Monday, December 13, 2010

All I Want For Christmas... "200 dollars" and a bunch of other stuff, too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Polar Express

On December 9th, our family took a ride on the Polar Express. The Mt. Hood Railway transforms itself into the storied train for the holiday season. It is a bit of a haul out to Hood River from Salem, and the drive was made worse by torrential downpours. We were thinking we might need a ride on the Polar Ark instead, it was coming down so hard!

"All Aboard!" - Megan made sure her ticket was good and punched.

The train took us to Santa's Village, where we saw elves working on toys (actually, the factory workers in Hood River wearing elf hats - so awesome!). Then Santa came on board, gave us a bell, we read the story and had some hot chocolate.

It all left Liam a little tired, but we dragged him to the pizza place across the street afterward anyway. You get hungry when traveling to the North Pole!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Tannenbaum!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I was on my way home from a 15 mile run with the Gov Cup group. It was a blustery day and as I approached my turn off of Skyline, I spotted a large pine branch blocking the north bound traffic. As I got closer, I realized that it wasn't just a downed branch, but rather a Christmas tree.

I stopped the truck and dragged the tree to the side of the road. Of course, I didn't want to be stealing the tree from some unfortunate family, so I waited by the side of the road for the next ten minutes, but the street was dead; nobody came by.

Woohoo - finders keepers! Free Tree for the Smith family! It needed a good hose down and the trunk was a little wonky, but otherwise, not a bad find. I think it must have fallen off one of the trucks from all the Christmas tree farms down here. Either that, or it really was some poor family's tree and they didn't come back in time to get it. I would feel a little bad about the latter, but what can I say now, except maybe, "Tie your tree down better next year, suckers!"

The kids were so excited we decorated it that afternoon - it was still dripping from its hose-down.
Megan and Liam had very different attitudes toward decorating the tree. I said the ugly ones should go in the back. Every ornament Liam pulled out he thought belonged in the back. Megan wanted all of hers in the front. Even when I would tell her it was an ugly one (I have a lot of ugly ones), Megan would say, "how about we hang it on the side?" So we didn't have much trouble decorating ALL sides of the tree.

Not too bad for free!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This year I was on call and it was just the four of us at home for Thanksgiving. A very low key day with a few art projects and dinner in our sweats and PJ's!

I am thankful for a great day with the family.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Monday we woke up to a dusting of snow. Poor, snow deprived Liam was so excited,"Oh my gosh! There's a ton of snow!"

Megan wasn't much better: "Can we go build a snowman?"

We settled for making footprints and eating snow off the deck.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just Beachy

The first weekend in November, we were very generously offered the use of a friend's beach house in Walport.

The house had an almost eery location, situated right on the dunes, with huge mounds of sand piling up around the walls and doors. But it made for a lovely view.
It also made for great sledding!

Annie and Liam getting good speed

We were joined by our friends Annie, Garrick and Lilian. They thought they were getting a free beach weekend, but really we were getting free babysitting! They kindly watched our kids while Mac and I got in a long run. They seemed to find plenty of things to keep the kids busy out by the beach.

A log fort!

Very cold water!

Megan (5 3/4), Lilian (10 mo), and Liam (3 3/4)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010


Halloween was filled with lots of fun...and plenty of sugar!

We made a Halloween gingerbread house. Guess who has been eating the frosting.
We carved pumpkins.

And we went trick or treating!
Megan was a flower fairy. Liam was a fireman. And Mom and Dad got dressed up, too! Mac especially likes how he is promoting peace and I am packing heat!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Proud Megan

"Mom, I built a big tower. Can you come take a picture of it?"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Scary Halloween Story by Liam

"Once upon a time there was a slimy dragon, a witch, a superhero, a fox, a coyote, and a bird and they were all very mean. They ate all the people on Earth and everyone was dead. The End."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Difference Between Sons and Daughters.

Anyone who has kids of both sexes can tell you there is a big difference between sons and daughters, but apparently this is lost on Liam.

This week when I got Liam out of bed, I told him,"Liam you are very special to me because you are my only son."

He looked back at me, and without a hint of sadness asked,"Is Megan dead?"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happiness All Around

Saying The Unexpected

There are some things I just NEVER would have guessed I'd be saying:

"Liam, don't lick the windows!"

"Liam, No! You can't vacuum my hair!"

"Liam, don't drink the water off of the shower floor!"

And that was just this week!

Exploring Salem

Since the beginning of September, I am working four days a week with Thursdays off. This has been a fun way to get in a weekday field trip with the kids.

My first Thursday off, we, um, explored auto-mechanics together as Mac had to jump start the car after Megan's assessment and then take it to the shop for a new battery.

