Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 29

June 29


Goodbyes are never easy for little kids when they are about to embark on a new adventure.

Although if we're being honest, the same can be said for Moms too.

So there she is earlier Kbear all set up on her bunk at sleep away camp up in Washington state. She looked so cute, and so big. When I took this picture, I don't think it had really sunk in for her just yet - the fact that I was going to leave and she was going to stay. She hadn't met her counselor yet (code name Snickerdoodle) and she hadn't found the chocolate bar that I hid in her bag. She didn't quite grasp the idea that if she woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee, she was going to have to go by herself at this strange dark place called camp.

Now if we're being REALLY honest, in hindsight she wasn't the only one who hadn't really thought it through. I hadn't really considered the implications of this mini-camp with it's two overnights and not-quite-three-days of summer fun and what it would mean to Kbear. I hadn't really thought about the fact that my girls' lives have been pretty intertwined up to this point. I sign them up for the same activities because quite frankly, it's convenient for me. They both tried dance. They both played soccer. They would go on the same play dates and attend the same birthday parties. They are only seventeen months apart. It's just EASIER. But as they get older that isn't working out for me the way it used to. They are beginning to do their own things, have their own friends, develop their own separate passions and attend different birthday parties. This summer Banana has swim team; that's four days a week for forty five minutes a day, plus competing in meets. So Kbear gets this stint away at camp and then later in the summer, soccer day camp. And this summer (or more specifically, today) it has really hit me that even though they will always walk the same road as sisters, they have begun to choose their own separate offshoots.

And so I gave her one last hug, and I said good bye, and I left her in the care of the (oh so young) camp staff and her fellow campers. As I drove away I thought about how much fun she was going to have. I wondered how late she would stay up and if she would tell scary stories and share that chocolate bar. I know she'll miss me, but more than that I wonder how much she'll miss having her sister by her side. I wonder what Banana will think tonight, sleeping alone in their shared room. I think that overall, the whole day was a revelation of sorts for all of us. It's not's just different.

We pick her up on Friday. I already can't wait.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 27

June 27th

So far, our summer has been delightful. People keep on telling us that this is what an Oregon summer is typically like, but I wouldn't know it - every year since our big move the summer has always kicked our collective family ass, becoming beastly hot by the middle of June with temps topping the 100 mark for days on end. Just because there's no humidity and very few mosquitoes (neener neener Chicago people!) doesn't mean it's not miserable.

So the fact that this year we are grabbing hoodies in the mornings and covering up with blankets at night has been a treat. And our evenings have been spectacular; perfect for dinners on the back patio, and for hanging out in the front yard....and maybe playing with the Bailey girl.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 24

June 24

I actually don't think this one needs any explanation.

He's just that cute.

The end.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 21

June 21st

It's summer reading time at the library!

This year the kids have their own library cards. We'll see if I can make it through the summer A) making them keep up on their reading, B) Keeping track of their logs and C) remembering to take them to the library for activities.

Today was fun though. The kids got to have cake and punch and color bookmarks to use while they rack up their minutes to earn silly bandz - God how I hate those things.

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 20

June 20th

This is what cuteness looks like.

Today I was mowing the backyard - a chore I actually enjoy - and the kids were running around and generally acting like they were in great cahoots about something and it was just one of those wonderful summer days where there isn't much of anything going on, and that's how it should be.

After I shut down the mower I was kicking a ball back and forth with Colin and at some point I tackled him and blew a big old raspberry on his stomach.

"That's called a raspberry." I told him.

Still giggling, he wriggled out of my grasp and ran over to our garden area. He poked around a bit, and then came running back, presenting me with today's picture.

"No silly Mama," he told me "THIS is a raspberry."

Sweet silly smart boy of mine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 19

June 19

Let's just get this out of the way:

Happy Father's Day to my Skippy.

You are a great Father, the love of my life, yadda yadda yadda. Next year I promise we will try not to schedule Banana's birthday sleepover for what is supposed to be your special day - because nothing says "You're a stellar male parent" like five little girls and one four year old boy clamoring for more s'mores, orange soda, and a bucket of water for "real" pedicures.

What on earth were we thinking?

Nine days ago my Banana girl turned 9. And I had to work. Then Skippy was out of town. Then I had to work some more. Then we started to feel like the whole idea of a birthday sleepover was going to be seriously overdue and half-silly if we didn't get to it we did it on Father's Day.

