Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up-The Sickness Edition

It all started last Thursday. Jay came home from work and told me he'd been sick most of the day with a headache and vomiting but around midday he took something and was feeling better. Let us pause a moment to discuss my husband's work ethic. On the one hand, obviously it's awesome and I know it's what's made it possible for me to stay home with the kiddos all these years. (Thanks Jay!) On the other hand, I just want to scream, "Dude, take a few hours off so you can puke in the comfort of your own home and not the trash can in your office." Moving on....

Saturday morning I woke up feeling iffy. I thought I'd be fine after coffee. I wasn't. Within an hour I had a headache so bad that I couldn't stand up without feeling barfy. So, not sharing Jay's work ethic, I went back to bed and stayed there the whole day. Jay had to go to work (this is a busy time of year for him) so while I was in bed the kids were left to fend for themselves Lord of the Flies style.

Let us pause, yet again, to discuss the work ethics of my children. The girl loves to help and is always willing to pitch in. But she's five, so without someone managing her, she doesn't really do much. And if she does, it's not in a way that is truly helpful. The boy is almost twelve. He does nothing without being told. In fact, he flies as low under the radar as possible so as to avoid being told to do anything. Needless to say, this will all be brought up at their yearly evaluations and I doubt anyone is getting any raises this year. Don't get me wrong, the kids took care of me while I was sick. They brought me tea and crackers, repeatedly warmed up my Happy Heat pack, and generally stayed close by just in case I needed something. But as far as cleaning the house goes....yeah, nothing got done.

By Saturday night I was feeling somewhat better. Jay was home from work and I was all set to continue lying in bed. This time with my husband and maybe a bit of True Blood. But then around 9:30, I heard it......the distinct sound of someone in the other room about to be sick. I arrived just in time to see the girl throw up her chicken nuggets. All. Over. Her. Bed. (Keep in mind the girl likes to sleep hotel style, with numerous sheets, blankets, pillows and a duvet.) I cleaned her and her room up the best I could and made her a bed on the floor next to me.

I next went to the kitchen to find something to reduce her fever. I clicked on the light and was met with splatters of play doh everywhere. It would appear that a small play doh battle had taken place while I was sick in bed. But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst was waiting for me at the edge of the carpet, a pile of steaming dog crap. Apparently, the boy (the one NOT getting a raise this year) had been a bit lackadaisical when walking the dog. Nice. I cleaned that up, got the girl her medicine, and went to bed.

No one slept well that night. The girl talks in her sleep when healthy. When feverish and ill her sleep talking becomes weird, loud, and delusional. For instance, she repeatedly called out for me to "burst the water balloon." Don't know what that's about.

My Sunday was spent nursing the girl back to health, doing seven(!!!!) loads of laundry, and steam cleaning the carpets. Because it makes no sense to drag the steam cleaner out for one spot. Why not do the whole apartment, says the crazy woman high on Day Quil.

Now it's Monday. A holiday. Jay's at work (again, it's a busy time of year for him). I'm still catching up on laundry, dealing with a whiny girl, and pumping the boy full of vitamin c in hopes that he'll avoid catching the bug that plagued the rest of the family.

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Random Thoughts

*One of my all time favorite books, Water for Elephants, is being made into a movie. Playing the lead role? Robert Pattinson. I'm definitely intrigued by this. The leading lady is Reese Witherspoon, who does nothing for me, but I'm still very excited about the movie.

*I'm going to finally try to make something from a pattern. I recently purchased Simplicity 3835, and Simplicity 4767. Both of these seem fairly easy and I've seen a lot of bloggers make them with a fair amount of success. (Most recently Crystal's simple yet adorable dress for her little gal, which has occupied my mind for the last week.) Breaking down and purchasing a pattern is a big deal to me. I've been putting it off because I knew once I spent the money, I would definitely feel the pressure to make something I'd actually wear. The pressure is on.

*Jay surprised me with a copy of It's Complicated. I haven't had a chance to watch it though because we've been catching up with True Blood before the new season starts next month. As much as I love Alec, sexy vampires usually trump Baldwins. This is just the hierarchy of things around here.

