Thursday, 30 August 2007

First Day of School

For the first time I didn't see my kids off to their first day of school. It was a work day for me and I start work before the family even wakes up, so Ken got the job.
Last night the kids each set out what they wanted to wear for the first day. Jaclyn was the fashion consultant for Carmen and Chloe - Steven didn't ask for any sisterly advice. After everyone had gone to sleep (or so I thought) it occurred to me that I wouldn't be home in the morning to take the traditional off to school pictures, so I snuck into the kids' rooms to take pictures of the outfits.

Chloe chose the kitty t-shirt, and Jaclyn coordinated it with the plaid shorts. I hadn't noticed the lipsmackers chapstick when I tucked Chloe in, so I think it was an add-on after I left the room. I'm sure she had pretty, shiny lips for her first day of grade one.

Jaclyn's fashion advice for Carmen was that army green and purple look good together. Carmen headed to third grade with a nice affirmation on her shirt.

I love the socks sticking out of Steven's shorts.

When I went into Jaclyn's room to photograph her outfit she rolled over and looked at me, so I just quickly closed the door, but I did see that her clothes were folded in a neat pile rather than spread out like the younger kids. As it turned out Ken made an effort to take pictures in the morning, but he had trouble with the flash and only Jaclyn's picture turned out.


I phoned Ken at noon to ask him how the morning went and which teacher each of the kids got this year, but he knows the faces of the teachers better than the names and he couldn't tell me. I had to wait and get the low down from the kids over our traditional first-day-of-school after school snack: apples and carmel sauce.

Jaclyn got RGLHM's favorite math teacher for homeroom. How cool is it to go to school where your aunt went to school as a child and some of the same teachers are still there? Steven has 5/7 of his best school friends in his 6th grade class and he's actually in a classroom, which I know sounds like an unusual thing to mention. We're currently building a brand new campus for our school, and the portables from the old school (which we are still in) have already been moved to the new school, but the new school isn't ready yet, so the other 6th grade class is out in the open space adjacent to the kitchen. Brutal. Carmen doesn't have any of her best school friends in her own class which turns out to be okay because she got a surprise that one of her preschool friends from long ago has transferred to our school and is Carmen's room - so lucky! Chloe came home from first grade full of enthusiasm and spent an hour doing *homework*.


Here's my homework: a stack of papers & agendas to look over and 7 forms to sign and return to school tomorrow.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I just downed several hand fulls of chocolate chips. What's my problem? I'm stressed about back to school, and honestly, that surprises me.
Last spring (2006) Ken took a lay-off package which allowed him to take the whole summer off without even job hunting till fall came. As his last day of work approached he dubbed the coming months 'the summer of Ken'. Words he has lived to regret, no doubt, since I have used that phrase much more often than he has, but I understood what he was saying: he didn't want me to come up with ideas of how he could spend his time that summer. He had his own plans.
So this summer I've been teasing Ken that I've got 'the school year of Barb' ahead of me this year because our baby is entering first grade. As in don't ask me what I do all day while the kids are at school, you don't want to know.
Here's a little sample of how I've been planning on spending my personal time:
  • shopping
  • cleaning and organizing this house room by room
  • exercising
  • playing with my Cricut and my new cartridges I bought in Utah
  • reading
  • blogging
  • doing whatever I want whenever I want

You get the idea. But tonight all I can think about is packing lunches, making everyone practise piano, seminary starting this year, the extracurriculars my kids will sign up for, juggling school parent council and YW activities which are both on the same night, juggling cross country running and piano lessons which are after school on the same day. I have to stop there - typing it out is not helping.

If I told you my 6 year old is going to take one 45 minute ballet lesson per week this fall, and that I'm going to teach her piano myself would that sound like we're over scheduled?

Or if I told you that my 8 year old is going to begin horseback riding lessons once a week, and I'm going to teach her piano myself would that sound like we're over doing it? Oh yeah, she has her activity days girls group twice a month, too.

How about when I tell you that my 11 year old son will play hockey this year, which is mostly a once a week commitment, he has scouts once a week, and I'm going to teach him piano myself on our own schedule?

Now I'm outsourcing piano lessons for my 13 year old. Also, at her piano level, she takes a separate music history lesson once a week. Music twice a week and mutual are her only planned activities for the fall, but she's a joiner and there will be a plethora of before and after school meetings, practises, and rehearsals.

