How I'm Shopping for Christmas This Year

Sunday, November 30, 2008
ok, my bag is like an ad for Etsy
This photo from looktouch's photostream on Flickr is titled, "ok, my bag is like an ad for Etsy." What's funny is I might actually get there myself at the rate I'm going. I love pouncing, which is how I find new stores based on recent sales or recently updated stores, and "shop local" means that I can support my local community of artists by buying all my Christmas gifts this year from them instead of choosing to buy corporate. The next best thing to making gifts yourself is buying homemade gifts, and not only that, but it's yet another step towards sustainable living. Juniper's Christmas dress should be arriving next week, and is being custom sewn by a seller on Etsy. Did I mention how much I love Etsy? Because I do.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

We flew home today from our lovely little trip to Oakland over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I have to say that considering we have two strollers, two carseats, two kids, and a large pile of luggage when we travel, it couldn't have gone more smoothly. I'll thank my quad latte for that. I even had energy to run back to the airport after having a good dinner at home (love returning home) to surprise Mike & Susan, who had a chaotic flight schedule (Sacramento to San Francisco, 4 hour layover, then to Portland at 9PM), by picking them up at the airport so they didn't have to MAX, bus, and walk home. I like picking up people at the airport. Brings me back to my early college days, when I'd drive my little Ford Aspire to PDX regularly during holiday breaks, transporting friends to and from the airport. I must say that every time I travel I am reminded of what a great little city Portland really is. I always feel like I'm coming home--the best feeling in the world.

P.S. Today is a special day to me as I was due with Juniper on this day, November 29, last year.

Thanksgiving in Oakland

Friday, November 28, 2008

We're back from our trip to Oakland for Thanksgiving, which as a whole was a great trip, but there were parts to it that weren't easy. For one thing, after we'd checked our bags and made it through security, Sam threw up all over the place. We didn't even know he was unwell until that point. Later, he threw up on the plane in the aisle as we were boarding. There was a line of impatient people behind us, and I about made myself sick with the stress of it all. Not a moment in parenting I want to remember anytime soon! By the time we made it to Marylou's, where we stayed for the week, Sam threw up on her lawn, and that was it for the vomiting. He laid downstairs and watched movies for most of that first day.

But by the following day, he was up and playing, although I could tell he wasn't back to normal yet. We went into San Francisco via the BART and rode the San Francisco Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf.

Once at Fisherman's Wharf, we ran into the guy with the dog, cat, and rat. He's even on youtube--check him out! Landon's cousin Sarah loves rats, and even kissed this one on the nose.

It was a rainy day in the city, but we all had a great time despite the puddles. Landon's Uncle Danny is great with kids, and was able to get Juniper to sleep for me. Needless to say, he became an instant friend of mine.

We went to the Aquarium of the Bay along Fisherman's Wharf, and Sam was fascinated. You know what it was like when you were a kid and you were afraid you wouldn't see it all, so you dashed from one exhibit to the next in a hurried manner yelling, "Look, Mommy!" Okay, well, that was what he did for two hours.

I put on a happy face, although I'll admit it wasn't my favorite aquarium.

I had a great time, because when you get to see the world through the eyes of a three year old, everything is 100 times more exciting.

Louise Bourgeois’s bronze sculpture titled “Crouching Spider,” at Pier 14 made the perfect spot for a group photo. Sam had fallen asleep in the stroller (this never happens!) after visiting the aquarium, so from left to right it's Landon, Juniper, Karli, Danny, and Larry, Landon's two uncles and his mom's two brothers.

Later that night, we had a delicious vegetarian dinner at Larry and Heather's. Here I am chatting with Sam, Landon's grandfather.

The next morning, we all went for a hike. Sam stayed behind to play with Aidan at Marylou's house, and I carried Juniper in the ERGO. It was a foggy morning, but once we got to the top, the fog magically lifted before our eyes (literally), and the view was beautiful.

Brothers and sisters: from left to right, Susan, Larry, Marylou, and Danny.

Here is where we sat when the fog lifted. The view was beautiful. Juniper was getting pretty fussy at this point, but finally settled once we started walking again. The one thing I've taken away in my four years of parenting is that no matter what the age, kids like to keep moving!

This state park apparently leases land to farmers, who graze their cows. Interesting use of land, in my opinion. The cows didn't seem to mind us, although I minded their cow pies!

The hills looked just like this all around us. Such a beautiful place.

Juniper is pointing at the cows. It's so great to observe them seeing things for the first time.

Landon's brother Janssen and their Mom, Susan.

Isn't it beautiful?

