A Day at a Time

Saturday, February 28, 2009
A crystal ball would come in handy right about now. I'd just like to know if my distress right now is warranted or not. I know it must be possible to live peacefully and maintain your sense of well-being whether or not the future outcome is what you desire, but my energy just doesn't flow that way. At this point, I think I'd be fine with everything if Landon were healthy again. To have his health decline during a layoff is almost more than all of us can handle right now. So I'll hang in there. Hanging in there is what I do best.

A Hard Day

Friday, February 27, 2009

From Sparkle Power's etsy shop.
Some days, I wish I could believe this.

People at the Pharmacy

Thursday, February 26, 2009
I sat down about an hour ago, and am still basking in the quiet of this old house. For the past three nights, Juniper has cried just about all night, usually every thirty minutes. It wasn't until a friend suggested she might have an ear infection and Sam woke up twice last night screaming his ears hurt, that I put two and two together and hauled both kids to the doctor. Sure enough, they both have double ear infections. Juniper never touched her ears once, and because she's never had one, I didn't suspect it. Poor Sam was crying all morning and holding his hands over his ears. Nothing quite like ear pain. So now that the kids have ear drops and antibiotics, they are sleeping peacefully--something I didn't think I'd ever see again. Three days and nights can seem like an eternity. I actually thought I was going to end up in the psych ward. Sleep deprivation is not pretty.

It all came together for me today, though, in a way I least expected. While waiting an hour for prescriptions at Fred Meyer, I put my head in my hands and said "Holy F*ck" out loud, at which point I heard a voice from not far away say, "Take a deep breath, it's going to be okay." At first, I thought, "What right does this person have to tell me everything is going to be okay? Has she walked a day in my shoes?" Then I looked up and saw this understanding and kind face smiling back at me, and I recognized an older Mom I met at the community center two years ago when Sam was just a toddler. At 46, after living an incredible life of travel and doing everything she ever wanted to in her career, she met the man she wanted to have kids with and conceived twins using donor eggs. I looked back at the face of a woman, now 50, who knows what it's like to feel tired. She gave birth to twins at 46, for goodness sakes. She came up to me, saw Juniper's runny nose, and said, "Do you have any tissues with you?" When I said, "no," she went and found some, gave them to me for Juniper's nose, and told me she completely understood, and wanted to know if she could get my prescriptions for me so I could take care of the kids instead of holding my place in line. I thanked her, but continued to wait, at which point an elderly woman behind me in line said, "You have two of the most beautiful children." I looked at her face and could tell she must have been an attractive woman in her youth. She then walked up to the window, but it was actually my turn, so when the pharmacy technician told her so, she smiled and continued to stand at the window after I'd approached it. She stood there right along beside me, happily watching as my prescriptions were rung up and while I signed my receipts. She then followed me down to the consult window, telling me stories about her son Ulysses, named so because she was studying the Civil War while she was pregnant with him. She told me he changed his name when he was 30, after enduring years of teasing in school (kids called him "Useless"), and that he now goes by Charles, originally his middle name. Then she looked me in the eyes and told me that she will be 100 years old in 3 years time, and that looking back on her life, her happiest years were those when her children were young, and that I must write down every thing they do and say every day. I didn't tell her about my blog, but assured her I do keep track. What a sweet old woman. She listened to Sam jabber on and on, telling her about Goofy on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. At this point, I took a minute to sit on the bench next to the consult window to nurse Juniper, who was growing rather impatient with all the waiting. As I nursed her, a man with a hard face approached the window, hitting his daughter on the head with a paper in his hand, telling her he knew she was waiting in the wrong line (as if this is his 7-yr. old daughter's fault?). The girl just looked at me sadly and watched. Then I realized the man was watching me nurse, too. He said to his daughter, "Do you see her feeding her baby? That's how your Mama nurses her new baby." I looked up and realized he was trying to engage me in conversation, but I ignored him, turning to the girl instead, "Do you have a new brother or sister?" Her Dad answered for her, rambling on and on about how it was a brother, and it was his x-wife, and that when he met her she told him that she didn't have any kids until after they were married and she asked out of the blue one day when he was about to throw some hamburgers on the grill, "Do you care if I invite my son?" He said four kids showed up to the BBQ that day and they were all hers. He went on to tell me that with his daughter and the new one, she now has six kids by six different fathers. He then said, "So what would you have done if you were me?" I didn't know what to say, so mumbled quietly, "Divorce, I guess." It was a conversation I really wasn't interested in having at that very moment, after waiting for my prescriptions for nearly an hour. Fortunately, it was cut short when I saw my neighbor from across the street, who told me she was there to pick up prescriptions for her husband, who had been hit by a car last night on her birthday coming home from work. Stepped out in front of a car, because he didn't see it, and flipped up on the windshield, shattering it, but fortunately is only badly bruised with a few broken bones. No head injuries. Juniper was getting really fussy at this point, and Sam was holding his ears saying, "MOMMY, my MEDICINE! My ears hurt!" Before I knew it, we were home, medicine and ear drops had been administered, dinner was cooked, eaten, and cleaned up, the kids were soundly asleep for the night (yes!): the day was over, the house was silent. Another winter day of 2009 has now passed, but I don't think I'll soon forget how I spent the afternoon of February 26th at the Fred Meyer pharmacy . . . especially that little old 97 year old lady who told me the best, most happiest, years of her life were the years she spent raising her young kids. Somehow, coming from a 97 year old mother, I tend to think she's right about that.

