Friday, February 7, 2014

Braving the weather

Isn't the weather crazy.  My family always goes to Eastern Oregon for one lovely winter trip.  Back in October we decided to come to Eagle Crest instead of our usual Sun River.  It just so happened that we planned our trip for this weekend.  So yesterday we put chains on in our driveway and made our way through snow and blizzard like conditions at 35 miles to Sisters.  At times wind whipped across the road whirling snow and creating low visibility.  The temperature dropped to 3 over Santiam Pass (not including wind chill), but it was a fun adventure.  The kids were so excited to go on a trek through the snow and delighted in watching the temperature drop, icicles on the cliffs,  and snow swirl.  Not once did we slip, slide, or careen.  And now, watching the pink sky peek through over the distant horizons w/a promise of snow, I am glad we made the braved the weather and made the journey.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tomorrow my youngest baby starts the big K...kindergarten.  She has been waiting for this day for as long as she can remember.  I can't believe this day has come.  This girl has been present (or at least almost) through many of my life changing events as a mother.  I was pregnant and teaching when I decided to open Sweet Peas.  I realized I was BSC (bat shit crazy) while teaching, pregnant with my third child, and opening a restaurant.  6 months later, my memory of a blessed early morning adventure begins when my now 5 year old daughter brightened our world.  After 2 hours of labor...we barely made it...I remember traveling in our party wagon.  I only call it this because on a rare trip to a concert in Eugene we figured out that stemless wineglasses fit perfectly into the cupholders (a bottle of wine fits there nicely too).  Being the crazy hostess I am I even made appetizers.  Our drive down was epic.  We offered to drive multiple friends.  Wine in the car.  Rocking to Jesse's girl, stopping first to watch part of a roller derby. Can't get better than that.  As I climbed into the mini-van that night I thought...this may not only be a party wagon, but a birthing wagon.  There was no sitting down in the mini-van.  I faced backward in the passenger seat as we made our way through Corvallis.  We walk through the plastic surrounding the Emergency room admitting doors, because the hospital was under construction and I yell at the man behind the desk that the elevator may be too big of a challenge because I'm having this baby NOW as I'm bent over absorbing the never ending contraction that is forcing my child into this world. I look up into the face of a friend, a soccer referee who I know from my indoor soccer league and who I really wish was not here at this moment.   After waddling, step by agonizing step, into the tiny room known as the elevator, there is no relief tangible.  Once I reach the labor/delivery floor and fall into my bed the midwife begins asking Mark if he is a hunter because she saw a deer on the way in and wants to know if he might want to shoot it.  I think I may be hallucinating as the "doctor" in the room asks if I can lay on my back so she can see the birth more clearly.  My hunter savvy midwife yells at the doctor that I will have this baby in whatever way I feel comfortable and....I relax, and with one great effort I have a 3rd daughter.  While laying between the starchy sheets, breastfeeding my day old daughter, I decide, I do not want to own a restaurant.  I've tried it and do not like it.  I do not like the weekends for free, I do not like serving sweet tea, I do not like the long hours at night, I do not like bills    stacked out of sight.

She was 1 month old and swaddled to my chest, when my oldest daughter crossed the threshold at our local Charter School.  This first year was a momentous occasion as it was the first year of operations.  After taking on PTO president, hot lunch originator, activity organizer, classroom volunteer, and board member, I decided, for my sanity to take a step back.  I will now, as my youngest embarks in her educational adventure, volunteer in the classroom, quit 3 or my 4 jobs, and focus a bit on my own interest/needs.

