Friday, August 31, 2007

7 Perfect Things About the Beach

1. Seaside, Oregon temperature: 77 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. The frigid Pacific waters: refreshing, not paralyzing.

2. The beach umbrella under which I read.

3. Dooger's clam chowder.

4. Over-sized, 75 cent Tillamook ice cream cones at The Candyman.

5. Wave jumping, skim boarding, hole digging.

6. Abundant mid-week parking options.

7. SPF 30, continuous spray sunscreen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Backyard Campout: The Results

My dear niece wanted to know how Friday’s backyard campout turned out. As I am easily persuaded to share any small detail regarding the events of my sometimes hectic, mostly happy life, I’m eager to oblige.

Pre-lunch Activities
All 3 boys haul their camping gear into the back yard. Ethan rolls out his mattress pad, lays out his sleeping bag and announces he is exhausted from all the work and will take a nap (at 9:40 am). He lies in his bag for 15 minutes while Jonah and Isaac fight over which navy blue sleeping bag is theirs. The hose gets turned on and one of the navy blue sleeping bags gets wet. The fight over the navy blue sleeping bags intensifies.

The sleeping bags, mattress pads, backpacks and all other camping paraphernalia get dragged back into and out of the house 4 times.

Afternoon Arguing
The boys raid the coat closets and pull out 3 wire hangers. They work for 10 minutes on straightening them into marshmallow/hot dog roasters. One wire roaster is misplaced and Jonah and Isaac fight over whose wire roaster is whose.

Someone opens the bag of marshmallows and sticks them onto their straightened wire coat hanger. They eat the marshmallow and leave the sticky wire coat hanger on the last remaining spot of un-stained carpet in the whole house. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a tiny bit.)

Dinnertime Dilemmas
The gas grill is out of propane. We have to (gasp) microwave the hot dogs. Straightened wire coat hangers are temporarily put aside.

After dinner, Robert constructs a small fire circle in the back yard and gathers as much wood and kindling as he can find in the suburbs. This includes leaves we neglected to rake last fall, little sticks, and a few scraps of 2 x 4’s from various home improvement projects.

Unexpected Guests
After soccer practice, Jonah invites a neighbor to sleep overnight in the tent. I tell Jonah that we need to check with dad before inviting friends. Before we have a chance to check, the neighbor knocks on the door and says he can come and his brother too.

The phone rings. It’s my sister and her Hood to Coast relay team. They have 5 hours before their next leg, are 15 minutes from my house and want to stop by for dessert and some zzz’s before driving on to St. Helens.

Word gets around and more neighborhood boys want to sleep out in the tent with Robert, Ethan, Jonah and Isaac. Robert explains to the little would-be campers that the sleep over is just for father and sons, and invites them to stay for s’mores.

Meanwhile, the Hood to Coast team decides to head directly to St. Helens and sleep there.

Attempted Girl Time
I have borrowed from the library, the BBC 5 hour version of Pride and Prejudice staring Colin Firth. I’ve never seen it. I figure a night with out boys is the perfect time for a P & P marathon. I settle down and start up the movie.

3 kids open the back door and come running into the house. One of them belongs to me, the other two are neighbors. They are playing hide and go seek in the dark and are hopped up on s’mores. I tell them no one is allowed to hide inside the house, shoo them out and lock the door.

I start the movie again. Someone knocks on the back door. It’s one of mine and he has to go to the bathroom. I get him in and out and start the movie again. Smoke from the camp fire wafts through an open window. I get up, shut the window and start the movie again. One hundred and twenty-three more interruptions take place over the next 5 minutes. It’s 10pm.

Bed Time?
Finally, the friends go home and quiet begins to settle on our back yard. Robert comes in the house with Isaac. Isaac doesn’t want to sleep in the tent. He’s scared.

Isaac watches Pride and Prejudice with me for 5 minutes and decides sleeping in a tent might not be so bad after all. A hush falls over the back yard...finally!

I watch 2 hours of Pride and Prejudice and go to bed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Camping Craziness

What would summer be without a camping trip, right? Well, today is the day! Robert is taking the boys camping tonight. It goes without saying that the boys have been looking forward to this camp out all summer. They have plans...big plans. Hot dogs roasted over an open flame, s'mores and a night under the stars--in a tent, under the stars.

So, this morning, the boys proceeded to pack their bags for the camp out. Ethan stuffed his brand new school "rolling" backpack with who-knows-what and dragged out a sleeping bag and mattress pad. Jonah and Isaac followed suit, as little brothers tend to do. I do know that Isaac packed a bottle of water, his favorite Star Wars guys, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pacifier (which he put in his mouth for safe-keeping) and a Huggies pull-up.

