Monday, December 15, 2008

David's home for Christmas!

David flew into Portland Saturday evening to spend Christmas break here with us. Since it was so soon after Dakota's birthday, we made a day of it. We took off about 10:00, getting to Chuck-e-cheese in Portland just in time for a late lunch and several hours of games (I, as usual, bailed in favor of Fabric Depot - my idea of heaven). Then we made a quick stop at Sports Authority for wrestling shoes for Dakota before picking up David at the airport. We rounded it all off with dinner at Red Robin, which is everyone's (except mine) favorite restaurant. Devin and I had talked about spending the night in Portland to visit the zoo and take in Zoolights. However, the weather was supposed to turn snowy/icy/cold/nasty over Saturday night and into Sunday. So we scrapped that plan and headed home after dinner. Good thing! The drive was a little snowy on Saturday evening but it wasn't too bad. It was snowing here a little on Sunday but nothing really stuck. Then Sunday night it let loose so school was cancelled today (and I was really counting on these last five days before the boys are out for Christmas break). The boys got to go sledding (all three of them). It's so nice to have David home for awhile.

I think I've mentioned before that we really love Newport (population 10,000) but there really isn't anything in the way of shopping any closer than Albany (an hour away). We are really fortunate to have a Wal-mart (NOT a Super Wal-mart, mind you) which people come to from all up and down the coast. So when people come to visit and we need to pick them up at the airport, I don't look at it as a 6 hour round-trip drive (which it is), I look it as a shopping opportunity. If I ever get tired of Fabric Depot (as IF!) there's IKEA, Macaroni Grill (my favorite restaurant), and gasp! malls - lots and lots of malls. Luckily, I'm not a "shopper", although Devin will confirm that I can occasionally spend money with the best of them. These infrequent trips to Portland pretty much take care of any need I have to shop.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to You...

Dakota turned 10 today. He's growing up so fast. I know, everyone says that about their kids... and they're just exaggerating. I, on the other hand, am merely being honest.

For the first couple birthdays he had carrot cakes (at his request). Then, when he was about four, I made this pumpkin cake and he's never asked for anything else since. I've made this for his birthday every one of the last six years. I love it because it's a "fake" recipe (you just add a couple ingredients to a cake mix) but it turns out so yummy no one believes you don't have some secret family recipe for it.
His big gift this year was a digital camera. He's been begging for a nice one of his own (he and Dylan have been sharing a very inexpensive one) and we hope he is responsible enough to take care of it now that he's TEN!.... Again, he's growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday, Dakota. We love you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wie treu sind deine Blatter

We finally got our tree decorated. Got the tree on Sunday, decorated it on Wednesday. Not bad, huh?

I have a thing about Christmas ornaments. I get a couple new ones every year. Many of our ornaments were made by the kids through the years but most are one-of-a-kinds that remind me of places I've been and things I've done. The first one I got 20 years ago while I was pregnant with David, so I have quite a few now. I have a Mele Kelikimaka (1991) snowflake from Hawaii, a Santa with paintbrush up on a ladder (2001) from the first Christmas we lived in a house we owned, a Waterford crystal ornament (2003) given to me by a friend who I always think of when I hang it on the tree, etc. I can tell the story behind almost every ornament I have. I date all the ornaments somewhere inconspicuous and every time I touch them, I'm flooded with memories. I reached a milestone about five years ago when I had enough of "my" ornaments to get rid of all the generic glass balls.

This year I got two new ornaments. The first is from when we went to Seattle for a week over the summer. This was the first trip we took as a family that wasn't to visit relatives. We spent a week in Seattle and had a really good time. This proved to us (Devin and I) that trips with the kids are possible without significant hair loss or divorce. Believe me, before the trip, we had serious doubts about whether we really wanted to attempt 8 days in such close quarters with our demanding offspring.