Janssen and I had some catching up to do, as he's been living in the Bay area for many years now.

Thanksgiving Day is always a lot of fun with great wine, food, conversation, and games. This year, there was a wii, and even Juniper was smart enough to know it was something pretty darn cool.

Every year, we take group shots in front of Marylou's house. Here are all the siblings with Sam and Rachel on Landon's Mom Susan's side of the family. From left to right, Larry, Rachel, Marylou, Danny, Susan, and Sam.

Waiting for our turn to be photographed, I chatted with Landon's cousin from Baltimore, Sarah.

Picture with all the "kids." From left to right: Landon, Janssen, Mischa, Sarah, Karli, Juniper, Alexis, Sam, and Aidan.

Sarah finished a whole book of Sudoku while she was in Oakland, and even let Juniper try one.

Juniper had a few questions, but overall, she did just fine on her first try.

And there she goes, in her little fall outfit.

Janssen, Landon's younger brother, played and sang some songs on the piano before dinner.

Even Sam, Landon's grandfather and Sam's namesake, tried his hand at wii.

Juniper was a little tired after Thanksgiving dinner.

Even by Thanksgiving, Sam was still not himself. Here he looks a little pale, playing with a rubber octopus of Aidan's. An octopus that ended up coming home with us to Portland.

I have to admit that I broke down (wait, is it considered breaking down when you order one fairly often (a.k.a. on a daily basis)) and ordered a few quad venti egg nog lattes on this trip.

One of my favorite parts about visiting Landon's family in Oakland every year is visiting my oldest and dearest friend Kerrie. Here we are after all these years, and we each have a boy and a girl, only in the reverse order.

Juniper loves the baby swing. Here she is in Pleasanton, CA, a city Kerrie was kind enough to drive to so we could meet.

Still some fall leaves lying around. There are still three more weeks left to the fall season, you know!

Kerrie's little girl Abbie (4) with Sam (3) on the playground in Pleasanton.

Juniper was really interested in this bike parking rail.

After spending a couple of hours at the park, we all went next door to Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. As you can see, Sam and Abbie became fast friends.

Later that night, we met Landon's grandparents (Sam and Rachel), his parents, and his brother Janssen at Sam and Rachel's assisted living facility for dinner. It was such a nice evening & the food was great!

Landon's Aunt Marylou and Uncle Ken agreed to watch Sam and Juniper so we could have dinner with his grandparents. Apparently, Juniper didn't cry once. We came home to Sam sitting on the couch while Ken read to him . . .

and Miss Juniper fast asleep on Aunt Marylou's shoulder. I really do need to see about getting babysitters on a regular basis so Landon and I can go out on a date once in awhile. I think I could get used to this!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another great Thanksgiving with Landon's Mom Susan's family in Oakland, CA. Click to enlarge the photo as it's difficult to see faces otherwise. From left to right, back row first: Susan (Landon's Mom), Larry (Landon's Uncle), Sam, Landon, Janssen (Landon's younger brother), Marylou (Landon's Aunt), Ken (Marylou's husband), Danny (Landon's Uncle), Mike (Landon's Dad), Rachel (Landon's Grandmother, Sam's Great-Grandmother, & Mother of Susan and her siblings), Heather (Larry's wife), Alexis (Heather's daughter), Suzanne (Heather's mother), Aiden (Marylou and Ken's son & Landon's cousin), Sam (Landon's Grandfather, Sam & Juniper's Great-Grandfather, and Father of Susan and her siblings), Karli, Juniper, Mischa (Heather's son), and Sarah (Danny's daughter)

The Day Before Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Spent today with Landon's family walking around in the mist and rain in one of my favorite cities on the west coast. Looking forward to a day of good food, wine, and time with family tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008
partial studio view
I love this space--the studio of beauty that moves, one of my favorite bloggers.

Today was a rough day: Sam picked up Juni's weekend virus and was sick all day--lots of vomiting. Tonight he seems better, so I'm looking forward to plans for tomorrow.

Two of the moments Sam got sick today were in the worst possible places at the worst possible times, and I made myself nearly sick with the stress of it all. I am going to work on that. It's experiences like today that help me see where I can improve as a Mother, my biggest and most important goal.

Meanwhile, I'm hanging out tonight in the blogosphere before I settle down for the night, looking at photos that depict restful, peaceful places. I'm hoping to find a few places of my own like that tomorrow . . . but not today.


Monday, November 24, 2008
As a long-time fan of grapefruit, imagine my delight this morning when I cut into this grapefruit to find the fruit perfectly ripe with color:

Two grapefruit halves sprinkled with a little sugar and served with a little French press coffee=the best breakfast ever!