At 9am, Ethan declared he and his brothers packed and ready for the camp out. Robert will be taking the boys to a nearby, private campground called, "Our Backyard." It's so close, in fact, I'm confident that even though Isaac forgot to pack his pajamas and a flashlight, the camp out will still be a huge success.

In case there is a lull in the excitement tonight, you know, after the gas grill is turned off, Ethan has prepared a list of activities, camp appropriate knock-knock jokes, ghost stories, camp cheers and songs, and a recipe for "dirt cake."

It's going to be a long day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Glowering and Lip Biting

I’ve had the pleasure of losing myself in about 35 young adult and juvenile fiction reads this summer. Some of you might wonder how I read that many books (I’m still reading, by the way). Young adult books are generally shorter and therefore quicker reads than adult novels, so I was easily able to get through several books a week. Also, it’s no secret that I did quite a bit of kid ignoring and my kids, in turn, did quite a bit of TV watching and computer playing (a trend which will change as of September 4th. Watch this blog for exciting updates).

I’ve noticed a couple of confusing trends in the books I’ve read this summer. First, there was a lot of “glowering” going on among the main characters. I suppose this really shouldn’t be confusing since the subjects of these books are generally teenagers and of course glowering is one of the things teens do best. Ethan is only 9 and is already working on an impressively convincing “pre-glower.”

Why can’t these angry and discontented teens scowl or grimace? What about moue or lour, if you want to get a bit fancy? And don’t forget the solid standby, “looking daggers” or the oldie but goodie, “dirty look.”

I’m just saying, there are other ways to describe a stare with sullen dislike, anger or discontent. Yet, “glower” seems to be the word du jour. Is anyone else noticing this?

The second confusing trend might actually be more disturbing than confusing. Way too many book kids are biting their lips until they taste blood. Whether in response to surprise, excitement, anger, frayed nerves, fear or despair, biting through one’s own lip seems to be a common practice among many fictional characters.

It’s been a while since I was a teen, but I am certain I would clearly remember biting my lip, on purpose, until I drew blood. I never did it, and I am pretty sure my sisters and friends didn’t bite through their lips either. So, what’s up with all these fictional characters gnawing on themselves?

I can understand if one or two book kids were doing this, but there are actually quite a few (I didn’t keep a tally, so you’ll just have to trust me.) At any rate, I hope the fictional lip biting trend passes. If not, I’m going to have to glower at someone!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summer of the Green Tomato

I don't know what is going on in Portland this summer. The weather has been almost apocalyptic. While we've had a few classic, hot summer days, the majority of our summer has been cool. We've had more clouds and rain than I remember from any of the 10 summers I've spent in Portland so far.

Our garden currently contains lots of lush green but not a lot of fruit. In the past, we've had ripe tomatoes by the end of July as well as fist fulls of fresh green beans. This year, we have yet to harvest one green bean or one red tomato. Our cantaloupe has plenty of little, baseball-sized baby melons, but they are hard and green and far from being ready to eat.

I wonder if it's time to start hoarding canned foods and stockpiling blankets and firewood. At the very least, I'm going to consider a cold frame for next spring so our garden can have a head start and produce a little earlier.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just Peachy

This morning around 9am...

Mom: Hey boys! Let's go pick peaches today.

Ethan: Can I stay home?

Isaac: I don't yike peaches!

Jonah: I love peaches, can we eat them when we get there? Will I get my own box? Can I pick all by myself? I'll go wait in the car.

At Jossy Farm...

Mom: OK, let's pick some peaches

Ethan: (jumps out of car holding 10 inch Millenium Falcon)

Mom: Ethan, you are not taking that, put it back in the car.

Ethan: Mooooooom! Why can't I take it?

Isaac: I want to stay in the car.

Jonah: (Already half-way down a row of peach trees) Can I pick this one?

Picking Peaches...

Ethan: This is boring, it's too hot.

Isaac: (crying) Carry me!

Jonah: Nobody put peaches in my box, this is just for me!

On the way home, 47 lbs of peaches later...

Mom: Won't it be so great to have these peaches this winter? Remeber how much you loved them last year?

Ethan: I didn't like them.

Isaac: I don't yike them ee-vur.

Jonah: Can we have peaches for lunch?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dear Colin Firth

My faithful blog readers (all 5 of you!) will remember how I splurged on "Austenland" by Shannon Hale last week. (I don't know how you could have blog about it is easily within eyesight, plus, I don't think there are very many of you that haven't received my personal phone or e-mail endorsement of the book.)