The second is from our (Devin and my) trip to San Francisco. I had been looking the whole week but hadn't run across anything I wanted to add to my collection until the last day. That day we were in Chinatown and I saw these in the window of a shop. There were all different origami creatures inside glass ornaments of various sizes and shapes. I chose a red crane inside a square ornament.

I love walking around our tree and just looking at all the ornaments and remembering where each of them came from.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

We finally got our Christmas tree last the rain. Growing up, this was something I remember always doing the day after Thanksgiving. We had to do it that soon because if we waited much longer we would likely be trudging through several feet of snow looking for a tree. This is the view from the front of the house at Christmas last year. There were about two feet of snow on the ground.We lived up on a mountain and owned 80 acres covered in trees so we always got one out of our "yard". My father would take my brother and I out to find a Charlie Brown tree. That's one of those trees that are squashed flat on one side or just really sad in some other way. If we brought home too nice of a tree, my mom would be upset because she wanted the nice trees left alone to grow big. - Flat on one side was the best because the flat side would fit nicely up against the wall and that way you would never notice it.
Anyway, our neighbor (the same one who is a tuna fisherman) has a tree farm in a town called Siletz about 30 minutes away. It's quite a different experience for me to go to a tree farm. Not only is the scenery totally different, but we look for a "perfect" tree on purpose. It was drizzling heavily as we left home but we kept hoping it would stop raining once we got a little further inland. Nope, it didn't stop until after we had gotten the tree. As a matter of fact, it stopped just after we got in the car to head home. Dylan, who evidently was worried about melting, chose to wait under shelter while the rest of us tramped around looking for that perfect tree. We did find a great one and took it home to wrestle through the front door. It takes up the entire living room but it's wonderful having a Christmas tree again. We've spent so many recent Christmases at one or another of our parents' houses that we haven't had a tree at home in about five years now. It's not decorated yet, but it smells heavenly.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things I've Done

I totally stole this off this blog: . However, she gave permission and she stole it from someone else in her turn. Anyway, I thought it was a neat list. It makes me think of all the things I still want to do - and several I have absolutely no desire to do - bungee jumping and sky diving leap to mind.

Things I've Done (In Bold)

1. Started my own blog (is this just to make bloggers feel like we're accomplishing something?)

2. Slept under the stars (growing up we slept outside quite frequently - just threw a sleeping bag on the lawn - we had to keep the dog with us to warn us of bears)

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii (actually lived there for four years)

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity (no, although I'm sure Devin would tell you I do....frequently, lol)

7. Been to Disneyland/world (both, and actually had season passes to Disneyworld three years ago when we lived in Florida)

8. Climbed a mountain (not Mt. Everest, but yeah)

9. Held a praying mantis (offloaded it as quickly as I could, too)

10. Sung a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched lightning at sea (although in Florida - where 345' is the highest point in the whole state - when the lightning starts, smart people head for the car)

14. Taught myself an art from scratch (not quite sure of this one. Since I've become an adult I've learned wheel-thrown pottery, scrapbooking, and quilting. However, I had help, even if it was only someone knowledgeable to practice with)

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (it was closed the only time I've been to New York)

18. Grown my own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train (and in train stations)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked (hope my parents don't read this one)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort (growing up in Montana, snow cities would be more accurate - we would have a whole tunnel network under the berms on the edges of the driveway.

25. Held a lamb (raised one for 4-H one year)

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (been to Venice and rode a water bus, but didn't have the money for a gondola ride)

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise (mostly on the mornings where I hadn't gone to sleep the night before - saw it over Haleakala Crater on Maui once - talk about on top of the world)

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I'm a mutt, I think I've visited 2 of the 10+ countries where my ancestors were born)

35. Seen an Amish community (I really want to do this)

36. Taught myself a new language (again, did I sit in a room by myself and learn it by osmosis, no, but I did learn Mandarin Chinese by choice as an adult)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke (okay, it was New Year's eve - enough said!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa (in the top ten on my bucket list)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (was in Rome and saw St. Peters and the Vatican, but no money for the Sistine Chapel unless I gave up food for the day or my bed at the youth hostel that night.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (both, snorkeling is my favorite)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud (did I mention I have boys?)

