Monday, October 31, 2011

Only a Squirrel Will Do

I don't normally put a lot of thought or effort into Halloween. Last year we dressed The Princess up in her pink tutu, tied a couple ribbons on a gift bag and took her to the mall for trick-or-treating. She thought it was great. So, I figured between her love of princesses and her obsession with bones we could easily figure out a costume. I said "sure, sure" to her request a couple of weeks before to be a squirrel but didn't give it any more thought. That is, until she wouldn't stop talking about the squirrel (which, with her funny accent, I sometimes took for "skull")...Oh dear.

So, Wednesday, thinking I had until the following Monday to pull something together, we went shopping for a costume. I dragged 2 small children through the craft store, the consignment store, Party City and, in a last gasp effort, Petco.

I came home with two acorns. That's it. The princess was absolutely set on being a squirrel, in spite of the princess aisle I took her down at Party City in hopes that she'd cave for something easier. I even thought I could modify a dog's costume (note for dog costume designers - how funny would it be to have a dog dressed as a squirrel?!) - nothing!

So, I was forced into a mad scramble of creativity, especially panicked when we decided to take her to the zoo scavenger hunt trick or treating on Saturday thus reducing my time to one day. Honestly, I work better under pressure anyway so it's probably better that way. Off to the fabric store we went Friday morning and found enough remnants to make SOMETHING...

I give you the 2011 Halloween Squirrel. The most adorable squirrel there ever was.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bones, Part 2

In my quest to indulge her love of skeletons I found printable ones online...  Adult and pre-school size.

We now have The Princess and Daddy in skeleton form at home. Oh, and she already knew 50% of the bone names when we labelled them! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV Viewing

Every so often a random memory will hit me from Kenya. This one actually sneaks up on me quite often for a variety of reasons - something funny, poignant, absurd...


We didn't have a TV in Kenya. We had other things to do like climbing trees, rescuing chameleons and building forts in bushes. Also, there wasn't any programming to watch. Although, there was the local news which featured a spinning globe and, if you watched long enough, you could see a hand sneak in periodically to spin it again once it had stopped. So, I guess that was worth watching for a chuckle...

Every 6 months or so, however, we'd go down to the local electronics store and rent a gargantuan tv and vcr (gargantuan because they were ancient, but still worked.) Then we'd stock up on pirated movies and head home for a weekend of non-stop movie watching. Seriously, one movie after another. It was so great!

I don't remember most of the movies we watched but there are a few that are indelible.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. - I think we scarred the little girl spending the night with my sister that night for life! This also solidified my love of Harrison Ford.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - my Dad previewed that movie before I could see it. I laugh thinking about him suffering through it and then smile with thankfulness at his willingness to sit through it.

Combat Academy - I saved this for last because this was the one that all five of us remembered as THE MOST HILARIOUS MOVIE EVER! We looked for it everywhere when we returned to the states but could never find it. I started to think that we'd made up the whole thing. Then, ebay was invented and we were reunited with a slightly less funny version but still very real copy of Combat Academy.

Obviously, the movies were just the vehicle for some good old family bonding time.

Fond memories.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Construction Excitement

Two months ago a large re-roofing project started in our condo complex. Since they started pulling off the very first shingle The Princess has asked "are they at our house yet?" EVERY SINGLE DAY.

We've talked forklifts, plywood, tar paper, shingles, nail guns, hard hats and safety ropes. Nothing has escaped her attention. She has asked me multiple times if, when she gets big, she can wear the orange worker clothes and a hard hat. "Of course!" I assure her.

Finally, after doing every other building but one, they arrived at ours. Oh, the excitement! They've been pounding on the roof, throwing stuff down 3 stories, and delivering supplies via forklift - all outside our window.  We've watched the progress of our neighbor's roof while listening to the mirror image effort going on above us. Sweetpea has figured out how to sleep through the sound of the nail gun.

It'll all be over soon but in the meantime we smile and wave to the guys just outside our window (while I hope we don't startle him so much that he falls off the edge!).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The Princess is obsessed with bones so when I saw these pajamas I had to get them. She was thrilled.

And then she found out they glow in the dark!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Birds Series: The Landing

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

One evening we were sitting out in my parents’ backyard after dinner enjoying the warm summer evening and good conversation. There were five adults sitting in a circle carrying on a conversation – both of these facts should guarantee that there will be no harassment from wild animals (not to mention that we were smack dab in the city!)…

Suddenly, a bird flew by and LANDED ON MY HEAD!

Everyone laughed while I freaked out.

Go here for more in this series. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last night I snuck out of the house, left Steve with the babes, and met my sister and a friend at the movie theater.  Luxury!!! 

We saw the movie 50/50 and I would definitely recommend it. It's a really poignant look at a 20-something guy diagnosed with cancer and how he and those around him deal with it.Yeah, it's got some teary moments but there are also a lot of laughs.

Everyone around Adam (Joseph Gordon Levitt) flails, to various degrees, in their reaction to his cancer diagnosis but it's Kyle (Seth Rogen) who steps up and even further into their friendship. And that's what I really loved about this movie (besides the fact that Anna Kendrick is fantastic once again). Kyle's methods, using his friends sickness to pick up girls and joking about everything, may feel calloused and  juvenile but it's real. And Adam finds that his support, both conventional and unconventional is the best link to his real self in his new world. It's not often we see really REAL male friendships on screen that go beyond surface jokes and sports. But this friendship? It's the real deal.

