Friday, December 30, 2011

Statement of Disbelief Regarding My Progeny*

Yesterday was Ethan's birthday and here are the things he got to do:
  • Have a special breakfast made by Dad
  • Go to Burgerville for lunch and have a pepper bacon, Tillamook cheese burger with fries and a chocolate shake.
  • Go bowling with Dad
  • Go out for sushi with Mom
  • Have birthday cake
  • Stay up late

It's true. It's hard for me to understand how I can have a fourteen year old son when we were just bringing him home from the hospital yesterday. I remember that Ethan was born close to 9pm and I thought how wonderful it was that I would be able to go to sleep around 11 by the time everything got tidied. I figured I'd have a fabulous night's sleep now that my big belly was gone. Then the nurse said, before turning out the lights, that she would come in and wake me around 2am. 


I couldn't understand why in the world she would wake me up at that awful hour. When I was sleeping! 

And then I figured it out. Oh, right. The baby.

And today that "baby" went bowling (again) and stunned us all with his trick shot, backwards, through the legs strike! He invited friends and we used a Groupon and had lunch and frosted cookies (instead of cupcakes because the store was sold out of cupcakes at 9pm last night) and soda and three games of bowling and time in the arcade afterwards. 

I'm glad Ethan has such a great group of friends. 

*Title inspired by this video

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2012*

We had a super excellent Christmas. Everyone was happy until the day after Christmas when the boys went to Game Stop to spend a little Christmas money on buy-two-get-one games and got in a big argument over money and other stupid stuff.

But Christmas day was lovely in every way.

*I mean 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Ideas From Pinterest

Here are a couple other things I've been working on from Pinterest. Just so you know, my New Year's resolution is to give Pinterest up cold turkey. I just can't afford to keep looking.

The Pinterest Idea: Hand stitch your route from a recent trip on a map and frame it.

The Real Life Result: My map was way more colorful than the Pinterest example and the red stitching is barely visible to the naked eye. Even the guy who helped me frame it and who was handling it with his, like, hands didn't notice the stitching until I pointed it out. In his defense he quickly recovered by saying the red dotted line just looked like part of the map. Okay.

The Pinterest Idea: Make a cute collage of photos and items on an empty wall.

The Real Life Result: I think I did pretty good with this one. I even used another Pinterest-found trick which was to use taped-together pieces of waxed paper to create a hanging template. Simply lay your giant piece of waxed paper over your frames (lay them out on the floor the way you want them on the wall), make little marks where the nails should go, then tape the waxed paper to the wall and nail right through it. Don't forget to rip the waxed paper template off the wall in dramatic fashion and wad it up in a giant, waxy ball. 

I do have a few issues with my wall arrangement (the missing 4x4 picture on the top row, for starters) but I realize no one cares, so I'll just shut up.

The Pinterest Idea: Create a low floral arrangement on a buffet or sideboard with matching lamps and a mirror (or flat screen TV)

The Real Life Result: (Poinsettias pending) I could not find a low, long box to save my life, so opted for 3 low, short boxes. I found a close-enough-matching lamp for $7 at Goodwill (I'd been looking for months thank you very much) and decided to hang a picture of the Savior in front of the mirror. This was me going rogue and not a Pinterest idea. I don't know if this type of thing is "done" but I like it. I've seen people do it with wreaths and I feel it has some seasonal significance, that as we look in the mirror we see the Savior and can "reflect" on how we are living our lives in His service, or something like that. 

There's just one, small problem.

I broke the mirror when I went to rehang it. I know I look calm taking the photo, but trust me. I was devastated. Then I was sick to my stomach, depressed, angry, and then just sad. I really liked this mirror. And I really liked my idea to put the picture of the Savior in front of it. And the bottom line is, it was completely my fault it broke. It was an accident, yes, but a preventable one. And I had a moment where knew I should have prevented it, but didn't. 


Friday, December 9, 2011

Big Bathroom Reveal

Before                                                           After

Goodwill frames, a can of spray paint, and some black and white photos of local stuff on the wall above the toilet. (No more lighthouses!)

Another view of the sink and mirror ($30 from Home Depot!)