Noun

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bliss just posted a review on Noun, and I can't wait to visit this shop, located at 33rd & SE Belmont, right across from Zupan's! I became an instant fan of Noun once I read this:

At Noun, we love any thing:
that has a story behind it

that has more than one practical use

that's made to last that's made locally
that's got good design

that helps reduce waste and clutter.

Change of plans for this morning: instead of cleaning and doing laundry, Juniper and I will be heading down to Belmont to check out Noun. I have a feeling I'm going to love this little shop. If you can spend even a little to support these indie stores, who work hard to support local artists and crafters, do. It's important to do everything we can to ensure they stick around during these hard times. Whenever you can, shop local and support Portland's business owners!
P.S. To see more pictures of Noun, visit Bliss' guest post on sfgirlbybay.

Lessons in Bread Making, Part II

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Oh, my! Have three days really flown by since my last post? I actually have posts to add for those dates, which I will do in a few minutes if Juniper will sleep longer than thirty minutes at a time (poor girl is sick w/ a cold/cough). This is shoring up to be another long night.

I've been making bread now for about a month (see "Lessons in Bread Making, Part I", but I'm still dissatisfied with all the loaves I've made so far. It seems I no sooner tackle one problem and I realize another. New this week: I'm now adding vital gluten for a better crumb. My previous loaves were much too dense, so I'm happier with the loaves now that I'm adding a couple tablespoons of vital gluten to each batch of dough.

I found the blog Home Baked Bread tonight googling for help on kneading tonight, and found her tutorial and posts on bread making to be helpful. The writer, Susan Och, writes beautifully about the art of traditional bread making:

Time spent kneading is very much like time spent in deep thinking. You stretch thoughts and fold them over on themselves until myriad elements take on a new identity of their own.


I'm not sure how much time I have before Juniper's next waking, so on to those other posts I've been meaning to catch up on . . .

So Long to Convenience

Monday, February 23, 2009


I really must get a clothesline installed by this summer. My friend Sue from book-club was just telling me last night how fresh her laundry is when it's been hung out to dry. Yet one more step towards a more sustainable and traditional life, energy conservation, and another way to save money during these tough economical times. Whether it's recycling all things plastic, hanging laundry to dry, or making my own bread, I've kissed convenience goodbye, officially, and am realizing more with each day that convenience is easier, but not better.
Photo from feels just like home's photostream.

Inspired to Walk or Ride, Whenever Possible

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Cafe mama just inspired me with her recent post titled "life with kids, and without a car, ignited." You see, this is why I read blogs. For posts like this one, which stretch my thinking and open my mind to new possibilities, new ways of living.

I'm finding lately I'm most drawn to a manner of living that is grounded in tradition, simplicity, and sustainability. Because of this, I can almost picture a car-less life, because giving up a car isn't too far off from so many other ways in which I've found a happier existence by giving up on convenience. Plus, I have people like cafe mama (mother of three boys), Anna E. (fellow book-club member who rides in rain, snow, and sun to make our west-side Portland book-club meetings), and a little SE Portland bike store called Clever Cycles that inspire me to ride. I don't know if I'm ready to part with my Honda quite yet, but one thing's for certain, blog posts like cafe mama's convince me that living a car-less life can be done, and with pleasure.

Making Green Cleaners and My Own Laundry Detergent

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've been collecting the supplies for a few months now, and even mixed my own all-purpose cleaner, but today I attended a class put on by the Oregon Center for Environmental Health, where they provided the ingredients and supplies to mix my own all-purpose cleaner, creamy soft scrub, and laundry detergent! I'm really excited; this is new to me, but I have a feeling once I get it down, I'll never go back. I know there are many environmentally-friendly cleaning lines out there, but making cleaners yourself really is so much better. For one thing, it's a lot cheaper. Secondly, the manufacturers of cleaners and detergents don't have to disclose their ingredients, and many of them contain harmful toxins. In fact, if you want to dispose of your household cleaners, you have to take them to a hazardous waste facility, yet we use these in our home every day. Thirdly, making cleaners yourself means you get to choose which essential oils you use, so you can experiment and get creative with different scents. Then there's the fun that can be had with label-making for your homemade cleaning bottles and jars.