While watching this movie, I was reminded of a moment in my own life. My world had just collapsed and I was reeling. My friend and I had planned a shopping date before everything had blown up around me and that Saturday we met anyway. My new reality hung over us but, instead of quizzing me, coddling me or sitting me down over coffee to talk it out, we shopped. We shopped and laughed and talked about clothes and shoes and I was blessedly relieved of the need to process anything beyond the fit of jeans and color of a sweater. When we parted ways she gave me a hug and I thanked her for letting me be normal that day. It was a gift that I will be forever grateful for.

That is the friendship I saw on screen. It's rough and awkward and navigated blindly in a new landscape. But, it's also generous with time and emotion and ready to give what is needed in the moment. It's a space where tears and laughter can mingle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

There and Back

I'm just going to say it. My children are wimps.

It's their own fault, really. They refuse to sleep in the car.

We made a quick 24 hour trip to Eastern Washington this weekend and gathered with Steve's large family to celebrate the life of his grandmother who passed away. (A woman who lived long enough to see her first great-great grandchild. Amazing!)

Since The Princess and Sweetpea both refused the hypnotic rhythm of the car (while I desperately fought the urge to sleep!) they arrived to a house semi-full of people already sleep deprived. Add a continuously increasing volume of people as the hours passed and we quickly had two overwhelmed babes.

13 hours of sleep later was just enough to survive 2 hours of morning activity before they both were ready to nap again. Although, only Sweetpea could be convinced of the brilliancy of this idea.

We headed for home at bedtime that night - two tired kiddos and a 4 hour car trip in the dark... Did they sleep? No! They talked nonstop and insisted on "reading" their books until 30 minutes from home. Then they both crashed. They continued to crash yesterday and all signs point towards a slow recovery; maybe by Wednesday they'll be back to normal.

Car trips over 20 minutes are just too too much for these delicate creatures!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Birds Series: The Lunch

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

Our school in Kenya was up on the hills in the middle of coffee fields. Other than the actual classrooms, everything was done outside. We didn’t have a gym (I think they might have one now), no theater or arts center and no cafeteria. This wasn’t a problem because we were almost directly on the equator and a mile up in elevation. If you want the perfect climate go to Nairobi. 70 degrees year around. It was paradise.

Every day we head out to the lawn to eat our lunches. What luxury, there’s nothing better than picnicking every day. The birds thought so too.

We furtively pulled out our lunches, curling our bodies around them as we tried to get the food to our mouths without attracting the attention of the hawks waiting overhead. Except hawks have really great eyesight. And they’re fast. And they have claws and giant wings…

It was a common occurrence to have food grabbed right out of your hand as you tried to eat. Often it was just the rush of air and suddenly missing food from your grip that alerted you to the already completed attack. But, we’d all seen or experienced first hand the scratched welts on an arm when the grab hadn’t been quite as smooth. More than one kid was hit in the face by a wing as a hawk swooped through for a free lunch.

I don’t even remember any defensive maneuvers, other than stuffing food into our mouths as fast as possible. It was a gourmet buffet for the hawks and we just watched the show.

Eventually, wires were strung between the trees which protected us from the inexperienced hawks at least. But the ones that had been around a while – they learned to just fly underneath, making one long swoop across the lunch area and grabbing any free food that wasn’t appropriately guarded.

Again, the theme continues…DON’T CARRY FOOD AROUND BIRDS!

Go here for more in this series.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crazy Menu

Some people call it crazy, I call it enthusiastic. It keeps my life interesting... Side bonus: those that live with me have interesting lives too!

Call it crazy and I may very well jump right in.

I pulled Steve out of bed at 4:30 am on a Saturday so that we could go to a super secret, once-in-a-lifetime, garage-sale-like sale at IKEA. We stood in line with everyone else, clutching our tools in order to quickly dismantle the store and walk away with kitchen sinks, flooring and furniture from their room displays.

Last year I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month. Much of it was written with a two month old baby sleeping in my lap (not to mention the 3 year old lin the house as well.) Oh yeah, there was the Thanksgiving family extravaganza too. I'm thinking about doing it again. (I'm not saying that it's any good but the just doing it was great!)

I ran a 12-person, 197 mile relay race from Mt Hood to the coast. Twice. (so far and I will definitely do it again! I don't think this is crazy but Steve said I had to include it. )

I was browsing through Pinterest the other day and another crazy idea caught my eye. Someone was advertising their "meal planning for the year".  A YEAR of menus!  Of course I had to investigate and you know what I do with crazy... I've got 4 months planned and am working on the remaining 8.

That's right. A binder with a years' worth of dinner menus!
You can see her instructions and download everything here.

 This could revolutionize my life because I HATE figuring out what to make for dinner. If it was just me I'd live on popcorn, cheese, apples and wine. But other people seem to think that proper meals, or at least something substantial, are essential.

Now that I have kids I feel a certain pressure to provide more than popcorn or burritos for dinner. (The beans are homemade! That gives me a few bonus points, right?) Blech, why don't kids come with a self-feeding option??

If I can plan a years' worth then I only have to make small tweaks in the years to come - that's the plan anyway. Anyway, I also found this and I'm trying to figure out how to include it into my plans as well because crazy should be cute too, right?