This child has been my challenge.  For the most part she is well behaved, however she has that extra something special.  When asking her what she might like to do on her last day of summer she tells me that she want to organize her closet?  I am not flabbergasted because this is my youngest.  She loves to have everything in order.  I say "great, let's do it".  She says things like, "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom now.  Don't move or touch anything until I get back."  She wants to be part of it and have a schedule.  After her direct instructions are completed, we make molasses crinkles that she says, "melt in you mouth."  She wants to go to lunch at Kim Hoa's and eat salad rolls with peanut sauce.  Since we were there last week, I suggest Local Boyz, which she is down for because of the chicken and rice.  Her last wish is a pet store.  This particular pet store prompta me to contact an animal advocacy group.  Kind of scary.  6 rats in a 5 gallon aquarium, which as we progressed, changed to 5 to 7 Chinchillas in a jar (not kidding), and large constricting snakes in broken 10 gallon aquariums.  I feel like I am in a "Steven Kellog" book of a grown character.  One who wishes to have 37 fish, 42 cats, 12 dogs, 18 mice, 39 rabbits, 4 tarantulas, and a dinosaur and that all reproduce...voraciously!  Aquariums stacked  7 high and two deep, filled with reptiles.  In another room, rabbits and guinea pigs, barely able to get cool.  An angry looking chinchilla who was either possessed or stuffed eyes me with a glassy stare. And then there is the smell.  I knew there was something dead and I knew something had defecated several thousands of times.  As Claire left, her whim, take them all home so they could run around in our yard.  Fun times.    

She is observant and sometimes that can be unfortunate.  Living in the PNW can be a problem when it comes to teaching children about diversity.  There is not much of that...diversity that is.      I do not condone or approve of it, but I think sometimes my children, especially this one is a bit racist.  While eating at a Vietnamese establishment,  crowded at lunch time with Asian patrons,  my youngest child looks up and asks, "Mom."  "Yea," I say.  "Why are there so many Mexicans in here?", she asks.  I wanted to swallow her tongue.  I distracted her by saying, "Look a fortune cookie.  I wonder what your fortune is?"  This summer hiking in the Redwoods, we passed many Asian family members, obviously having a family reunion.  Claire asked why there were so many brown people hiking in the forest.  Living in a predominantly white society, I am unsure how to proceed to allow my children to see people as people and not as a specific race.  But that is not the lesson here.  It is when I see her sharing her sports equipment at the park with any child.  It is when she names her ballerina after a cousin and is upset at night because she can't find her and wants to sleep with her.  It is when she feels compassion for a fellow being.   Her observations are innocent but her kindness knows no bounds.

I am proud of my girl and much saddened by her entrance into kindergarten.  My kids have never gone to daycare, pre-school, or any institutionalized program/facility before being school-aged.  I do not remember life without a child to tend to.  I am unsure of how to proceed, but I welcome the opportunity.  I think I can manage.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

8:22 am:  Dropped kids off at school and picked up gifts for teacher's baskets for teacher appreciation week. Placed gifts in black reusable shopping bag.
8:45 Meeting for work. Received important papers to fill out.  Walked to car.  Placed papers on seat of car.
10:00  At home did laundry.  Grabbed Anna's blue sweater from clean laundry to take with us to friend's house because it was getting chilly.
11:15 Walked to car and placed Anna's sweater on seat on top of important papers.
11:30  Picked Anna up from school and went to da Vinci days headquarters to pick up application for Muddy Creek for da Vinci days.   Placed on seat of mini-van.
12:00-3:30  Kids took nap, I graded papers, and I made list of things we needed at grocery store to survive until I had time to do some real shopping.
3:30  Hailey home from school so we ran to the grocery store.  Bought yogurt, granola, fruit.  Placed in black reusable shopping bag.
5:00 Went to friend's house for dinner.
10:30 Got home with sleeping children.  Picked up reusable black shopping bag.  Placed on top of groceries, important papers, Anna's sweater, and da Vinci days application.  Put black reusable shopping bag over shoulder.  Picked up work bag with laptop in it.  Threw over shoulder.  Picked up coats.  Picked up sleeping 3 1/2 year old.  Began lugging load into house.  Stepped on edge of driveway, sprained ankle, shoved Anna inadvertently into Irises.  Saved Claire's head from ugly contact with concrete. Landed on black reusable grocery bag.
11:00 Kids in bed, unloaded BRGB.  Yogurt on application.  Yogurt on important papers.  Yogurt on clean blue sweater.  Yogurt on gifts to teachers for teacher appreciation day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My dad superman

