Kicking Off the Christmas Season
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas with a 3-year-old is awesome! Wyatt has been catching glimpses of Christmas on television commercials and store displays for at least a month now. Every day since then, he has asked (correction: begged) to see Santa. "When we get our Christmas tree, " I'd reply. "Then, it will be time to go see Santa."

The day after Thanksgiving we headed to the tree farm in search of the perfect tree. It was great. Wyatt and Avery were both very excited about the process (well, Wyatt was probably more excited about getting his hands on the saw, while Avery was quite intrigued by the muddy (and very hilly) conditions, which made for a great slip n slide on a couple of occasions). But they were excited, nonetheless.

Wyatt did a great job making sure proper tree-cutting technique and form were being appropriately executed (above), while Avery was busy searching for her very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree (below).

She was quite pleased with her discovery.

We finally made it off the hill with our tree just before dark. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures just how dark and foggy it was. It certainly made for a bit of a spooky experience for the kids, I'm sure. But they didn't seem to mind too much. Just don't tell Wyatt that Santa's jolly ghost is peering over his shoulder in this picture.

(click to enlarge)

While the tree was being prepared for us to take home, Wyatt and Avery sought light and shelter in the little gift shop, where each of them were greeted with their very favorite things.




This was by far the best tree farm experience, and I'm so excited to see what the next month will bring now that we have a child who has Christmas Spirit flowing out his ears and eyeballs. As we were calling it a night, Wyatt seemed overcome with joy when he said, "Mom. Dad. This was so much fun."

You just wait, Kiddo. There is much more in store. We're just getting started.

**We've had our tree 2 days now, and he's already asked to see Santa about 10 times. Any suggestions on how to stall for one more week?

Wine Selection: Bogle Merlot
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: This is nice and smooth, although a little bit sweet. But it's a fabulous wine for casual sipping.


Wild Turkeys
Friday, November 28, 2008

Sure. We had turkey at our house on Thanksgiving. We had five of them, actually--all of them wild. Five wild turkeys under one, very small roof. Very impressive. Since we knew no one would believe that we actually had five turkeys at our house for thanksgiving, we have digital proof. Here they are, arranged ever-so-beautifully around the dining table:

Well, 4 out of 5 in one picture isn't bad.
You'll just have to take my word that there was
actually another little gobbler waddling around.

We had our dear friends, The Landfields, over for Thanksgiving dinner. Eric grilled a turkey (just one), made his grandmother's dressing, prepared green bean casserole, and baked a couple of pies. Yes, I contributed. I prepared the most dee-licious twice baked mashed potatoes and homemade mac-n-cheese for the kiddos. And by default, I was the one in charge of logistics and making the place "look pretty." Eric and I love hosting dinners and parties, and I think we do okay with what we have, but it sure will be nice when we are no longer forced to tell our guests to bring their own chairs. Ha!

All of the kids together were (you guessed it) WILD!! At one point three of them managed to wedge themselves into the play tunnel at the same time. I guess it's safe to say that none of these kids suffers from claustrophobia.

Avery and Lacey kept to themselves for the most part, for I'm sure they quite appropriately feared for their lives if they were in the same vicinity as the older three. Interestingly, Avery didn't let all of the excitement distract her from participating in her most beloved activity. Reading.

I'm happy to read to Avery all day. She's such a little cuddle bunny. But there are times I must deny her the pleasure of reading stories. Hey, a mom does need to use the bathroom every once in a while. It's during these moments of engaging in other mommy duties that I've learned it's best to not even make eye contact with her when she starts pleading, because if I do, I'm immediately put under her spell.

"Hey Mom, how 'bout this one? We haven't read this one in like, oh, 8 minutes."
What can I say? I'm a sucker for puppy dog eyes.

Needless to say, Avery and I spent a good portion of our Thankgiving celebration reading about Curious George and all of his really cool tricks.

We had such a wonderful day and were so happy to spend it with such great company.

Wine Selection
: Bad Girl Blanc
Personal Rating: **Fair**
Comments: I think this is a really nice, light wine for your typical non-wine drinker. It's surprisingly not too sweet, but it's really sort of sour (as in lemon)--something I haven't really experienced before when drinking whites. This is the wine I gave away in July to a Sipping Chardonnay reader. Fortuitously, that bottle ended up at my house for Thanksgiving. As it turns out, Ashley was saving it for a special occassion, and she decided to share it with me. How sweet!


Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolli, Lollipop!
Thursday, November 27, 2008

As we were entered the drive-thru bank this morning, Wyatt exclaimed, "Hey, Mom! There's the bank!"

"Oh yeah? What do we do at the bank, Wyatt?"

"We get lollipops."

Of course. What else would we do at the bank?

This little incident brought back some fond memories of my own childhood. The bone-chilling excitement of just the possibility of receiving a lollipop at the bank.

Does the teller see that I'm in the car? Will she remember? What can I do to get her attention?

All of these thoughts ran frantically through my 6-year-old brain before finally being afforded the luxury of pursing my innocent lips against the sugary goodness of a cherry lollipop, affixed not to just a boring stick like the ones they make today, but a lovely little loop (you remember the kind) that I'd twirl on my finger until it inevitably (and accidently) skyrocketed and landed in a place that, as evidenced by my mother's disapproving expression, would eventually land the poor sucker in the garbage can.

At some point during my adolescence (don't ask me why), banks nationwide abruptly ceased all distribution of lollipops. I thought it was a bit strange, but nevertheless, I accepted the fact that I had seen the last of my Bank Lollipop.

Fast forward to the year 2006. Wyatt was a little over a year old when we made a routine visit to the bank. You would never guess what I found accompanied with my receipt. A lollipop....a red one...shimmering in all of its glory.

What the heck?!?! When did they start giving out lollipops again?!?!?

Believe it or not, it actually took a few minutes for me to start putting all of the pieces together and to realize the lollipop was actually for Wyatt! At some point during my adolescence, some bank god decided that I was too old for lollipops. Let me tell you, it was so much less hurtful when I thought they were just struggling financially and couldn't afford to give out lollipops anymore. Oh, the beauty of naivety.

When did we become too old to enjoy lollipops, and who determines such things? This sort of stuff really gets to me, especially this time of year--when the child at heart really comes out in me (and a lot of us, for that matter). I just want to shout at the top of my lungs, "Dang it! I want to sit on Santa's lap too (although instead of asking for Polly Pockets and an Easy Bake Oven, I'd be asking/pleading for debt reduction and unlimited access to Starbucks, but that's beside the point)!"

I don't know, maybe I'm just weird. But then that would make my husband weird too, and it would make my sister really, REALLY, weird because I've never known another person with such a youthful heart. It's not fair, I tell you. IT'S. NOT.FAIR! I'm not saying that I want to be a kid again because frankly, it does stink at times. I just wish that adults were given just a little more freedom to express their inner child without it being inferred that they need to be committed. That's all.

Wine Selection: Edna Valley Merlot
Personal Rating: **Fair**
Comments: I'm beginning to think that I don't like wine anymore, since this is the third wine in a row that I've tasted and did not really appreciate.


BIG SHOT of the week
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I have a slight confession to make. When I started this Big Shot series, I said it was primarily to showcase some of Eric's lesser known talents. But truthfully, the motivation behind the series manifested after receiving several comments like this:

I always admire your nature photos. He definitely has a gift! I would have those matted and framed and hung around my home. Beautiful. --Starr, March 08

I realized there were absolutely none of Eric's photos adorning the walls of our home. Shame on me!! Needless to say, I needed a way to organize his photos in a way that would enable me to identify our (okay...MY) favorites. Hence, the Big Shot series.

I'm pleased to report that I have now enlarged, matted, and framed some of our most cherished photos. Thanks to all of you who thought enough to comment (although it has now turned into a bit of an obsession, and frankly, we're running out of wall space).

To add to the madness, here's one more Big Shot that will hopefully make it into a matted frame and onto one of our walls. Hey, at this point I'll settle for a little nook in the bathroom corner. I told you it was now an obsession. Who again do I thank for this?!?!

Hurricane Ridge at sunset
Olympic National Park, WA
June 2006

Wine Selection: Red Truck Cabernet Sauvignon
Personal Rating: **Fair**
Comments: Nothing special. Not a huge fan, but it's drinkable. It's a little thin with a very strange/weak finish.