I need some more chocolate chips.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


I got a bundle of mail when I returned home from my holiday, and some of it was good mail!

Jane sent me a thank you card disguised as a bookmark. This card suffered from international snail mail, and I know she was surprised by how long it took to get to me. Look how cute it is: a road trip!


Jill sent me what is becoming her signature card (a note card with a photo she herself has taken on the front of the card) thanking me for remembering her birthday.


Then 3 days after I got home I got another card from Jane welcoming me home with the cutest San Francisco stickers included in the card - I love the skinny little houses especially. My kids are eyeing these stickers for their mini trip journals but as if I'm sharing! Sorry kids.


Sunday, 26 August 2007

Dr. Suess' Remedy for Regret

Back in July when we were in Montana we went to a live theatre production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Bigfork Summer Playhouse. Well, some of us did. Moby let Kelly's family down, so they didn't arrive in Montana early enough to come with us, and then Carmen was so disappointed not to be going to the theatre with Bryn and Ave that she decided she wouldn't go at all. It was a decision she made in sort of a dramatic huff, but it was her decision.
Jaclyn and I headed off to a lovely evening of dinner and theatre with several of our other female relatives, and Carmen stayed back at the cabin with the boys, men and small children. Carmen had a fun enough evening, but once she was tucked in bed she started thinking about Jaclyn and I, who were still out at *Joseph*, and she started crying. Loudly. Ken went upstairs to find out what was wrong and Carmen sobbed, "I did something terrible" (sob, sob, sob) Ken had no idea of what Carmen was talking about and prepared himself for a confession of crimes against siblings, but finally she was able to tell him that choosing to miss going out to dinner and the theatre was the terrible thing she'd done.
Carmen has lived with the burden of regret since that day, poor girl.
Hopefully going to Seussical the Musical on Friday with Grandma and Grandpa N. and cousins and aunts has lifted that burden and Carmen can put missing *Joseph* behind her.
Carmen: so happy to be a patron of the arts.

I really thought the night would belong to Carmen, and the first act did, but at intermission Chloe won the door prize: a 50th anniversary edition of The Cat in the Hat, signed by *The Cat* himself! Chloe was so thrilled, and after the play was over she wanted to meet the actors (remember meet the band) and she got her book signed by the entire cast.

Friday, 17 August 2007

26 letters for 26 years!

A auntie to my kids - they love her!

B believer

C cable, or the lack of it

D dirk's wife

E energy to spare

F family home evening wizard

G great cook

H hazel eyes

I i named her

J just beautiful

K kathleen - her middle name

L laughter (hers sounds the same as mine but she maybe does it more often)

M mom, and she's devoted to motherhood

N for our maiden name

O optimistic

P public speaking is one of her strongest talents

Q quiet discipline - I've never seen her lose it with her kids

R reezie-chuck (her childhood nickname)

S scrapbooking

T ten years younger than me

U unbelievable energy. i know i covered this under 'e' but it's worth repeating

V vacuuming - we grew up in the same vacuum crazy house - now I love it and she hates it!

W whistling - she's so good at it!

X xylophone - she's the current guardian of our xylophone
Y youngest kid in our family

Z Zzzzzzz's I'm sure with 3 small children she's not getting enough of these!

It's fun to wander through the alphabet with you and tell you what she means to me!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Kelly: my personal recreation manager (part 2)

Girls Night Out

How crazy is it to meet new people and skip the introductions? I went for dinner and a movie last night with Kelly (I knew her before), Lisa, and Emily. We just jumped right in and talked and laughed and had a good time. We tried to get the bus boy in the restaurant to take our picture at the table but none of those pictures worked at all. I'm not sure he'd ever used a camera before, he wasn't even pushing the button down fully, thereby capturing nothing at all.

After we were done dinner the hostess of California Kitchen managed to take a good picture of the four of us.

This was the best self portrait x 4 that I managed to get in front of the poster of the movie we saw. I really liked Becoming Jane, and I definitely never would have seen it if I hadn't been invited out to see it with girlfriends - not the kind of movie Ken and I see together.

Antique Shopping

Today Kelly took me out shopping. We found some really smelly antique shops, some serious junk shops, and a couple of spectacular stores.

This one store Why Not? was probably my favorite. The dress in the window was so cute. The bodice was cut from a vintage piece of needlepoint, and then sewn into a dress with coordinating fabric. I spent the rest of our antiquing trying to find the perfect piece of vintage needlepoint to sew into a dress, but I'm going to have to keep looking.