I think my dad is superman.  Unfortunately, he does too.  So when a hitchhiker needs a ride he's ready and willing as long as he is packing and no vulnerable family members are present. On a trip back from Santa Cruz after dropping off my eccentric Great Uncle Jim, my father, just over the Oregon border on highway 1, spots a hitchhiker. Always wanting to assist his fellow man he becomes as excited as a child whose parents just agreed to a puppy after 6 years of harassment. Yet he has a plan that involves positioning a son in the back seat poised to choke at the slightest hint of aggression and also makes sure his concealed weapon is within easy reach  he pulls over to rescue said "man in need". As the rain pours off of the man's slicker into the front seat as he bends down to have a seat my dad yells, "need a ride?" The hitchhiker drops jovially into the seat with my brother crouched like a tiger, feet on the seat, arms splayed like a ninja ready for the choke out signal from his father. As they pull onto the highway, my dad asks why the man is out on the road in weather like this. Hitchhiker, it turns out was just released from prison, scored some weed within the first hour of freedom and was making his way to a party in some Southern Oregon taverny shit hole . He insisted for 127 miles, every 2 minutes, that he repay my dad's kindness with bags of weed. Father, all x-mormon and x-cop of him politely declined for the remainder of the trip. Upon reaching their destination, hitchhiker insisted dad come in for a drink. He wouldn't take no for an answer until like a person coming off of an acid high and realizing they are standing barefoot next to a freeway where their shoes are being run over frequently by mac trucks, he enters reality. My brother "crouching applesauce, hidden tiny hands" was poised like a cat of the night, with glowing eyes, ready to choke in the back seat, became suddenly visible. The man decided there was no time for warm goodbyes, hastily squeaked a thank you, and scurried inside the dive tavern like a mouse seeking refuge in the brush from a diving, driven, hawk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

bodily substances

Yesterday started out as any other weekend day. The kids woke up too early and wishing they would sleep in for once I wondered why on school days I couldn't drag them out of bed. Of course the first thing the children wanted to do before the sun was even up was to hold the new baby chicks we had just acquired at the chicken swap. Children never seem to want to do anything sensible at god forsaken hours...not read books, play quietly in their room, or listen to their new cd player-no the first idea that hatched in my kids' head before they were even fully awake was to hold chickens. I remember when we (my brothers and I) woke up on the weekends and made even the slightest noise before 10 am my father would roar, "is the house on fire?", through the closed bedroom door. We then would answer, "no", and he would respond, "then not another peep". Instead of this I tell my children that they can go play with the chickens as long as they just let us sleep for a little while longer and change out of their pjs first. That was my first mistake. It only took 10 minutes for the end of our morning "sleeping in" to fade like the remnants of the dream still hemming my thoughts. With a munchkin voice somewhere in the room saying, "chicken poop on the carpet", I shot out of bed like a rocket. It wasn't an easy transition. I rushed out to the garage and found 6 piles of poo lying around, 2 of them with child like footprints and tracks leading into the house. One child had feces from wrist to shoulder, while yet another had remnants on the back of her pant leg and on her back pocket. The 3rd little cherub had tracked the lovely fragrant repulsion through the house. Five minutes later in my robe scrubbing up chicken poop and remember moments ago when I was in a cozy bed, I rued the day I ever decided to have pets. Having taken care of most of the chicken excrement disaster, children bathed, 2nd set of clothes for the day, I began to prepare breakfast (what else are you going to do with 3 shiny faces smiling proudly at their well executed plan to get Mommy out of bed). I noticed my youngest, who always helps with meals, looked a little pale. She complained of a headache (she actually said "my knuckle hurt", which translates to "neck", which when she showed me was in fact the back of her head). She hadn't gotten much sleep the days prior, missing naps and going to bed later than usual because of our busy schedule, so I attributed any lethargy to this. I took her temp. and it registered at 99.1, which is in her normal range, but I gave her some baby Tylenol just in case. I am allergic to red food dye and I discovered 2 minutes after giving my baby "cherry flavored" medicine that she was too, as was evident from the vomit. I gave up trying to wipe puke out of her hair and put her in the tub...again. After she was washed, dried, and dressed, I proceeded to finish breakfast. She needed to go potty so I left her on the toilet, verbally checking in to see when the wiping job would need to occur. After 10 minutes, which was an unusually long time for her to do her business, I went in to check on her only to discover brown streaks on the toilet seat that she was continually trying to clean up by licking her finger and rubbing it around on the white porcelain. The third bath/outfit of the day had me questioning why I ever cleaned up anything to begin with. My favorite part...all before 9:00 am.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cabins in Oregon (and afar)

