Avoiding the Sales Pitches

Sunday, May 31, 2009
I had a good experience, albeit an entertaining one, down at Wentworth Subaru this morning. It's like the cartoon of a sales meeting with the caption, "Now remember. You can fool some people all the time. Those are the people you need to concentrate on." Well, this girl wasn't fooled! Test drove a Forester and Outback, all while finding amusement at the sales pitches. First of all, I was told that the new 2009's would be the same price as the used 2008's because of a sale they were running that ended tomorrow--I would need to buy today in order to get the deal. Then I was told that if I bought a car, the price would be negotiable, but only today, because they still had 7 cars to sell to meet their quota for the month. Seeing as it was the last day in May, these things might be true, but there was no need to panic--there are many last days of the month. May 31st isn't the only day I'll ever be able to get this kind of deal. Then the salesman wanted me to pick out what color I liked. I had to remind him that I wasn't ready to pick out a car--I was there to determine whether or not we wanted to buy a Forester or an Outback. Then there were the pictures of his kids he wanted to show me--is this supposed to elicit an emotional response from the customer so they relate more to their car salesman, and therefore feel more inclined to buy a new car? Weird. Then there were the comments that a brand new Subaru would really only be $40.00 to $50.00 more a month in a car payment than one of their used cars. It's true. Interest rates have dropped to the point where you can finance a vehicle for five years at 2%. Pretty tempting, but still a sales pitch. It's amusing to me that these pitches work. I mean, they must or they wouldn't still use them, right? He wanted me to pick out what color of interior I wanted for the test drives. Funny--another way to get me to fixate and feel a sense of ownership on something I'm not ready to buy yet. In the end, I left feeling fairly certain that I like the Outback better than the Forester, and glad I didn't give into any of the pitches. I didn't leave without them getting a copy of my driver's license and my cell phone # (supposedly necessary in order to test drive their vehicles), so I'm sure I'll be receiving calls in the next day or so to find out when I'll be back. It's easy to start getting excited and let the pitches prey on that excitement to the point where you make a compulsive purchase. We're in no hurry, and I knew that going in, so it was fun to test drive them, figure out which one I liked better, and now we can give ourselves a few weeks (or more) to determine if this is a purchase we want or need to make at this time. It's something we could put off until the engine on my Honda blows, but really, I don't want it to come to that. Hoping Landon can get down to the dealership to test drive a couple himself so we can make a decision on whether or not to get a new car in the near future.

Goodbye, Spring. Hello, Summer!

Saturday, May 30, 2009
I know we still have about three weeks of Spring before Summer solstice, but I think Summer has officially arrived! Tonight we brought up the window a/c for Sam's room as the upstairs in our old house gets pretty toasty after a string of 80-degree weather like we've had lately.

Today we spent the afternoon in Salem celebrating my brother's 24th birthday on the campus of the school he teaches at and lives with his wife (they are expecting baby #1 in early August!). It was a pleasant afternoon spent beneath a birch tree, where I welcomed the shade it provided--it was hot! The a/c in our car is broken, so you can imagine the car ride down--all four windows rolled down and toasty warm! While stopping at Costco for my brother's birthday cake, we realized anti-freeze was leaking from our car. I think we've officially reached the point where we're tired of dumping money into these old Hondas from our college days--it's time to upgrade to a car more appropriate and useful for a family of four. Tomorrow, I'm going to head down to Wentworth Subaru to test drive a few. Right now, I'm leaning towards an Outback or Forester. We're interested in buying a used one from the dealer or Craigslist. And so this will be my next project--to find us a new family car.

Update on the chicks: I was able to find the two roosters a good home in SW Portland near Forest Park, where they will keep a flock of bantam hens company--a much better solution than dropping them off at Linton Feed, where they would have most likely been picked up and butchered for food. When the roosters went, that left us with one lonely hen, but fortunately, the timing coincided with the nice weather we've been having, so I moved the three chicks from the basement to the outdoor coop, and they've been keeping her company. The next batch of chicks seems to contain at least two pullets, and I'm hoping the third is a pullet as well, because it has really beautiful feathers coming in. So far, the chicks have been a positive experience, especially for the kids, and eventually, we'll have tasty eggs, too.

