Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SoCal Spring Break Part 2: Oceanside

We rented a house across from the beach in Oceanside. So, of course, the first matter of business in the morning after a good night's sleep was.... BEACH TIME. And here is where you can tell these kids are from Oregon. Gray skies? Check. (All the better to keep our glowing-- as in reflective-- Oregon tans.) Rain? No problem. Less-than-balmy beach temperature? Let's get in! 



After a leisurely beach morning we set forth in search of tacos. Dave and I took the beach cruiser bikes to meet up with some of the others at the local taco shop. Dave asked Liam what his shirt said and Liam correctly answered, "Go Cougars!"
 We finished our afternoon by visiting the Mission San Luis Rey.


I tried to impress on my children that if they grew up in California they would know all about the long and illustrious history of California missions, Father Serra and El Camino Real. They might have even made a diorama of a California mission in the 4th grade (instead of whatever they make a diorama about in Oregon). But they were content with getting a pencil made out of a tree branch from the gift shop and calling it good. (I know. A parent's wisdom is always wasted.)

SoCal Spring Break Part 1: Loma Linda

We started our Spring Break trip to California by flying to Ontario airport on Monday, March 24th. We rented a car and drove to Loma Linda so we could see Auntie Alisa and Uncle Jacob's house. The kids enjoyed playing in their backyard. The top attraction was the stone wall,
... followed closely by the hammock.
Alisa was in her 9th month of pregnancy with baby #2. Stephen is getting to be a big boy with a huge head of hair!
Can you spot Jared in this picture?
 Look a little closer!
We went out for crazy gourmet pizza in Loma Linda with Alisa, Jacob and Stevie. The kids each chose their own flavor of old-fashioned soda. Our crazy pizza choices included one with spaghetti and another with barbecued chicken. But we didn't get the peanut butter and bacon pizza. Another time...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Day #3: In which the snow begins losing its novelty...

Sunday was Day #3 of Oregon Snow-fest 2014. We still had 6 inches of snow, plus a layer of ice (did I mention freezing rain?). Church was canceled and we, yet again, stayed home. We entertained ourselves by trying out the new pasta maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer that I got for Christmas. Best. Thing. Ever.  (Okay we were snowed in and bored, but it was still totally awesome.) We devoured copious amounts of fresh-made noodles and Dave decided we should never use store-bought pasta again (I wasn't quite willing to go that far). In case you were wondering, pesto made with fresh basil is one of the most delicious things on planet earth-- especially when your husband makes it for you.

Beginning on the previous Tuesday we had been watching our friend Connie while her parents were out of town until Saturday night. By Saturday day it became apparent that we would have to extend the party a little bit. Her parents managed to land in Portland and make it home from the airport (driving 10 mph the whole time). Connie ended up stayed at our house until Monday evening. Jared and Camryn were quite thrilled at this turn of events. Snow just keeps getting better and better. 

But, as thrilling as snow may be, by Sunday, day number 3 of being stuck at home began to lose a little bit of its thrill. We ran out of whipped cream and were running low on marshmallows and hot cocoa. After having massive television and video game overdoses, we decided to take a day off on Sunday. Shockingly, our children were still able to entertain themselves and not die of boredom (at least not quite). People will still figure out how to entertain themselves. And with an engineer in the house that meant building a giant marble tower using both Quadrilla and marble works. 



By Sunday, Jared began to tire of the constant companionship of his younger siblings. He realized that even the most felicitous of relationships require some help now and then, and so decided to start a support group. He had two ready and willing members in Camryn and Connie. Thus they managed to survive being marooned in a ginormous house with tons of fun stuff to do and two little siblings who refused to be invisible.  

On Monday morning Dave tried to get out the driveway to work without success. By midday, I was going crazy and so decided I was going to try to make it to my noon appointment, snow or not. With some help from a shovel I made it to both my appointment and Costco. I think I must have been impacted by cabin fever and acquired some sense of stock-up mentality-- I bought more meat for my freezer that day than I've bought in the past 6 months total. (Come on! We totally needed a 10 pound pot roast!)

The snow got slushier and wet and the roads started to clear so I took Camryn to Beaverton for her flute lesson in the afternoon. We got there just fine, but got stuck in snow coming back home. Luckily there were some kind souls who helped us push/dig the mini-van out enough to get going again.

Today the kids were back to school and my sanity is even somewhat intact. It was just about the right length of time for a snow day/weekend. Otherwise, as a Californian at heart, I may have needed to start my own version of CFCWLS-- Club for Coping with Lots of Snow.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 2: Oregon Snowmageddon

Saturday we were snowed in at our house. Everyone went sledding (even me). Addy became quite proficient at going down hills penguin style with no sled. 
Dave came out to join the fun and even tried his own take on "dog-sledding." It wasn't love at first slide for Sista, but by her 4th or 5th run she liked it (or was at least used to it and resigned to her fate). 
Oregon snow is kind of like Oregon sun--in that the entire neighborhood comes outside to see it. Our neighbors even brought a fire pit out front. 

We got up to about 7 or 8 inches of snow. We celebrated the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in true winter style-- with so much snow that we couldn't drive anywhere. 

The kids have made a serious dent in our Costco-sized tub of Stephens hot cocoa mix. Jackson was sad when we ran out of "whooped cream" to go on top, but luckily we had lots of marshmallows on hand. 
A couple other funny Jackson-isms: "I can't find my glubs." (gloves) He also like it when Jared makes him a smoovie (which he perceptively noted rhymes with the word "movie"). 

