Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coffee Table Change-up

 I've had the same coffee table in my living room for the last twelve years. It's a perfectly beautiful coffee table, and I like it just fine. There are even two matching side tables, which are also perfectly beautiful. I'm just bored, bored, bored with them. I've been slowly, but surely changing the look of my living room over the last few years, and "perfectly beautiful" doesn't really fit anymore. Also, I just wanted a change. The first big pieces to go were the side tables. I replaced them with funky pieces that I scrounged and fixed up or that my friend, Amy found when she was working at the ReStore. Then, a beat up old table showed up (also at the ReStore), and I decided it was going to be the one for me.

Here's the one I've had forever:

And here's the one I bought.

Storage is at a premium in my house, and this one has drawers and a hinged compartment in the top. Sweet!

It was in rough shape, but that was fine with me. I planned to alter it anyway, and I wanted to change the top completely, so I started sanding it down. As the thick stain came off the sides, I liked the way it looked, half sanded, so I took a chance and left it that way.  In person, it looks like an old, beat up shop cabinet. I sanded the top down completely, painted some chevron stripes on (I know they're "out" now, but I like what I like), sanded that down, added some natural stain and poly over the top, and that was done. I took the flower backs off the drawer pulls to simplify those, and I added casters to the bottom, so it's easier to move.

It fits perfectly in the room, and it looks great with the new paint on the walls. I'm happy with the change.

Now to sell the old ones and clear out some space! Spring is here, and I'm the mood to purge and clean!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Oh Heavens, She's Seven

 My sweet Miss V turns 7 on the 9th, so we partied down today with her buddies. She's enamored with all things rainbow and unicorn these days, so that was the theme. For anyone who wasn't down with unicorns, we had knight-themed things. The kids donned unicorn headbands or knight helms, crayoned up some coloring sheets, discovered their unicorn (or knight) names and wore them around on nametags. We played Pin the Horn on the Unicorn, we beat the life out of a unicorn pinata, and then we ate rainbow snacks (cupcakes, sprinkle dipped marshmallows, rainbow fruit kebabs, and juice boxes), before Miss V opened gifts. We tried some charades, and then all the kids took their noise and energy outside and ran around until their parents came to collect them. It was a loud, funny, crazy, hysterical good time. Miss V was thrilled.

You know how "they" say that the days are long, but the years are short when you're raising children? I know it's a cliche, but it's true. Sometimes I worry that if I take my eyes off her for a second, I'll look back, and she'll be 20 years old. So I'll just keep watching and enjoying the show.

Happy birthday, baby. I love you more than the sun in the sky, deeper than the sea and further than the birds can fly.
And I always will.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Let's Catch Up

 Oh dear. I've neglected this corner of my life. As my children get older, and life moves at its inexorable pace, I stop making the time to record a little bit in this slightly longer form, and then I regret it. And now, here we are at March, and nearly three months have passed since my last post. Let's catch up a bit, just quickly.

If you can believe it, we've had NINE and a half snow days off from school this year in our part of Oregon. That's bananas! Some of our snowfall has been tiny, but we did have one whopper of a storm in January, and the kids had so much fun .

The J-bird also participated in his second Pinewood Derby event through Cub Scouts. He has really found a wonderful niche for himself in that organization. Sports aren't really his thing - he's a reader, very curious about how things work, a TALKER, loves science and building and engineering and video games. After trying several different activities, he found Scouts, and he's really taken to it. We're pretty thrilled for him.

The J-bird also celebrated a preeeeetty big birthday this month. How on EARTH is this tiny boy:

...a decade old? Double digits, man.

I'd promised him a big, blowout party for this birthday, so we rented out the Aquatic Center, and he invited...uh...everyone. His friends showed UP, and he felt special and loved and great.

And today is St. Patrick's Day! The Leprechaun left my kiddos a little note and some gold (chocolate) coins this morning, and they headed off to school, all decked out in green. They were very excited.

Now that the J-bird has had his big day, we have officially kicked off Birthday Season in our house. Next up is Miss V, who will be turning 7. My sunshine girl has opted for a small unicorn and rainbow themed party, which should be a hilarious good time. We're looking forward to a visit from my folks pretty soon, and I promise to post some photos of our newly repainted house ASAP!

