Sunday, December 07, 2014

Are You Going To Make Me?

It's official. Bayley is too cool to do much of anything with his family. Anything we ask him to do he responds with, "Are you going to make me?"

At first I thought, well, no, I want you to be with us because we're fun. We're awesome. You used to think we were the bees knees.

And then I started to miss him. So yes, I am going to make you. Because right now I still can make you go to Zoolights with your family, and one of these years you'll have a job and beg off on account of work or homework. And I'll miss you then, but I don't have to now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

First, Sixth & Eighth

School's is back in session! Thank goodness we survived another summer. This will be Gracie's first year of being in school for the full day, which I'm looking forward to. Hayden is looking forward to ruling the school, and Bayley has this whole middle school thing down.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Daisy Day

Gracie so wants to be a Girl Scout, but our school doesn't have a troop for girls her age. Sometimes I can find activities she can do where she doesn't need to be part of a troop - like Daisy Day at Camp Arrowhead. The camp set up a 'try it' day for the small ones. They got to try swimming (Gracie wouldn't go in), hiking, crafting, and canoeing.

She really enjoyed it. Hopefully she can find a place next year, or I can find more events. Preferable ones where I do not have to get in a canoe!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Glow Run!

For some reason, I love fun runs. The 5K version with a walking option. Basically, I like to wander about and look at people dressed in ridiculous costumes. All the better if there is beer at the end. And thanks to Russell & Kim, this one was free. And we all know how much I love a freebie.

When we arrived they gave us glow-glasses and necklaces, Kim brought flashing rings, and as soon as the sun set, they sent us off to cross the bridges and walk by the river. Neither are things I would typically attempt in Portland at night.

I loved it, especially when they started the foam machine. I am a fan of all things quirky.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mt Hood Trip - Adventures & Nature

Mt. Hood is great for snow sports in the winter, if you're into that sort of thing. In the summer, they have an adventure park, with ziplines and trampolines and all kinds of fun stuff. I've always wanted to take the kids, but it's just beyond the length I like to go on a daytrip. So when Katie asked if I wanted to split the cost of a condo for a couple nights, I was game.

The condo was great - Katie and I had our own rooms, the little girls had a sleeping loft and Bayley...wound up with a couch. The complex had two pools and a hot tub, which were as important to them as the adventure park!

We'd heard that it takes two days to do the Mt. Hood Adventure Park because of the lines and the two locations. But when we showed up on Wednesday, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Lines were minimal, so the kids could do things over and over and over...

The boys liked the go-carts, but the girls weren't tall enough. And that's a good thing because we put Grace in a kiddo cart and she couldn't even make it around the track. There were lots of things to do. Some things the kids could all do together - mini-golf, obstacle courses, trampolines - some that were for the bigger kids - ziplines and bungee jumps - and some that were best left to the small ones - pony rides and kiddo carts.

The boys thought the ziplines were just meh, but the really liked the bungee and both did it twice. I'm not a fan of them jumping, but I have the misguided hope that by doing it in controlled environments like this, they won't need to try and do something nuts like base jumping. Plus, it looked very cool to jump with Mt. Hood in the background.

The kids did the summer tubing hill, but it didn't really compare to the Alpine Slide. They all liked the Zorbs - giant inflatable hamster balls they roll around in on water. Much more fun than it sounds.

The Adventure Slide is at a different location than most of the park. I try to avoid most rides, but Grace had to have a partner to steer, so we got in on the action. So long as you don't get stuck behind a slowpoke, they're a thrill. Until you take a spill. Somehow, both Hannah and Hayden were tossed from their carts and wound up with quite the road rash. Slide rash? Whatever. We found out that the first aid offered is...minimal. Good thing Katie knows basic wound care.

The second day there were lines thanks to kids being trucked in for summer camp field trips. The place really is better when you don't have to deal with lines.

Because I can't have a trip without working in some kind of educational element, we took the kids to the Mt. Hood Cultural Center where we tried to show them the history of the forest fires, Native Americans and quilts. The kids...weren't all that interested. But Grace saw the spinning wheel and decided to play Sleeping Beauty.

We also went up to Timberline Lodge and found snow! There is something magical about snow in the summer. They tried to have a snowball fight, but it was more like an ice fight and that is fun for no one. We also walked them through the history exhibits inside the lodge - I think the kids felt a but tricked.

One our way back, we went to Trillium Lake. There are some amazing photos of the lake, where it is a glassy mirror of the mountain. But, it was windy and there were lots of people about enjoying the lake. So, no artistic picture, but we did see a pregnant salamander.

We had such fun, I think Jeff wants to go next time!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Hayden is 11!