One thing the instructor said that struck me today was how our perceptions of clean have been largely influenced by advertising. For many of us, a shiny surface means clean, when in fact, the shine is from a toxic residue from the conventional cleaner. Vinegar, water, and a little essential oil might not leave a shiny surface, but it will be a clean surface. It's interesting for me to reflect on how much marketing has influenced my own perceptions of clean. Having said that, everyone wants their cleaning materials to get the job done, so I will be writing a series of blog posts on green cleaners and will share what I learn along the way. For now, I have a crying baby and a sick little boy, so I'll be back tomorrow.
(Pictures by Landon--thank-you!)

The End of a Week

Friday, February 20, 2009

During Juniper's nap this afternoon, I was able to get out briefly in the warm sun (yes, warm) to re-pot my two surviving pepper plants, seeds Sam and I planted last fall.

All it took was a small bag of potting soil, and now I can't wait to get back out into the garden again.

These two little pepper plants were completely root-bound, and will be much happier in their new pots.

I had planned to visit my old friends Trinka and Amy this afternoon, friends I haven't seen in way too long (Amy hasn't even met Juniper yet!), but as fate would have it in these cases, I had to call and cancel. When I picked up Sam from preschool, I realized he was breathing rapidly and noticed retractions along his rib cage, which meant he was struggling to breathe, so instead of spending the afternoon visiting my long-lost friends, I ended up at the doctor's office with the whole family. Turns out Sam's respiratory distress is mild, so as of right now, he doesn't need a nebulized or oral medication. I am going to monitor him closely tonight, however, because he sounds just like he did this past November when he came down with asthma symptoms which were triggered from a bad chest cold. Sam's had countless colds in his life, but only the November cold and this one have brought on rapid breathing, coughing, and retractions.

Then there's Juniper, who is keeping me constantly busy these days. She's learned to crawl on top of the table (this picture was taken before dinner tonight). So far, there hasn't been any big incidents (Sam took the cake on that one), but it's dangerous, so I'm constantly pulling her down. Moving the chairs doesn't work, because she just pushes them into place. She thinks it's funny to get a reaction from me, so she crawls up there, then laughs as I come running. I must come up with some other games that I can play with her, because "Pull the Baby Off the Table" isn't really one of my favorites.

Looking forward to sharing what I learn tomorrow at the Green Cleaning Class offered by Oregon Center for Environmental Health. A few other moms in my moms' group are taking it as well. Should be interesting!

When All Else Fails, DANCE

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Today didn't quite turn out how I'd hoped. Going through this layoff with Landon has its ups and downs, and today was a down day. Having said that, I just sat down and opened a bottle of Chianti and watched a video that has me feeling much better. 100 days, 100 songs, 100 locations, 100 dances. Check it out:

BOOMBOX from Ely Kim on Vimeo.

Vitamin D Makes Everything Seem Okay

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
It's the simple things, like a single crocus bloom, that makes me feel happy on days like today.

The sun is shining this morning, the groceries have been put away, dinner plans are underway, and the kids and I are getting ready to leave for an afternoon playdate with a friend. With the sun beckoning, I couldn't resist stepping outside this morning during Juniper's morning nap to take some pictures of the garden, which is just about to spring to life in a few short weeks. Spring will be here soon!

Breaking through the soil . . .

these tulips will be in full bloom soon.

Here's a happy little bulb reaching to the sun, which Sam helped me plant this past fall.

And here are two more that just arrived for the party.

Here's a SW view of my garden sporting its winter look. In a few weeks, I'll post another picture of my garden looking much more alive (hopefully, this will include a vegetable garden as well!). Spring is on its way!

Sam's Magazine Subscriptions

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I remember when I was a kid how exciting it was every month when my magazine subscription arrived. I would skip ahead to my favorite section, and always read them cover to cover several times. These days, there are so many fabulous kids' magazines for all ages that it's hard to choose (peruse the magazine section next time you're at New Seasons!). Right now, Sam receives National Geographic Kids and Highlights High Five. There are many reasons why I think magazine subscriptions for kids are a good thing, but probably what I like the most is the routine of not only receiving a monthly magazine, but that the features of the magazine remain the same from month to month. There are some features that Sam loves to do independently, such as the "Hidden Pictures" activity in Highlights High Five (he's getting really good at this exercise). He learns Spanish phrases from the read-aloud fiction story in each issue that introduces the Spanish language--something that I, too, look forward to learning with him each month. There's always a craft or a cooking project that Sam wants to try, and usually we tear these out and save them for later, or sometimes, if the timing is right, we get started on them right away. Today, he received March's issue, and after reading it together during Juniper's afternoon nap, Sam wanted to make the lemon cake featured as March's cooking activity . After scanning the list of ingredients, I realized I had everything we needed, so we got started on making a lemon cake. Sam seemed especially proud to make a cake from his magazine, and since the recipe was written for kids, he was able to do everything except crack the eggs and put the cake into the oven himself (his arms are still too short to do this safely).