Why Not? also had these paper crowns that I loved. I loved the music paper, the ribbon, the cameo vintage picture in the middle, and the raised word on the front.

The crown had grommets in the back corners with ribbons strung through them to tie the crown together and adjust the head size, and the inside was printed like a certificate saying:

This Paper Crown is Presented To


In Commemoration of _____________

On the ___ day of _________ , _____

Presented by __________________


Then tonight:

I got Shanghaied

Kelly (my personal recreation manager), with helpful information from Lisa, found out about these tours of underground Portland. The website for these tours gives you the impression that you'll be walking through tunnels under the streets of downtown Portland where kidnapped young men were transported onto boats and forced to work on ships as they sailed to Shanghai.

The tour started in a courtyard behind a bar downtown. We took the kids and they were all repulsed by the cigarette smoke. They were plugging their noses, and pulling their tshirts up over their mouths to breath. They were putting on a bit of a show, but Keith and I made them cut it out (O.K. Emily, so Keith and I are alike). The kids made an instant recovery when our tour guide started in with his stories. He was a very entertaining storyteller and really knew how to share a yarn.

After the initial introduction to the 'history' of the tunnels we all went through a trap door in the sidewalk into the underground.

This is supposedly an opium den, which came with the explanation that the drunk and the stoned were the easiest targets for the Shanghai-ers.

Now here's the thing, we didn't walk through a catacomb of tunnels. I'm pretty sure we didn't get led around more than just the basement of the bar above us. So as much as this tour we took is put forward as historic, I'm thinking maybe it's more like those roadside mystery spots that I've driven by on the highway.

Yes, I'm pretty sure:

I was Shanghaied!

Kelly: my personal recreation manager (part 1)

Kelly has really outdone herself thinking of fun things for us to do while my family visits her family this week. First up: The Vista House on Crown Point. If only all the great states I've driven through in the past two weeks had roadside rest stops like the Vista House. I have fear-factored many restrooms on this road trip, and I just can't believe this beautiful piece of architecture was built as a rest stop for travellers on the old Columbia River highway.

This is the beautiful view of the Columbia River Gorge from the Vista House.

And these are the beautiful windows in the Vista House. The marbleized (I spell checked this work, truly) stained glass is like nothing I've ever seen before and if I were building a new home I would think of a place for this.

I took many many pictures of the marbleized stained glass windows. What I thought was brilliant about this choice for the house is the way the colors and the swirls reflected the river itself.

Steven and Brynlee waiting for Kelly and I to finish taking pictures and Jaclyn to finish shopping the gift shop.

Multnomah Falls are just down the historic highway from the Vista House. I started taking pictures of signs back when I was still scrapbooking (I do online photobooks now) because of the way I felt my terrible handwriting ruined my scrapbooks.

The sun was shining brightly over the top of the falls, so I could only get a good picture of the bottom half, but they were so beautiful!

Self portrait: I can't help myself.

We hiked up the path along the falls and the kids stopped to pose for a group picture. How amazing is it that we caught a picture with every kid facing the camera?

Steven was hiking along just off the paved path with me following him. When he got to this sign he covered it up and said: Don't read this sign, mom. Ha!

Chloe and Emerson. To me this picture summarizes the way all these cousins love each other and get along. The playing is nonstop - they had the craziest game of hide & seek in the basement yesterday that ended with Steven pelting the girls (mostly Avery) with stuffed animals and the girls screaming with delight.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

California Dreamin'

Tonight is our last night in California. Here's what we've been up to for the last few days:

We went to Paramount's Great America Park. We rode the rides, took photos with the characters,

played in the Great America Waterpark, and caught some rays.

Then we headed out to Santa Cruz, the birth place of two of Ken's bikes. It took some tracking skills and commitment to find the factory - you can only access the street the factory is on through a parking lot.

Santa Cruz skateboard, surf board, and bike factory.

We passed this fabric store a couple of times as we circled around looking for the bike factory. The store window display reminds me of my daughers' fashion plates that create outfits from scraps of fabrics. This was the best fabric store EVER and it has a website, which I'll be adding to my sidebar shortly.
We went to the beach in the evening which reminded me of this great shadow on the beach picture idea I've seen a few places now. From left to right it's Steven, Chloe, Me, Ken, Jaclyn, and Carmen.

