BIG SHOT of the week
Friday, March 27, 2009

Punchbowl Falls, Eagle Creek
June 2008

It is really difficult to adeptly photograph waterfalls due to the complexity that lies within and around them. Even though this is a smaller waterfall surrounded by the serenity, peacefulness, and gentleness of its backdrop, I think it's apparent in the photograph that even small waterfalls can pack a big punch. This is by far one of my favorite waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.


A Mommy Milestone
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Avery is 21 months old now--an age which probably bears no significance for anyone other than myself. But it's the age Wyatt was when Avery was born. And while I can't help but get a little nostalgic thinking about how quickly my babies have grown, I also can't help but let out mighty cries of joy that I survived what I consider to be the most difficult stages of motherhood. I SURVIVED! I rode out the very stormy seas of chronic sleep deprivation, eventually climbed out from underneath the mountain of dirty diapers suffocating me each day, mastered the art of reading minds and interpreting body language, and finally bid farewell to the baby-sized tumor I feared would forever be attached to my hip. Life, I must say, is pretty darn good right now. I teach, they learn. I speak, they listen. I hug them, they hug back (a much better alternative to being puked on).

Since our 3-week vacation to Oklahoma, Avery has come out of her once timid and incredibly fragile shell. Going back home was probably one of the best things we could have done for her (and for me). She now enjoys being the life of the party, and isn't bashful about telling her big bro to buzz off when he's being a pain in the neck.

Avery's latest quirk that cracks me up and baffles me beyond belief, is her preference for jackets. Just jackets. Not shoes, hair bows, or shirts. But jackets. Even today (at 3 years old), I could dress Wyatt in a loincloth and nothing else, and he'd be perfectly content as long as Thomas the train was chuggin' right behind him. But if I even attempt to dress Avery in jacket other than the one she has designated as her favorite, she will cross her arms in protest, fall to the floor, and plead, "no, no, no!" "Good grief, " I tell her. "It's not a straight jacket. Just a nice alternative to the one that currently has snot, dirt, and applesauce all over it." But eventually she wins out, mostly because I think it's so stinkin' funny. Besides, it's sort of payback for all of my jackets she's drenched in snot, dirt, and applesauce.

One thing I've really looked forward to as a parent, is reading bedtime stories to both of my kids at the very same time in the very same bed. I don't know why, but it's just one of those things that gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling. And since the time change, Avery hasn't been quite as eager to go to bed at 7pm, so we've been allowing her to stay up a little later, which has presented the perfect opportunity to include her in Wyatt's bedtime routine. Wyatt absolutely loves it when Avery gets to snuggle in his bed for storytime.

After what seemed like an eternity of playing referee between them, we're now at a stage in which Wyatt and Avery mostly play very well together. She idolizes him. If he picks his nose, by golly, she wants to do it too. Wyatt is especially good about showing affection toward his baby sister, and I've even caught him on occasion sticking up for her when playing with the neighborhood kids. He has really made me proud, and it's exciting to see how close they've become as siblings. I managed to capture a little video of Eric dancing with the kids to one of the songs on our wedding CD, and while filming it, I couldn't help but rejoice in the moment and look forward to the many more precious moments to come.

It's exciting to look back and see how our family has evolved over the past 21 months. I'm thrilled (honestly) to be finished with the baby stage and moving on to functioning as a family unit, with everyone speaking the same language. Many people absolutely love and adore the baby stage, and to them I say, "I admire you. I wish I could be (or could have been) more like you. But nonetheless, I think you're a little bit off your rocker!"

Wine Selection: Kramer Vineyards Muller-Thurgau (2005)
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: Alone, this Oregon wine is incredibly sweet. Too sweet, in fact. But pair it with a spicy, Thai dish, and it is PHENOMENAL! If you're interested in trying this wine and don't have a good spicy Thai dish to make, let me know. I have the perfect recipe...if you like shrimp.


Hiking Through the Oneonta Gorge
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eric and I have both been working overtime lately, which means things like blogging and reading for pleasure sort of get tossed to the wayside. But I hope to get back on track next month, as Eric will be finishing out his last few months of residency with some elective rotations, freeing up more time for all of our "extra curricular" interests and activities.

Yesterday, the nagging northwest rains held out just long enough for us to venture out on our first family hike of (dare I say) the year. It's hard to believe that it's been over 4 months since we've been hiking--that's gotta be a record.

We hiked a short trail around the Oneonta (pronounced own-ee-onta) Gorge. We've hiked this trail before, but it's certainly one that never ceases to amaze. The highlight of this trail is being able to walk behind Ponytail Falls, where you are gifted with a rare opportunity to gaze in complete awe of the incredible force of the falls plunging 80 feet into a small pool of water.

Ponytail Falls

View from behind the falls

Even though the winter rainfall can get a little irritating at times, it's what makes Oregon so beautiful and green all year long. I've mentioned probably a thousand times on this blog how much I love the gorge--not just for the spectacular waterfalls, but the moss. The abundance is quite impressive. It blankets the trees, rocks, canyon walls, and even the old white posts along the historic highway. I think it's one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon.