The beautiful weather looks as though it'll last into next week. Hope you are finding interesting and relaxing ways to spend this preview of summer--it's shaping up to be a warm one!

Tree Quotes

Friday, May 29, 2009
I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow
to keep an appointment with a beech-tree,
or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
- Henry David Thoreau, 1817 - 1862

If what I say resonates with you, it is merely
because we are both branches on the same tree.
- W.. B . Yeats

Juniper's Growing Up

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It was hot today, so I took the kids outside so they could play in the little plastic pool to cool off. Imagine my surprise when Juniper came up to me holding her diaper, making sounds of frustration. I asked her if she wanted to try to go inside and go on the toilet and she nodded her head yes. Inside we ran, where I brought up the training potty from the basement. She only sat on it this afternoon for a little while, but tonight, after Landon brought the kids home from swimming, she sat on it before bed and went pee! Who knows how long this will last, but she's about two years earlier on this than Sam was, and I'm pleased to see her striving to use the toilet . . . and at 17 months! She's growing up--and completely weaned now, too! In honor of Juniper's accomplishment, I thought I'd dig up an old favorite video titled "Japanese Potty Training."

Weaning: Day 5

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I realized today that Juniper didn't ask once to nurse. She's been going down for naps with a little cow's milk. This morning when I first woke up, she crawled up on the couch and sat beside me while eating her breakfast. It was then that I knew she was really weaned, because mornings were when she nursed most. Looking back over the past few days, I realize it really was a matter of breaking a routine. Once we did that by replacing it with a new routine, the whole process went swiftly and smoothly. It's funny, but if you ask Juniper now if she nurses Mommy's milk, she just smiles and shakes her head 'no.' My baby girl isn't a baby anymore.

An Evening Stroll Through River View Cemetery Post-Memorial Day Weekend

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, but tonight as I walked amongst the graves of fallen soldiers from the Civil War at River View Cemetery, it was with a sense of gratitude and observance for each one.

After seeing this grave from 1911, for the infant sons of R.D. and G.B. Morse, I got to thinking about loss, life, and death.

And then I came across the poem "A child said, What is the grass?" by Walt Whitman, and thought about death not in terms of finality but in terms of connectivity and continuity. Here is an excerpt from Whitman's poem:

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . . and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.

Weaning Juniper: Day Three

Monday, May 25, 2009
How it's going: so far, so good.

Overall, she is doing really well with the transition, but there have been moments when Juniper has tried to nurse and cried in frustration when I gave her a glass of milk instead. Yesterday afternoon, she screamed in anger for about ten minutes when I wouldn't nurse her to sleep for her nap. I just held her until she finally fell asleep. Today, she just laid down beside me and held my hand until she fell asleep without crying at all.

She's still interested in nursing and certainly hasn't forgotten about her nursing routines (mainly mornings and nursing to sleep), but with each passing day, it seems to be getting easier and easier on both of us.

Here's a little video of Juniper repeating words, something she has just started doing this past week, to show what a big girl she is now:

And because she's so dang cute when she's running, here's one more clip:

Liking the Sound of Sara Lov

Sunday, May 24, 2009
I was recently introduced to the music of Sara Lov when I saw this amazing video, created by using over four thousand still photographs:

I quickly become a fan, wasting no time in ordering her first album "Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming" from Amazon.

If the display of talent from the first clip wasn't convincing enough, check out her duet "Animals" with Alex Brown Church:


"Fountain," from the soundtrack of film "Bones," is equally good:

To read more about Sara Lov, check out her interview with What's On the Hi-Fi or her Wikipedia page.

Weaning Juniper

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Upon waking up this morning, my first thought was this: "Today is the day to wean Juniper." It's something I've been thinking about now for a few weeks, but up until now, it's been easier to continue her nursing routines than to actually stop and see what happens. Usually when I wake up in the morning, Juniper wants to nurse off and on for 30 minutes to an hour. It's more of a routine than anything else, and I decided today that if I distract her with a new kind of attention--reading books, for example--that she might actually be okay with the weaning process. So far today, she's cried a couple of times when I sat down on the couch and immediately stood up and carried her to the windows to look out at the birds when she wanted to nurse. The distractions work, and she even smiled a few times today when I told her what a big girl she is now. I remember when I weaned Sam at sixteen months that I felt a little down for a few days, mostly because I knew his babyhood was really over at that point. Juniper is seventeen months, and the transition feels similar to what it was with Sam. I feel a familiar sadness in letting go of her babyhood, and in addition, her reaction is similar to Sam's--a little crankiness at the change in the routine, but no displays of behavior that indicate she is not ready for weaning. And so ends my years of breastfeeding and caring for babies. I don't plan to have any more, so these years really have come to an end for me. Having said that, I feel oddly content to close this chapter in my life; it's time to move on to the next one.

