioned Oregon exploration. We're going to take a few road trips. We've got some company coming. We're going to BBQ and make s'mores and have fun. We want to take the dogs to the beach. We want to visit the zoo. We're going to try not to melt when the Oregon heat hits 110 in the Gorge and we're going to hang out with friends.

I will try not to kill my kids. Hopefully we won't be climbing the walls by the fourth of July.

The key to this summer's success is SCHEDULING. I've been scouring the newspaper for free activities and cheap goings-on around town and we're loading up to the hilt on art classes, plays in the park, and anything else we can find. The kids are gearing up for summer reading through our local library, and I'm going to get on board by keeping track of what I read all summer long. Skippy and I both love to read and this past school year a switch has clicked inside Banana's head so we're going to hunker down on hot afternoons and practice our bookworm impressions. I also want to take lots of pictures of what I hope will be our many adventures. I started my blog in part to stay in touch with our friends and family back in sweet home Chicago and I'd like to reconnect with that a little bit by doing what I can to show you more of our world out here in the Pacific Northwest. So look for my version of Project 365, the Summer edition, where I am going to try to take at least one picture a day, from our last day of school to our first day in the Fall. The key word of course, is try.

We'll see how it all goes! Happy Summering!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More fun with coupons

A few months ago, I put up a blog detailing a recent trip to Safeway and all of the mad crazy cash I saved using coupons.  Admittedly, it wasn't all wholesome crunchy granola all organic fare.  But here's the thing - I make a serious effort to put a healthy dinner on the table every night.  There is always fruit in my house and the minions know that they can have a piece whenever they want without asking.  If all else fails, we always have milk, bread, eggs, and cheese or I can toss together a PB&J.  And being a novice Weight Watchers slave, I'm eating a lot of salad.  Although we have our fair share of junk in the house, I really do make an effort to feed my family well.  

The bottom line is this:  I'm no chef.  But I do what I can and I do my best.  And kids are expensive and you have to feed them.  Constantly.  So when I can grab snacks on sale and sock them away for weekends, car rides, and summer break, you bet your sweet buns I do it.   And if I can stockpile stuff that won't spoil and rest assured that when a jar of applesauce runs out, I know that I already have more on hand, well....that makes me happy.  I'm easy to please like that.

Which brings me to my most recent Safeway Adventure:  Last Night I Went to Safeway, And All I Spent Was a Dollar Twenty Four.

And I bought:
1 bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
1 bottle of Light Asian Sesame Salad Dressing
1 bottle of Catalina Salad Dressing (my kids love it)
All three bottles of salad dressing cost me about fifty cents, total.

THEN I bought a box of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins and a box of Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers for kids' snacks and for my Weight Watchers carb attacks.  I had a BOGO coupon, plus the crackers were on sale.  

After THAT, I got two bottles of Vitamin Water, because it's sweet crack that's almost as good as regular soda.  They were on sale for eighty eight cents and I had coupons for a dollar off.  So THOSE cost me negative 12 cents.

And finally, I bought my kids a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies.  They have gotten hooked on them through softball and I don't mind buying them because I don't eat them.  They were a whopping ninety nine cents with a coupon.

So to sum it all up:

My total before savings was $23.90 and after my club card and my coupons, I spent $1.24 for a total savings of ninety five percent!!

My beloved coupon mentor Laura stood beside me while I completed my purchase and I swear that just for a second, I saw a lone tear of joy.

Anyway....

Were my purchases enough to make a six course meal for a twelve person dinner party?  Of course not.  But I stocked up on salad dressing, bought the kids some snacks, and got a happy Vitamin Water fix for next to nothing.  And when you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, you have to find your fun wherever you can!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My life is a zoo? No we WENT to the zoo!

Sometimes you just have to throw good old fashioned frugality to the wind and do something fun with your kids.  You know?  And this past Memorial Day weekend, we did just that.