Now that I think about it, my life tends to consist of many pairs: two kids, two compost bins, two grapefruit halves, two Honda accords, two cups of coffee, two bird feeders, two cats, etc. Perhaps I should join this Flickr group?

Oh! Did I forget to blog about my new compost bin? Yes, we now have two! Now that 100% of our kitchen scraps (except meat) go into our compost, we were in dire need of a back-up bin. One thing's for certain: my garden is going to spring to life once I get the compost from the first bin spread this winter (this is great for protecting plants from freezing temperatures as well). If you live in the Portland area and would like a compost bin, you can pick up an Earth Machine for $35.00 at MetroPaint in North Portland. Most other home improvement stores only carry them seasonally, and some, like Lowe's, don't carry them at all.

Yesterday and Today

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Yesterday . . .

Sam was invited to his first drop-off birthday party yesterday, and I must admit, I was a little sad when I dropped him off, knowing that this was a new experience for him, too. Sam didn't have more than a few minutes to feel unsure about the experience, however, because BJ the clown was there, and I heard the kids were in hysterics for forty-five minutes. There were pancakes with faces, too--what a great party, and Sam had such a good time.

We waited for Sam at a nearby coffee shop, Sound Grounds, where Landon used to have a Sunday afternoon gig. I haven't been there since Sam was about two years old, and now we have a daughter--I think she likes this coffee shop, too!

At one point, I sat with my lap-top out of Juniper's view so Landon could try to get her to sleep. She never did fall asleep, but she did lay down on Landon's lap for awhile, and he took a few pictures of her. Her eyes look amazing in this one. She's in a tired, mellow mood--completely relaxed and looking around.

Landon drank decaf herbal honey tea for his sore throat (he cannot have caffeine), and I enjoyed a large quad vanilla latte.

Eventually, Juniper became too fussy to stay at the coffee shop, so we drove to Laurelhurst Park as we still had an hour to kill before it was time to pick up Sam. As it turned out, Juniper fell asleep soon after being placed in her carseat, so Landon went for a walk in Laurelhurst Park alone while I hopped onto a Laurelhurst resident's wifi connection and worked on my lap-top while she slept in her carseat. While on his walk, Landon took this picture of a squirrel. He didn't notice what I instantly saw--she is pregnant. Brings back memories of being pregnant with Juniper last November, the last month of my pregnancy with her. Hope all goes well for this Mama squirrel, and that all her little babies make it through the winter.

Today . . .

I'm going to keep this short, because Landon and I are going to watch one of our Netflix tonight. All I have to say is I'm SORE! I cleaned the gutters and bagged 18 bags today, not including the leaves that went into our compost bins. A lot of work, but it was such a beautiful day that I was full of energy until I sat down tonight, and now I'm feeling much older than my nearly 32 years. Here are a few photos from my day:

Up on the ladder cleaning gutters. Landon is afraid of heights. I am afraid of heights also, but only when I'm up on a cliff or something.

The kids came outside for a couple of hours, but eventually everyone went back indoors as everyone is trying to get well right now. Sam loved the leaf piles--what kid doesn't? He had fun completely burying himself beneath the piles.

Bye, bye leaves.

My neighbor gave me this strawberry planter, which I was super happy about, because my own strawberry planter was accidentally broken by someone working on our house last year. I planted different sedums in it and placed it in one of the street-side beds. This time of year, sedums look beautiful!

Juniper woke up from her nap and joined us outside for awhile. Her hair was crazy, but I got some new barrettes for her today. Baby barrettes fall out and get misplaced quicker than you'd think! We've already gone through a package since the summer!

My Christmas cactus is in full bloom right now--always a signal that Thanksgiving is nearly here!

Sue, a woman in my book-club, gave me a cutting from her geranium, and my how beautiful it looks in the sunlight. I like how you can see through the veins on the leaves. I appreciate the little things around here. Thanks for taking this great photo, Landon!

Yes, Juniper loves Kombucha.

Still, I was outside working. I started at 11AM, and it was nearly 4PM when this photo was taken. I finally finished sometime after 5PM.

Juniper cried a few tears when she had to come inside. She wanted to be outside with her Mama!

Our pepper plants are coming along nicely--Landon spent most of the afternoon indoors with the kids, so he spent some time photographing the plants.

Finished . . . until about ten months from now, when the leaves will begin to fall again. There's only a handful of leaves still hanging onto their branches, so I think this is it for leaf cleanup this year. I'm so glad to have this chore behind me before Thanksgiving, which I am very much looking forward to.
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