*Last week I had serious hair trauma. I needed to get my hair cut but didn't have a lot of time so I went to a place in one of the local malls. The woman who cut my hair was older (which is not usually a deal breaker) but lets just say english was not her first language (Um...from now on, totally a deal breaker). This really should have tipped me off, but once I was in I didn't feel right just leaving-the salon had just opened and no one else was there. Anyway, I've been getting this haircut for a while so I was able to tell her exactly what I wanted. But because of her age, and probably her more traditional background and culture, I don't think she really got what I wanted her to do. Plus, she argued with me. For instance, I told her I wanted it tapered up the back. Her response was, "No. No taper. I do it nice." Or when I told her her I wanted my bangs shorter and she said, "No. No shorter." She was very quiet and meek and I could tell she wasn't trying to piss me off. I think the problem was just some type of miscommunication. Somewhere along the line our wires were getting crossed and she just wasn't hearing what I was saying. Anyway, I let her do her thing, thinking How bad can it be?

Well, if the look on Jay's face was any indication, it was BAD. Honestly, he could barely look at me. Obviously I had to get this fixed. So I went into a Toni and Guy and one of their stylists was able to make me presentable. So, what was supposed to be a quick haircut ended up taking all morning and cost me twice as much. (For what it's worth, all of this could have been avoided if I'd just gone to a guy that Daphne suggested in the first place, since I know for a fact he knows what he's doing. Live and learn.)

But this whole ordeal has left me wondering if I could have done things differently. I mean, I'm just not the type of person to get up from the stylist's chair and walk out, especially since I don't think that this particular person was genuinely evil or trying to displease me. I think she just thought her way was better and I'd be massively impressed with what she did. Have you ever been in a position where you just knew what the stylist was doing was not good? How did you handle it? How would you have handled this lady?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wash Wednesday

All throughout May, GardenMama has been hosting Wash Wednesday. I hadn't gotten around to participating, but I've loved looking through the photos of every ones clotheslines. Even though I don't have a proper clothesline anymore, I thought I'd play along this week. I doctored my photo up a bit with Picnik's 1960's processing technique, which actually makes me feel strangely melancholy, as if I'm looking through an old photo album.

Anyway, I've mentioned before how much I miss my clothesline. The crisp sheets, the crunchy towels, the sun bleached dish cloths. I even miss the stiff jeans. I've recently learned that I hate the way my jeans feel after a romp in the dryer.

I purchased the above drying rack at Target. Obviously I can't dry all my clothes on it, and sheets are pretty much out of the question, but it's excellent for quick drying items like tea towels and the girl's clothes.

In the past week, I've been trying to find the perfect location for my drying rack. One would think the balcony, but Oregon weather is fast changing and unpredictable. It can be sunny and bright one minute, and rainy with a chance of hail the next. While I otherwise love that, it makes for poor clothes drying weather. This has definitely kept me on my toes and I've been constantly moving the rack from outside to inside and from room to room, opening windows and gauging the wind direction.

But I'm bound and determined to make this work. Even if it does take my jeans three days to dry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Simple Scarf

Saturday I crocheted my first scarf. Nothing fancy, just something simple for the girl. Granted, this 'simple' thing took literally all day to complete and I got nothing else done.
As far as crocheting goes, there are still quite a few things that I'm stumped on and my work is far from perfect, but it all seems to be coming together the more I practice. And practice. And practice. And practice.

In the past few years, I've become increasingly thankful that I have a little girl to share the results of my creative attempts with. She very eagerly receives all of my imperfect first tries.My daughter is my biggest fan. I know it won't always be that way, but right now she thinks that I can make just about anything and is always amazed and impressed with every project. If I were to allow it, she'd willingly wear one of the skirts I've made her with one of the pillowcase-style dresses, and top it with this scarf. While her fashion sense might need a bit of tweaking, I appreciate her enthusiasm for her mammy-made items.
Especially when compared to the boy, who has definitively told me he has absolutely no interest in wearing anything I whip up. Fine. Making boy stuff doesn't interest me anyway.