Memorial Day Weekend

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mid-70's day with blue skies today in Portland partly spent gazing at my street-side patch of irises, which has grown rather large in two years from a few extra bulbs my neighbor gave to me from her own garden. Days like these are few and far between; the weather is perfect--not too hot, not too cold, and a slight breeze to keep the temperature just right. This week, we're lucky enough to have a string of mid-70 degree days in a row. I plan to stick around Portland this Memorial Day weekend, keeping my plans simple: drink lots of lattes, blog and read, and take many walks in the sun. What are your plans for the weekend?

Old SW Portland Neighborhood

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Tonight, I had the idea to explore this Portland neighborhood:

View Larger Map

Mid-19th century homes sat on 2-3 acre lots, and the neighborhood had an old and unchanged feel to it.

There were lots of trees . . . some planted in the past decade . . .

while others were here long before the neighborhood.

I came across a flock of peafowl, which was an unexpected treat.

The houses were stunning in architectural design and, from what I observed, have been kept in their original state.

The gardens have been maintained, despite the size of most of the lots in this neighborhood.

Old, charming fences and gates.

And a friendly feline who was so adorable (and I'm not a cat person these days) that I just couldn't help but take her picture.

She seemed to be posing for the camera.

She definitely was posing.

Will you look at this house? Absolutely stunning.

This house was especially charming. Wisteria was growing straight up a fir tree, accenting the house quite nicely.

Interesting combination of the blue house and fir tree/wisteria plant--charming indeed.

Old house under major renovation and restoration. I wonder what it will look like once the project's complete.

You can see how old it is--check out the gables.

I like exploring historic neighborhoods no matter what the city--how about you?

It's Starting to Feel Like Summer

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It was hot on Saturday, so Landon biked the kids down to Jamison Square while I took the morning off at home. Here's my baby girl in a bike helmet, stopping along the way to look at the horses in their downtown stables for Portland's Mounted Patrol Unit.

From what I hear, she was excited the minute she saw the water at Jamison Square. She had a great time. Here she is, sporting her Target bathing suit and chubby thighs.

Sam was super happy to be back at Jamison Square again. It's been a long Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Sun + water = happy kids.

Look at that sun. It was in the mid-80's on Sunday--the perfect day to cool off in the fountain and tidal pool of Jamison Square. It's the next best thing to going to the beach for a little boy and girl, after all. Thanks for taking such great pictures, Landon.

Thinking of Friends, Going Back to School, and Weaning Juniper

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
My friend Allie has been on my mind a lot the past few days. So many times I've wanted to e-mail, call, deliver flowers or a card, offer to watch her girls, but there is nothing I can say or do that will take away her pain. I'm so sorry, Allie.

Life has been crazy lately. Between domestic chores, family outings, blogging, keeping chickens, trapping rats, and maintaining, I've decided to go back to school, just to see what it's like and if it feels right. I dropped out of school in early 2007 when I discovered between terms that I was pregnant with Juniper. When I dropped out, I was taking Anatomy & Physiology, a prerequisite for nursing school, which requires about 35-40 hours a week of study time in order to get an A in the class. This time around, instead of diving back into A & P right away, I've decided to start with Statistics, also a prerequisite for nursing, which will be challenging, but won't be as demanding as A & P. So, I'm going to see how it feels--to be back in school--and if it seems like a good fit for me at this time in my life.