When camping with kids, we've decided that if it is raining or if there is a chance of rain (when is there not in Oregon) , and when our budget allows, we will stay in cabins. Mark and I have explored this state for many years, first with our siblings and parents, and then with each other, and now with our kids. The cabins that we would recommend to others are as follows:

Leaping Lamb Farms: Charming cozy cabin located on a small Oregon farm featuring a meandering stream and farm fresh eggs and produce available for purchase. When you stay here breakfast is provided. After enjoying local nourishment and walking the perimeter of the farm, take off your shoes and dangle your feet in the creek. Cocktails and appetizers on the deck complete a lazy summer day. Escape for a relaxing weekend, or even month. Call 541-487-4966 for more details.

L.L. Stub Stewart State Park: These cabins are ideal for several families. You can reserve a block of them, 1/family. Look down the ridge and out toward the coast range mountains over a crackling, wind whipped fire. Enjoy evenings, sitting around a fire, roasting smores, watching kids race bikes down trails. For an adventurous day trip follow one of the newest "Track to Trails" renovations. This trail stretches for 20 miles from Vernonia to Banks with the campground located 1/2 way between these two communities. If you head down to Banks, you literally don't have to pedal for 7 miles. Once you turn around it can be a difficult for children to pedal the entire distance back to the campground. Or you can do what I did and stay at a rest area, hit up strangers for wine, and let your husband hustle up the hill to the van, coming back to retrieve you once you're fully "relaxed" (or you could do a shuttle, but eehhh...I like the husband option, granted he's willing). Call 1-800-452-5687 for reservations.

Suttle Lake Yurts: Although we didn't have a pleasurable experience when we went (thanks to buckets of rain and no wood), a magical weekend could be had if you had plenty of fire wood and snow was plentiful enough to snowshoe/cross-country ski around the lake. It could actually be quite magical and peaceful if weather conditions cooperate (which they usually do at this elevation). Makes a wonderful mid-winter getaway.

Harstine Island: This is the one structure not in Oregon, but it is a great destination if you want to spend time on Puget Sound. It is remote and best if you bring all of your food for the entire time. If you correlate your trip with a minus tide the amount of sea life to explore and observe is absolutely breathtaking. Kayaks and canoes are great for the experienced but must be used with caution (Puget Sound can be dangerous and cold-hypothermic inducing 45 degree water). Great views, enticing decks, and right on the beach, this house is a great location for isolated time with family and friends. Call 503 936-3664 for more information. Also if you could mention my name if you do make a reservation I'll get a little monetary reimbursement.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Restaurants that don't suck (and are kid friendly)

Living where we do, I feel a bit spoiled when it comes to good food. The slow food movement, abundance of small farms, more choices for organic and local foods along with increased knowledge about pesticides and mass produced food have led many communities in the Willamette Valley to embrace natural, whole, organic, local, sustainable foods. We are sandwiched between two larger cities which spotlight the culinary arts giving us many amazing choices for where we eat and what we put into our bodies. Although, I enjoy eating anywhere I'm going to focus on the nourishing places that exist closer to Corvallis.

Buena Vista House Cafe and Bed and Breakfast: Nestled under apple trees, with a guitar's song weaving through branches, pizza's waft blended with fragrant blossoms, the tables are dressed for guests. The tri-fecta perfection is present on the menu with local, organic, and seasonal food and wine. A blend of outdoor friendly weather, 2 to 3 families, a reservation and pizza make a memorable evening. The Buena Vista House could not be located in a more appropriate location as this Willamette Valley that spotlights quality farm to table dining. Dinners are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Brunch is also available Saturday and Sunday mornings. Reservations only. Call (503) 838-6364 for more information.

Cornucopia-Eugene, OR (the one on 17th): After picking up my husband from the airport, a bite to eat was in order. We wanted to eat outside (it was uncharacteristically not raining), allow the kids to have some fun, and we wanted good food as well as an exciting beer selection. Cornucopia on 17th in Eugene provided all of these things. After sitting out back under the arms of Douglas (Fir) and some awnings/sails, we basked in the few minutes the sun peeked from behind the rain makers. They do have a kid's menu, but since I steer clear of these (non-nutritious nasty stuff-that tastes awesome!), I chose food for my chillens off the grown up menu, splitting plates for their dining pleasure. The beer selection is fab, on tap as well as an entire self-select double glass paneled refrig. full of the stuff. Since it was Friday, fish was what we craved and their fish and chips were splendid (not too greasy). The kids adult grilled cheese was so cool according to Anna because there were two colors of cheese (white and orange). Salads looked amazing, soups wafting over from the next table smelled heavenly, and other entrees left me curious enough to want to come back again. For hours call (541) 485-2300.