(Oh, one more thing: With temperatures in the high fifties/low sixties, it's technically still scarf weather here. I love it!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Letting Go in the Kitchen

One aspect of parenting that has never come easy to me has always been letting my kids do things themselves. I don't mean the big things like staying home alone the first time, going on a trip without a parent, walking the mall on their own, etc. The hard things for me to give up are the little, everyday things that I've gotten so used to doing on my own. Specifically, most kitchen tasks. It's not that I love being in the kitchen and want to keep all that crazy fun for myself, but I've been doing this mom/wife thing for a while now. I can quickly and efficiently get things done, then sit back and relax. Whereas when I delegate these tasks, the project inevitably takes longer, and I have to hang out and oversee the whole thing. Simply put, it's easiest just to do things myself. But of course that makes for lazy children who can't do anything on their own. Definitely not what I want. As much as I love these stinkers, I do not want two hopeless adults still living with me in 15 years.

Both of my kids have shown an interest in cooking and baking. They both want to help with just about every meal. Obviously, this isn't always possible-especially when getting a meal on the table in a timely manner is important. But Jay and I try to set aside some time each week when the kids can help out in the kitchen.

This past weekend we had a lot of time for just that. Jay worked all weekend and the weather was rainy and cold, perfect for baking.

Starting with a cobbler made by the girl, with a bit of help from me.It was so hard for me to not micromanage every single moment of this.If it had just been me making this cobbler, silly mistakes wouldn't have been made, messes would have been kept to a minimum, and there probably wouldn't be flour and butter between the pages of my favorite cookbook.
But, messes (most of them) are easily cleaned up. And, had I made the cobbler myself, I wouldn't have heard the excitement in my daughter's voice when she told her dad and brother that she had helped make the cobbler. Then on Sunday the boy baked and decorated his first cake. Inspired by Dani's camo cake, we had to do one of our own. The boy did all the work. He baked the cake, played mad scientist with the food coloring, and iced it all himself. Again, I would have loved to have had more input on this project, but the boy wanted full control so I had to step aside. At one point, I just had to leave the kitchen so as to not throw in my unwanted two cents.

This is all a very slow process for me and every day I have to make myself give up a little more control. But it will all be worth it when I have two adult children who can stand on their feet and know they don't have to rely on anyone. Self-reliance is a wonderful thing.
(Edited to Add: Blogger is having some issues with the commenting system right now. I'm getting your comments but can't publish them. Or I don't get them at all. Or I publish them and they show up a day later. Anyway, if you commented and you don't see it, please know that I didn't just recklessly delete it. Hopefully this will all get worked out soon.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Things You Probably Like, That I Hate

I stole this idea from Elizabeth, who stole it from someone else. I really love it and totally wish I had thought of it myself.

*Lost-I've never watched an entire episode and I don't understand what all the hoopla is about. Actually, this is just one of a long list of shows that I've missed the boat on and never gotten into. Others include: Scrubs, Survivor, American Idol, Biggest Loser, Grey's Anatomy, CSI Anywhere, and Glee. I know, right?! Glee?! It's not a bad show, I'm just not motivated to tune in.

*John Hamm-Sorry John, I'm just not that into you. Fortunately for you, almost every other straight woman in America is. Other men I'm told are attractive who I have no interest in: Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Hartnett, and Ryan Reynolds.

*Brownies-I prefer cake or cookies and will almost always turn down a brownie. Unless it has the consistency of cake or is extra gooey.

*Horses and Ponies-Too many girls grew up wanting a pony or a horse. This has made them far too smug for my liking.

*Sunshine-I know it sounds like I'm full of crap, but I really think that too much sunshine is harsh and oppressive. Back in Florida, day after day of sunshine just wore me out and made me depressed. Maybe I'll feel differently here in the Pacific Northwest where the sun doesn't let it all hang out quite as often.

*The Goonies-I don't really have an explanation on this one. But I do feel like a loser because it appears that I'm the only person of my generation who doesn't like this movie.

*Visible brand logos on clothing, handbags, etc. I will occasionally give into this one if it's on kids clothes and/or I get them cheap or at a thrift store, but generally I avoid it.