Labels: ,

The Kid Ain't Right.
Friday, November 21, 2008

We eat a lot of broccoli in our house. A lot. Not because it's healthy (although it is a perk), but because Wyatt can't ever get enough. The kid will shove tree upon tree in his mouth until nary a trace of floret can be detected on his plate. And if you haven't finished your own by the time he's cleaned his plate, he'll arm wrestle you (and win) for what's left.

I usually buy the fresh bundles and clip off the florets before steaming them. A couple of weeks ago, Wyatt got his hands on the raw stalk after I had already clipped the florets, and began gnawing away. I thought he'd take one bite and toss it on the floor, but he nearly devoured the entire thing (as cold and hard as it was...ewww). We can't get him to eat a sweet and mushy cooked carrot, but he'll eat a bundle of broccoli with or without florets; cooked or uncooked. I'm telling ya...the kid ain't right.

Shoving the entire floret in his mouth...

and loving every minute of it.

Wyatt's love for broccoli can be traced back at least a year and a half, when the following picture of him gnawing on a raw stalk was captured in June of 2007.

Wine Selection: Maresh Sauvignon Blanc
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: Eric and I purchased this wine on our latest wine tasting trip to the Dundee Hills. Maresh is one of the oldest wineries in Oregon, and the only way to get their wine is to contact them directly. They do not distribute to local retailers, so this wine is a nice treat.


Why pay for expensive hair product...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

...when Ranch dressing does the trick every time?

Wine Selection: Red Rock Merlot
Personal Rating: *Poor*
Comments: This wine verges on being almost undrinkable (I said almost). There's really nothing positive I can say about it.


A Volcano Kind of Day
Monday, November 17, 2008

One of the greatest perks to living in the Pacific Northwest is that there are so many amazing destinations at our fingertips--one of the very reasons it's going to be so difficult to leave this part of the country in 19 months. When we woke up yesterday morning and saw the sunshine, we knew it would be a good day for a drive. "Wyatt, do you want to go see a volcano?" "YES!", he enthusiastically replied (with eyes as large as silver dollars). So, off we went. Destination...Mount St. Helens.

We have visited St. Helens several times, but each visit seems to offer something new and exciting. Eric has been especially motivated lately to engage in some hard-core training, which I'm sure had absolutely nothing to do with his recent purchase of dress slacks one size larger than he had previously been wearing. :-) Nevertheless, he decided he wanted to bike the incredibly steep 7 miles up the mountain.

He started out with an additional 40 lb sack of potatoes (which I thought was insane from the beginning), but as usual, he made the climb appear effortless.

Eric taking in the views of St. Helens while
puffing steadily up the mountain

I was sure to pull the car over every mile or so just in case he was overcome with exhaustion and needed to call it quits (since I was exhausted just watching), but he never gave in to the temptation and we eventually met him at one of the volcano overlooks where we stayed and played for a while.

Avery looking up in admiration at her "Lance Armstrong" daddy. I'm sure she must have been thinking, "Strong work, Dad! Now... can I walk along the wall without holding your hand. Please...pretty please!"

We've learned to take advantage of day trips like this on a clear day because the views of the volcanos are magnificent, and something we don't get to see much of during the rainy season. Here are the kiddos and I posing with St. Helens (on the right) and snowy Mt. Adams (on the distant left) in the background.

In an effort to get Wyatt to focus his attention on the volcanos he was previously so excited to see and off the rocks and dirt in the parking lot (hey, we have that stuff at home), we told him that Mt. Adams (the distant left) was glowing because it was the North Pole, and that Santa and his helpers were working hard making toys for all of the good little girls and boys. You can surely imagine how quickly he came running to check out the action.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon, and we were home just in time to get the kids something to eat and in bed. And just for the record, Eric would be so upset with me if I made a point to mention his expanding waist line but neglected to bring attention to the fact that after only two weeks in his new slacks, he already needs them taken in a size. Strong work, Daddy.

Wine Selection: Bogle Merlot
Rating: ***Good***
Comments: This is a really smooth wine, and very easy to drink without food. It's a bit on the fruity side, but very pleasant. Thanks for the recommendation, Sara!!!