But my second week off, we made our annual pilgrimage to Bauman Farms. I thought this was a genius way to avoid the weekend crowds and indeed the place was empty. What I didn't quite know was that several of the attractions are only open on weekends. Oops - so no bouncy house or zip lines for us! But there were still plenty of doughnuts and fresh apple cider, which are the real reasons we(I) go to Bauman Farms anyway!

A-maze-ing fun!

Gettin' nutty

"Hi, Kris!"

And then this past Thursday, we spent a couple of hours at Wings of Wonder, a butterfly (and reptile) exhibit in Independence.

As an added bonus, we got out for another outing today (Saturday): our first movie in a theater as a family to pass the wet and rainy day. Northern Lights Cinema offers Double "plays" once a month with a short kids play, a movie, and food (pizza, drink and popcorn). The movie was Toy Story 3 and somebody should have warned me that this was going to be such a tear-jerker. Andy goes off to college and I was practically sobbing - "oh my God, my babies are going to leave me!" But other than that (and Liam needing to pee three times) it was all good times.

It has been fun to have an extra day to get out with the kid, and I am loving the stage they are at. It finally feels like we don't have to pack a car's worth of equipment to get out of the house and we can do things as a family that we ALL enjoy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Multi-Cultural in Salem (Yes, Salem!)

Last Saturday, one of my colleagues invited us to Salem's Multi-Cultural Institute's Ball and silent auction for a free dinner since he and his wife had sponsored an entire table. Seven hundred and fifty seven dollars later (not including babysitting!), it didn't seem so free, but still we had a fun evening.

For some reason celebrating multi-culturalism inspired me to make ethnic jokes all night. First, I teased that I was going to wear my Sari to be ethnic, but instead I wore a regular black dress. And then we got there and there were a few Sari clad women and several of them were white chicks! Ok, now that was a missed opportunity to reuse an old bride's maid outfit!
Total honky couple

Dinner consisted of three buffet stations: Middle Eastern with (awesome) cous cous, lamb, salad, hummus and pitas; Asian with Korean BBQ, cucumber salad and fried rice; and European with spaghetti and rolls. Really?? That's the best they could do to represent European culture?!? I guess they just wanted to make white people look lame so we would focus on all the other cultures, but I was already feeling lame for being in my generic dress.

During the evening there were three performances: an Okinowan dance, some belly dancing, and a performance from the Indian school of dance. I didn't really think of Salem as having much of an Indian population. Anyway, I guess there is enough of an Indian population to support a school of dance and the performance was pretty cool. Not to mention the half naked guy was pretty hot, so that made it easier to appreciate his culture.

Mac and I went a little crazy at the silent auction (on one glass of wine so I don't even have an excuse!) which is how we ended up $757 in the hole. However, we will be enjoying a beach house, a family fun pack, 12 loaves of artisan bread, an air duct cleaning (are you jealous?) and a dinner date -to a Thai restaurant no less, because we wanted to stick to the multi-cultural theme (and because Thai food is good). I also won an Asian shirt in the raffle, which was pretty funny because out of the 50 prizes they raffled away, that would have been #49 on my list. And when I got the shirt, it was a size Medium, which is bigger than I would normally wear. What the heck? I mean, nobody in China is a size medium, right?

All the jokes aside, it was a great night for a great cause. And it made Salem seem so diverse (Go Salem!) As a Euro-mutt, my life has been pretty void of ethnic traditions and celebrations, so I especially appreciated the chance to borrow a little culture (but sadly, not class!) from people in my own community.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Earrings

Mamaw came up to visit the week of September 20th, to check on her new house and to watch the kids while Mac was on his Mid-west sports tour with some college friends. At the end of the week, Mamaw bought Megan some "good" earrings, hopefully to alleviate some of the ear pain Megan was having. I think Megan just needed to be told to stop playing with her earrings, but I was out voted by the uber-consumer team of Mac and his mom, so Megan got new 14k gold and garnet earrings.

"Mom," Megan explained to me,"The earrings were 36 dollars. I have 22 dollars so that is almost 36."

"Megan, $22 is not almost $36," I reply, ever the pessimist.

"Yeah. I just need a fourteen dollar bill!"

I love how that is so smart and so naive all at the same time!

Monday, September 20, 2010

School For Liam

Like Megan, Liam started at Rosedale this year in the preschool class three days a week (Mac was really pushing for five!).

Liam also likes school, but, um, he's not exactly the student that Megan is. Don't get me wrong, he's doing just fine academically. It's just that he'd rather spill paint than learn letters, jump up and down instead of reading quietly, lick toys instead of cleaning up. Basically, he is all boy. What really gets to me and Mac, though, is his "hands on" learning style. All day long he walks through the house: open the oven, close the oven, touch the dishwasher buttons, turn on the lights, turn off the lights, grab the keys, wear my shoes, reset my clock, put on my chapstick, open the cupboards, get out the salad spinner, open the fire gate, play with my pen...He just touches everything and it drives me and Mac INSANE! Other than that, he is a really cute, lovable kid.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kindergarten!! (Take 2)

Because of her January birthday, Megan is not old enough for first grade so she is getting another year of Kindergarten, this time at our local public school instead of at Little Red School House.