*Old Navy-This store tricks me every time. I see the commercials. The clothes look cute. So I schlep all the way to the store only to find it in total disarray, even at ten in the morning. Plus, they never have my size. Ever. Which amazes me because it seems as if they have about 1000 of everything. Maybe this is my fault though since I only shop the sale rack because I refuse to pay more than $3.99 for something from Old Navy. There is a moment that happens about ten minutes into every Old Navy shopping experience I've ever had. I'm digging around the ladies sale section, not having any luck. Sweaters, boat-neck shirts, and deep-V tees are strewn around my ankles because Old Navy insists on hanging everything, even if it has no business being on a hanger and will undoubtedly fall off after about a minute. I sigh, look around, and say to myself, Why am I digging through this garbage? And I leave.

*Johanna Newsom-She seems like someone I should like. Yet, I don't.

*Men without hair on their chests.

*Banana flavored anything.

*Nickelback-UGH!

I could probably go on and on here, but I'll stop for now. But I'm interested, what do you hate that everyone else seems to like? And please, feel free to chime in about some of the things on my list.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random Thoughts

*I've been a shitty blogger/blog friend lately. I'm behind on reading everyones blogs and even though I'm catching up, I haven't been commenting as much and that makes me feel bad. As for my own blog, I've been here, but my heart really hasn't been in it. In fact, posting has been harder than it ever has for me. It's felt like a job. Granted, a job I don't get paid for. So, it's felt like slave labor. But I feel like things are taking a turn. My life is truly settling down and I think things will be "normal" soon. Yay for normal. (As a side note to this: a lot of my blog people have had more serious and pressing matters in their lives as well and blogging and commenting has been hit and miss. Is it something in the air lately or what?)

*Our house in Florida still hasn't sold. I try not to think about it because I know that ultimately there is nothing I can do. There are a few people that want it, but getting financing is hard. The fact of the matter is, right now you have to have near perfect credit to get financing and that just isn't most people.

*I've thought long and hard about whether or not to blog about how our move was possible, in regards to the financial aspect. At one point I decided not to, but really, it seems like I'm leaving a huge chunk out of the story by not mentioning it and I'm sure some of you were wondering. So here is the abbreviated version in a loose list form for your reading ease and pleasure:

When my mom moved out, we knew we needed to act fast. Long term, we couldn't pay the mortgage on our own. We put the house on the market literally the next business day.

Jay's company has had openings throughout Oregon for sometime now. We always knew this was where we wanted to be, we just didn't know how to do it and to be frank, I was really scared about the whole thing. But because of our situation, we had to do something so Jay put in for a transfer and applied for a job in Oregon. (He got it, obviously. And he got a raise.)

To cover all of our immediate financial needs and expenses, Jay quit his job so that he could cash out his 401k, and then got re-hired when we got to Oregon. This was very stressful for me. Not so much for Jay, who tends not to be a worrier. But my worst fear was getting up here and Jay not getting re-hired.

With our 'extra' money, we paid down/off some credit cards and we paid off our car. So now, other than the fact that we have both rent AND a mortgage to pay, we're doing pretty okay financially (i.e. not so in debt). This probably goes without saying, but I need my house to sell real soon. Like, yesterday. So yeah, if anyone wants a 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bath in Gainesville, Florida.....I know a couple of very motivated sellers.

I had hoped to be get a job when the girl starts school in the fall, but they have half day kindergarten here so I don't know if that will be possible.


So that's the long and short of it. It had never been in our plan to move that way. We had hoped to have all of our ducks in a row and not have every little step be so up in the air. There were times it was so very, very stressful, and I have to credit Jay for really keeping all the balls in the air while I tried to not have a nervous breakdown. Also, I hated having to rape and pillage the 401k the way that we did (let's not even discuss the tax aspect of it all), but ultimately I'm glad it was there. Plus, we're young enough to be able to start over. Which we have. And, we're happy.

Moving on to more randomness......

*Yesterday, I bought a clothes drying rack. I'm very excited about this. I miss my clothesline and hate having to use the dryer for everything. And even though our electric bill is about $300 less than it was in Florida, I want to see how low I can get it.