If you don't subscribe to a children's magazine for your child, look into it--there are many wonderful children's magazine options out there. Something as simple as a magazine subscription gives your child something to look forward to receiving in the mail, provides reading material with unchanging features that will enhance your child's development, and is a way to spend quality time with your child. I like that the lemon cake idea came from something of which he felt ownership. Making a cake from his magazine was a different baking experience than when he's helping me make something that I'm making. He was much more enthusiastic, and I think the pictures and layout of this cooking project in the magazine really helped him to conceptualize the process from beginning to end. These monthly magazines really are a worthwhile investment!

"Coraline"

Monday, February 16, 2009

My instincts told me that Coraline would be okay for Sam to see, so we went out on a special outing this afternoon, just the two of us, to see it. I made popcorn before we left to save a little money, hiding it in my purse, and we arrived at the theater about 30 minutes early--plenty of time to find a good seat and enjoy the previews (new Disney-Pixar film, Up, which will be out later this year, looks like it will be really good).

So . . . Coraline. This is a hi-def, stop-motion feature animation filmed in stereoscopic 3D, making other computer-generated animations seem sub-par. Alternate reality, fantastical and horrific, a modern, yet macabre setting in an old Victorian house with secrets from the past (traditionally, fairy tales contain castles, and this film manages to make the Victorian look castle-like with its surrounding gardens with terraced rock walls), the imaginative and exploratory nature of a young child, provocatively creepy, a magical and enchanted garden, a night circus, a deep well, all the elements of a fairy tale (a moral ("be careful what you wish for"), magical elements, a villain, a good character, things that happen in 3's (the three ghost children, the three dogs belonging to the two former actresses, three sets of eyes, three apartments, the list goes on . . .), and the mysterious tunnel that is the passageway between her two realities with little kangaroo mice that lure her, beckoning her to another world. This film was amazing, and I've just put the book by Neil Gaiman, which has the same title, on my Bookmooh wishlist. I've always been fascinated by books and/or films that have an alternative reality with a secret passageway (e.g. Alice and Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Being John Malkovich). Coraline was no exception.

Although I was unsure at first, Coraline wasn't too scary for Sam--in fact, he really liked it, and came away with several questions. I agree with director Henry Selick that society is too over-protective of children in general. I remember being a child and becoming engrossed in books that were taken away from me because of a villainous character that was deemed too evil or being disallowed from seeing movies for the same reason (no offense, Mom!). I know this is a controversial topic, but I tend to expose Sam to a variety of things (to an extent) if he expresses interest, rather than shielding him from anything that might provoke fear or anxiety. This doesn't mean I'm going to let him watch Friday the 13th, but an animated film like Coraline, which is scary in only a few places, and which was a film he expressed interest in seeing, is not something from which I'm going to restrict him. I do believe kids need guidance and boundaries, but I don't necessarily think they should be restricted from feeling scared. Selick believes kids can handle a lot more in film and reading material than we give them credit for. This isn't the first time I've heard this. I remember my favorite English professor in college, Ursula Irwin, once passed around an article written on this very topic. I wish I could locate the article as it made a good argument and was quite convincing. I'll have to e-mail her and locate it. For now, read Selick's comments about children and film in this article, Frightful delights: Coraline director defends children's right to be scared. And do go and see Coraline--it's really good!

Boys and Girls

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Landon took these pictures this weekend and I thought I would share them here. Can you believe we're halfway to March already? Spring is only 5 weeks away, and the warmer afternoons we've had lately have me looking forward to more sunshine.

This little girl found the place I keep the necklace Sam made for me last year on Mother's Day. Landon caught her taking it down from where it hangs on a little nail with my wall calendar. I've been finding it lately on the floor upstairs, and have put it back several times, thinking I must have given it to Juniper to play with, as I've frequently done the past few months. Now that I think about it, she's been getting up there and pulling it down. Silly little girl. I love that she is drawn to necklaces. This is not something I've encouraged, as she has grown up so far in a house full of trucks, dinosaurs, and trains. She is somehow instinctively drawn to necklaces, has a fascination with my purse and her clothes, and loves to push baby dolls around in strollers. How interesting to see these gender differences between my two children at such a young age--proof that many of these things are hard-wired! Sam has never been the least interested in any of those things. At her age, we would go down to the local construction site and he'd happily watch the diggers at work (his favorite thing at the time). I think I could come up with a pretty good argument against the theory of tabula rasa at this point, which is humorous to me as I fully bought into it in college.

