Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We've been flocked!!

Devin mentioned last night that the boys should really leave a little extra time this morning before school to check out our new lawn attractions. Evidently, in between the time we got home from Portland around 6:00 and when we went to bed at 10:30, we were "flocked". Devin assumed someone from his work had done it as a joke because the last place we lived was Florida, which is the state most closely associated with flamingos.

When I read the note attached to the "alpha" flamingo (the one closest to the door), I realized it is part of a fundraiser for two Newport girls to go to Washington D.C. as local representatives of something called People to People. The way it raises funds is that we have to pay to get rid of them! Then they go on to a person of our choosing who, in turn, pays more go-away money. Of course, we can also buy "insurance" so the flamingos won't come back. I think this is pretty funny and very clever.... Devin just raised his eyebrows non-committally.

These hot-pink flamingos are a shocking sight in our yard, not only because they are stereotypically trashy lawn ornaments, not only because flamingos clearly do NOT belong in Oregon, but because there is such a glaring contrast between our current lusterless, overcast day and this garish neon-pink flock of birds, one of whom is resting in a BUSH???

I have to admit this made my day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A.C. Gilbert Discovery Museum in Salem

Sunday we left Portland and traveled south to Salem, which is on the way back to Newport, to visit the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Museum
(http://www.acgilbert.org/). We had never visited this one but had heard good things about it. It was well worth the stop. This is really two activities in one.

First, there is the inside. Believe me, the insides should never be undervalued in a rainy climate like Oregon's! There are three buildings with quite a respectable offering of daily life type activities (a pretend grocery store, stage with costumes, skeleton manipulatives, crafting with re-purposed trash, etc.). Here's Dylan, the intrepid explorer, posing for the camera in the stage room. My favorite room of all was the bubble room. There were dozens of ways to make bubbles, including the bubble circle curtain that the kids stood in the middle of, and the bubble wall, shown here, with Dylan blowing into it.

Dakota and Dylan, although they enjoyed it, are getting to the upper limit of the age to be interested in most of the things inside - but younger kids would be hugely entertained for hours.

As nice as the inside is, it is the outside that puts this place over the top, though. They have one of the most extensive and well-thought-out play areas I have ever seen. There is the music room:

The spider web: The "cell" that can be explored from the inside out:

There is also a paddle wheeler, many paths and tunnels connecting it all, benches in the middle for exhausted parents, and, best of all, this humongous, multi-level maze with slides on the back side to zip down on.

Dakota and Dylan spent about two hours zooming around, playing hide-and-seek with Devin, who frequently pretends not to see them in order to make the game even more exciting for them. He's such an awesome dad!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Well, we decided last Tuesday - last minute as usual - to head up to Portland for the three-day weekend. Our main purpose was to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). I consider this to be the best children's museum I have ever visited, although Seattle comes very close, if only for the butterfly house. What makes this one so great is that almost everything is hands-on, which is especially great for boys, so many of whom are kinesthetic learners. In addition to the exhibit halls, there is an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, an awesome science store, and temporary exhibits (this time it was Da Vinci).

When I was in grade school, a group from my school came to Portland every year for a basketball tournament. There are several things we did every time, one of which was to visit OMSI, so I have fond memories of coming here as a child. My clearest memory is of the Gravitron. It's one of those things where a little metal ball rolls on one of several tracks until it gets to the bottom, at which point it is hoisted back to the top to start down all over again. As you can see, kids are still fascinated with it and, I must admit, even as an adult I can sit and watch it for several minutes without the slightest feeling of boredom. Dakota and Dylan sit for at least five minutes and watch it every time we visit.

OMSI is so densely packed with activities and exhibits that, even though we have visited at least half a dozen times (and I want to say closer to ten times), we still haven't done it all. Dylan always heads straight for the paper airplanes and bridge building area, frenetically testing everything that catches his eye as he races through the main exhibit hall. Dakota still hasn't really gotten past the Chemistry lab, robotics, Physics lab and ball area, all of which are in the first two-thirds of the hall.

Dylan and I spent a couple hours on Saturday and Sunday making various paper airplanes, which we then tested in the "wind tunnel" and aimed at a target to see how accurately they flew. We kept the best of them to show off for Dakota and Devin back in the hotel room. Dakota's reaction was, "HUH, I never knew they had paper airplanes! Where are those?"

Here's Dylan in the robotics section trying to move the circle to the other end of the metal tube without being beeped (when they touch each other).

I highly recommend OMSI to anyone in Portland with children middle school aged and younger. When they get to high school age they don't want to do ANYTHING with their parents, most of all a lame educational museum. For everyone else, this is definitely one thing not to pass up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


"Hi, my name is Ann, and I'm a yesoholic."

"Hi Ann."

"I've tried to get clean and stay clean before but I always fall off the wagon."

"We've all been there. And you're here with us now. That's what counts."

"I used to be a volunteeraddict but I kicked that habit cold turkey. Been clean almost two years now."

"Congratulations! That's a tough one."

Okay, you guessed it, I made that up. But if I could find this group, I would join in a heartbeat. I imagine it being called Spineless Unpaid Chumps Anonymous, or SUCAs (suckers? get it?) for short. Seriously, what is it that makes me raise my hand without a thought, jumping up and down and screaming, "PICK ME!!"? I like to help out but it's drastically cutting into my nap time.

I "yessed" myself into a big project for my quilt guild. I had a self-imposed deadline to finish it by last night and didn't quite make it. I had one or (gasp!) both boys home with the flu all last week, among other things. However, I am now spitting distance from completing it - should be easily finished early next week. Then I can get back to napping...I mean housework.... Okay, okay, I'll actually be sewing and blogging again. To quote a friend, "If I can't use the vacuum once a week, I'll just use the leaf-blower once a month." Words to live by! It's nice to be back.

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sleep talking

Last night, as I was laying in bed trying to find yet another comfortable position that would allow me to actually fall asleep, I heard Dakota start to mumble in his sleep.

I have to mention here that all three of the boys talk in their sleep and I've read that there is a correlation between this and sleep walking as teenagers. With David, it sure was true. He sleep walked A LOT! The most memorable time is when he thought the kitchen trash can was actually a similarly purposed bathroom fixture. Let's just say he lifted the lid - for which I am very grateful.

Anyway, Dakota was mumbling in his sleep. I heard "Mumble, garf, pfluble. Can I save?" (He's talking about saving a video game.) The last was said loudly and just as clear as day. Imagine my amazement when I heard Devin, who had been asleep for about two hours at this point, reply "mmm hmm" in between gentle snores.

Devin doesn't believe that this actually happened, but it was all I could do not to wake him up shaking the bed I was laughing so hard - very quietly.