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China (another top ten on the bucket list)

57. Started a business (I'd count my stint as a Creative Memories consultant, but it was really just a way to get scrapbooking stuff cheaper for me and my friends)

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check (I was very young...."but how can there be no money, I still have checks")

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I can't remember one - all I remember is favorite books - some of which I still have)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades (can you believe we lived outside Tampa for five years and I never went to the Everglades?)

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (rafting it is another thing on my bucket list)

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had my picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club (started two!)

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Rode an elephant (rode a camel once, though)

For a total of 53 plus a couple near misses.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exposing Santa

Conversation in the car on our yearly pilgrimage to see Santa:

Dakota, "Can we turn around? I forgot to bring paper."

Me, "No, honey, we can't go home. Why do you need paper?"

Dakota, slightly whiny, "I want to get Santa's autograph."

Me, "Why do you want to get Santa's autograph?"

Dakota, "To see if he's a suspect."

Me, "What do you mean, suspect? Do you mean an impostor?"

Dakota, "Yeah, that's it, an impostor!"

Dylan, giggling excitedly, "Yeah, then we can get it next year and check for differences."

Dakota, "That's what I wanted to do!"


Teaching Dakota to sew

The boys have both been begging me to teach them to sew. However, I know better than to try to teach them both at the same time. I would be playing yet another variation on my least favorite game, "Which one do I love more?" (For an explanation of this game, see halloween-scare-i-couldve-done-without.html) One would be cutting himself with the rotary cutter while the other pierced _______(pick an appendage) with the sewing machine needle, probably repeatedly! And that's just the FIRST scenario that comes to mind! Give me a minute and I can easily come up with a dozen more! Today, however, I had the perfect opportunity. While Devin took Dylan to the skate park, I helped Dakota choose a project, some fabric, and sew it up. He had a really good time and was extremely excited by his finished item, a steno notebook cover. He loves notebooks, keeping careful tally of who wins what game on game nights. When Devin got home, he exclaimed over and over that he had sewn this all by himself and even made Devin watch him sew for awhile. - I dare you to try to imagine anything more boring than watching someone else sew.

I even got to do one for myself. I've been meaning to do one for weeks but haven't had a chance. They are from a tutorial at two wacky women if anyone out there is interested in a really fast, easy project. ( This just might be what the teachers get for Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The boys had their first wrestling match last night. Dylan wrestled last year and is one of those kids you just think of as a wrestler. He's all wiry and muscular and loves to be physical but will probably never have the size for a football player (I think he'll top out just under 6', as opposed to David, who is 6'5" at 19). He really enjoys wrestling, although I think part of the attraction just might be that Evan, his best friend, also wrestles, so they get to practice together and they have way too much fun.
This is Dakota's first year. I didn't think he would want to wrestle in a million years because physical contact is just not his thing. When he was a toddler he would sometimes throw himself on the ground screaming that I had hurt him when I tried to hold his hand in a store! It's called sensory defensiveness (oh, if I had only known that at the time) and occupational therapy helped but he still isn't what you would call a physical kid. However, he really enjoys the conditioning part of the practices and it's so good for him that Devin goes so he can help out with the practices in general and Dakota in particular. Dakota doesn't have a good feel for where his body is in space so he tends to have a very narrow range of motion. Here he is, "crouching" at the beginning of the match. This was his first meet ever and, although he was quickly pinned in both matches, he is still enthusiastic, which is a good thing.
Dylan did really well. He pinned his opponents in both matches and won his bracket. So now he has one of those pin-on medals attached to a ribbon to add to his two trophies (from Pinewood Derby and football). He was VERY excited and plans to take it to show-and-tell next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pow-Wow and Potlatch

Dakota's class studies a new topic in depth every month. September was dinosaurs, October was rocks and minerals, and November was all about Native Americans. Each of the students chose a tribe and had to do a research report and project on their chosen tribe. Dakota chose the Acoma (a Pueblo tribe). Since this is his third round with the report, he did really well, flying almost totally solo. We only helped with final editing and formatting.