Full day planned for tomorrow: a morning of catching up on reading for book-club at a coffee shop, a walk along the Eastbank Esplanade with the family while Sam rides his bike, then Coraline with Sam in the afternoon (although, I'm still debating on whether or not it is too scary for him--what do you think?). My warm bed is calling . . . more later.

Snow and "Slumdog"

Saturday, February 14, 2009
I was all set on seeing Coraline this afternoon, but when they were sold out, Landon and I saw Slumdog Millionaire instead. What a gem of a movie. The cinematography, acting, and musical score were truly amazing. I can't wait to read more about the actors and the making of the film. I look forward to seeing Slumdog win an Oscar a week from tomorrow. Although the scenes involving the torture of young children were more than difficult to watch, and in one case, made me physically ill for about ten minutes, I appreciate this film for raising awareness about the plight of orphans (in this case, in the slums of Mumbai, India). This is a film I'll be thinking about for awhile.

I am dying to see Coraline, so might sneak out to see it tomorrow or on Monday, when Landon will be home from work (extra help with the kids on a weekday!) in observance of President's Day. I just can't resist Coraline. Watch the trailer and see for yourself:

It's true. It's Valentine's Day, and I didn't mention it until now in my post. I guess with all that has happened this week Valentine's Day has come and gone, and we have celebrated very little. It was nice to get out for an afternoon date today, but there were no flowers, candy, or notes this year. When it snowed this morning (yes, snow on Valentine's Day morning!), Sam wanted to make me a snowflake valentine, but between the birthday party he attended this morning and then an afternoon spent with his grandparents while we saw "Slumdog," neither Landon nor I ever did sit down with him to make it.

It was 7 years ago today that Landon and I got engaged. Looking down at my engagement ring and wedding band, I am reflecting on all that has taken place in the past seven years. There have been more good times than bad . . . a thought that comforts me tonight in this time of uncertainty. Valentine's Day this year is about reflecting on my commitment to Landon to "love and cherish in good times and in bad." And love and cherish I will.

Perspective

Friday, February 13, 2009
Still feeling a little sad that Landon is now in the period where each day he goes to work is one day closer to his last day. I'm really going to miss Landon working at that office!

I read this quote today, and it helped me to put things back into perspective, something I find I need to do daily in these unpredictable times full of unknowns about the future:

What Matters Most

Thursday, February 12, 2009
Breadmaking today with Sam was a rewarding experience. I pulled out The Tassajara Bread Book my mother-in-law Susan loaned me and together, Sam and I kneaded four loaves of 100% whole wheat bread. Samuel was better than me at kneading, and his loaves were much smoother than mine. He was actually a big help to me during the process, because he kneaded two of the four lumps of bread dough. His little hands are much stronger than my hands and wrists, which suffer from carpal tunnel. Together we kneaded our dough; it was a pleasant afternoon. For the first time ever, Juniper slept for more than two hours, so we had a rare afternoon with just the two of us. It made me miss the days when it was just the two of us, although I wouldn't trade Miss Juniper for the world (and that goes without saying). Sam's going to be my breadmaking helper in the future, and together, I hope we'll make good and healthy loaves of bread for our family.

********************

I woke up this morning and made a conscious decision to look forward. This is hard to do, and has been a process since the announcement that Landon would be laid off, but now that the final decision has been made, there is comfort and security once again in knowing at least part of the plan: Landon will be leaving his job in two months and we have enough of a severance payout coming to hopefully get us through to his next job. I'm not sure what that will be or how long it will take to find, but I have a lot of confidence in Landon and his abilities. The next job might not be as good or even ideal, but in this economy, anything to get us through for awhile will be better than nothing at all. Finding employment might require moving, but we're hoping it doesn't come to that. I'm taking this one day at a time and trying as hard as possible to focus on what really matters. I think that's why making bread with Sam today meant so much, because the past week has been an emotional roller coaster full of anxiety, sadness, and panic, all of which pulled me away from my kids, and looking back, all that I put myself through wasn't worth it in the end as the entire situation was (and still is) out of my hands. It's hard to imagine, but I really do hope good things come out of all this for everyone in Landon's office, who I think of as family after eight years of Landon working there. I don't know what lies ahead, but in the meantime, I plan to make a conscious choice to focus on the joy and beauty to be found in each day, and the happiness Sam, Juni, Landon and all the other people I care about bring to me. In reality, nothing else really matters. Not really.

