Friday, December 28, 2012

Portland Aquarium

The idea of having an aquaium in town thrilled Grace. She still talks about the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Ocean World. I had high hopes for the local take on it, but didn't want to get ahead of myself. We got half-price tickets from Sharing Spree and Jeff took a day off work to check it out with us, and hopefully avoid the weekend rush.

We learned two things right quick...Milwaukie is farther away than it looks on the map. We could probably get to the aquarium in Seaside faster. the season pass at Portland Aquarium if you don't want to wait an hour in line outside. Members get right in, the rest of us try to stay under cover and near the outdoor heaters. For an hour.
It's a small place, perfect for a year from now when people wander through, but right now it's packed. So many people are moving through that the food they sell for the 'feed the animals' experience could be seen floating limply in the tanks. These fishies were full up!

It's put together in a very playful and clever way. One touch pool is in the back of a boat, the jellyfish are under blacklights that really show off their beauty, and the tropical fish aquarium is gorgeous. It brings to mind visions of the sea floor when snorkling.
The shark and stingray petting pool was a favorite for the boys. Hayden kept reaching in all the way to his shoulder, not caring a bit that his sleeves were drenched. We spent most of our time there. The boys were all about the water, but Grace was more interested in checking out the aquariums that lined the room.

I think we'll check it out again - when the puffin and otter exhibits are up and running...and everyone in the metro area isn't lining up outside!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Christmas Tree

As soon as we caught a break in the rain during daylight hours, we trekked out to forage a tree. Okay, so we drove up two blocks and chose one at the Santa Lot. They even tie it to the car for you. It's one of the perks of living on the edge of town - you can get your Christmas tree in five minutes!

The boys helped get the tree in the stand this year. It's much more fun to watch the tree wrangling than to be the wrangle-ee.

After a day in the half in the garage to dry out, my men brought the beast inside. Apparently the small men are much more help getting a tree in a stand than they are getting a tree in the house. Again, happy not to be the one being yelled at.

The kids loved decorating the tree with all the ornaments. And Grace just had to put the angel atop the tree.

So far, the pups seem uninterested in the tree. They've plucked off a few ornaments, but the novelty of that wore off and they're content to ignore it. Now if I could just convince them to nap during my writing time, they'd be perfect.

Maybe I should ask Santa for help.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Gingerbread Men!

To get everyone in the holiday mood I picked up a giant gingerbread man decorating kit. I'm hoping it keeps them from asking for gingerbread houses this year. I just know I'd leave the house and come home to puppies with tummy aches if we gingerbread house...

The boys had their own designs, and Grace followed a pattern from the box. Kind of. She stopped after she realized the gummies were hearts. Then she set to using as many hearts as possible.

They looked great...but they were hard as rocks! The boys tried to take a bite...then decided to break off a foot...and yeah. Not yummy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving In Pajamas

Since Bayley has to avoid cats for the next month, we're doing Thanksgiving at home. Thanksgiving in pajamas no less. To help prepare, Hayden and Grace made pumpkin pie.

What's better, they liked eating them!

We also made our traditional Oreo turkeys. This year they were extra chocolate-y. An Oreo, a peanut butter cup, a kiss & Reeses pieces!

The cooking was going along swimmingly until...the oven weirded out again! We knew that after the last repair the warranty had expired and it would be a pretty penny to fix it. So, we hit the Black Friday sales for a new oven of all things.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Performance

Grace's preschool had the parents come in a few minutes early so the kiddos could sing us a song and give us a handprint turkey telling us what they are thankful for. Grace? She's thankful for circles. OK...

I tried to video the song...but the camera stopped a few seconds in...

Grace also had a turkey where she had to list something to be thankful for on every turkey feather : my mom, my dad, my brothers, my dogs, strawberries, circles & Choppy. Who is Choppy? Her imaginary cat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Everything's Okay Now...

Bayley gave us quite the scare this week. He woke up on Tuesday morning and didn't feel right. I thought he was either coming down with something or still tired from that weekend's camping trip with the Boy Scouts. I figured he'd go back to bed and by the afternoon he'd either feel better or need some chicken soup.

I took Grace to gymnastics and came home to find a boy who could barely speak. He could breathe, but didn't feel like he was getting any oxygen from it. And wouldn't you know, seconds before the power had gone out and my cell phone was dead.

Getting him into the car was a challenge. He could only take three steps before he had to sit down and rest. As I wrangled the dogs and got the girl ready to go, I considered carrying him. For those who haven't seen him...the kid is 5'4" That would be a tall order, and my physical therapist would probably slap me. But thankfully, he was downstairs by the time I had everyone else squared away.

