Friday, April 30, 2010

Lucy and Ethel...

barred rock chicks

... or Lucy and Ricky?

barred rock chicks

... or Ricky and Fred?

Only time will tell.

It’s amazing how quickly these little buggers grow... like bamboo in the spring I tell ya.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

keeping the peace


Disclaimer: I am not the most experienced, all-knowing parent in the world. I have one child. Some people equate that with having a pet.

A friend called me last week. She’s writing an article for a local parenting magazine about ages and stages. She needed a quote from the parent of an 11-14 year old. The section about this age group discusses preparing ‘tweens to deal with peer pressure.

Our conversation got me thinking...

For the most part, the ‘tween years are all about preparing kids (and their parents) for the peer pressures that lie ahead in the teenage years. Girls begin to take notice of their appearance fairly early. They become extremely self-conscience. My daughter is currently in the “I’m fat.” “I’m ugly.” “I just wish I looked normal” (whatever that is) stage. Her desire to fit in is extremely important. Hair, clothes, height, weight, looks, are all-consuming in the daily life of a ‘tween.

So how can we (parents) play a role in helping our kids through this stage?

The word that kept coming up in the conversation with my writer friend was communication. That word gets used a lot in parenting. It’s really about being accessible to our kids. Making them feel comfortable talking to us about ANYTHING.

Every day when I pick up Iz from school, the first thing I ask is, “How was school today?”

Usually this turns into a monologue about some not-so-pleasant thing that happened, i.e. she may have failed a math test, one of her friends made a comment about her _______ (fill in the blank) shirt, hair, project, shoe laces... Occasionally she says, “Good.”

Yesterday she jumped into the car and before I had a chance to ask my question, she says, “The gym locker room smelled like pot today.”

“And how do you know what pot smells like?” I asked.

Apparently, the gym teacher had made this claim. So this led to our discussion about what she plans to do when someone asks her to smoke pot with them. She said she’s never going to smoke pot. I told her about the damage it can do to a developing brain. I also told her that if she ever wants to try it (sometime around legal drinking age), talk to us about it, and we’ll see what we can do to make that happen. She looked at me with a shocked look. I just don’t want it to be so taboo that she finds herself curious about it and therefore wants to try it. I also think that when kids don’t feel comfortable talking to parents, they’re likely to seek answers elsewhere. I want her to feel like she can talk to me without me freaking out on her.

If I can show I’m willing to listen and discuss things, I’m hoping she’ll feel comfortable talking to me about sensitive subjects in the future.

I’m gonna need to work on my poker face.

I will not freak.

I will not freak.

I will not freak.

Any parenting advice will be appreciated.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

spring hike to Salmonberry River

Salmonberry River

“It’s a short hike to the falls.”

“You may want to wear some rubber boots, it can get sorta muddy.”

Driving on logging roads is only a good idea on weekends. The roads are not well marked, and even though we carried two maps (the old fashioned kind) and three GPS gadgets (I’m not sure why we had so many), as well as our iPhones (which early on read “no service”), we were so lost. We drove around in circles on narrow roads with steep drops to the valley below for two hours before we found the dead end road that joins the trail to the waterfalls. Why do those edges always seem so much closer from the perspective of a passenger seat?

The hike itself was also a bit treacherous. We encountered five washed out sections, forcing us to traverse through streams and over high rocks and muddy hillsides. When we did arrive, it was beautiful! There were even salmon (steelhead, I was informed) jumping, trying to make their way upstream. I got this picture of one. Well, most of one anyway.

Salmonberry River

Iz enjoyed skipping rocks. Bailey enjoyed chasing sticks. M enjoyed trying to photograph the jumping fish. I enjoyed eating my sandwich and cookie.

Salmonberry River

Salmonberry River

Happy Earth Day!

I hope you’re enjoying spring in a special way.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PW came to P-town

Iz and I went to see Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, at Powell’s last night. I’ve seen images from her book signings of rooms at capacity, but for some reason I was still shocked by the number of people in attendance. We arrived right on time at 5:45 pm. Ree was due to arrive at 6pm. Wow were we ever late! Tickets were given out to those waiting in a long line at 4:30, and something like 400 tickets were given out by 5 pm. After that, it was fend for yourself. Obviously, we were in the fend for yourself group.


We didn’t let this put the kibosh on our plans though. We excused ourselves through the crowd of sometimes not so friendly women to get to a spot where we could get a view of the woman behind the blog I’d read every day for the last year.

An announcement came at 6:05 saying that Ree’s Jag had broken down and she would be helicoptered down soon. Hahaha! About ten minutes later, a flustered, tall, redheaded woman in jeans and boots rushed in telling us how her GPS led her to take a wrong turn on Cedar Hills Road... or byway... or lane... or boulevard. Somehow I was picturing Ree, her MIL and daughter being driven here in a limo. She actually drove herself? Did she search for parking in the crowded Powell’s lot just like the rest of us?