Today is Finally Over

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
What a difficult day today was in so many ways as the hope of Landon getting a job offer came to an end and his layoff became official. As of 4/13, he will no longer be employed. As scary as that sounds in these tough economical times, what I think today was about for me was coming to terms with this. It's really happening. Our lives are changing once again, and there is nothing we can do about it.

I can't even believe how hard this past week has been. I must move forward from here.

Happy 4th Birthday, Sam!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Picking Up is How I Spend Most of My Time

Monday, February 09, 2009

I spent an hour of my evening cleaning up this particular mess, because each of those cards are filed consecutively. What did I get out of the time she spent creating this mess? A balanced checkbook.

Meanwhile, Sam celebrated his 4th birthday with his preschool class today. Of course, he sat by his best friend Garrett. They do everything together at preschool. Their favorite game? Animal role play, which Sam refers to as "talking animals."

A room that has been picked up is the new clean.

*************************
We're hanging in there, but the unknowns are hard to cope with at times. Not sure where we'll be going from here. Moving is not out of the question in this economy. I'm taking the recent news of the upcoming closure of the office location where Landon works one day at a time. I have thought through every possible scenario I can think of, but really, all I can do is wait and see what life has for us next.

Apartment Love

Sunday, February 08, 2009
I've recently been drawn to the Flickr photo sets of living spaces, like this one. It's always interesting for me to see what people do with their living space. This photo set titled "My Apartment" struck me today, and I had to share it here.
Goethes poem
I really like the freedom of spirit that comes with grabbing a marker and writing something inspirational on a wall. Who says you can't write on walls (moms everywhere?)?
I love this photo!
Poem at the kitchen wall
And I love this one, with a little poem inscribed to the right of her kitchen sink.
I'm with Design is Mine--Jasna Janekovic's apartment is fabulous!

(Oh, and I'm a little obsessed with this space, too.)

Sam's 4th Birthday Party!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Look at how big my boy is now.

He's turning 4 years old on Tuesday, February 10th.

We celebrated by throwing a party with a few of his little boy friends this morning.

But before that, Landon took the kids to a Saturday morning indoor play-park so I could get everything ready.

Before long, they were back from the play-park, Sam's friends had arrived, and his dinosaur-themed party had begun.

After about thirty minutes of play-time, I made the boys a gluten-free/dairy-free lunch (one of Sam's friends is on this particular diet), but none of the boys ate much. They were too excited for their cupcakes (also gluten-free, dairy-free).

This party was really all about the T-Rex.

After lunch and cupcakes, it was time to play "Pin the Tooth on the T-Rex." The boys were SO excited.

The winner was to receive a wooden dinosaur from Spielwerk. There's Sam, placing his tooth on the poster. Can you guess who won the prize? The birthday boy!

After opening presents, all the boys had fun playing with the great gifts from Sam's friends.

We had to stop for a minute for a quick official photo, but Sam couldn't take his eyes of the fun he was having with his friends.

Landon read one of Sam's favorite dinosaur books, The Dinosaurs Next Door, then the boys all colored a computer-print out of a T-Rex.

It was a great little party, and one I hope Sam will remember. If not, here are some videos that might one day spark his memory.

Here's Sam, informing his friends that they can lick their cupcake, which is exactly what they did.

Dylan is telling me how he's going to be a T-Rex when he gets home.

I am posting this even though it is the very proof everyone needs to declare me as one who just can't sing. I've never been able to carry a tune!

Landon reading the boys "The Dinosaurs Next Door."

Happy 4th Birthday, Sam! Looking forward to your preschool party on Monday, and to your actual birthday on Tuesday. We love you very much!

Getting Ready for Sam's Birthday Party

Friday, February 06, 2009

I've been getting ready for Sam's dinosaur-themed birthday party tomorrow, and he is very excited. Sam's old enough now to have actual friends, so we're only inviting a few of his friends over this year (as opposed to the whole playgroup in years past), which makes it more manageable and affordable (hello, upcoming lay-off!). We're doing a drop-off party, and my hope is that by reducing the amount of people in the house, the party will be more focused on Sam and less on entertaining many people. I have an itinerary planned, the cupcakes are baked (Sam helped!), the frosting blended, and the house organized. Landon is taking the kids to the indoor play-park tomorrow morning before the party, and I'm looking forward to two hours in a quiet house with hot coffee before Sam's 3 hour party begins. After that, I'll be ready! Stay tuned for pictures and video in tomorrow's post. Goodnight!

How Juniper Was Today

Thursday, February 05, 2009
Today was interesting.