The year started with an Open House and an Ice Cream Social. We sat in the corner of the gym with our ice cream and managed to be completely asocial! The next day was assessment day.

At the assessment Megan was asked about shapes (nailed them, duh), and asked to count to 30 (she stopped at 200). She had a bit of trouble counting the number of words in a sentence (she only got to listen to the sentence) but because I know my daughter is brilliant, I deduced this was a dumb activity and not really a weakness in my child. ;) Then the teacher wanted to see if the kids could recognize their own names, so she placed a name placard in front of Megan.

"Do you know what this says?" the Teacher asked.

"Stella Pucket*" Megan responded.

"Good," complimented the Teacher. "Now can you point to your first name?"

Megan just sat there with a bizarre look on her face. Mac panicked - he couldn't figure out what the Teacher was getting at and this was supposed to be a Kindergarten test!!

When Megan didn't comply, the Teacher tried again. "Can you point to the first letter of your first name?"

Megan just sat there with the same quizzical look on her face. And Mac was equally perplexed. Finally, Mr. Garcia, the student teacher came to the rescue. "Umm, that's not Stella Pucket. That is Megan Smith."

"But she knew the name!" the Teacher replied.

"Yeah, Megan can read." Mac filled the Teacher in, which earned Megan a second assessment, this time for reading with the principal.

And just to make sure the school was really impressed with the Smith family, our ailing car battery went completely dead so we weren't able to leave the assessment until we got the principal to loan us her car and her jumper cables so that we could leave the premises.

School finally started and it has been great for Megan. They don't seem to be doing much for her academically, but she is enjoying all the new activities like music and group games. And she ate up the "guidance" lesson they got on responsibility.

After the first two days, I asked Megan if she had made any new friends (the entire group is new to her this year).

"Only one," she told me. "Stella Pucket."

*normally, I'd change a kid's name to protect their identity, but Stella Pucket sounds like it is straight out of kiddie lit; it just didn't seem right to change it, you know, for the integrity of the story and all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Everyone was working hard around here on the long weekend.

(To be fair, this was Sunday, and on Monday I got all of the blackberries tied up for next year, something I always feel really good about...once it is DONE!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

One More Summer Trip

We finished our summer with a nine day trip to Southern California. The main purpose of the trip was to do the Angeles Crest 100 mile Endurance Run, my third 100 miler in a year. But that didn't go very well. Seems I bit off more than I could chew this time around and had a real blow-up, resulting in a DNF at mile 49. You win some and you lose some. I thought most of the course was great (at least the first half!) and plan to get back there sometime to finish what I started, though it won't be next year.
Enjoy the photo of me at the start, because there isn't one of me at the finish!

Though my left knee gave me some issues during the race, it was pretty much back to normal three days later, confirming that the main issue was in my head! But we still made the most of the vacation.

We spent lots of time with Cousin Holden, who isn't so little any more. He may out weigh Liam before he turns one! (that might not be saying much, Liam is a pretty meatless kid who just cracked the 20th weight percentile this year!). And there was lots of swimming. But best of all was a trip to Disneyland! I was kind of regretting our decision to go the Friday before Labor Day, but it didn't get crowded until after dinner. I couldn't believe how empty it was.

I am not sure why, but I think I like Disneyland more as an adult than I did as a kid. And it was great to see my kids so excited, too. Good thing we had so much fun, because that $79 admission price sure stings!

Now why isn't it okay if I put my kids in a cage at home??
Blast off!
We had to separate the kids on nearly every ride so that they could each drive.

Such concentration!
Mr. Hand-sy just had to touch Mickey.

Rocket lady really wanted to pose with us, so we cut Liam out of the photo to include this stranger.

The kids totally rallied until about 8:15, when Liam had a major meltdown and then fell asleep in his stroller before the fireworks show. By that time it was packed and we were pretty much ready to leave. Like Megan, Liam was fine with all the speedy rides, but couldn't handle the scary stuff like the Abominable snowman on the Matterhorn or the witch in Snow White. Liam didn't seem to have a problem with the monsters as long as he had a gun in his hand, which is why we ended up on Buzz Lightyear three times! Megan still covered her eyes at some of these same scary things (Liam, one the other hand, always covered his ears - See No Evil, Hear No Evil...??), but three orbits through Space Mountain now that she is above the height limit.

Saturday it was back to Oregon and time to get ready for Back to School.