1. What is your favorite color? Blue
2. What is your favorite toy? 
3. What is your favorite fruit? Banana
4. What is your favorite TV show? Dude You're Screwed
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Ribs
6. What is your favorite outfit? Hoodie

7. What is your favorite game? Injustice

8. What is your favorite snack?
9. What is your favorite animal?
10. What is your favorite song? Centuries by Fall Out Boy
11. What is your favorite book?
Origami Yoda
12. Who is your best friend?
13. What is your favorite cereal?
Frosted Flakes
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15. What is your favorite drink?
Dr. Pepper
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas/
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Leftover Panda Express

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
Panda Express
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Marine Biologist  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pacific City

We took advantage of the sunshine and headed to the coast for the afternoon. Hayden has been wanting to climb the dune at Pacific City since last summer, so he chose the destination. Jeff likes it there because you can park on the beach - no hauling gear through the sand!

Bayley was torn between being bored, acting like a teen, and playing like a kid. He has to maintain his cool. And it is hard to be cool when you're hanging out with your goofy brother and girly sister. Poor dude. One of these days I'll have to take a minute to feel bad for him.

Of course I thought it was quite the accomplishment that the boy spent the day unattached from his Xbox.

Pacific City has a bit of everything - the dune, a long beach for kites and Frisbees, tide pools and waves worthy of a surf board. And a riptide. The thing is no joke. So, it's not a swimming beach, but what stretch of the Oregon coast is?

We always cap off the day with dinner at Pelican Brewery. Unfortunately, the food has changed! We all ordered something different and...yeah. Won't be going back. Too bad, really. But I guess that's what picnics are for!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Green to Blue

He broke the board with an elbow strike I'm so proud of how he's stuck with this. He's had to miss months at a time because I just couldn't get him there around the soccer schedules of the other two. And he'll miss next month for track.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fancy Nancy : On the town with Gracie

Gracie girl loves Fancy Nancy. The books, the accessories, the vocabulary - she loves it all. So we got tickets to the play and made a day of it.

We picked up our tickets and had a bit of time, so we went for sushi. Well, I had sushi, Grace had shrimp tempura and a great miso soup. We're not usually fans, but it was delicious. It had lotus root.

They had crafts at the theater where the kids could make themselves a tiara out of a paper plate, and there was a table where they sold all the Fancy Nancy fanciness. Grace just had to have the multi-colored tutu and sparkly sunglasses and feathered boa get the idea.

She loved the play. It was fun and funny, and the kids were encouraged to dance and sing. She said it was a Fancy Nancy party. So cute.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Romantic Times Convention : New Orleans!

Every year, the leading magazine about romantic fiction holds a conference where thousands of readers convene to celebrate all things romance. At the RT Convention there are parties and book fairs and parties and luncheons and parties get it.

I'd never braved the masses, but I've always wanted to go to New Orleans, so I prepared my introverted self and made the trip. Largely because my publisher promised I could throw beads off a Mardi Gras float. Can you say bucket list?

Plus, it was my birthday weekend, and Randy lives there so if I truly freaked out I'd have someone to laugh at me in the loony bin.

Things did not start as I had planned. I made it to the airport for my buttcrack-of-dawn flight, and they postponed my flight for two hours. Then six. Then...I took a flight that would get me as far as Denver, and hopefully to New Orleans by midnight. I had an eight am meeting the next day, so I was keen to get there. Plus...I had scheduled a ghost tour. Ah, well.

I made it there around two am. Luckily my roommate was waiting at the door and had found a couple of dudes to buy our drinks. Apparently, I've set a precedent with her that the bar is required after airline issues.

The conference started in full swing the next morning. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. There were so many people! Most of the authors had been there before, or were newbies. So I was in this weird place of being established, and not knowing what the heck to do. I learned quickly - give stuff away. Lots of it. These readers want stuff for them, and for their family and friends. Okay. Will do that next time.

Every time I felt overwhelmed or underprepared, I took a walk outside. Our hotel was an easy walk to just about all the bucket list things in Nola. Our first excursion was to the French Market. They have a little bit of everything there, mostly at tourist prices. But I did find a few budget friendly reader bribes - I mean gifts. Whenever I do a print signing, I like to have a few things on hand for readers who come to say hello, but don't buy a book because they already have the ebook. Given the crowds at RT, I knew the dozen treats I'd brought would be gone in no time.

Lynda had vacationed with her family there the week before, so she was able to play tour guide to a cemetery - where if you knock three times on a witch's crypt and make a wish, it comes true. We also saw Nikolas Cage's pyramid tomb. Like all good ghost hunters, we stopped for beignets on the way back.

During the weekend we also went to a voodoo shop, and an occult shop where a friend had her cards read.

On my birthday, I dragged all my girls to have our tea leaves read. Accordingly, I can expect seven years of success and overseas travel in 2015. So there is that.

The conference went well for me, but next time? I'm swagging it out!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Giver :: On the town with Bayley

Whenever we can, we try to do things one-on-one with the kiddos. It's nice to get them alone, and they tend to be more talkative. Plus, you can do things they'd like and the others might not. The local children's theater had a production of The Giver, which Bayley read in school last year, so I thought taking in the play would be a great way to spend time together.