Right after I'd poured my morning coffee, opened my lap-top, and sat on the couch to catch up on the many thousand blog entries that have accumulated in my neglected Google Reader, Juniper crawled up and laid down next to me and FELL ASLEEP. I wasn't nursing her. I wasn't holding her. She just randomly fell asleep, only 20 minutes or so after she had woken up. I knew then that she must not be feeling well.

Then she woke up, crawled down from the couch, and started playing as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.

During Sam's soccer class, she just wanted me to hold her on my lap while I sat on the bleachers, a rare occurrence. Further proof that she was not feeling well. At her age, after only walking for five weeks, she wants to be down on the ground and walking unless she wants to be nursing. Once she has been weaned, I wonder if she'll want me to hold her at all (I'm half joking, but only half).

Then there was lunch with my sister, her treat. Juniper once again sat on my lap for an hour while I ate and talked and completely ignored her. She just sat and listened. Oddly enough, Sam did, too. He was pretty mesmerized by the $25.00 check my sister gave to him for his 4th birthday coming up next week. I think he felt pretty important when he saw that his name was written on the check. He wanted me to tell him what everything on the check said after that.

When we got home, Juniper took a 40 minute nap, and then the fussiness began. No more lethargy. She seemed okay on my hip, but I had dinner to cook. This is frequently the most busy and stressful part of my day--getting dinner on the table. I know you can all relate; this is nothing new.

Landon went out with a friend tonight, and since it was Sam's swimming night, I took both kids into the locker room (not an easy task). But once again, she sat on the bench while I changed Sam, not once expressing interest at exploring the locker room in her zip-up pj's. Even though she was being a passive little girl, I was so relieved when my friend Jen, whose boys are also taking the swimming class, not only held her, but pretty much took over watching her for me so I could watch Sam. She also listened to me prattle on and on about Landon's upcoming lay-off, and all my thoughts on the matter. She is such a good friend!

I've never had a day quite like this with Juniper. She was really not herself, but in a pleasant way, and that's a rarity. Usually when she is sick (which fortunately hasn't been too often), she is extremely fussy. Today, she just wanted to be near me. I appreciated spending that time with her.

Since I've recently been reminded once again that I am not in control of my life, I do wonder what tomorrow will bring. I hope it is something good.

Still Processing Landon's Upcoming Layoff

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
It's the day after the day we found out that Landon will be laid off around the beginning of April. Fortunately, if there is fortune to be found in a lay-off, he still has 2 months of employment to sort things out. I spent most of today feeling positive, but now that the kids are in bed, my anxiety has slowly crept back up to the surface, and I'm feeling emotional again. On top of all the unknowns, I'm feeling really sad about this great group of people no longer working together anymore. It's really hard for me to get my mind around this. I've always felt like this office was a really special group of incredibly gifted and intelligent people, many of whom we have become friends with and hope to remain so once everyone goes their separate ways. And so a good thing has come to an end, but I know there are other great things out there for us. There are many decisions to be made in the weeks ahead. I am saying prayers for wisdom and guidance for Landon and I, and hoping that somehow through the emotion and anxiety of this situation that we can make sound decisions in the days and weeks ahead.

Today was the first sunny day that really felt like spring to me, and cheered me up during the morning hours when I was unsure how I would feel today.

My friend Lovedrunk was so sweet and thoughtful this morning, coming by with a quad iced venti latte and chocolate old-fashioned doughnut, which really made my day. Coffee treats and visits from friends never cease to brighten my day.

I don't know what tomorrow or the next day will bring, and the news of Landon's office closing within two months on Tuesday is proof of the uncertainty of life. Landon and I were talking about how most of the best things that have happened to us were unplanned: both of our kids and finding this house, for example. I do believe in predestination, and wonder where life will take us next. Only time will tell.

Bad News

Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I go from crying to feeling numb to feeling hopeful, then back to crying again before the cycle starts over. I'm still in shock and processing. Landon learned today that his office will be closing in two months' time, and then we aren't sure where we will be or where we will be going. I am torn between what we are losing and what might still be out there for us. Now would be a great time to start generating some revenue on this old blog of mine.

It's February!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Picture taken by Landon from the Sellwood Bridge looking north, walking to session in Sellwood Sunday at dusk.

Both February and December will forever remain in my mind, because they are the months I gave birth to Samuel and Juniper. These early days in February, I recall awaiting the arrival of my first baby, day after day, wondering if my baby would be a boy or a girl and what delivering a baby and motherhood would be like. Words could never describe the moment Sam was born. It was truly a moment of catharsis for me.