Wyatt playing the role of Humpty Dumpty on a wall of moss.
(just the sitting part. no great fall. no breaking into a million pieces
...just in case you're wondering.)

Avery riding piggy back
(with a death grip on her paci)

Eric and the kiddos approaching Ponytail Falls
(Mommy still needs to learn how to focus with her new lens. Boo.)

Wine Selection: Layer Cake Shiraz (2008)
Personal Rating: ****Excellent****
Comments: I have been on a shiraz kick lately. This wine is bold, yet still fruity enough to enjoy without food. After trying this last night while on a date with my hubby, I knew I couldn't walk away without a bottle to enjoy at home. Apprarently, this vintage is going like hot cakes (pun intended) because it has been a couple of years since this vineyard has produced a shiraz.


Just in case you're in need of a laugh
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A couple of months ago, my friend Starr posted a video on her incredibly entertaining blog, Lost in Laundry. Her daughter Lauryn is the same age as Wyatt. After two months, I still find myself chuckling about it and thought you might appreciate a good "hump day" laugh to start out your morning.

Click here for the link.

BIG SHOT of the week
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd post a Big Shot of shamrocks (or "oxalis" for the nerdy, scientific type) for you to enjoy.

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
-Irish Saying


Is YOUR Family Prepared?
Friday, March 13, 2009

There are just some people you meet in life whose faith in Christ absolutely astounds you. Tara Newby is one of them. Many of my Christian friends have positively influenced my walk with God over the years, and I'm forever thankful for them. But in light of the recent, tragic death of her husband Preston, I'm marveled by the strength, courage, honesty, and humor that Tara has built in to the armor of God she clothes herself in each and every day as the thief tries (and miserably fails) to steal, kill, and destroy her spirit. Through her experience, I have a much greater understanding of the importance of relying on your faith in God to carry your burdens during times of despair, and Tara never fails to give the credit to Him. She is truly an amazing individual.

In the six months since Preston's death, Tara has influenced so many people in so many ways. One of her recent efforts includes educating others of the importance of having life insurance. Tragedy can strike anyone at any age, which is why it is so important for your family to be prepared for the unexpected. I'd like to share a recent video that Farmers Insurance put together to help Tara communicate her message. Please be aware that the video is a little emotional. Have the tissues handy.

Please pray for Tara, her 2-year-old son Jacob, and their new baby boy due to arrive in only a few short weeks. If you are interested in following her throughout their journey, check out her blog.

Professional Hacker In Training
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In the less than five minutes it took me to put Avery to bed last night, Wyatt managed to get his hands on my iPod (a big NoNo in our house). As I entered the room, he was comfortably kicked back--headphones in his ears--watching A Bugs Life. I realized that if he was capable of navigating through the somewhat complicated series of steps involved in actually selecting a movie on an iPod, then he may just be ready for his very own computer.

I purchased some preschool software for Eric's old laptop and pulled it out this morning. I thought it would be quite a headache trying to teach Wyatt how to operate the mouse and how to play some of the games, but to my surprise, he got the hang of it right away.

I'm still trying to absorb the fact that the number of computers operating in our household now exceeds the number of televisions. What is the world coming to?

Training Update
Monday, March 9, 2009

Two months from today, I will be running my first half marathon since 2004 and couldn't be happier with the way my training has been going. With 8 weeks remaining, I'm fully prepared and hoping to finish in under 2 hours. And yes...I've been in a constant battle with the drive that lies deep within my being as to whether or not the Portland Marathon will get the opportunity to forever leave its mark on my aging joints. I really want to focus on finishing strong in May before officially committing to the full marathon in October, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my thirst for personal achievement will eventually trump all sane and rational thought. Because anyone willing to voluntarily put their bodies through so much trauma must be insane, right?

Speaking of insanity, people often ask me what I think about or how I pass the time when I'm on the trail. On my 13-mile run yesterday, I thought it might be interesting to jot down a few mental notes for (at the very least) my own personal amusement. But as I occasionally found myself chuckling aloud at the oddities of my thoughts, I couldn't help but wonder if the written translation would provide just as much entertainment--for other runners out there who can completely relate, and for those who (after reading this) will think we're an even crazier breed than previously suspected.

Mile 1: "Dang. It's really cold out here. I knew I should have worn gloves."

Mile 2: "I LOVE this song. I could run forever to this song."

Mile 3: "Yeah...that song? After listening to it three times in a row, I'm so over it. And starting to get bored. Hmm."

Miles 4-6.5: "Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Not even half way yet. Focus."

Mile 6.5: "HALF WAY!! Whoo Hoo! I'm so excited and I just can't hide it (insert little happy dance). Let's kick it into high gear before I get rained on...and get some lunch."

Miles 6.5-7: "Lunch. Oh, sweet lunch. What shall I eat? A greasy burger? A sandwich, maybe? A salad? Heck no! You kidding me? Salad...after 13 miles? Catrina, you must be getting delirious already."

Mile 7: "Forget the gloves. Anyone have a rain jacket?"