Another thing on my mind lately is weaning Juniper. This is not going to be an easy task. I've always firmly believed in child-led weaning, but so far, there hasn't been even one glimmer of hope that an opportunity for weaning is around the corner. If I sit down, she wants to nurse. If I'm cooking in the kitchen, she's pulling on my shirt to nurse. At the computer? She ALWAYS wants to nurse. Since she doesn't have words yet, she yells all day long for my attention, and 90% of the attention she demands is for nursing. The other 10% is for eating other foods. When Sam turned 16 months, I woke up one day and realized that I could just stop nursing. I did, and though he cried the first morning due to the change in his morning routine (he usually always nursed first thing in the morning), he never asked to nurse again after that morning. I had hoped for a similar weaning experience with Juniper, but no such luck. I'm not even sure how I'm going to go about limiting her nursing. I've tried to offer her cow's milk or water when she wants to nurse, but she just gets angry. Any ideas on weaning? If it's to be parent-led weaning and the child is not ready, what's are some positive ways to go about doing this?

Bits of My Weekend

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coffee out with Sam.

Alliums in full bloom.

A birthday celebration with friends in Franklin Park, Vancouver, WA.

Juniper and her beloved Pirate's Booty.

Me at 32.

Pushing my baby in the big swing for the first time while listening to the sound of her laugh.

Naked baby playing in the kiddie pool with the hose for the first time.

Garden hose: an endless childhood delight.

Evening Walk

Sunday, May 17, 2009
Tonight, this song is running through my head:

As I head out for an evening walk . . .

I take my favorite route: up the hill by way of 2nd Avenue, just west of Barbur Blvd.

The majority of homes in this neighborhood were built in the 40's and 50's. Many of these homes have old trees in their front yards. I really like this one.

This house always cheers me up--it's not only a beautiful house, but it has a welcoming shelter and bench for pedestrians.

Let's take a closer look . . .

Yes, a cozy spot indeed.

Bongo drums . . .

A box of books and games . . . even an umbrella.

A little political statement. Hmmm. Smile.

I just love this little old house.

Across the street, what would otherwise appear to be a driveway, is a marked pedestrian path, which connects 3rd and 4th Avenue at the corner of SW Nevada Street.

Ahh. There it is--I see the path now.

A little path between property lines.

To the left of the path was a rather large urban backyard with many vegetable garden plots.

A little country living in the city. Not many lots this size exist in Portland anymore, but those that do are usually found in SW Portland.

The path where it connects to 5th Avenue.

A northerly look at the vegetable gardens along the path.

This same backyard even has a tree-house in an old apple tree.

As I walked, I took in the activities all around me. Some people were eating dinner on their backyard patios while listening to music, one couple was out for a stroll in their garden, one backyard was giving off the delicious aroma of dinner on the grill, and one man in his fifties was busy cutting up branches to put in his Metro compost bin that he'd pruned from a tree.

I've had my eye on this old house, which has been for sale for quite some time. It features a very old tree in its front yard, and is a nice little property on Chestnut Street, just north of Terwilliger Blvd.

Next to the property for sale is this house, a house I really love. It's currently being remodeled. I love the old tree in this front yard, too.

All those windows--this house is fabulous.

With long-forgotten raised beds along the driveway of this house, I wonder if this house has been neglected for some time, only to be recently discovered and restored by new owners.

Speaking of long-forgotten, this entrance seems to have been abandoned by property owners who now use a more convenient path instead.

Oooh, I do love this tree--it has such an interesting shape and quite a lot of character.

To think it's been growing here long before this neighborhood was established.

The blossoms on this tree perfectly match the paint on this house. Coincidence or planned? No way to know.

I've had my eye on this property for awhile. Whoever lives here can no longer afford to or is not physically able to care for this property. It's just waiting for loving hands to restore it to its original beauty.

Good bones--just needs a little sprucing up.

It also needs a new garage door.

And a new paint job.

It's hard not to feel annoyed at a fence like this. Frost wrote about fences in "Mending Wall." This isn't a good fence. A good idea in theory, but digging a trench into the hill to make an attempt at getting it level just doesn't work.

Plus it's one of those faux Home Depot fences. An eyesore. Really, it is.

And then there's the property owners that post the "Beware of Dog" signs on all sides of their property. I never really know what this means. Should I be worried walking by or is this an idle threat to divert robbers? Much unlike the house with the welcoming bench, when I walk by houses like these, I can't help but feel immediately anxious, like a vicious dog will jump out at any moment, ready to knock me down and tear me apart. Isn't this possible based on the warning?

And so I walk on, towards home, with my head full of thoughts, soaking in the night air and the cool breeze, looking forward to what tomorrow might bring.
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