With my two, we had five little girls.

They were loud.

They had grilled chicken for dinner at Banana's request (so Dad DID get to grill on his Father's Day!)

They screeched a lot.

They had s'mores.

And popcorn.

And soda.

And watched Gnomeo and Juliet on Pay Per View.

They had a blast.

I had Advil for an after-dinner snack.

They stayed up until 1 a.m.

In the morning we had pancakes.

I had Tylenol.

The end.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 17

June 17

I think this picture pretty much sums up the way I would love to approach my summer. Just being lazy, hanging out on the patio with a gardening book.

Then three kids start clamoring for breakfast and I realize I have to figure out how to do laundry, sweep floors, turn on the sprinklers, yell at three kids who think it's okay to come in dripping wet on the newly swept floors after playing in said sprinklers, make lunch, and fill the afternoon with something other than Nick Jr before Skippy comes home.

Sometimes I wish I was a cat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 15

June 15th

And so the craziness begins. The last day of school is upon us - again.

My girls have officially completed first and third grade. I can't quite believe it. In fact, I'm reasonably sure I just attended Kbear's kindergarten graduation a week ago....right? They have both had fantastic years, getting great grades and excelling in their own ways. Banana is quite the artist and came a long way with her reading this year and Kbear is my math whiz and social butterfly. Banana also started Spanish this year (she already knows more words than I do) and she started "Tiger Tracks," a set of classes for the older kids where they get to choose Friday electives. This year Banana took part in "Hike and Draw" which is exactly what it sounds like, and "Cooking" where she brought home everything from crepes to pudding pops and scrambled eggs. She played Lacrosse and expanded her social circle. Kbear took part in art club, marble club, soccer club, and drama club, and had something going on pretty much every afternoon of the week after school. Overall it was a great year. We are incredibly blessed to have the kids in an absolutely amazing charter school with wonderful and dedicated staff and opportunities that I've never thought would be possible at the elementary school level.

But's summer. The year ended with the traditional picnic on the school lawn, complete with one family bringing their horses and tirelessly giving ride after ride to the kids, including my own. Those sweet animals must have paced the length of the school field a hundred times and the kids loved it.

So today's "picture of the day" is actually a double feature, because I just couldn't post only one. You could say our summer is off to a galloping start. *wink*

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 14

June 14th

Today when my Banana got off the bus she was all sorts of snarffly and snuffly. Her eyes were red and she was all blotchy. With the wind we have been having this last week the pollen is flying around in full force and the allergies have been just killing us. So I gave her a benadryl. One Benadryl at 4:30 right? I thought that maybe it would help her zonk out but really I thought no more of it until bedtime, when she realized that one of her favorite shows was coming on.

Banana's pitch:
"Mom....tomorrow is the last day of school can I please stay up late I want to watch So You Think You Can Dance with you and I promise I won't be tired tomorrow I won't even be the teeny tiniest ittsy bitsiest bit crabby and I really like that show and I promise that when you tell me to I'll go right to bed and we won't even miss the bus so please please please please PLEASE can I stay up?"

I countered that she had taken a Benadryl and that it was still a school night.

She gave me puppy dog eyes.

I relented and let her get comfy in the chair.

And after all that, ten minutes later I took this picture.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 12

June 12

See that?

That is the only thing I have left that has my Dad's handwriting on it.

It's a luggage tag. Once upon a time it hung on the strap of his black leather Amoco bag that he used for traveling. I'm not even completely sure how I got a hold of it - I think that Skippy and I borrowed the bag for our honeymoon and that somehow the tag came off and it ended up in my jewelry box. I probably intended to give him the bag (and presumebly the tag) back some day. And then he got sick. And then he died and it stayed in my jewelry box. When we moved, I rediscovered it, tucked into a corner under some old birthday cards and other trinkets that have no real place in my house but that I can't bear to throw away.

And I cried. Over a freakin' luggage tag.

Once upon a time, it probably took him a whole thirty seconds to fill out. It was completely insignificant. Just one more thing to do before heading to the airport. But now it has become so much more than just a luggage tag - it has become one of my most treasured possessions. It's something that I will keep even when the leather is cracked and the stitching has started to deteriorate and the paper inside is yellow. I will keep it even when I have to strain to see the writing that I know so well, his characteristic block letters, all in caps, that told people who he was. When my Mom no longer lives at the address listed on the tab (blurred because she still lives there), I will run my fingers over the writing and remember the years we all lived in that house. I will look at his old characteristic block letters and smile.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 10

Yeah yeah yeah, I missed yesterday. This shift work gig isn't easy you know. But all things considered I think I am hanging in there pretty well. This has been a lot of fun.