I begged Tina to take Grace (even though her parents were in town for the holiday, so sorry) and decided to take Bayley to the ER. They triaged him right away because they could tell he needed to be on oxygen. I hope I never see a pulse-ox in the eighties again.

He got his first IV, first blood draw, first breathing treatment...and after a chest x-ray, lots of listening and a steroid perscription, we were allowed to go home.

The next day we saw the pediatrician. There's no way to know if it is asthma or chronic bronchitis until his lungs heal and we can do asthma and allergy testing. Last February he had bronchitis, and he hasn't felt 100% since.

While we wait for him to recover, he is on an inhaled steroid and has to avoid any known allergy triggers (dust, cats) and people with respiratory illnesses for a month. Fingers crossed!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Court of Honor

Twice a year Bayley's Boy Scout troop hold a court of honor, where all the boys are recognized for their acheivements and advancements. Bayley moved up to a Second Class scout, and earned almost a dozen merit badges.

There have been some amazing merit badge clinics he's been able to take advantage of. Some were at the Forestry Center, some at OMSI, and one he particularly liked was out at the Daimler plant. I think it was the wind tunnel that thrilled him.

Hayden was so excited, he wanted to skip Webelos and just move on to Boy Scout. Um, not that fast, son.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We had the best time deciding what the kids would be for Halloween. Grace still had her Cinderella costume she didn't wear last year. The boys couldn't decide on what costume to buy (Hayden thought of Thor only so he could get the hammer), so we got down the costume box for inspiration.

They all dove in and wound up with new costumes. Grace changed princesses, and opted for Snow White. No shocker since she is obsessed with the seven dwarves.

The boys opted to monster mash it. Hayden was Bozo Caesar - a toga, sash, clown wig. Nice.

Bayley tried to wear as many costume parts as he could. At last count he was a train robbing elephant pirate Vader.

When it came time to Trick-or-Treat, Grace decided to add on to her costume as well, donning her red riding hood.

Daddy missed trick-or-treat time, so we all headed out together. The boys were not happy they had to go at a Grace pace. After we made one loop, the boys were released to the neighbors to pillage the neighborhood for candy. Grace was excited that Daddy was home when she got back so she could trick-or-treat her own house and help pass out candy.

The shock of the evening? The dogs weren't bothered by all the knocking and ringing. After twelve years of Rogue going ape on Halloween, we found it quite odd.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Down Go The Trees

Last year we noticed the neighbor had a tree that had turned brown and died...and then decided to invite itself to Thanksgiving. Over the summer all the trees in the line took a turn for the worse. We had lots of people come out for advice and estimates - arborists, tree surgeons and the like. But most everyone agreed, our eight giant cedars should come down before storm season, when they might decide to go AWOL on their own.

The boys were a bit annoyed that they had to go to school instead of staying home to watch the show. After all, Dad took a day off. But I promised pictures and video...

The crew showed up bright and early. The first tree came down while I was running Grace to preschool. After that I was cursing my camera lens and trying to capture everything with the telephoto lens. I really need to get the camera looked at.

One member of the three-man crew climbed to the top of a tree, tied the top of another tree to a pulley system, then took it down in managable pieces. They we able to swing the tops of the neighbors trees into our yard the same way. It was fascinating to watch him move from tree to tree. I knew he was harnessed and safe, but I couldn't stop watching. Kind of like cirque du soliel with chansaws.

The crew on the ground sliced the limbs off and fed them into the chipper. Seeing the tops of some of the trees so dead really helped hammer home that it was time to take them down.

Once the trunks were limbed, they sliced them into pieces that we can spilt for firewood. Sometimes they didn't have another tree to rig it off of, so they took the tree down in chunks.

The last bit was felled into the yard with a might thunk. One missed the logs it was supposed to fall unto and left quite the divot in the lawn. No big worry, since we'll have to redo the whole backyard landscaping this summer.

The kids loved climbing over the wood piles...until they learned they'd have to help move it all to the side yard.

The next week a different team came to grind the stumps. They were supposed to grind them one foot below the soil. But we have no idea if this is true. The process left us with a massive pile of sawdust.

The sawdust is a lower priority than getting the wood off the lawn, split, and stacked. Bayley was thrilled to earn the first few bucks moving logs. But the joy soon wore off and he had to be bribed to move the last pile.

One thing we didn't expect - the bugs! All the bugs that lived in the trees, including the ones that caused the tree to die, needed to find new homes so they were all over the backyard that first day. GROSS!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Webelos Woods :: Hayden edition

So when we first got there we all met up and got our bootson and everything. Then we went to different tropps. The first was geology, where they taught about landforms and habitats. One was mouth-to-mouth CPR. One was science where the troop had made their own root beer for us to try.