Papa's Soul Food Kitchen: After visiting Memphis several time as the Nanny of a family who's relatives were from there, I learned the delectable delight of pulled pork with slaw on a bun. As I sunk my teeth into this not just a sandwich, I was instantly addicted. Being raised on Mormon casseroles, rice and raisins, and other large family fare, which definitely have their place, I had never experienced much in the way of spicy, deep, smoky, intense flavor as I experienced that night. I had no idea what a dry rub was. Pork shoulder? No gravy? homemade BBQ sauce that's spicy? It was amazing! Since that day and many other sandwiches from The Commissary in German Town, TN, later, I have been on a search for the perfect pulled pork sandwich in the Northwest. I think I may have found it at PSFK. Along with their lovely outdoor seating (very agreeable to kids) and adult kool-aid served in mason jars (not agreeable to kids), PSFK is a don't miss spot when headed to Eugene. Located on Blaire in a funky neighborhood. Call (541) 342-7500 for hours and directions.

Junkyard Dogs: The best hot dogs west of Chicago or even, dare I say it N.Y.? and they have a choice to honor every famous hot dog city. You have spicy, jalapeno, neon green relish dog, Louisiana style. Dogs with pickles, dogs with mayo, french dressing, cheese, if you like dogs and toppings there's a hot dog there for you. They also have kids' trays with a hot dog on a stick and a hot dog candy (gross-but they love it)...if you're going for hot dogs you may as well throw healthy eating to the wind, even for the kids! The outdoor seating is fun but can be a little distracting when a semi rolls by (keep the kids close). On 99E between Harrisburg and Junction City. For more information call: (541) 998-3232

Block 15: Consistently the best beer of any brewery that I've been to. Not only do they have their very lovely "regulars" but their ability to come up with interesting, amazingly strong and tasty selections wows me every time. I also love that they support many local small farms and provide many organic and sustainable (the tri-fecta perfection again) meals. The chalkboard tables and happy hour menu pair perfectly with children as does their story book menus. Only drawback are the crowds. Get there early for dinner (like 4:30). 541-758-2077 is their phone.

Nutcakes: I love having high end baked goods, especially done right at a French Bakery, however there is always a need every once in a while (I've been here 4 times in the last 7 days) for a good doughnut. Maple bars with bacon, Smore's bars with marshmallow cream filling and graham cracker sprinkles on chocolate frosting, and lemon curd filled doughnuts is just a sampling of the amazing selections at this newest shop in Philomath, OR. They also have started to serve lunch and breakfast, but I think their doughnuts are the shining star. Their prices are also amazing. A box of 15 to 20 day old doughnuts is $8.00. They just have coffee, not fancy lattes, which I kind of appreciate (specializing in the one thing you do well is sometimes lost). Once you discover this place you may have to erase your memory before you have to erase some extra booty. Sitting outside in the early sunshine, enjoying coffee, and delectable doughnuts while your kids destroy the flowerbed searching for bugs and tromping on plants, nothing could be better (Hey kids get outta there). For details call (541) 929-3333

Destination Restaurant

Beck (Not Kid Friendly): It is very rare for a restaurant to get it ALL right. Atmosphere-waterfall wall, floor to ceiling windows overlooking Whale Cove as waves crash over the rocks, view of simple manicured garden below restaurant on bluffs, tables spaced far enough apart to afford a little romantic privacy. Wine/Beer-extensive list many local choices and pairings with food, including special meals, where each course is paired with a different wine. Service-never lacking, someone always meeting your needs. Creative-if you don't see something on the menu you like let your server know. Chef is open to wowing you. And lastly and most importantly The Food- Amazing, inventive, simply delicious. I will go back every time I can afford to. Hands down the best place ever to eat a meal. The chef has even been nominated by Food and Wine magazine as Best New Chef. Located just South of Depot Bay. Call 541-765-3220 for hours and directions.