Anyway, today Banana is nine. NINE, people. I'm a little aghast. It was really just the other day that they put her in my arms after an 18 hour labor. She was my "moon baby," born during a lunar eclipse. These days she's all legs and attitude, but I'd like to think that she knows that I am the very best friend she will ever have, as long as she continues to let me have that role.

Sometimes I see her objectively, the way a stranger must see her and I realize just how beautiful she is. She is kind and sweet and funny and smart and I love her every bit as much as I did the day they handed her to me.

Today we celebrated with purple hair extensions and her first ever "real" pedicure. I'm a little annoyed that I didn't have the good camera with me, but even so, I got this shot. It makes me smile.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl. We love you so much.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 8

June 8:

Me last year:
"Hey babe, look at this amazingly awesome website I found. This stay at home Mom in Alaska makes all sorts of easy cool things out of wood. Maybe you can use the kazillion dollars worth of tools you have been hoarding and make us a few of these awesome garden beds out of cedar fence pickets....aren't these cool babe?"

Skippy: "Those are cool. Bookmark that. And I did not buy 'kazillions of dollars worth of tools dear.'"

Me a few weeks later last year:
"Hey babe, remember those cool garden beds? Home Depot has the fence pickets on sale. It says you can make a bed with less than ten of them. Can we try it?"

Skippy: "Sure. I'll go get the stuff right now."

Skippy then proceeds to come home with approximately 120 fence pickets. No, I'm not kidding.

Me: >sigh<

So we build a box right? It's pretty neat and Skippy is proud of it, and rightfully so. All of our friends who stop by ohhhh and ahhhh over it. My mother-in-law asks where we bought it. I am envisioning a summer of gardening where I don't have to sit in the dirt, which I hate.

And then our lone garden box sits there all winter long. Empty and sad. We have three kids you know? Life is busy.

Fast forward to this spring:

We finally bang out a few more boxes. And this time we actually put something in them. We have a long way to go before that area of the back yard looks like we want it to, but still - pretty neat, huh?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 7

Isn't she cute?

Actually if we are completley honest, she is so stinkin' ugly that she's cute.

If you've ever visited (otherwise known as lol cats) then you get what I mean when I say, "Go 'way, Mabel haz sunshines."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 6

June 6th:

Today we got new carpet upstairs.

When we moved into the house, we put in gorgeous dark sold hardwood throughout the living room and the kitchen, but we left the god awful stained, smelly, shaggy, icky, 1970s carpet in the bedrooms. We contemplated putting the hardwood in those rooms as well, but with two of our four bedrooms being downstairs directly under the two upstairs rooms, we decided to make everyone happy and put carpeting in for soundproofing. If you've ever been downstairs when two dogs decide to play upstairs or three kids go pounding by overhead, then you get it.

Anyway, the install was a nightmare. There is really no other way to describe it. From start to finish it was a living nightmare. But when the girls got home from school, the first thing they wanted to do was make "carpet angels" and that was pretty darn cute.

Thank goodness it feels amazing under my bare feet. That makes it worth it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 5

June 5:

My little boy.

Not so little any more.

Ever since I got fed up with Chunk's ever-messy hair and buzzed his whole head last summer, Skippy has been gleefully looking forward to this year, when he decided that come hell or high water he was going to give our son a mohawk.

I have to admit, Chunk would be cute no matter what, but he actually looks adorable in a mini-punk rocker kind of way. Skippy wants to let it grow and grow and grow and just keep shaving the sides. We'll see how long I can go before it makes me start to twitch.

But for now, he's just too damn cute.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 4

June 4

My new backyard is an exercise in intimidation.