We went to Bayley's, which was nature. He tried to hide when we got there, but I chased him and hugged him. When we left I gave him a candy.

We did bottle rockets. One was air science where we did experiments to make a dime jump and using an index card to keep water in a cup when you turn it upside down.

One was venom treatment so we know to keep the part that was bitten as far away from your heat as you can to slow down the travel of the poison. Keep your blood pressure low by staying calm.

One troop had toilet paper in leaf blowers and they shot toilet paper everywhere at us!

One was shock treatment - how to help someone if they go into shock. First you lay them down on a tarp or table. If you lay them on the ground they'll get too cold. Cover them with a blanket and also put a box under their feet to get the blood to stay in their body. They gave us candy for answering questions. One sign of shock is if the skin is pale. Another is if they are breathing like they are running a marathon.

I got really wet because I was stomping in puddles. There were huge puddles.

At lunch they served mac & cheese, potato soup, hotdogs, cookies, cherry KoolAid and grape Kool Aid. I had two hot dogs, two cookies, a scoop of the mac and cheese and a cup of the red KoolAid. Bayley wasn't with us because the boy scouts eat at their own camp.
The obstacle course was great. We ran down there and then went over and under some tires. There was a monkey bridge and I was kind of scared I would rip my pants.

It started raining, so we went in and got a bunch of candy. Then me and Dad went down to the beach so I could feel the sand on my toes and relx them. Then Dad and I went back in the car and I played Jetpack Joyride on his iPhone.

When we got to Tillamook we went to McDonalds. I had a McFlurry, McNuggets and chocolate milk.

Also, I tore my pants. After I was done at the beach I put my stuff on to leave. I put one boot on, no problem. I put on the second boot and leaned down - RIP! It tore right open. Luckily there were two layers so they couldn't see my skin.

Friday, October 05, 2012


I looked into putting the kiddos in Hebrew school this year, just to give them some kind of religious exposure. I'm not a fan of organized religion and the plate passing, dues paying business of it all. I try to get the kids to one religious event every year...but last year it didn't work out.

This year I'm hoping we find an event that works with our schedule. But in the mean time - and since the Hebrew school couldn't be bothered to call me back - I've decided we'll try and get into the cycle with the holidays.

Sukkot came up first. Now, this is a holiday that encourages a party - my favorite kind. But, it also calls for building a booth in the yard, decorating it with found items, and eating your meals outside. Sometimes in the you can look up and see the stars.

It sounds like a great idea, especially with the warm weather we're having. But I'm not so keen on the backyard right now, with the trees that have to come down before they fall reminding me they've comandeered my vacation budget.

Instead, we opted for the Pinterest version of Sukkot, and built our sukkahs from graham crackers. We decorated with candy pumpkins and gummi fruits, used pretzel sticks for the roof...and even managed to find a use for the fruity marshmallows Grace just had to have.

Who knows if the kids will remember why we glued graham crackers together with chocolate frosting, but I feel better knowing I made the effort.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Soccer Star

Soccer season is in full swing. Hayden was a little disappointed at first to learn his team was going in different directions. Some of the boys opted for more competitive leagues, including the coaches kids. The new team is a mixture of kids from nearby schools, and seems to be blending quite nicely.

The kids are learning to play all of the positions, and some of them manage to remember what position they are playing during a game. Hayden's biggest frustration right now seems to be when the other kids 'forget' their role and aren't where the need to be.

He likes to be a defender or a forward...he's not so keen on midfield since it is "just a bunch of running". He hasn't tried his hands at goalie yet, but since he stopped playing baseball because he was afraid to get hit with the ball, I'm not sure how it will play out. Plus, he's so hard on himself, I'd hate for him to crumble if a goal gets past him.

My favorite thing about this team is that the parents form a tunnel at the end of the games for the boys to pass through. It's a wonderful tradition that really brings the boys up from a loss and gives them a chance to strut their stuff after a win.

Grace doesn't even mind going to games or practices this year because one of Hayden's teammates has a little sister the same age. Now, if they could only both remember their Leapsters on the same day...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Off With The Braces!

After putting up with braces for a year, Hayden was more than happy to get them off. He'd been making a list of things he'd be able to eat for months!

He didn't even fuss when they took the pliers and yanked off the brackets. I think I would have.

There was quite the post-braces process. X-rays, polishing off the adhesive, and fitting the retainers. When his mouth wasn't being worked on, he asked for pictures so he could look at it later.

He'd been given a catalog of choices for retainer designs. He thought about the watermelon, the soccer ball, neon green...and finally settled on star spangled. He's a 4th of July baby, through and through.