*Right now I'm reading The Kite Runner. It's depressing and isn't doing a lot for my mood, but it's a good book. I'm definitely going to have to read something lighthearted afterwards. I don't know if I'll be reviewing it here. I may just want to be done with it and not think about it anymore.

*The boy just got back from outdoor school and he had a blast. I, of course, was a nervous wreck the whole time but I'm glad he went. He said the food sucked but he was excited to tell me that one of his camp counselors was a stunt double in Twilight.

I think that's all the randomness I have for you today. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a proper post.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review:: Babycakes

The fact that I finally have direct, local access to an Anthropologie and the only thing I can justify buying is a cook book featuring baked goods should say something about how tight fisted I am with money. It's also probably evidence that I'm kind of a pig.

I purchased this book for two reasons:

*My best friend checked it out from her local library three times and was constantly talking about it and I wanted to participate in the conversation.

*All of my life I've had some tummy issues that I'd like to get to the bottom of. Thinking the problem may be gluten related, I thought I'd invest in a book of gluten free recipes.

It turns out though, that not all the recipes in the book are gluten free. Many of them call for spelt flour, which most people with gluten problems can't tolerate. For my purposes, this is no big deal since I can (and usually will) eat just about anything. But if you're searching for a true gluten free cook book, you might want to spend your $24 elsewhere.

So far, I've made two things from this cookbook, the Lemon-Poppy Teacake and the Johnnycakes.
Lemon Poppy Teacake

Both came out tasty and the recipes were clear and easy to follow. In fact, that's probably one of my favorite things about the book. The directions are precise and exact and the author tells you to follow them word for word. Good to know since you'll be working with expensive, unusual, or hard to find ingredients like xanthan gum, potato starch, coconut oil, and arrowroot.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint, which isn't so much about the book itself, but maybe gluten free or specialty baking in general: It's super costly. On the day that I bought the ingredients for the Lemon Poppy Teacake I spent about $60. Granted, I had just moved in and my kitchen cabinets weren't stocked, so I had to buy everything, right down to basics like vanilla extract......but still. Yikes. Again, if you actually need to eat this way, this isn't a surprise to you and you probably already have a lot of the needed ingredients. But for me, the casual baker, the investment got me a bit choked up. Also, living near a big city, I had no trouble finding the needed items, but if I were still back in Gainesville, I don't know if I would have had as much luck. I may have had to order certain items off the interwebs, which can be a drag.

The book itself is very stylish and trendy and the pictures are gorgeous. I occasionally love to just read a cookbook much like I'd read a novel, so this appeals to me. That being said, I don't know if any of the recipes in this book are going to be awesome enough for me to keep the specialty items on hand. They're good, but I'm sure I could find yummy recipes online that don't need the expensive ingredients.

All in all, I like this book and have enjoyed stepping outside my comfort zone in regards to the way I bake. But I liken baking from this book to going to the opera-It's an intriguing idea, but not something I desire to do on a regular basis.

(I wrote this post in conjunction with Krafty Kash's Holy Scale Mondays. If you read Kashoan's blog regularly, you know she's lost over 30 pounds in the last few months. In order to keep herself motivated she's started an online support group of sorts where we can all share tips, recipes, stories, basically anything related to weight loss or healthy living. If you're interested in joining, check out Kashoan's blog.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

It Makes Me Smile

My son's first pediatrician had seven children. I remember him once telling me that he hardly spent anything on furniture and that his house was sparsely decorated. At first I thought this was odd. I figured since he was a doctor, his home should look like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog. It wasn't until my son got older, and the girl came along, that I realized how smart he was. Why spend thousands of dollars on stuff when it's all going to get so scuffed up, marked on, dented, and well..........used?One of the things that gets regularly used in my home is my dinner table.We bought it at Ikea about five years ago right after we moved into our house. My mom and her then-husband were living with us and we wanted a big table that the whole family could eat at comfortably. But we wanted to spend less than $500. Fortunately, Ikea is wonderful for that kind of thing. I don't remember exactly what it cost, maybe $300. I think the chairs were $29 a piece. Anyway, some ridiculously low price for the whole set.Now that our family-and our home-is smaller, the table gets used even more. Not only for eating but for homework, crafting, fabric cutting, reading, bill paying, mail checking, etc. This table isn't just a dinner table anymore, but a living table. It's routinely cluttered with all the stuff of family life. When meal time comes around, the table is big enough that we can shove all the books, bills, and artwork to one end and still have enough room for us all to eat.