I am happy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pinterest Wins and Losses

Have you heard of the latest internet time-waster Pinterest? When you find something you like on the internet, you can "pin" it to one of your pin boards on your Pinterest file and then it's saved for later when you want to go back and try that cool thing you saw. When you link with friends, you can see what they like from the internet and repin their stuff, and so on and so forth until the garage door opens and your husband is home from work and you realize you have no idea what you're making for dinner.

See? Fun!

I've spent the last few months gathering good ideas on Pinterest and on several occasions, taken that next step and tried the good idea myself. Some of these ideas are winners while some are decidedly losers. Here is all the stuff I've done thanks to Pinterest.

Caramel Apple Cookies - in theory, a fabulous idea. In reality, I didn't care for the TEN WHOLE PACKETS of dry apple cider mix taste these cookies had. But Robert loved them. Also a slight turn-off is that these cookies need to be inverted almost immediately after coming out of the oven or the caramel oozes out. Finally, once the cookies have completely cooled, the caramel hardens and the cookies have to be re-warmed slightly to get the gooey effect going again.

Pretzel Cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips - Yum!  While they were kind of unwieldy to work with, I would double the recipe next time.

Brown Sugar Cookies with Maple Glaze - Meh. The kids didn't like them. I would have rather spent my time making ginger snaps or my favorite walnut cookies with maple frosting.

Photo Booth Props - Win! I was in charge of the photo booth for our ward's trunk or treat. These were easy and fun, even though they weren't the exact props I used. I found some printable ones online.

Crock Pot Sesame Ginger Chicken - This was a hit! Especially when I served it with chopsticks. A yummy Sunday dinner.

Candy Corn Jell-o Bundt - I would have written this review on my regular (or not-so-regular) "Jell-o Project" post, but I didn't get a good picture. The orange and yellow were hard to distinguish from each other until the Jell-o was cut into. I made these in individual molds and unfortunately poured in the lemon Jell-o first, which resulted in an upside down candy corn. Sad. But, the good news is that most everyone liked this Jell-o and many asked for seconds.

Painted Knife Block - This was simple and fun and was one more small detail to my summer kitchen makeover. 

Tentacled Hot Dogs - The boys liked preparing and eating this strange looking lunch a couple times. A win!

Chicken Enchiladas - These claimed to be the best chicken enchiladas ever. I didn't think so. They were fine, but I had to make my own enchilada sauce for this one. Not going to do that again.

Totally Awesome Bathroom - This one turned out GREAT! (photos in a day or two)

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder - This was quick, easy and delicious. A win for me and Robert. (Who cares what the boys thought.) I ate this for lunches and left-overs till it was gone. Yum!

Light Saber Chop Sticks - I could not resist. These beauties will be in the boys stockings for Christmas.

Rocky Road Crock-Pot Cake - I'm a sucker for crock-pot cooking and while this cake was yummy, there were a lot of steps for something that just tasted like Hot Fudge Sundae cake

Double Chocolate Cookies with Peppermint Patty Surprise - Technically, I have not made these cookies. I bought a bag of peppermint patties and thought, do I really want a cookie wrapped around my peppermint patty? The answer was no, so I just ate the peppermint patties.

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken - This was easy and yummy, but I'm not really creative when it comes to food, so I wasn't sure how or what to serve it with. It made quite a bit, so for our first meal I put out tortillas and fillings for soft tacos. The next night I used the chicken for salads. The third night I finally got it right and added it to tortilla soup.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Have Toilet!

Yesterday we bought a nice new toilet with the help of our plumber friend. It's a Kohler and is not eligible for the $75 refund from our water company. But it's pretty and it works! Although no one has tested it out yet because Robert wants to wait a day or so to see if there are leaks before sealing it. The boys are super excited to try it out though.

Robert started to instal our $30 sink, but found he would need different tool to get the bolts into the wall. But the pedestal is secured to the floor, and the plumbing is sort of in place, so we are moving right along.

But, things can't go too smoothly. This faucet is our small bump in the road. Remember the picture I showed of the small missing cap on the hot water handle? I got through to Pfister who was so helpful and tried to identify my faucet and finally said it was not a Price Pfister. 