It's exciting times around here. Spring is right around the corner, and we are ready for it. Here we go!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Love One Another

The last few months have gone by in a blur. Halloween...Thanksgiving with's choir...teaching voice and piano lessons...swimming lessons and cub scouts and Mad Science Club and Gizmodics Club and church and one gnarly ear infection (the J-bird), time with friends, a couple of snow storms...and now, it's Christmas. 2016 is almost over, and what a year it has been. When I take a moment in the midst of the busybusybusy of life, of the maelstrom and heaving of the world around me, and I breathe and focus on this one moment, I'm just grateful for what I have. It may all change tomorrow, and I can't stop it, but today, I have a roof over my head and tacos for Christmas lunch and pecan pie for dessert and a community that I belong in and work that is meaningful to me and my James, who sees me and loves me and partners with me completely, and these two children, whose hearts shine like bright lights. What an honor and a privilege it is to have this life at this moment.

Wherever you are this season, I hope that you are safe and loved. Be well. Love, G

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Patch It

 Well, it's October 1st. Summer is officially over, and Fall has begun. The children have settled into their school routines - 1st grade and 4th. This is Miss V's first year of "real" school, and she absolutely loves it.

We always go to the pumpkin patch on the first Saturday of October. There's a really sweet farm near where we live that has a miniature train and a boat, a hay maze, a corn maze (we haven't braved that yet) and lots of other fun things. The prices are very reasonable, the people are friendly, and if you go early enough, it's not crowded. In addition to all of that, the farm itself is just beautiful. We look forward to this Fall tradition every year.

 Alright, Fall 2016. I think we're ready for you now.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

We've Been Everywhere, Man (Part 3)

 So we were leaving Zion, and we were sad to go. Zion had been good to us. Also, it had air conditioning. Did you know that those western US states get really, really hot in the summer? Well, hey. They do.

Anyway, we were Grand Canyon bound (the Grandest of Canyons), but we needed to take a leisurely pace, getting there, as check-in for our cabin wasn't until afternoon, and we didn't have that far to go. We decided to stop at Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest for a really lovely hike. We were all glad we did. It was at Red Canyon that we discovered how much the J-bird likes hiking if we just let him...go.

We arrived at Grand Canyon and got checked into our little cabin. We decided that, since we were only staying for two nights, we would get up very early in the morning and watch the sun rise over the canyon. As it happened, since we had no cell connection at all, I set the clock on my phone wrong, and we all got up at 3:30am instead of 4:30, but we had a nice time anyhow, and the sunrise was just gorgeous.

After our sunrise hike, we had breakfast and then went for our second hike of the day, finishing up by 11am, all of us ready for a rest.

That evening, we got to watch an amazing storm over the canyon.

Miss V was not a fan of the thunder

The next morning, we took once last look at the Grandest of Canyons and said goodbye to our little cabin.

I loved our time at Grand Canyon!

Our next stop was Vegas. "Why Vegas?!", you may ask. "That's not really a place for children!" You are correct, BUT it made a nice waystation between Grand Canyon and our next stop, and the VRBO we rented had air conditioning, internet, and THIS:



Which was super great, because it was real hot.

We did some super fun stuff, like the hours we blissfully spent at the Pinball Museum.

And the very painfully expensive visit we made to the M&M store. (Sigh)

James and the J-bird went to see David Copperfield one night, so Miss V and I had a girls' night. We put one of our dwindling number of Love Rocks on a slot machine in the casino, had supper at Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, bought fancy bath stuff in a little boutique, and had some Starbucks. It was great!

Vegas is a weird place - it really is. We enjoyed ourselves there though, and we were definitely sad to leave all that wonderful air conditioning, because we were headed to...


The photo below was taken at 11am. It was so hot. So, so hot. We buzzed in, the kids got their Junior Ranger badges, and we drove back out, but I don't think I can emphasize enough how HOT DEATH VALLEY IS. There are places where you are below sea level, and then you have to climb up to several thousand feet above sea level, and there are posted warnings to turn off your car's air conditioner for the next ten miles, so your car won't overheat and die, leaving you to sweat and curse and kick tires and sand by the side of the road, hopefully with the gallons of water you thoughtfully brought with you in your oven of a car.

Point is: it's no joke.

But it's also really neat.

So once we finished up at Death Valley, it was time to complete our scratch off map (thanks, Wendee!) by driving on in to California for some time at Yosemite National Park.

Yoooooooosemite! So beautiful and imposing and...granite-y.

We hiked and hiked and hiked some more.

There was a lot of this:

Aaaaaaaaand....some of this:

But man, Yosemite is long on beauty.

The Junior Ranger program, like many things, was done a little differently in Yosemite. They like to do things their own way in California. There were a number of different options and levels, and you could complete the whole shebang by just going on a Ranger Hike, so we did that.

