Crowd Control
Saturday, November 28, 2009

Some people enjoy crowds. Let me rephrase. Some people don't mind crowds. Especially this time of year. Some people actually enjoy the thrill of nearly being trampled outside Best Buy at 3AM in an attempt to get a good deal on a flat screen TV. I, on the other hand, enjoy my personal space. And lots of it. I'm not a germaphobe, by any stretch of the imagination (five, ten-second, and (oh, what the heck) fifty-second rules run rampant in our house). I just don't find it particularly enjoyable to be so close to another person that I can count his nose hairs, or worse, smell on his breath the garlic and onion dish he consumed at lunch. It sounds a little pathologic, I know, but people in general (especially in large doses) really creep me out.

That being said, I do try to make a conscious effort to get out of my comfort zone from time to time, so as not to feed into my impending agoraphobia, and because I want my kids to have the opportunity to experience as much in life as they possibly can. Which is why we, regretfully, decided to take the kids to the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square last night. Talk about too close for comfort.

As indicated in the advertisement, the tree-lighting would take place at 5:30PM. We planned ahead, avoiding massive crowds and traffic by arriving an hour early via streetcar. At precisely 5:30PM, I found myself pressed firmly against a cold cement wall with Eric in front of me, strangers to my side and to my back, and Wyatt on my shoulders. Oh yes, I could feel the walls slowly closing in on me.

Six o'clock. Still no lights. We were crammed like sardines into an outdoor arena with god-knows how many spectators, trying not to appear completely irritated and oxygen-deficient, when naturally, Wyatt utters the three little words that can send any unsuspecting parent into a frenzy. I gotta pee. Realizing that he had probably been holding it for an hour, and decided to tell us only when he could hold it no longer, we knew we had to move quickly. Fortunately, parting the seas didn't take nearly as long as we thought, and thanks to the Nordstrom across the street, the poor kid made it just in the nick of time.

We did finally get to see them light the tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square, and I wish I could say it was worth all of the trouble and near panic attack, but I'd be lying if I did. We had so much more fun decorating and lighting our own tree later that evening--after having cut it down earlier that morning--in the comfort of our own home, listening to Christmas music and watching Wyatt and Avery's faces as they marveled over of the bright and colorful decorations. I can't help it. I'm a simple gal. And I like it.

Our fifth and final year to cut down a tree at Parry's. After four straight years of bringing home a Noble Fir, we opted for a Fraser Fir this year. A sign, perhaps, that were ready for a little change in our lives.

She spied the perfect tree and then put Daddy to work.

Then she decided he was taking too long
and just decided to get it done herself.

Receiving hugs, kisses, and accolades for her efforts
(Meanwhile, Daddy still lay in a puddle of sweat,
trying to catch his breath. Where's the love?)

Annual family photo in front of the snowman

Here's to kicking off a crowd-free holiday season, enjoying the simple pleasures in life that often get overlooked. Happy Holidays!

We Should Have Named Her MELODY
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Avery loves to perform. Somersaults and balancing poses are among her favorites, but nothing compares to her love for singing. I have tried countless times to get some video of her, but she'll usually be part-way through the first song before big brother deviously sabotages her efforts. So today while Wyatt was in school, Avery was participating in her first solo performance for all the world (aka faithful blog readers) to see.

Her repertoire includes: Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, You Are My Sunshine, Rock-A-Bye Baby (Daisy), and the Alphabet Song.


Can't Win 'Em All
Thursday, November 5, 2009

Eric is competitive. Ultra competitive. Even without prior experience at something, he can essentially will himself to win in just about any given situation. As often as we play Scrabble, I've yet to beat him. I could be 29 points ahead on the last play of the game, and he'd somehow squeak out a 30-point word using his last two letters of "X" and "Z". Sounds impossible, yes, but that's the way he operates when his competitive juices are flowing (and it doesn't help that he's a walking dictionary). Can you imagine how devastated he was when he lost all three games of golf against his dad during our recent vacation to Central Oregon? One word. Yikers. I'm sure it didn't take long for the poor geese to realize that when the clubs went to flyin', it was time to run for cover.

Hole 17 @ Widgi Creek
Eric, appalled at the mere suggestion of a photo op following a putt that
had just gone terribly awry. Ahh...he's so fun to mess with when he gets mad.

Widgi Creek was the second out of three courses they played. I tagged along so I could see for myself the picturesque views and flawlessly manicured greens I had heard so much about. Plus, I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to zip around the course in one of those sporty little golf carts.

That morning, we had the pleasure of meeting an older gentleman by the name of Lew. He was the golf assistant, and like most sweet old guys, was quite adept at rambling incessantly about...well...nothing. But he was likeable, nonetheless. When he learned we were from Oklahoma, he let out a naughty little chuckle before asking us if we were familiar with the small town of Hooker, Oklahoma. Tickled, he informed us that's where his wife was born. Just wanted to pinch his cheeks.

Here are some shots of the guys in action.
(click on photos to enlarge)

During one of our lengthy run-ins with Lew, he asked me if I played. I explained with stifled hilarity that although I am capable of parring a hole (because I have done so once in my life), I am in no way qualified to play on courses like Widgi Creek. He winked and said he wouldn't tell anyone if I wanted to hit a couple of balls. We had made a good friend in old Lew. Hit a couple of balls, I did. Any guesses on how they fared?

Just in case you're color blind, this is not the green.

Despite losing three consecutive golf games to (his words, not mine) "an old man", Eric really enjoyed playing all three courses. And since we've been home, he's checked out two different books on golf from the library and has been taking copious notes. He really hates to lose.

Wine Selection: Kiona Merlot Cabernet
Personal Rating: ****Excellent****
Comments: Bold and flavorful. Very nice.


The FIRST of the LASTS
Sunday, November 1, 2009

Four years ago we celebrated our first Halloween in Portland. We were so excited to finally be settled into a new routine after an exhaustive move across the country, and the whirlwind that followed once we became parents for the first time. Our life in Oregon, so very different from the one we had in Oklahoma, had just begun. It was exhilarating. It was intimidating. At times, it was lonely. It seems like yesterday. And here we are, four years and two kids later, preparing to embark on a year of "lasts" in the Pacific Northwest. As excited (thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed) as we are to wrap up and slap a big fat bow on this life chapter, we also recognize that all of what we've experienced here has been exactly that--a gift. The sights we've seen, the friends we've made, the kids we've brought into this crazy world...we've definitely been blessed. These are the things I'd like to focus on this month as we give thanks.

The pumpkin patch at Lakeview Farms was the first tradition we established upon moving to Portland. Wyatt was only 5 weeks old and Avery was far from even being thought about. Every year we do the same thing: buy our tickets, eat some goodies, ride the train out, pick our pumpkins, ride the boat back, take some pictures, and then catch the centipede ride before we leave. The only variable that changes is the weather, and that's how we like it. But this was our last fall at Lakeview Farms. It's hard to imagine that next fall we'll be starting a new tradition in a new city. But we were fortunate that Eric's parents were in town for our last hurrah at the pumpkin patch, which made it even that much more special.

My very own lil' punkin'...

who also happens to be Grandma's lil' punkin'

Then there's Wyatt, feeling a little bit silly about his lil' punkin'

Finally, there was the centipede ride.

Avery was finally big enough to ride it by herself.

What became of our pumpkins on Halloween night

Ready to trick-or-treat
That's one dynamic duo, if I do say so myself.



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