Friday morning I was chatting online with Skippy.  This isn't unusual - we ping back and forth throughout the day.  What was somewhat out of the ordinary was that he was pinging me from Atlanta.  He had been there throughout the week doing whatever Googly things he does, and the kids and I had been holding down the fort at home.  I for one, was holding it by the skin of my teeth.  It had been a l-o-n-g week.  Between softball games, preschool graduation, and the first round of ninety degree temperatures, I was done flying solo and ready for my husband to be back in the same time zone.

So imagine my delight when we agreed to wing things a bit.  I booked a hotel near PDX for Friday night, tossed a handful of clean little girl undies, diapers, and swim suits into an overnight bag, buckled in three wound up kidlets, and hit the road to Portland.  Skippy's flight was due to arrive somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 that night and that left us plenty of time to hit the golden arches, conquer the play place, check into our hotel, exclaim over the itty bitty bottles of shampoo, flip through all fourteen TV channels three times, contemplate the meaning behind the door that joined us to another room, change into swim suits, and paddle around in the pool for an hour. 
  

When we returned dripping wet to our room around 9:30, the girls enjoyed the novelty of HBO and a queen size sofa sleeper (Mom!!  There is a BED in the COUCH! SWEET!).   We went on a safari-style hunt for the ice machine, made microwave popcorn, changed into jammies, and had ourselves a regular old slumber party.  Finally, they all passed out - Chunk sprawled in his pack and play, Kbear wrapped snugly in her blanket on the sofa sleeper, and Banana ....."camping out" under the hotel desk.   Skippy snuck in around 12:30 amidst three snoring kiddos and promptly crashed in an effort to sleep off a full day of travelling.  

Now at this point, I must say a quick word about hotel drapes.  They are wonderful and amazing and I totally want to rig up some sort of high tech pulley system that will allow me to cover my whole house with them this summer.  Why, you may ask?  Because those beautiful light-blocking pieces of heavenly fabric kept the room so dark that my children slept until after eight o'clock Saturday morning.

Be still my heart.

Then we three girls decided to let my two favorite boys sleep in for a little while longer and we trooped down to the buffet room for our complimentary breakfast.  We put down cereal, waffles, bananas, and in Bree's case, a whole half of a grapefruit before we made our way back to our room loaded down with biscuits and gravy for Daddy, and half of a peanut butter sandwich and fruit for Chunk.  While the boys ate and watched TV in their underwear in the big hotel bed, I took the girls for one last dunk in the pool.  We requested a late checkout, relaxed, packed up, and finally headed for the zoo around one o'clock.  

The zoo was....well it was a zoo.  For one thing, the weather was absolutely spectacular with cloudless blue skies and sunny seventy degree temperatures.  And it was a Saturday.  And Memorial Day Weekend.  And families were out in droves.  But we scored a great parking spot, wrestled Chunk into his stroller, and went in search of our first exhibit, Samundra the baby elephant - affectionately referred to as Sam by many Oregonians.  It was by far the busiest exhibit, but totally worth the wait.  Skippy (being as tall as he is) got some awesome pictures:


 









And after that we just had more fun.  We saw the bats, penguins, sea lions, zebras, giraffes, ducks, eagles, sun bears, polar bears, birds, meerkats, and who knows what else.   And although the baby elephant definitely stole the day, we also say my favorite, the black bears (who were sleeping in a big old furry pile) and Skippy's favorite, the otters.  By the time we finally wandered towards the gate it was coming up on five o'clock so we treated ourselves to dinner out and then finally drove our separate vehicles back through the Gorge, until we were home sweet home to a slightly stuffy house and two very happy dogs.

And what did I learn from our mini-weekend trip?  Sometimes, you just gotta let it all go and have some fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pomp and Preschoolers

It's official folks.  My little girl is finished with preschool.  Her last summer of freedom has officially been kicked off before she trots off to Kindergarten in the fall with the big kids.

Last night we all gathered under the picnic shelter at Sorosis Park here in town (I know the name is weird, I recently learned that it has something to do with the cherry processing process....more info to come soon after some google searches) and we watched our adorable kiddos don their adorable tasselled caps and receive their awards for their successful completion of preschool.  Each solemn child accepted his or her "diploma" with huge smiles to lots of applause and flashing cameras.  Then we all enjoyed cupcakes and hugs and played at the park because really, what else would you do after a graduation ceremony?