February is one of my favorite months. For the past few years, it has been quite sunny during this month, and the first signs of spring have already appeared. My tulips and crocuses have started working their way up, and within a couple of weeks, I expect I'll see a few crocus blooms. I really miss not having a forsythia. I've gone through two, both planted in the same spot on a slope, since moving to this house, so I'm determined to try again (on even terrain this time) as it's the first blooming shrub which hearkens to me the arrival of spring. Those yellow blossoms are so beautiful for two short weeks every year!

Sam and I worked on a Valentine's Day project today (idea found here). We cut out heart shapes from red and white construction paper, Sam told me different things that he loved, which I wrote on the hearts, then he hung them from a branch on his nature table. It should come as no surprise that he loves "his dino puzzle, T-rexes, his friends, and play-dough." I asked him if he didn't also love his Mommy and Daddy and Juniper, and he said "yes, but . . ." so I wrote our names down, too, more to make myself feel better than anything. It's okay--I know it must be perfectly natural for a four-year old to favor dinosaurs (particularly T-rexes) over their moms. They are just a LITTLE more exciting.

Tonight I told Landon that I spent most of the afternoon trying to do things with Sam in between taking care of Juniper. Sam overheard our conversation and said, "Um, you read me ONE BOOK and I did the dino puzzle BY MYSELF." I've gone ahead and welcomed myself to the world of sass. I knew it must be right around the corner.

Tonight I whipped up a 3-loaf batch of 100% whole wheat bread, and will bake loaves over the next five days, freezing what we cannot use right away. I still have so much to learn about bread making. The recipes, techniques, and tips from the experts are endless, but I've started down this road, and am determined to continue. Thank-goodness I have friends and family members on Landon's side of the family who are experts at this. I can use all the tips I can get!



Juniper helped me with laundry today. She really loves to follow me around, and I have seen her pick up a kitchen towel and pretend like she's cleaning (actually, I threw in the pretend part, but I know she thinks she's helping, which I think is adorable of her). The way she helped me this evening was to put the dirty clothes laying in our hallway by the basement door into a laundry basket. It took a super long time, because she put them in one by one and sometimes got confused and started pulling them back out, but she seemed pleased with her efforts.



The poor girl came down sick last night, throwing up twice during the night, and didn't feel well today. Her illness has now transpired into a cold, and I know she isn't feeling like herself. I feel bad looking back, because she was SO FUSSY on Saturday night that I wanted to tear my hair out, but it was all for a reason. I must remind myself over and over again to not assume that Juniper is crying just because she likes to cry. Part of my parenting philosophy embraces the thought that babies do cry for a reason, and most of the time I believe this to be true, but every once in awhile there is a day or night where I just can't figure out the reason, and now I know the reason--she didn't feel well on Saturday night as she was coming down with a virus. Don't we all feel miserable given those same circumstances, but choose to express it in different ways? Now that Sam is 4, I can teach him how to express his displeasure in a better way, but Juniper is a baby. I really need to remember this for the next time when I can't figure out why she is crying. I always figure it out sooner or later.



Ahhh, taxes are done and we are getting a refund, thank-goodness! Laundry is getting there on being caught up, and Landon has at least a week's worth of ironed shirts hanging in the closet. Bread dough is in the refrigerator for the next week, and dinner tonight was a big success! Baked salmon w/ Greek pilaf and cauliflower (I would have chosen broccoli, but the cauliflower needed to be used up, so cauliflower it was). I discovered both of the kids love salmon. Juniper ate a lot of it, as did Sam. I think it was her first taste of fish, too. Sam was pretty happy about squeezing his wedge of lemon on it. I baked it in white wine with a little butter and dill. Simple, but super good. The Greek pilaf recipe came from a Mollie Katzen's The New Moosewood Cookbook. It was delicious, and I'll definitely make it again (I used sunflower seeds over expensive pine nuts, which I like to save for making homemade pesto).

I go to bed tonight feeling accomplished with the work of today, but looking forward to tomorrow morning's coffee. I'm tired tonight, so am off to bed for a little reading, then sleep. Goodnight!

Still Learning

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Today was a full day. I've been grocery shopping, baking bread, holding a crying toddler as much as possible (turns out all that crying was for a reason as she came down sick this evening), and now I'm rushing through load after load of laundry, folding it, ironing shirts, and feeling like a tired Mom.

The two loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread I made tonight turned out okay, but I'm far from satisfied. There is still a lot to learn about making bread, but I did learn that "Joy of Cooking" isn't the recipe book I'll turn to for baking bread in the future! There are so many other good ones and "Joy of Cooking" left me hanging today on a couple of steps. Thank goodness Allie was online to give me a few tips. The bread I made will be good for sandwiches for a few days, but I will keep trying--I'm determined to make good bread!
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