We got into town a bit early, so we walked over to Cacao where Bayley enjoyed his first drinking chocolate. No surprise that he loved it.

The play was great and afterwards I took him to Shigezo, my favorite Japanese restaurant downtown. He had his first bowl of traditional ramen, and even tried some of my sushi.

It's so nice to have him be old enough to appreciate experiences and be willing to expand his palate. I love this kid.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gracious Mae 6th Birthday Interview

1. What is your favorite color? Purple
2. What is your favorite toy? 
Yo Gabba Gabba Tutti 
3. What is your favorite fruit? Strawberries
4. What is your favorite TV show? Jake & the Neverland Pirates
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? hot dog
6. What is your favorite outfit?
The one I'm wearing
7. What is your favorite game?
Castle Quest
8. What is your favorite snack?
Peanut butter crackers
9. What is your favorite animal?
10. What is your favorite song?
The Alphabet
11. What is your favorite book?
Ariel Books
12. Who is your best friend?
13. What is your favorite cereal?
Honey Nut Cheerios
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15. What is your favorite drink?
Chocolate Milk
16. What is your favorite holiday?
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs and toast
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
Red Robin
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

5th Birthday interview...
4th Birthday interview...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DC Day Seven :: Tours and the trip home

In order to get tours at most places in DC, you have to plan months in advance by writing your congressperson. When Bayley made the trip a few years ago, it was a tedious process. Now it's an online form. But somehow two of our most important tours were scheduled for the day we left.

Our White House tour started the morning. The rain decided to join us, which mean wait in this line - no that line - now this line - was lots of fun. Really should have opted for those umbrellas.

Once inside, we entered the East Room, which served as a staging area for the other rooms. Then we made it to the Green Room where a staffer had a prepared bit about the history of the room (Jefferson found the rug, Jacqueline Kennedy updated the d├ęcor). There was a Blue Room, State Dining Room, and a Red Room that had a chess table I fell in love with. And that was it. We were out the door.

We'd planned on looking at the statues on the lawn, but it was raining. Instead we hid inside the Museum of American History to wait until our Capitol tour. I wanted to see Dorothy's ruby shoes, but the kids were kind of museumed out. Until we were walking through early American history and Hayden found -- Crazy King George! He'd played George in a living history exercise at school, so he had to get a photo.

The United States Capitol tour was better than we'd thought! We started by finding our congresswoman's office, and then getting a tour of the building by one of her interns. As we walked through, we realized that you could tour on your own, as they had staffers in place to describe things. We often hung back to listen because our intern was so soft spoken.

There were lots of interesting tidbits - like each state has a statue there, but the only one you can touch is the one of Helen Keller. We got to see where the original supreme court met, as well as the underground tunnels (which Gracie thought must be to avoid the rain.

In the rotunda, we touched the compass star for luck. It has some kind of Masonic significance, but we were ushered out of there too quickly to catch it. If we go back. I'd do the self-paced capitol tour instead.

Wanting to make sure we had plenty of time to catch our flight, we took the Metro back towards the hotel. We found Good Stuff Eatery - home of the toasted marshmallow milkshake. Bayley had get the drill.

Non-stop flights are the only way to go when travelling with kiddos. Really makes things easier. Once we landed the kids were starving, so we hit Dirty Bird. Where Bayley... yep. Again.

Monday, April 28, 2014

DC Day Six :: Back to the city

The line for the National Archives wrapped around the building every time we thought of going. Since this was our final chance to make it inside - and because Hayden wanted to see the Constitution, we got there before it opened. And the line...was only half as long. They had a no picture policy, as most places in DC seem to.

We went to Clyde's for lunch - it was a gamble since I didn't want to pester Gabe for restaurants post-wedding. Luckily, it was delicious. A little fancier than anywhere else we'd been. From there we hopped on Metro and went to the National Zoo.

My online guides gave some good tips for the zoo. The zoo is built on a hill, so we knew to start at the top and head downhill. Because we have a nice zoo, and we'd been to the San Diego zoo last year, the kids were mainly interested in the pandas because we hadn't seen them before. Unfortunately, it was the saddest little exhibit. The pandas hunched in corners staring blankly.

The lions were loud and the birds were plentiful. We explored as the temperature dropped, but luckily a lot of the exhibits have indoor options. Gracie spied a carousel, and this time Bayley decided to join in.

And then it started to smell like rain. I wanted to buy umbrellas, but Jeff pointed out that 1) we're from Oregon and 2) that would cost more than a taxi all the way back to Arlington. So we trekked in the rain to the nearest Metro and headed back to our hotel. Grace was cold, but the boys were unfazed and practiced Metro-surfing on the ride.

We had dinner at Port City Brewing, where Gracie warmed up with mac & cheese and Bayley had a...bacon cheeseburger.