So I sent the customer service rep the above picture which totally and completely confounded him. He says Price Pfister does not stamp their name on the back of faucets. So maybe we have a knock off?

The matter is being discussed with more seasoned Price Pfister employees and my customer service guy will get back to me.  

So! The plot thickens. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Epic Fail

Every single morning, I give my kids cold cereal. And every once in a while I kind of feel bad about that. So last night I made this breakfast casserole. It cooked all night and the delicious smell actually got me out of bed this morning. I ate and loved it. Yum!

Then I got the kids up and gave it to them.

They hated it. Every single one of them. Each took one bite and then poured themselves a bowl of Berry Colossal Crunch.

This breakfast casserole contains 2 pounds of shredded potatoes and a dozen eggs, among other things. And that's it. They don't like it at all.

"Well," Ethan said, "I guess you'll just have to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 5 days."

Kids! You can't beat 'em. (No, you really can't. Child protective services will come.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bathroom Diaries

Look at my pretty bathroom! The wainscoting needs one more coat of paint (hopefully, because that's all the paint I have left), and a coat of clear coat varnish and then, I think, it is time to put in the toilet.


We took the Flow Wise, Cadet 3 toilet back to Home Depot. We had toilet remorse after purchasing the it based solely on the recommendation of the Home Depot employee and not on Consumer Reports, Amazon reviews, and several other on-line toilet authorities. And when I say "we," I mean Robert. Which is fine. 

Remember how I told you about the sweet sink deal we found at the ReBuliding Center? Well, here's the spiffy faucet that came right on it. As you can see, it's missing a part--a little cap that covers the screw on the "hot" handle. But the good news is we can buy replacement parts. Also good, is that it's a very minor, cosmetic-type part, (This is me looking on the bright side) and will not affect our use of the sink in any way. Hopefully.

I'm in the process of submitting a query to a replacement parts outfit and hopefully they can help make my faucet whole again. 

I think I'm going to buy towels on Black Friday. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rain: Our Damp Friend (A Primer)

In Portland every year about this time, it starts to rain. And it doesn't stop until May. Oh sure, we might have a day here and there where it doesn't rain. And even one or two where the sun pops through the clouds and and we glimpse the blue sky. But more often than not, when you go outside, it will be raining.

And when there's rain, there will be people complaining about rain. I'm all for complaining about rain. But let's pace ourselves people. We've got a few months of this weather ahead of us. Save the whining for Easter morning, when the egg hunt is moved indoors. Or Spring Break, when you're freezing and drenched on the beach. Or on Memorial Day when you're grilling steak under an umbrella.

We have plenty of time to complain. Now is the time to embrace the rain. After all, rain is our thing. We're the ones who can stick it out at Disneyland during a drizzle when everyone else runs for cover. We don't let rain stop us. We exercise in the rain, shop in the rain and garden in the rain. We own rain.

If you are new to Portland, or new to rain, or are simply ready to file a formal complaint with Mother Nature, here are a few tips to help you have a rain paradigm shift.

Accessorize for it       
Start your new love affair with rain with an awesome umbrella. Do not use a black, boring umbrella. This is the first rain-relationship mistake. How are you supposed to use an ugly umbrella without getting depressed? Go find yourself a unique, exciting, totally-you umbrella. Something like this little lady to the right. Cute, isn't she? I have a Monet umbrella. It cost a little more than the ugly black one, but every time I get to use it is a treat.   

Rain boots are another must-have accessory for the rainy season. Let's face it. Most of us aren't going to be trudging through puddles all day, but a cute pair of rain boots are still acceptable and fun rain accessories.
You can't get away with wearing something like this any old time. No. It needs to be wet, or people will think you're weird. (Which, as it happens, is a-okay in Portland, but that's a whole other post.)

You can head over to Fred Meyer and pick up some groovy boots for a few bucks, or you can look around online and find something truly amazing. Something that is going to make you start wishing it would rain.

That's the kind of boot we're looking for.