There are times I'd love for all that clutter to be gone. The table would look so nice polished up with just a colorful fruit bowl in the middle. But I know that isn't realistic. Certainly not right now, and probably never. I've learned to love the clutter of the dinner table. It makes me realize what I've got. It makes me smile.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Children

Over the past few weeks I've received quite a few comments and emails saying how brave Jay and I are for having the guts to follow our dream a bit and make the huge step of moving our family across the country, to a place where we have no known support system. (Thank you for the kind words, by the way!) While I do think there are times I've felt incredibly brave, I've also felt dozens of other emotions as well. One of them being selfishness.
Were Jay and I being selfish for uprooting our children? Ultimately, I don't think so, and I firmly believe that any stumbling blocks we may face right now, are outweighed by all of the future benefits.But I have noticed one major behavioural change over the past few weeks and I wanted to share it with you. There are times I've felt as if I've sugar coated our move, maybe glossed over the many imperfections and not-so-great parts.
So, in the essence of full disclosure, I must say that my previously mostly good natured children, have begun to argue about everything. They argue with each other, they argue with me and Jay. I've even caught them arguing with the TV-a mostly one sided argument. And the things they argue about are so ridiculous that it almost makes my head spin.Take for instance what happened the other night. We were enjoying a relatively peaceful dinner when the boy asked if he could have a bottle of water. I said, "No, the water bottles are for school lunches. Just pour a glass of water." (Keep in mind that I do not live in the White House, but a small apartment. The walk from the dinner table to the kitchen is literally less than ten steps.) The boy sighed, rolled his eyes, and proclaimed that he was "so sick of this." Wanting to get to the bottom of this and thinking there may be a bigger issue, I semi-calmly asked, "Sick of what?" His response? "Water bottles being only for lunches. That's so stupid."Honestly, the whole conversation was so inane that had I been looking down at it while it was happening, I would have thought that I was watching a bad sitcom, not my real life. And it's been like that with both kids, all day long.

Of course, some of this is probably just kids being kids. Kids argue, it's their thing. But I also think that with my particular kids, a lot of it stems from them feeling as if they have no control over their own lives and feeling a certain amount of insecurity over their surroundings. Don't get me wrong, they've otherwise adjusted beautifully and in most ways the transition has been seamless. But I think that right now, they need to have their voices heard. Even if their voices happen to be declaring something truly asinine.

The response Jay and I have had to all this is patience (although that's wearing thin), understanding, and an increase in family time. We've driven the kids all over Portland and the surrounding towns in an effort to get them more familiar with the area and more comfortable. When out at large places like the Portland Saturday Market, we've allowed the boy to go off on his own, hoping it will build his confidence and make him feel more sure of his own abilities.At times it's been tough. There are times the arguing has gotten so intense that all I want to do is yell and scream. And many times I've done just that. But then, it passes. We go back to playing games or exploring. And everything is fine again. And I know that in the long run, everything will work out well.In the meantime, have I mentioned that wine is way cheaper here than it was in Florida?

(All photos were taken at Tualatin Commons, a gorgeous public space in my town that includes a man made lake surrounded by restaurants, apartments, and offices. During the summer months it hosts things like art festivals, farmers markets, and paddle boat rides. And it's a great place to take some pictures of goofy children running through a fountain in 58 degree weather. We told them it was a bad idea and they'd be cold. But of course, they argued with us. Live and learn.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crochet Update and More Questions

So I've still been plugging along with the crochet practice. Before I left Florida, I popped into Jo-Ann's and bought a thing of cotton yarn. A skein, I guess. Although I feel weird saying "skein." It's a term for people who know what they're doing. Anyway, my intention was to practice only my chain stitch on the car ride up because Dani said that a good chain stitch is the "foundation" to any crochet project and without a good chain, my work "won't look nice." And she's right. But the chain stitch is sooooo boring. And the crochet stitch is sooooo relaxing and fun.