BIG SHOT of the week
Saturday, November 15, 2008

This photo was taken at Smith Rock in central Oregon this past September. What makes this shot so fantastic is the way in which it beautifully demonstrates the effect of natural light on the landscape. It can without a doubt breathe life into an otherwise dull and comatose setting. On this day, the late afternoon sun could not have cast a more perfect shade of amber. I love it.


Big Aspirations
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Avery at lunch today peering over this month's issue of Hospital Physician.

Apparently we missed the memo that said she was going to skip preschool and go straight to med school.

Wine Selection:
Diseno Malbec
Personal Rating:**Fair**
Comments: The alcohol is too overpowering for me.


Up To No Good
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Any parent knows that 30 seconds of peace and quiet in a typically squeal-filled home can mean only one thing--someone is up to no good. No good at all.

Apparently, thirty seconds is all it takes for Wyatt to get his hands on a marker, struggle to get the lid off, and create a beautifully drawn "Mike Tyson" masterpiece. Oh....and did I mention that he used Avery's face as his canvas?

Avery "Mike Tyson" Edgar

What I find most hilarious is that Avery actually let him do it. I'm sure this won't be the last we see of these partners-in-crime hard at work. She has obviously already learned how to work those pitiful puppy dog eyes. I'm afraid of what may lie around the corner.

Wine Selection: Razor's Edge Shiraz Grenache
Personal Rating: **Fair**
Comments: This is one of the strangest wines I've ever tasted. Every sip seems to be completely different. One minute I think it's excellent and then the next I'm struggling to get it down. What's up with that? It's quirky. Can wines be quirky?


Homeschooling At Its Finest
Monday, November 10, 2008

Today at the Edgar School for Gifted Toddlers, we learned that the traditional peace sign can be used not only as a salutation for "later, dude!" , but it can also serve a much greater educational purpose. Wyatt and Avery will now demonstrate how it can be used to practice shapes.

I've always said that I could never homeschool my children because I lack both the discipline and structure needed to be effective. You have just seen evidence to support my statement. Public school, here we come!

Wine Selection: Razor's Edge Shiraz Grenache
Personal Rating:**Fair**
Comments: This wine is okay. It has a ton of flavor without being too sweet, although you can definitely taste the black cherry on the back end. So, if you don't like black cherry, then you may want to consider something else. It's also heavy on the spice, which I don't particularly like. I think it's probably a good quality wine, but it just doesn't suit my particular taste.


BIG SHOT of the week
Saturday, November 8, 2008

Scarlet Paintbrush
Central Oregon, Sept 2008

What an artist wouldn't give to paint with a brush rendering such a brilliant shade of red. Only in nature, my friends.


Celebrating Victories
Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wyatt is an immensely strong-willed child that fears nothing or no one, and there's nothing that frustrates a mother to the core of her being more than the feeling of not being in control, or worse, feeling controlled by her three-year-old child. I struggle on a daily basis to stay at least a half-step ahead of him (not kidding)--and that's after lying awake the previous night strategizing my next move. As challenging as it is to parent a highly spirited child, it has taught me a lot, and I've learned many lessons along my short, three-year journey, including this one:


Today, Wyatt was actually the most well-behaved he's been in quite some time. I didn't fight him to eat his breakfast, wasn't forced to chase him around the house to put his clothes on, or put him in the time-out corner. He hopped in his car seat with only a minor protest, held my hand in the parking lot on the way to music class, and followed every single instruction I gave him while we were away. These are the times in which I feel incredibly proud and victorious, even though I had absolutely nothing to do with which side of the bed he decided to crawl out of this morning. But nevertheless, I've learned to celebrate even the smallest victories.

But before his nap today, I was forced to chase him down to change his diaper. We do this several times a day anyway, so it's one of his games that I'm quite accustomed to playing. When I finally cornered him and he had nowhere else to go, he covered his head and (clearly not frightened) pleaded in a voice most desperately convincing, "Mommy, please don't beat me!"