Kbear was also the recipient of the "Leadership Award."  And not for her stellar good Samaritan ways....not for her upstanding citizen-like behavior....but because (according to Teacher Mary) "the rest of the children would follow her anywhere.  She could lead a mutiny."

That's my girl.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The post Mother's Day blog

First, the sap.

On June 10, 2002, after eighteen hours of labor, my Banana baby came into the world.  The second they announced, "here she is!" I burst into tears while still up in stirrups.  She was beautiful and perfect and had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen.  She transformed my life and took me from "Amy" to "Mommy" and I have never looked back.

Just seventeen months later, on November 18, 2003 Kbear came shooting into the world.  She was my drug free birth, but I don't hold that against her.  From the moment she opened her eyes, she had the entire nursing staff cooing over her gorgeous curly hair.  She officially made me the mother of two.  

And two years ago, on March 29, 2007 my Oregon baby was born.  Chunk was the hardest labor, and to me he represents everything we have worked for here in Oregon.  I was pregnant when we undertook one of the biggest transitions of my life, and when he came into the world out here in the Pacific Northwest, I really felt like my family in Oregon was complete.  I cannot begin to imagine my life without him.  He made me the mother of a son and he is a little dose of sunshine in every day.

So there you go.  My three sappy beautiful Mother's Day blessings.  

Now, on to business.

You probably noticed it already....there are no lists posted on my blog.  Nothing singing my many praises.  No warm fuzzy feelings.

You may be wondering if my husband is lying somewhere in the fetal position, missing various important pieces of vital anatomy.  But he's not.  I promise.  In fact, he's completely off the hook at least for another year.  Here's why:

First of all, he let me sleep in.  I slept in until TEN O'CLOCK completely uninterrupted.  This never happens.  Even when you're "on vacation" (aka in the hospital after birthing yet another baby) you don't get that much uninterrupted sleep because someone is always coming in to check on you or take your blood pressure.  So for that alone, I love him and he rocks.

But then he made breakfast.  Fresh strawberries, coffee cake, bacon, and icy cold mimosas.  Can you say total yummy?  While we ate, I read the six cards that the kids made for me.  I only have three kids (and one can't write yet) but I got six cards.  How totally special is that?

Then I got to lay around on the couch for awhile.  I watched the Cubs game in my pajamas.  And wonderful smells started coming out of the kitchen.  Lo and behold, for dinner we had from-scratch chicken Parmesan with from-scratch spaghetti sauce.  Warm bread, salad, and raspberry brownies completed the trip to my happy place.  

AND, he and the kids gave me the Magic Bullet blender, which I have wanted FOREVER.  I've been having a serious amount of fun with it already, including making Chunk a smoothie with his breakfast,  As a bonus, according to my math if I make 13 more blendy coffee drinks, it will have paid for itself!

So between not giving him enough notice for compiling a laundry list of my many fine and lovable attributes and the fact that we didn't get home until 1:30 in the morning after my sister-in-law's 50th surprise party on Saturday night, I think I can safely let him off the hook.

You hear that honey?  You're in the clear.

But that being said, I kind of WAS looking forward to reading what the kids came up with.  So next year I want those lists.  And don't say I didn't give you enough notice.

I love you, thank you for a wonderful day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

An open letter to my family.....

In light of the current economic situation sweeping the globe, I have decided to cut back on my gift requests for this year's Mother's Day.  I am kind and considerate like that, and sometimes I like to torture my husband, so this hits two birds with one stone.

First, I would like free reign regarding buying my garden supplies so that I can get my cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and spices into the ground, fenced, and watered this weekend in an effort to have a more self-sustaining summer.  I foresee lots of salads and salsa.

Second, I would like my husband and my kids to each write me a list - ten things that they love about Mommy.  After coming in second for a job opportunity that I wanted quite badly, Mama needs her ego stroked, so hop to it beloved family members.  Help from Daddy is allowed.  Help from the dog is not.

It's out on the blog, folks.  Don't let me down!  Lists will be posted on Sunday so make 'em good!