For his project, he made these tiny items. The spear, bow, and arrows are toothpicks. He also made the little clay pot and beaded weaving because that tribe is known for those things. Other students' projects included models of villages, basket weaving, or small tepees.

After all that hard work, the kids got to have a pow-wow today. I asked Dakota what he was supposed to bring and, after first saying he didn't remember, and then thinking about it, he said he was supposed to bring the tablecloth. I thought it was a little odd that a pow-wow would require a tablecloth but he was pretty definite so I made a special trip to the store to get one anyway. The next morning, when I told the teacher I had the tablecloth, all she said was, "hmm, interesting". Dakota was supposed to bring a BLANKET to sit on! and FOOD to share! Luckily we live close enough that I was able to get home, grab some food, and still get back in time. The kids all sat on blankets with others in their tribes and told a little of what they had learned to visiting classes (3 classes at different times). They also shared food like carrots, sesame seeds, dried fruit and nuts with each other. They all did such a good job and I was so proud of Dakota. I just never quite know what to expect when he's the center of attention. Sometimes he acts up or he freezes. Not this time, though. He made his presentation and even thought of an Indian name for himself on the spur of the moment. Small Pig, as he shall henceforth be called, got quite a few laughs after announcing that name.

Tomorrow they will have a potlatch. Dakota will take some of our tumbled agates from last year. Everyone brings something and then they will all gift each other with their "wealth". I've said it before but it bears repeating. I really like Dakota's teacher.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Salmon season at last

This morning when I walked out the door to take the boys to school, I noticed that my neighbor had caught a salmon. - I always notice because he hangs them on a tree in his front yard while he unpacks and cleans up. This is the same neighbor who is a tuna fisherman during the summer. He says he fishes for tuna to pay the bills so he can fish for salmon when they're in season. Anyway, this was a BIG salmon. Probably not big as far as big salmon go but definitely big as far as fish hanging from trees go. It was almost four feet long from head to tail. It was only about 8:00 in the morning and, aside from admiring his dedication in getting up what must have been insanely early to catch this fish and hoping it would still be there when I got home so I could take a picture of it (it tickles my funny bone to see a fish hanging from a tree), I paid no attention to it because the boys are barely on time to school most mornings and this was a typical morning.

By the time I got home, the fish was gone. But as I passed by, my neighbor poked his head out the door to let me know he'd left a present for me on our porch. I immediately told him about how he is our favorite neighbor but he just laughed. Actually, he IS my favorite neighbor but I probably would have said so right then even if he weren't. He'd set aside a yummy (and huge - this is on a dinner plate) piece of the fish for us.
We all love salmon. I buy it in the store when the craving gets especially strong but only get wild salmon - the farm raised kind just doesn't compare. When we lived on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound (has it really been more than 10 years!?), Devin would catch Silver Salmon (I think they're Coho). Most were only about 3-4 pounds. I would stuff the belly with onions and spices, wrap it in foil, and he would grill it that evening for dinner. Up until we moved here, it was the best salmon I had ever tasted. I have to admit that there is something extremely satisfying about knowing exactly where your meat has come from. Also, when you eat fish so fresh that it was swimming upstream less than 24 hours earlier, you just can't go wrong. The salmon caught here is even better than the silvers from Whidbey. The first bite I took last year just blew me away. It has a mild, sweet taste and the texture of the tenderest steak - enough to bite into but it almost melts in your mouth. Best of all, since it is so fresh and delicious, the simplest method of cooking is the way to go. I poached this one over lemon slices and celery (smiley face optional) and served it with a creamy horseradish sauce. Yumm!