Name it
It is said that Eskimos have over 500 words for snow.* Well, Portlanders have a lot of words for rain. There's showers, drizzle, freezing rain, mist, heavy mist, sprinkles, slurry, wintry mix, slush. I could go on ** but you get the idea. Listen to the weather forecast on the nightly news and see if you can understand what kind of rain they're talking about. Or, you could amuse yourself with how the weatherman jazzes up the same forecast from the last 4 weeks to make it sound like something new. It's fun. Try it.

Go out in it
Don't be afraid. It's just water. It dries. And no one's paying attention to your hair cause we're all focused on our own dreadful messes. Pull on those boots and grab that umbrella and go to the zoo. There's never a better time to go than when it rains. It's like you have the whole place to yourself. Or, go downtown, or to the grocery store. Wherever you want. Don't stop living your life because of a little water.

Listen to it
One morning, lay in bed all cozied up in your covers, and listen to the rain. It's amazing. People buy machines that make this noise and we get it for free. For. Free! Enjoy it. Relax.

Watch it
Have you ever watched the rain pouring down? Bouncing off the street? Rushing down the gutters? Sheeting off roofs? Dripping down windows? Making endless circles in a pond? Beading up on a bare branch? Soaking a crazy runner? Rooster-tailing off the tires of a car as it drives down the street? Come on. What are you waiting for?

Justify it
Rain is better than snow because you don't have to shovel it. It doesn't pile up. And if it's raining, you know it's at least 33 degrees, which means it's not freezing, which means it's warm. (I understand 33 is considered shorts weather in places like Alaska and Minnesota.) Rain doesn't hang around and turn brown and grey like snow. It cleans things. It smells good. It turns things green instead of killing them.

I'm sure you could come up with a few more reasons why rain is awesome. If you try.

Don't fight the rain. Welcome the rain. Soon you might even find yourself complaining when the sun actually does appear, bouncing light off the wet pavement directly into your eyes, temporarily blinding you until you rummage through the glove box and find your sunglasses.

Oh, who am I kidding. You're never going to find your sunglasses.

Welcome to Portland. Welcome to rain.

*I just made this up.
** No I couldn't.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Moving Right Along

Tuesday night Robert and I went toilet shopping. The good news is that our water company has a $75 rebate for new toilets that have "flow wise" water saving features. The better news is that I learned toilets have cool names like "Memoirs," and "Town Square." Can you imagine the inspiration that would come from sitting on a toilet called "Memoirs?" Or the confidence that a "Town Square" toilet might spark?

The best news, however, was that our new toilet has dual flush, so you can customize your flush to your--how do I say this delicately--output. (The flush buttons are labeled 1 and 2.)

Wednesday morning we went over to Linoleum City across the river to see about some flooring. We decided against tile because of number of materials, time and effort required. I had my heart set on Marmoleum, which is a natural, sustainable flooring product. But that's not why I like it. (Although I will wear the green badge proudly--as all Portlanders do. And hopefully it will offset the fact that I throw away plastic grocery bags).

Anyway, I wanted Marmoleum for much more than altruistic reasons. I like the way it looks. It doesn't have pits and grooves like many linoleums do. It isn't pretending poorly to look like tile or some other surface, and it's solid color all the way through. There is a yellow sheen to it which makes it seem taupe, but it's going to be grey. The sheen is supposed to go away after a few days.

After sticker shock at the flooring store, we headed over to the ReBuilding Center a non-profit which accepts and sells used building and remodeling materials. We were able to bring our 90's-tastic bathroom stuff, like the movie star dressing room light strip, towel bars, sink and vanity and drop them off. Then we went inside and found a white pedestal sink with a brushed nickel Price Pfister faucet for $30.

The ReBuilding Center, by the way, is a place I could spend a lot more time in. Robert too. What a find.

I've got the moulding painted and the bead board is ready to go. I might do that today, but I know that Robert really, really wants to make the cuts so it gets done right. And he's at work today.

I just really want to get it done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I painted the walls of our little bathroom, then installed the new light fixture. Then I switched on the power and noticed what a sub-standard job I'd done painting. And it's two coats! How could I not have good coverage? I was careful, I was thorough. I've gone through two quarts of paint when I only planned for one.