After reading the book and re-reading my favorite parts (several times), I wanted to check out Shannon's web site for more "Austenland" nuggets of fun. I've already mentioned that the book is dedicated to Colin Firth, but just today, I found that Shannon has also written a letter to Mr. Frith, the text of which is posted here, on her website. This definitely qualifies as a nugget of fun in my book. Maybe one day I'll have the guts and good reason to write to a famous person.

I'm quickly working through the entire works of Shannon Hale: I finished "Enna Burning" today, the sort of sequel to "The Goose Girl" and I will start "River Secrets" tonight or tomorrow. "Princess Academy" might have to wait until I get through the stack of library books sitting on my night stand, due dates rapidly approaching.

Finally, I'm thinking about posting a list of books I've read this summer with pithy reviews, in case any of you 5 are interested. I'll probably post the list in September once the summer is officially over (i.e. kids are back in school).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Robert, Don't Read This

I'm feeling the guilty giddyness that can only come from spending money. Too much money, to be more specific. Rein in your imaginations...I only bought a book. But it is a hard back and it cost $20 and it's not even over 200 pages! (At least I didn't pay sales tax like I did when I purchased Stephenie Meyer's "New Moon" in St. George, Utah. That would have definitely tipped the scales into guilt's favor.)

The book that will now join my own personal library is "Austenland" by Shannon Hale and came highly recommended by Stephenie Meyer as her favorite summer read. After spending too long on the library's waiting list (I'm 24 out of 41) I decided to treat myself and buy it.

I've already figured out how to make up for this spending spree: I will skip my next trip to Nailz Bizarre and treat myself to an "at home" pedicure. Of course I wasn't planning on going to Nailz Bizarre again this summer, but we can just pretend I was and I'll be ahead $5, not including tip. I am so good!

I'm off to enjoy an afternoon of entertainment...$20 of entertainment to be exact. The book is dedicated to Colin Firth for crying out loud!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mental Note... not bare soul to David Bowie.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Tall Stack of Goodness

I was getting ready to blog about a list of Newbery possibilities I just read about at Fuse #8 when I saw Ethan getting ready to dig into his latest culinary quest: pancakes. I'm really happy that Ethan has taken an interest in learning to cook. He's already a decent omelet maker, and can do just about anything else egg-related at breakfast.

This week, when we were grocery shopping, Ethan requested pancake mix and announced he was ready to start learning how to make them by himself. Yesterday morning I helped him get the basics down (a.k.a. "Adding Water 101") and today Ethan took on the task himself. You can see the results of his efforts.

As I was checking my e-mail, reading some headlines, and browsing my favorite blogs while Ethan handled the breakfast crowd, I thought I might just be ready to turn the task over to him permanently.

Back to my original purpose for today's blog: Check out this list of Newbery "maybes" hand picked by my favorite children's librarian, Elizabeth Bird of the Donnell Central Children's Room of the New York Public Library system. Each of these books could be great to pass on to your reading aged kids or to read aloud with them. If you are like me, maybe you just want to read them yourself. Like the pancakes, this list of books is also a "tall stack of goodness."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Make Time to Procrastinate

One day, while I was blog-surfing, I ran into a blog who’s author described himself as an amateur “crastinator” who recently turned “pro-crastinator.”

Well, today I turned pro too. I have a weighty list of things I should be doing, could be doing, but am not. Just off the top of my head, there are 8 major things I’m procrastinating right now. A few of these carefully avoided tasks include writing an article for, responding to the beep of my bread machine and its well-risen contents, and figuring out where my kids are, although I suspect they are playing with the new boy who moved into the neighborhood last week and whose mom is probably still trying to unpack boxes. I’m sure having 3 extra boys in her house is doing wonders for her productivity.

Instead of doing any of those things (and the beeper on the bread machine just beeped at me again…) I decided to watch the last episode of “Clark and Michael,” a strangely amusing internet series staring Michael Cera (formerly of the critically acclaimed but unfortunately under-viewed Fox series “Arrested Development”) and Clark Duke (current co-star of the internet series “Clark and Michael.”)

A while back, 11 minute episodes of “Clark and Michael” started appearing at each Wednesday. All 10 episodes have been posted now, so you don’t have to wither away with anticipation waiting for the story to progress. (Trust me, the story does progress.)

So, if you need to procrastinate, but are just an amateur crastinator and require a little help coming up with something to do besides what you should be doing, take my “pro” suggestion and click on over to and check out their obscure brand of comedy.
*Disclaimer-Clarke has a foul mouth and the people who sychronize the "beeps" don't always get it right.