I though he'd be sore after, but he was hungry. I let him pick since I wouldn't be too keen on chewing after having my teeth manhandled. What did he go for?

Buffalo Wild Wings. He's been stuck with boneless wings for a year and he wanted something he could bite. Okay, kiddo.

Then we hit the store for his dinner request - corn on the cob. While there he asked for taffy, something he's really missed. He wasn't sure about buying an assorted bag because "there is liquorice flavor in there and no one likes that." I suggested he chose the flavors he liked from the bulk bin and then made the mistake of picking up some chewing bones for the dogs.

When I got back to Hayden, he had a lunchsack packed with bulk candy. Strawberry hard candies, taffy, gummi worms and gummi bears. I couldn't even tell him to dump it because the gummies aren't wrapped! Fifteen dollars of candy later, I learned my lesson with this sugar fiend!

He was so looking forward to corn on the cob, but biting into it wasn't all he'd hoped for. He was bummed that I had to still cut it off the cob, but I promised we'd try again soon, on a day his teeth hadn't been abused!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

L'il Pickers

I have the best of intentions when it comes to childhood experiences. There are a million fun things I want the kids to be able to look back on. One of those I routinely seem to miss is apple picking.

Growing up, my grandparents had a ranch with a giant garden, enormous apple and pear trees that were as old as Oregon itself, and fields lined with blackberry bushes. Needless to say, we had fresh produce all summer without ever hitting the grocery store. I still have a hard time paying for pears or blackberries. Or zucchini. Even though I can't make a zucchini plant grow in this yard.

The kids got their chance to play harvester today. A transformer blew in a mighty explosion, so we decided since there was no power at the house, we might as well take the dogs on a walk and find out exactly where the trouble was. The power company had the bucket trucks out by the time we found the blown transformer, so we trudged home without any dangerous fireworks show.

As we were looking up at a neighbor's apple tree, they drove by and offered for us to pick as many as we'd like. They said to go ahead to try the pears too. We were so excited we rushed home for a bucket. Bayley opted to stay inside since the power had been restored...and he was still wearing his bathrobe. He refuses to take it off before one. Ahem.

We made quick work of the fruit on the lower branches, and then Jeff & Hayden tried their hand with the picker. Hayden had such fun with it. I really enjoyed plucking the pears. Gave me a great nostalgic feeling.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Puppies First Bath

People are finding it hard to believe Frick & Frack are puppies. It has something to do with them already being over 80 pounds. But their behavior...pure puppy!

After we picked them up from the transport, they needed a bath in the worst way. There had been a half dozen puppies on the transport, so while most of the dogs were potty trained... they all wound up smelling like the puppies. Stink-a-roo!

Jeff and the boys changed into their swim trunks and took the dogs to the front yard. Frack went first, because he was closer when Jeff made a grab for him. He'd been so accustomed to bathing Rogue -who had a get-this-oevr-with-quick temperment about bathtime - he'd forgotten that you have to wash a dog's head last. They'll be as calm as they can until you spray water on their face!

So, though I wasn't dressed for the occasion, I comforted Frack while they scrubbed him down. The Hyppster's had stopped by to visit the pups, so got in on the action. Which included Miss Tina snapping pictures of us when she wasn't laughing.

Frick was much more understanding about it...probably because he'd seen his brother do it and we'd figured out some of the how-to's.

Not sure they're looking forward to doing it again!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Puppy Power!

Our new dogs arrived from Texas in a giant trailer with a shipment of twenty other dogs. Most of them already had homes, thanks to the great rescue work of Great Pyraness Rescue Society and SPIN. Jeff & I were leaving for our anniversary trip the next day, so the plan was for our pups to be fostered for a week until we got back.

The boys were so excited the puppies were here, they really wanted to meet them. So, we headed out for some play time and to thank those who spent the three days transporting the animals. Talk about a labor of love!

While we explained who we were, the boys headed straight for their dogs. Their markings, and the fact that they were together, made them easy to spot. A dog approached each boy, and the rest was history. Hayden & Frack bonded from the first, just like Bayley & Frick.

On the ride up there we talked about other names. Ranger, Baron, Sampson, Foster, Bandit... But as soon as the boys met them they decided to keep the names Frick & Frack. (Uncle Dan is not as impressed by the names, and has dubbed them Friction & Fraction.)

They fit right in with our family...they can't sit still for a family photo attempt either!

And as you can imagine...we couldn't leave them with the foster. She's lovely, but they were just so sweet and started to cry when they were put in a dog run. And we're suckers. Totally. The boys swore up and down that they would take care of them while we were gone...but it wasn't until Pop Pop gave the go-ahead that the decision was made. Frick & Frack came home to stay.