Mile 8: "That's it. I'm running The Half and that's it! No more of this running crap. This is stupid. Catrina, you're STUPID. I wonder if Eric will come and get me if I call him. Nah, that's just wishful thinking. You can do it. Focus."

Mile 9: "Hail? HAIL?!?! What the H***!?!? Forget the rain jacket. I need a helmet!"

Mile 10: "Just a 5k left. A measly 5k."

Mile 11: "That song. The one at Mile 2. I need it. Where is it? Oh. Yeah. Nothing can stop me now. Even if I do look to others like I'm running at a snail's pace."

Mile 12: "Nothing can stop me, eh? I'm DYING...trying to stay focused, and (not kidding) someone actually stops me to ask directions!!! For the LOVE of greasy hamburgers!!! Seriously? Can she not see that I'm about to keel over at any moment? She could've at least waited a couple of minutes for the old guy back there walking his poodle!"

Mile 13: "Finish line straight ahead. Focus. Focus. Focus. Put it all out there. Everything you've got. " (With the wise words of my ever-so-compassionate and supportive husband ringing in my ears, "If you don't feel like you have to puke at the finish line, then you didn't push hard enough!") "YES, DRILL SERGEANT!!!"

In the car on the way home: "Wow...what a great run. I can't wait to do it again next week!"

I know it's pathologic. You don't have to tell me. Fortunately, I've learned to surround myself with other deranged runner friends to make me feel somewhat normal.

Wine Selection: Maryhill Winemaker's Red
Personal Rating: **Fair**
Comments: This wine was okay, but I doubt I will ever buy it again. I can't quite put my finger on what it was specifically that turned me off, but I'm starting to think it's the flavor of black currant (or maybe smoke) that I dislike so much. I think it overpowers the wine quite a bit.

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Milk. It Does A Body Good.
Sunday, March 8, 2009

As I examined the contents of my grocery cart yesterday and realized just how many dairy products we consume as a family, I started to wonder if it might actually be cheaper to buy a cow. Between the whole milk, fat free milk, yogurt, string cheese, snack cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and American cheese that occupies space in my cart week after week, I found it to be a very strange, yet plausible consideration.

But then mental images of Eric trying to milk a cow in a shirt and tie just before heading to the hospital to perform a spinal tap flooded my mind, followed by hysterical laughter. (Why Eric and not me, you ask? Well, after serving as a milk factory myself at one time, I could never bring myself to inflict such torture on another mother, even that of the bovine variety).

Yes, I understand it's quite ridiculous to actually be contemplating the purchase of a farm animal, but so is consuming so much dairy. Ridiculous, I tell you. What can I say...we like strong bones around here.

Wine Selection: Cavatappi Sangiovese
Personal Rating: ****Excellent****
Comments: Since Eric is on a chianti/sangiovese kick, we've been pairing them with Italian dishes that are heavy on the marinara sauce. I have only had a few sangioveses, and this is by far my favorite.


It's What's For Dinner
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I walked into the kitchen yesterday and noticed the oven light was turned on. Upon closer inspection, I realized Avery had taken it upon herself to prepare a nice casserole for dinner. What a sweetheart...always thinking of others.

I'm sure we'd never even taste the lead in the pencil once it's covered in taco seasoning and drenched in condensed milk. Mmm....I don't know about you, but it looks like this has the potential to be a family favorite around here.

Whatever it takes to get Mommy out of dinner detail each night.

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eric's grandfather, Hayden, possesses such a fine appreciation for old, vintage cars that he has devoted many years of his life to restoring them back to pristine condition. One car in particular holds very special meaning for many in Eric's family--the 1930 Model A Sport Coupe. It's as if when you look at its flawless, brilliant coat of paint, you also catch a glimpse of the many years of blood, sweat, and tears that went in to creating such perfection. It truly is a priceless gem.

On our last day in Tulsa, Hayden was kind enough to not only let Wyatt and Avery explore the Model A, but also took them for a spin around the block. Lucky ducks.

Chillin' in the rumble seat

Goin' for a spin
(hard to believe that 5 people can fit in this car!)

Wine Selection: AutoMoto Chardonnay
Personal Rating: ***Good***
Comments: A silky, buttery texture. I'm not sure I like it enough to buy it again, but I think it's a decent chardonnay. Certainly an appropriate wine selection for today's post.


In THIS corner...

It's no secret that Wyatt has a bit of an aggressive streak. We've had many talks about keeping his hands to himself, the importance of sharing, and treating friends and family members with respect. In most social situations, however, his impulsivity gets the best of him and someone generally ends up hurt.

What can be most challenging is trying to get the "real" story out of him regarding an altercation we did not actually witness. Wyatt had us laughing to tears the other night while he tried, with all of his animated might, to explain and even demonstrate one of his latest squabbles.

Wine Selection: Two Tone Farm Cabernet Sauvignon
Personal Rating: ****Good****
Comments: This is actually a great cabernet to drink by itself. It's a bit sweeter and less tannic than most cabs. I thought it was uniquely splendid.




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