Addy likes to eat yee-gurt or yay-gurt. If you tell her she is in the wrong she will reply, "No, I amn't!" She also will tell you when things are "broked" or when she "woked" up. 
Jared and Camryn were seriously disappointed that I didn't let them use the snow as an excuse to get out of practicing for the third consecutive day ("But mom, there is snow outside..."). They shockingly managed to get their practicing done and still have hours and hours to sled and build igloos. 








Oregon Snow Day#1

The kids were sent home early from school on Thursday for the lightest dusting of snow. By Friday, it had turned to this. Needless to say, school was canceled. 













Friday, January 3, 2014

Preschool Dialect

I've been meaning for a while to record some of the cute peculiarities in Jackson and Addy's use of English. What do you do when your kids mispronounce something but it's so cute that you don't want to correct them? I admit to letting Camryn say "aminals" instead of "animals" until she was 7....

A couple of preschool dialect examples from our house:

"Oh-mee" for "only"
"Sumping" for "something"
"uh-fore" "uh-cuz" "uh-hind" for "before" "because" "behind"
"uh-zert" for "dessert"
"uh-mudder" for "another"

Addy went through a phase where she was obsessed with eating hard-boiled eggs (while they carried pre-cooked, pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs at Costco and I was buying them all the time). She always refers to them as either "hard eggs" or "hot-boiled eggs."

We made "ginger-head" cookies for Christmas. And when you use the possessives you always add an extra syllable (Dad's is pronounced Dad-ez).

So nothing profound or well-written in this post. Just a reminder to myself of one of those funny stages that the kids outgrow too fast.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Vatican Museum and St. Peter's

Our second full day in Rome we had set aside for seeing Vatican City: the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

We took a city bus to the Vatican and got a quick glimpse of the Palace of Justice
and Castel Sant'Angelo on the way there.

Our museum pass in Paris may not have been worth much for skipping the ginormous security lines at Versailles, but for the Vatican Museum our Rick Steves advice paid off big time. I had made reservations and bought tickets in advance online, so we got to skip the huge ticket line to get in that stretched for blocks and blocks.




The museum was filled with specimens from the Egyptians to Romans to modern Europe: sculpture, painting,objets d'art, elaborately decorated rooms and ceilings, you name it.

One room was filled with sculptures of only animals. I thought my kids would have gotten a kick out of that. 
 "When I was a young warthog....."

The highlight of the museum (and probably the whole day) was the Sistine Chapel. We spend probably 40 minutes there, jammed in with wall-to-wall people (and security guards-- occasionally blowing their whistles to say "Silenzio!" or stop picture-takers). It really is magnificent- a masterpiece on all levels.

The museum ended with a collection of religious paintings. My favorites were some of the more modern pieces, including a rare Pieta by van Gogh and a Marc Chagall.


By the time we finished the Vatican Museum it was time for lunch. I knew of a "close by" pizza place I had read about on an app that was supposed to be open in August. Yep, it was time for another one of Karen's wild goose chases. I led Megan around the walls of Vatican City, down a long random street in blistering August heat and through a residential neighborhood down a narrow back alley of stairs.
Finally between several hard-copy maps of Rome, the "City Maps2Go" app on my phone (which could be used offline) and google maps (which I couldn't use for directions without using super-pricy data on my phone but I could use to pinpoint where I was on the map) we managed to find our way through a mostly-shut-down (typical for Rome in August) neighborhood to Pizzarium for our lunch.
They had a thicker-crust pizza than is typical for Rome --- and way more toppings. One of the highlights was the pizza with kale, pinenuts and canteloupe.
By this time we were tired from our much-longer-than-expected trek to find a not-so-easy-to-find place. So we took a cab back to St. Peter's Square and waited in the long line to see St. Peter's Basilica.
 The line went fairly quickly and before long we were past the imposing Swiss guard



and even more imposing security line

and were face to face with Michelangelo's dome
and Bernini's baldacchino --a giant bronze pavilion covering the altar that attempts to diminish the disparity between the enormous size of the building and the tiny human people celebrating mass within it.


We saw (at least what could be) the bones and burial place of St. Peter (the dates of the body line up but they don't really have any clear way to determine if it was St. Peter. People from 100 A.D. believed that it was....) 

We basked in the enormity of the largest (or second-largest if you count the Basilica of our Lady Peace in Africa) church in the Christian world.


We even accidentally managed to capture a few crepuscular rays of light in a really bad picture of me. (Thanks, Wikipedia, for making me sound smarter than I am.)
We ended our visit with Michelangelo's Pieta, now encased behind bullet-proof glass after a crazy came in and starting hacking at it several years ago.





All of this grandeur worked up an appetite for some culinary grandeur-- and a nap-- so we headed back to our hotel via the Gelateria San Crispino. 

After enjoying some amazing Caramel Meringue Gelato (I thought of you, Jared and Camryn) we collapsed in our hotel room for a much needed rest. After a sufficient nap and rehydration we headed back out to our favorite nightspot, the Piazza Navona where we got some delicious cheese and Italian charcuterie for dinner at Cul de Sac.
We finished the day with yet another gelato-- this time at Giolitti's: the same place where they stopped for gelato in the film Roman Holiday.