Now, before you start to feel sorry for the poor lad, please know that this is just his latest strategy for gaining control of a situation. He's a clever dude, I tell you. I call it his Pity Strategy. Of course, I couldn't help but burst into laughter when he said it, because the child has never been beaten in his life!! But I also couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, he's a little more fearful of his mama than I once thought. Is it wrong to rejoice in such a discovery? To realize your child may respect you more than he's made apparent? According to one of the lessons I've learned and already shared in this post, not in the least! Celebrating small victories is what I do these days, as short-lived as they may be. And having a sense of humor has certainly helped my cause.

Tomorrow is a new day and will likely bring new challenges, but one thing is certain...there is never a dull moment in our house because of our little hurricane. He's WILD! Ferociously, yet adorably, wild.

Wine Selection:
Old Vine Red
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: Although I probably won't buy this wine again, it is a decent wine--very well structured, but just a little too sweet.


No Turning Back
Monday, November 3, 2008

May 9, 2009. It's going to be a big day for me. The day I will officially become a Hippie Chick. No, I'm not being converted by Portland locals to hang out on street corners in protest of the war, or join one of those smoking circles on the waterfront. Being a Hippie Chick is way more "gnarly" than that, folks. It means I'll be joining 899 other women, on Mother's Day weekend, for one of the most celebrated running events in the state of Oregon for women--The Hippie Chick Half Marathon. Whoo Hoo! The event sold out in just 8 hours!

Seven months is quite a bit of time to prepare for 13.1 miles (hey, that .1 makes a huge difference), but I started my training today as I cranked out 6 miles this morning at a 9-minute pace. Man, I'm so excited. I'm just hoping my joints remain in good shape as I start increasing my mileage while hopefully decreasing extra pregnancy baggage. Let's see, the last time I ran a half marathon was in 2001 or 2002 in Dallas, TX. Regardless of which year it was, I'm certainly due for another. I'm hoping for a great run, but hopefully not good enough that I'll be bitten by that pesky marathon bug. It almost always happens.

Stay tuned for updates.


BIG SHOT of the week
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Before we went digital, Eric was taking pictures with his 35mm Nikon. When we moved to Portland, I found ten (no, not a typo--TEN!) rolls of undeveloped film tucked away in a plastic bag. Neither of us could recall what may have been on the film, but I knew we'd never know unless I took the initiative to get them developed. Well, three years and two kids later, I finally got around to it. All ten rolls included pictures from our vacation to Yellowstone National Park in June 2004!!

As it turns out, Eric took some pretty great photos on that trip, including this week's BIG SHOT of Lower Falls in Yellowstone. Without a doubt, these falls were the highlight of the trip for me. We spent quite a bit of time there, and it's a place where boredom would be an impossibility. Since I had to scan the original photo, the quality isn't great, but it's still quite remarkable.


Trick or Treat!

We have entirely too much candy in our house right now. I don't see how all of the loot Wyatt and Avery scored tonight can't last through next Halloween. Seriously.

Avery surprisingly wore her costume without a single protest. I figured I'd probably be pushing my luck to get the headpiece on her, so she just went without, but she amazingly sat still long enough for me to draw on her face.

What a purrr-fect little kitty cat!

She also jumped right in there with the big kids when it came to trick or treating. It didn't take her long to get the hang of things, and she'd even say "trick or treat" at the door. Wyatt still struggled with the whole concept of asking politely for the candy. Rather, he just expected everyone to empty the contents of their candy bowl into his bag.

Sorting through the stash once we got home was very interesting. While Wyatt tried to eat as much as he could as fast as he could (taking absolutely no notice of what it actually was), Avery was much more selective in what she was willing to eat. She'd shake her head and say "no" at everything we dangled in front of her face until she finally saw something that peaked her interest. What self control! Surely, she can't be my child!

Or maybe she's just plain smart. Tootsie pops not only taste good, but they last a really long time!



My Wine Personality:
For the most part I’m a chardonnay, as I consider myself to exhibit a somewhat sunny and mellow disposition (most of the time), but because I find a tremendous amount of joy out of showering my two kids with hugs and kisses, I also possess the subtle sweetness often found in a riesling. But don’t be fooled. I love a great outdoor adventure and am willing to try anything once. This occasional display of boldness is thought to match that of a cabernet, whereas my appreciation for nature suggests that I have an earthy component to my personality—very characteristic of a merlot. (more)


“Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1771