Got 'em sworn right in.


See how happy we look here? This is because we had reached the top of our second most strenuous hike of the whole trip. The children's faces are displaying smiles of relief. My face is displaying a smile of triumph, because halfway up the VERY STEEP trail, I got sick of the whining, crying, and general public scene my children had decided to perform in regards to how difficult this activity was, and I sat them both down and very quietly, very calmly laid down the LAW. I laid down the MOM LAW. The Scary Mom Law with the Quiet Scary Voice, and nary a whine was heard after that. In fact, there was happiness and cheer and skipping. Do I like to intimidate my children? No, I do not. That's why I almost never do it. Was it warranted in this case? Oh yes, my friends. It most certainly was. I do not strike or spank my children, so the Scary Mom Voice is my nuclear option.

I just want to keep it real with you, here among all the happy family photos.

And here we are on the bus, happy again, getting photo-bombed by that girl behind us. I completely love that she did that. 100%. A+, random girl on the bus.

To escape the heat, I took the kiddos down to this shallow, slow part of the river where everyone goes to swim. That water is NOT warm, but we had so much fun, just cutting loose and cooling off. The kids immediately made friends with some other children who were down there, swimming, and the J-bird is hoping for another pen-pal.

When James and I were first married, we lived in California for a few years, and we left behind a number of buddies when we moved to Oregon. Random chance and crazy fate reunited us with some of them while we were at Yosemite. We'd posted some photos while we were in the park, and our friend, Karen hit James up to let us know that she and Casey and their kids were going to be there during the same time. She asked if we'd like to have supper with them, and THAT was a giant yes, so we all got together and celebrated a reunion eleven and a half years in the making.

Four of the people in this photo didn't exist the last time we saw the Lees!

Yosemite, you are amazing! You do things your own way, but I'd expect no different. Big love.

It was time to move on.

On our way to our very last stop, we took a drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park in CA. It's just stunning - truly. We felt as though it had a little bit of almost every park we'd been to so far, and we really enjoyed our drive (and the places we stopped off to explore a little)

Very stinky mudpot/Sulfur Works


Throwing rocks in the water.

We were all anxious to press on though. Home was in our sights, but we had one more stop to go.

 Our homecoming to Oregon was a special weekend we'd planned at a rental cabin near Crater Lake with our Beckers. It was a tearful, happy reunion, and we spent the weekend resting, catching up, eating, kayaking, playing ping pong, and enjoying each other's company

On the morning of Day 44, we all drove out to Crater Lake for breakfast at the lodge. I want to go back someday, when I'm not jumping out of my skin to get HOMEHOMEHOME, because the lake is so amazing, and I'd love to hike and actually explore. We really just wanted to bust a move though, so we took a look and bailed.

Those last few hours in the car were so incredibly long, but they did finally end. I pulled the car into our own driveway, and there was our own beautiful, wonderful front door. My neighbors had not only watered the plants and fed the fish, but they'd stocked the kitchen with groceries and left supper in the crock pot. I don't even have words to describe how overwhelmed I was at that kindness. I didn't have to unpack and then get back in the car and go to the grocery store. It was major.

So now we're home. We touched down a little less than a week ago, and we are fully settled in. The suitcases are unpacked and put away, the backpacks are emptied out and stowed, the hiking shoes are out in the garage, waiting for the next hike. We put some miles on those babies this summer. I've been buying school supplies and school clothes and new shoes for two kids who are suddenly so much taller than they were six weeks ago. Today, I surprised them with a blow-up kiddie pool and a Slip n' Slide in the back yard. Before long, there were knocks at the door, and we had seven kids in the back yard, playing and sliding and bickering and laughing. Summer.

Already, the reality of this huge thing we did is growing a little hazy. The irritation we couldn't help feeling sometimes with the constant closeness of each other, particularly toward the end, when our reserves were low, is fading into the background, and we're thinking mainly of all the great stuff. And truly, there was a lot of really, really great stuff. Enormous, soaring mountain landscapes, impossible, mind-boggling canyons, geysers and mudpots and springs, the baking heat of the desert, the shocking cold of rivers rushing over every-colored rocks, the sun rising over the Grand Canyon, an entire flock of deer on the lawn of the Zion Lodge at night under a sky full of stars, my children with their grandparents and aunts and uncle and cousins and great grandmothers, my husband relaxing and enjoying his sabbatical...

Would I ever go on a roadtrip that long with two kids again? No. I don't think so. Am I glad we did it? You betcha. It was, as billed, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so incredibly grateful that I got to experience every minute of it.