So I practiced my chain. For about ten minutes. Then I began making another dishcloth. (For what it's worth, I worked on this a lot when we were driving through Kansas, because Kansas is dull, dull, dull. I'm sorry if you live there.) This dishcloth came out..........better. And square-ish. A dishcloth that is all kinds of just adequate. As you can see here:The longer part there, so clearly pointed out by the arrows, was my beginning point. So I think it's safe to say I still need to work on my chain stitch. I know, I know. Also, I feel as if I kept track of my stitches the whole time so I'm thinking my problem might be with my tension. Still. I was really concerned about making my stitches too tight and I think I overcompensated by making some too loose. Especially on my chain. Does that sound feasible?

I think my single crochet stitch is pretty good. Not great, but good enough and continuing to improve. Sometimes downright pretty.

My next questions would be, How do I finish it? Is there a different stitch I do around the sides to neaten it all up and give it a more polished look? Do my sides even look right, because honestly, I'm not sure I'm doing it properly? I went to Youtube but couldn't really narrow down what I needed to do or even what term to search for. A little help here? I've been using this dish cloth as-is and it's not fallen apart yet, so I'm guessing that it's okay.

In the meantime, Jodi was kind enough to send me some yarn, being modeled here by my lovely assistant:Guess what I've begun working on? That's right, another dishcloth. I'm not giving up until I can make one totally square. Either that, or I can start a business crocheting dishcloths for geometry lovers, since apparently I can make things like trapezoids or hexagons without really even trying.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

On Sunday we drove out to Cannon Beach, which is about an hour and a half from where we live. Incidentally, the drive to the shore is about as long as it was for us when we lived in Gainesville, only the view to get there is much, much prettier.

It was still far too cold (and windy!) to get in the water but swim suits have been purchased for our inevitable return. We walked along the beach while the kids romped in the sand and played in a bit of the icy cold water.
Here we have the famous haystack rock:
I love this view of the houses along the beach and the mountains behind them:I don't know if I'll ever get over seeing mountains on a day to day basis. They really do excite me.

Both of my children appear to have some type of bizarre Moses complex where they always feel they have to strike these parting-the-sea type poses. I don't know what that's about.
And finally, a little Mother's Day love for me:I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day, no matter if you're mother to children, dogs, cats, or fish. It all counts to me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reaffirmed

Since moving to Oregon, I've been regularly hit with all the many reasons we made this move:

*The delightfully cool and drippy weather that we love.

*The excellent shopping. (Not that we shop more than the average family, but it's nice having direct access to all the things we want and not being forced to shop online or drive an hour and a half to make a purchase.)

*The steady stream of community activities, things to see, and places to go.

*The people. (To put it simply, we fit here.)

First and foremost though, we moved here because of the schools. The schools here in the small towns outside of Portland are really, really good schools. When Jay and I were researching potential places to put down roots, the schools were a huge deciding factor.

Here's the thing about my son-he's a great student and he's always done well, but he needs to be pushed into trying new things. And if he thinks that something isn't going to interest him, he won't even give it a shot. He's always gotten good grades and the Florida school system has taught him many things, but they didn't give him a love of learning. He knows facts and he knows how to do well in school, but the idea of being a lifelong learner has never really appealed to him.

As his parents, Jay and I have tried to fill in the gaps, educationally speaking, and expose him to other things, but it's been hard. There were times I didn't have the resources or even any idea as to where to begin. And of course, since we are his parents, we're usually met with resistance anytime we try to teach him anything new.