You see, in Illinois we had a backyard that was roughly the size of a Volkswagon. But at the time it worked for us - the girls were little and we didn't have a need for a ton of green space. Then we moved to Oregon, the land of green things and our rental house had a decent sized backyard....unfortunately it was mostly comendeered by the landlord as a place to park all of his various non-working vehicles. The part that he wasn't using was uneven and dry, covered with crabgrass and goatheads, otherwise known as puncturevine the Pacific Northwest. Puncturevine is known as a noxious weed in Oregon (seen here: and it's nasty stuff. I refer to it as "that f'n crap that made it impossible to play outside without having a kid come in every five seconds with a thorn in their foot." But that aside, the bottom line is that it was kind of hard to get your garden on in the old house.

Now fast forward to the new place. It has a wonderful backyard - in fact it was one of the main reasons we bought our charming money pit with it's orchard view. And when I say it has a wonderful backyard, what I really mean is that it has the potential to have a wonderful backyard. You can tell that once upon a time, the previous homeowner was an avid gardener - there are all sorts of exotic (to me) flowers and shrubs struggling to survive out in our mini urban jungle. Unfortunately, you can also tell that the second the previous owner received our offer on the house, she stopped weeding, watering, and caring about it at all. For approximately three months. In the spring. When things grow. In fact I'm reasonably certain she forgot that she even still had a backyard. So by the time we got into the house a year ago, there wasn't much that could be done except hack down the weeds that threatened to eat us and hunker down until this year.

And finally, my efforts are paying off. Slowly but surely I am winning the battle to reclaim the yard. I can actually mow it, the grass is green, and we are cleaning up the flower beds bit by bit, having fun discovering the treasures already planted underneath months of old leaves neglect.

Among my greatest discoveries are the peony bushes. I have never had experience with these before, and when they bloomed I was stunned. The kids and I have had so much fun watching the plants produce their golf ball sized buds that suddenly explode into huge bright blossoms. They are simply magnificent, and the flowers themselves seem to be be saying thank you to me every time they bloom - thank you for bringing us back!

I am more than happy to oblige.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 3

June 3rd

It has been an unseasonably cool spring in the Columbia Gorge. Without a doubt, when we were wearing windbreakers on Wednesday afternoon I was thinking that it was definitely the coolest (almost cold!) June 1st we had experienced since our move four years ago.

But there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. This weekend forecast highs are in the mid-80s AND it appears that our hard re-claimed strawberry bed is going to give us a harvest! Grow little berry, grow!

The Summer In Pictures: Day 2

June 2

Tonight we had Family Night at the kids' school. As usual it was a blast and we were excited and impressed by the level of work that these children continue to produce. Banana's giraffe finally made it up on the classroom wall, and I've got to say, it was pretty darn impressive.

Next year however, we are going to start earlier, and think smaller. And yes....I say that every year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 1

June 1st

Today my Bailey girl is 10. She has been with me through it all - through my marriage and my pregnancies, through my miscarriage, and when I lost my Dad. When I came home after having emergency surgery, she jumped up on my bed and refused to leave my side for three days unless she absolutely had to take a doggy potty break. When I brought home each new baby, she appointed herself their personal guardian angel.

I can tell her anything and she loves me no matter what. My children do not know a world without her. Every so often I see the signs that she is slowing down and I realize that I'm not ready to lose her. She's been with me for so long I don't remember what it's like not to come home to her.

She is one constant in an ever-changing world. Happy Birthday, Bay. We love you.

Welcome Back

Welcome back.

It's been awhile, huh?

So sorry about seems that sometimes life just gets in the way. Let's cover the basics first, shall we?

Everything is good.

Jobs are good. Busy on both fronts. I am ramping up for another busy summer in the world of 911. Nothing says, "hey it's June!" like a call that begins, "So I'm camping down at Frog Lake, and there are all these guys with guns running around."

The house is good, if not slightly messy. But let's face it, that's nothing new. I mean really, if I said it was spotless THEN you'd be shocked.

The kids are good. Everyone is healthy. The girls are chomping at the bit to get out of school for the summer, and Chunk is chomping at the bit to start pre-school in the fall.

Oregon continues to be good to us.

So let's try something........again. In the name of full disclosure, I have tried this before, and failed. I want to do the daily summer pictures again - where I post a picture every day that represents a part of our summer. Remember? I think last time I lasted three weeks, if even.

But last time I didn't have my Canon Rebel. I love it. I don't totally know how to USE it, but I adore it. And I'm excited to learn more about it this summer while I run around the Gorge with my kids. So I'll tell you what: I am going to start posting pictures. I'm going to aim for one a day. And we'll just see what happens.

If I blow it who's really going to know, right?