Here's a picture of the bathroom with the light off so you can see how 21st century the light fixture looks. 

The next step is the floor. I am currently exploring the cost/time commitment of tile vs. linoleum. Hopefully I can get started on it tomorrow.

Then wainscoting, moulding, sink, toilet, mirror, new towels, black and white photos in coordinating frames and DONE!

In Which I Second Guess the Two LEGO Kits I Have Stashed Under the Bed

Jonah's Christmas List
(Because I will probably lose the actual list at some point in the next six weeks.)

Dear Santa,
I want the following items 

1. a surprize
2. a hex bug kit
3. a tin (of Pokemon cards)
4. remote control Beyblade

In stocking I want
1. a hex bug
2. Pokemon pack
3. anything small

p.s. 2, 3 and 4 will cost >$4
p.s. Go to Target

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Having That Conversation

I've been horrified this week as the news out of Penn State has developed. Horrified, disgusted, and then terrified. Mr. Sandusky is just one who got caught. I'm fully aware there are others like him still preying on, and destroying the innocence of young children. I want, more than anything, to protect my children from men like Sandusky.

So, yesterday while we were driving home from Chuck E. Cheese, I turned off the radio and decided to have a conversation with my three boys. They were strapped in, we were driving on the freeway, there was no place for them to go.

I wasn't sure how to start, so I asked them about their trips to public restrooms.

"Has anyone ever tried to talk to you while you were in a public bathroom?" I usually stand at the door and tell them to yell super loud if anyone makes them uncomfortable and assure them I will run in to help immediately. So I was pretty sure I knew the answer to this question.

"No," they all assured me. So I got more specific.

"No one has ever tried to get you to go into a stall with them, or anything like that?"

"No!" they said again. "Of course not."

I kept going. "You know that it's okay to tell a grown up 'no' if they are asking you to do things that are wrong, or things that make you uncomfortable. No one should ever touch you in places that are covered by a bathing suit. And you can always tell me anything that you feel weird about. I will always help you."

"Okay," they said.

"Sometimes a grown up will make you feel uncomfortable and you might not know why. They don't even have to do or say anything. You just might not like being around them. And that's okay too."

"Yeah, I've felt that way before," Jonah said.

This was it! I'd ferreted out the information that would protect my boys! "Really?" I said. "Who makes you feel uncomfortable?"

"Midgets," Jonah said.

"That one in Taco Bell?" Isaac asked.

"Yeah. That was weird."

So we're in the clear as far as sexual predators go, but maybe need to work a bit on height bias.

Thank goodness.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Yesterday the kids didn't have school so I told them they could tear apart the bathroom if they wanted. Yes, it was a little impulsive, but I figured I wanted to get this bathroom into the 21st century, so I might as well get started. Right? I mean, the century is NOT getting any younger. And, if we took out the moulding and floor, we'd be committed to the project.

And here, I should mention that Robert was not aware the bathroom remodel had moved from the idea stage to the green-light stage. Thank goodness he came home during book group and was able to have an hour to formulate his reaction, which was first perfect, then less perfect, and finally perfect again.

Jonah was happy to pull off the moulding and linoleum, Isaac hauled it all to the trash, and Ethan helped remove the tile backsplash.

I started edging with my new grey paint, even though the walls still had a lot more prep to go through before they were paint-ready. For one, the giant mirror has to come off. But I soon realized that when the mirror comes off, so will some of the wall. Which will require drywall replacement, which will require me to purchase drywall, and some tools and supplies I don't have. Most importantly and most improbable, it will require me to match up wall texture. 

Ugh. This is hard.

The tile backsplash had fused to the wall and may also require drywall repair. But I'm thinking I can just cover that up with a little bead board and moulding.

At any rate, there's no going back now.

Finally, my latest obsession with this bathroom is the fact that when we put in tile, we will also have to adjust that ring around the base of the toilet and I don't know how to do that. Do we leave it where it is and tile around it? Or do we pull it up, tile, then screw it into the tile?

For this reason, I'm considering marmoleum. It would be easy to clean.