Anyway, back to his school here in Oregon. The boy is doing well and getting good grades, which honestly we expected. What we didn't expect was an almost immediate exposure to new and different things. One of the big events of the sixth grade school year is Outdoor School, where all of the sixth graders go camping for three days. This is a pretty big deal and a major part of the curriculum, but I've seen the difference on a smaller scale as well. For instance, today the boy came in the door and immediately pulled this out of his backpack:Do you know what that is??? It's baby Elphaba from Act One of Wicked! Not only is my son in a musical theatre class (a class long since cut from the budget in Florida) but he's being exposed to Wicked! Plus, he was so excited to share this with me because he knows I just read the book a few months ago. (Excuse the folds in his drawing, but it's a huge improvement from the wadded up balls he usually brings me.) Do you know how excited I am by this? The theatre, and the arts in general, are what I've been trying to interest my son in his whole life. I'm overjoyed that he's being introduced to things like this in a classroom setting. This makes it all (the financial hit we took, the fact that we're living in a teeny apartment, etc...) worth it. As Jay has said numerous times, the only thing we regret is that we didn't do it sooner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Things I'm Into Right Now

*I'm definitely 'into' the fact that things have slowed down and we're all getting back into our routines. I'm still excited by all the possibilities our new home offers, but I'm happy to take a deep breath and relax a bit. (Although, I'm decidedly not into the fact that I cannot get my newish laptop to work and am forced to write this on the slow and wheezy desk top.)

*I mentioned it last week, but the thrifting out here is amazing. Here's just a bit of our recent haul:

Vintage sheets and pillowcases I eventually want to make into a blanket:
Hanna Andersson dress for the girl ($3):
My new most favorite shoes ever:
I don't think I've ever discussed here my love of Swedish clogs. Actually, I love all clogs, but my preference leans toward the kind with the noisy wooden bottoms. You know, the kind most men find completely unattractive. If I happen upon a pair and they're anywhere near my size, I'll buy them. I paid $6.99 for these and they are a perfect fit. Honestly, I probably would have paid twice as much.

*Babycakes
Gluten free and vegan baked goods. Have any of you made anything from this book yet? I'm itching to do some baking but can't decide which recipe to begin with.

*Meeting a blog friend (and her family) in person and not having it be weird or uncomfortable. Well, Jay and I didn't think it was weird. After we left, Melissa and her husband may have looked at each other and said, "Let's NEVER do that again." But I hope not.

*The big news (to me) that Alec Baldwin will be hosting Saturday Night Live on May 15. Yay! I love having some type of television event to look forward to. Totally dorky, I know.

*This candle holder that the boy bought for me at the Renaissance Faire.Upon arrival at the Faire, he wandered off on his own. About 20 minutes later he appeared, chucked this at me and said, "This is for you." And then ran off again waving his wooden sword. I suppose that's how eleven year old boys show affection.

*The mirrored closet doors in my apartment. Normally, I would hate something like this, because I make it a point to avoid all mirrors-especially full length ones-but then I realized that these particular mirrors are magically slimming. I may never move out of this apartment.

*Finally, this post about disposable hand towels over on enviro mom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Portland Saturday

We headed out to the Portland Saturday Market yesterday, which is a lively place filled with arts and crafts, music, and all types of food and drink (I was finally able to try horchata-it was good not great, but sweeter than expected.) I even saw a street preacher reading his bible and screaming into a microphone. Hey, not my thing, but still interesting nonetheless.

I was reticent to part with the bit of money that I brought, but when I saw these crayons, I just knew I had to have them. Seriously, how cute are they?I love kitties and I love new crayons and the two combined just about puts me over the edge. I may let the girl use them. The creators have an etsy shop, Kitty Baby Love, in case you want some kitty crayons of your own. (They also have candles, if you aren't in the market for crayons.)

Also downtown, was a carnival/festival event for Cinco de Mayo. What follows are numerous self indulgent pictures, mostly starring my children enjoying those festivities:
Finally, a few shots of the area where all this took place, the Tom McCall Waterfront park:I have no desire to turn this blog into all Oregon, all the time, but in case it's not obvious, I'm loving my new home state. I truly feel like my little family belongs here. That being said, I was super excited to come home and find these in my mailbox, courtesy of Peggy.(Thanks again, Peggy!) I can't tell you how glad I am to have these resources. I've begun studying them and now maybe I'll be brave enough to venture out on my own to a destination other than Target, the middle school, or the grocery store.