All the kids loved the ocean. Chloe was so pleased to find a piece of a shell.

Carmen is quite sure that as the waves came in that she was sliding backwards in the sand. We can't convince her that it was a cool sensation, but that in fact she was remaining still with just the water moving around her.


Jaclyn was very daring with the waves. I really thought one would knock her down the way she was playing deeper and deeper in the surf, but I'm glad to have been wrong.

The kids did not want to leave the beach, but we hadn't eaten anything in over 6 hours, and finally we dragged them away for a late dinner.

Today we drove through one of the (didn't know there were several before this trip) Redwood Forests. The family ahead of us were in a minivan, and they were very impressed we could squeeze through the tree in our Avalanche.

And look at what Carmen found on the floor of the Redwood Forest: shamrocks!

Well it's late and it's time I do some final California dreamin'.

Tomorrow it's Portland and Cousins! Cousins! Cousins!

Which reminds me, tonight Ken was trying to get the kids to name their favorite part of the trip so far and Carmen and Chloe both said they were sure in advance that visiting cousins would be the best part of our trip.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Steven's birthday

Steven's 11th birthday was a very full day. We drove in to the city again, parked downtown, and walked to the Giants game.

I think AT&T Park is my favorite baseball stadium. It is so gorgeous on the water. I didn't appreciate it when Ken and I went last year because we had better seats (lower down) and we couldn't see the bay.

The game was a sell out, but not well attended. I'm sure many of the people who bought tickets were like us and made their purchase before the home run record was broken, hoping to catch a bit of baseball history. But we weren't going to miss the game just because Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run 2 days earlier!

These fans were still hoping to fish a home run baseball out of the bay. One ball almost went out into the bay, it landed on the deck just shy of the water. The game in general had so much variety and plays that you don't see very often. To me it was like the players were just having fun now that the pressure of the home run record hanging over them was gone. We saw players on 1st and 3rd simultaneously try to steal a base - the idea being that stealing 2nd would draw the play, allowing home to be stolen. It didn't work: the baseball was sent home, but it was fun to watch. We also saw a bat broken on a hard hit, which I've never seen in real life before. It was so loud!

I thought maybe Barry Bonds wouldn't play at all. He wasn't in the batting order, but he made a showing as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning.

Chloe took this picture of her Dibs she ate at the baseball game and told me she wanted me to put it in my blog. Sometimes my family seems to think that mom's blog is a group project.

After the game we walked around Fisherman's Wharf. Mark Twain said that the coldest winter he ever spent was the summer he lived in San Fransisco.

The kids with Alcatraz in the background.

Each of the girls got to choose an oyster and keep both the shell and the pearl that was found inside. We had the pearls set into pendants to wear as necklaces. The nicest compliment I was ever paid was that I was a *pearl of a girl* and this picture reminds me of that. I'm so lucky to have three daughters! Each of them are pearls.

We had Steven's birthday dinner at Franciscans - a high end seafood restaurant right on the pier. My kids are crazy about seafood thanks to their dad who has spent their entire lives teaching them to enjoy it.

Steven ordered a whole crab just for himself.

After dinner it was getting late, but we couldn't leave without a cable car ride. Chloe had been looking forward to the cable car ride thanks to her book This is San Francisco. I would have had the lady in the picture take a shot of our whole family together instead of me acting as photographer but we'd already had a language barrier argument over her teenage daughter squishing Chloe, so it didn't feel right asking her to take a picture for us considering the conductor sided with me and made her daughter go inside the cable car instead of standing holding on to the outside.

Well, like I said, it was getting late, and the cable car didn't take us very close to where we were parked, so the kids and I waited in the lobby of the Marriott downtown while Ken went and got the car for us. It took him more than 20 minutes even though he wasn't hobbled by the rest of the family and our shorter legs. I can't imagine how long it would have taken if we'd all walked together to the car.

I tried to take a self portrait showing me all tired and gritty from our day, but Steven stood behind the camera and started telling me it was looking good, which made me laugh.

The Neutrogena set up in the hotel bathroom looked so good when we got to the hotel. I washed away all the city grit, and even used the mouthwash (which contained alcohol which is not good for your mouth because it dries the tissues how could Neutrogena go so wrong?) but I didn't care it just felt so good to be tingly and fresh after our big day in the city.