Ree answered questions from the audience, did her famous Ethel Merman imitation, then got down to business signing all those cookbooks some 500 women had clutched in their hands. After we heard her talk, and snapped a few photos, Iz and I left in search of a sushi restaurant. We ate, shopped in several nearby stores and swung back by Powell’s to see if the crowd had thinned. Nope. Ree was signing books from ticket number 90. It was going to be a long night. Off we went to do some grocery shopping. I told Iz I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to get my books signed and have my photo taken with the Pioneer Woman. My insightful daughter said, “I’m sure it’s not the most amazing thing you’ll do in your life.” Thanks for putting things in perspective for me. She does her best to keep me centered. I’m still bummed. I do possess two “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” cookbooks though.

I found myself contemplating what makes this woman idealized by so many women. Is it because she appears to live a perfect life that reads like a romance novel? She is, in fact writing her life story and the movie rights have already been purchased. When asked who does she want to play her, she said “Reese Witherspoon has expressed an interest.” Ree... Reese. She went on to point out that’s as far as similarities go. Ree is a tall 5'9" redhead. Reese, “blonde, petite, and narrow.” When asked who she wants to play Marlboro Man, she said she’s not telling.

Ree is as charming and likable in real life as she appears to be on her blog. I want to hate her because she seems to have it all. But I can’t.

This is Ree’s daughter. She’s 12. It’s always good for Iz to see a fellow tall 12 year old. Especially one who seems proud of her height. She’s very poised. Too bad she and Iz didn’t get to meet.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the best place to pick up chicks

barred rock chicks

Meet Lucy and Ethel. Our newest peeps.

We took a trip to the Urban Farm Store this week. I didn’t expect to bring anything home. Well, maybe a bag of pine shavings, we needed some of those. Maybe some chicken food for our laying hens, we’re running low on that. But, they had barred rock chicks! Only five left! These weren’t really an impulse buy. I even brought a small brooder along just in case. I think these will be a nice addition to our flock. Hopefully, they’ll provide us with many delicious breakfasts in the future.

If you’re in the Portland area, the Urban Farm Store on SE Belmont is a great chicken resource. They’re very knowledgeable about all things chicken. And it’s a good place to pick up chicks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

15 years ago...

...we said I do.

15 years ago we danced at the zoo.

15 years ago we slept in a small room downtown.

15 years later, M and I have returned to enjoy some pampering, room service, shopping, sightseeing, and mostly... each other.

The Heathman

A hotel with a haunted past...

Constructed in 1927, The Heathman Hotel is a beautiful, independently owned, 150-room hotel in the heart of downtown Portland. All the rooms in the hotel that end in “03” have mysterious happenings. A visiting psychic, who saw a ghost at the end of the bed in room 803, theorized that someone may have jumped to his death, and is now haunting all the rooms he passed on his way down. Room 703 in particular is a hot spot. Guests who leave a clean room return to find a towel used, a glass of water out, a desk chair moved. Hotel records report no one used the electronic key to get in to the room. The incidents happen too often to be brushed off as a fluke. All the rooms in a particular column (703, 803, 1003) have reports of mysterious phenomena.

Here’s a peek at our suite, Room 417...

The Heathman

the living room...

The Heathman

A few blocks away. Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

It’s not every day that you see a cat on a leash. This cat was obviously very curious about my camera. His owner claimed he was a therapy cat. Hmmmm. Not so close. I can’t focus.





When we returned from sightseeing, shopping, dinner, dessert... we found our room looking like this...

The Heathman

When we awoke, we found this...


and this...


and this...




I love the small details. This custom hanger is on the back of the bathroom door. I want one!



Snap. Snap. Back to reality. Now where did I put those tax papers I need to get in the mail?

Five pounds later... time to return to real life.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

hair’s the story

I’m working on an experiment. I haven’t shampooed my hair in four days. Before you say ewwww and run away, let me explain.

Since watching the docu-comedy,
Good Hair, with Chris Rock, I’ve had hair on the brain. I’ve also had a few hairbrained ideas about how to tame the hair that sits on top of my daughter’s head. Iz has hated her beautiful locks since she arrived at the ‘tween stage of her life. She now spends a lot of time each day with the straightening iron in her hand, whipping her curls into submission. Any comments, or compliments, about her hair from either parent often results in tears.

I grabbed this shot on a day when her hair was left to its own devices...


In one of my many attempts to get my daughter to make peace with her hair, I picked up this book:

I placed the book into her hands, and she seemed grateful to receive it. Maybe she was thinking it would help her eliminate her curly locks once and for all.

Now if this book was one that Iz was at all intrigued by, she would have taken it up to her room and read every word in private. When she left it lying on a table in our living room, I knew that she didn’t intend to pick it up again.

So, I borrowed the book and took the “Are you a curly girl?” quiz. Based on the results, I decided to see what would happen if I followed the author’s advice, taking the steps she recommends to bring out my inner curl.

And guess what?


self portrait

self portrait

These photos were taken today. Day four. No shampoo.

Lorraine says that the worst thing you can do to curly hair is shampoo and blow dry it. She has actually made her home a no-shampoo zone. I’m not going that far. Since I don’t have the corkscrew curls she does, I’ll be shampooing mine eventually. She recommends about once a week for my type of curls. I’ve spent a lot of time round brush rolling and blow drying my hair over the years, only to have it work like a weather barometer, frizzing at the first sign of humidity. When is it not humid in Portland?

“It’s your head, not your hair, that needs straightening,” says Lorraine.

Now, how do I persuade my daughter to embrace her curls?