Monday, June 30, 2008


Isn't he the cutest little robot ever?

We took the girls to see Wall-E on Saturday and it was hands-down a winner! Chris and I are in agreement that Pixar totally outdid themselves on this one. Ellie had a bit of a hard time, but it wasn't that she didn't like the movie. She just sat through the half-hour of previews for incredibly stupid movies (Beverly Hills Chihuahua? Seriously, how stupid can you get?), anxiously awaiting the chance to "see the Wall-E show", and by the time it actually started her little two-year-old self was finished sitting still. I had to take her potty 4 times during the movie (lucky me, sitting on the end - I think Chris planned that!) To her credit, she actually went potty all four times, but it about drove me crazy. Despite all that, though, she keeps asking when we can watch it again.

There's not much dialogue - in fact, in the first hour it's mostly just music and robot beeps. But you don't need dialogue when the images on the screen are so entertaining. And the great thing about movies like this is that it's great for all ages. Chris and I would have enjoyed this on our own just as much (and uninterrupted) as we did with the kids. We reccommend it to everyone!

Train update

We've learned that the reason for the derailment was that a wheel on one of the cars was loose and chose the moment the train zipped past our house to fall off. At least no one was hurt (did I say that before? It was a lumber train, so no hazardous chemicals, no animals, and no people. Even the engineer was unscathed - scared to death, I'm sure, but unharmed)

I feel like I'm living in a construction zone this morning. Oh, wait, I am! They worked clear through the night Thursday and Friday nights and had the train moved out of the way by Saturday morning. I have no idea what they've been doing since then, but our street is still closed to thru traffic and there's all kinds of construction noises outside today. I'm wondering if they have to repair some of the track - I imagine it got pretty scraped up in the whole derailment process. So we don't have the noise of traffic or trains, but I'm not sure I enjoy the trade-off anymore. Hopefully things will be back to normal in a couple of days.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A timely purchase

Back when I was pregnant with Ellie and we'd just moved into our house, I had a recurring nightmare. Those of you who've been to our house know how close we live to the train tracks - they're almost right across the street (picture a T, with the train tracks running parallel to the top of the T and our house two houses in on the upright part). Anyway, my nightmare was that a train would derail, slide across the road and block our access out. Then I would go into labor and have to give birth at home with no epidural. The idea freaked me out to no end, even though Chris assured me over and over that that could never, ever happen.

Forget about the train for a minute, though. I have to tell you about our awesome new ride.

Vicki has been getting too big for her bike for a while now, so the weekend before last Chris and I took her out and bought her and me new bikes. Mine has been hanging in the garage for 3 years gathering dust and in serious need of repair and I haven't actually ridden it in nearly 10 years. Sad but true. So we came home with new bikes for both of us (plus way cool helmets). Then yesterday the girls and I went out and bought a trailer so that Lexi, who inherited Vicki's old bike but isn't very secure on it yet, and Ellie could be hauled around by moi. We wanted to be able to get to our garden, which is about 10 blocks away, and swimming lessons, about 12 blocks, without wasting gas. Plus, now we feel like true Portlanders.

Here's Vicki's beautiful bike:

And our awesome trailer (I was trying to force the girls to look straight into the sun to smile for the picture, but they would have none of it): And here's a shot of me on my new bike. Vicki insisted that if I was going to have pictures of her and her sisters then we needed one of me, too. I was telling her to hurry up and take it so I could turn, hence the slightly bucktoothed appearance.
We took a test ride to the garden yesterday. It's downhill the first four blocks and then relatively flat the rest of the way, so it was a piece of cake. Riding home, however...not so much. We made it, though. We stopped to rest a few times, but we made it. And we decided to ride to swimming this morning.

Turns out that that was an excellent plan, because I'm not sure we would have been able to get there in the car.

Just after 7:00 this morning Ellie came and climbed into bed with me. We were snuggling and talking about how Mommy was going to have to get up and take a shower in just a minute when we heard the train go by outside. Remember, the tracks are just up the street, so we've gotten used to the trains and hardly notice them anymore. We certainly don't pay any particular attention to them. Well, this particular train seemed awfully loud. Then the house started shaking. Sometimes we can feel a little bit of vibration, but nothing major. This was major. The candles in the niche on our headboard were shaking and clinking together. The windows were rattling. I was convinced I was experiencing my first ever earthquake.

Nope. Not and earthquake.

Just a train derailment.

Talk about drama. Our neighborhood has never seen such excitement. People are out on the street (which is okay because cars are being rerouted) with cameras, discussing how it felt and where they were, etc. etc.

We left for swimming lessons at 8:40 and had to ride through the police blockade, which of course was okay because we were on bikes. We attracted the attention of a news crew - how could we not, with our getup? - and will most likely be on TV at some point today.

Here's what the train looks like from the top of our street:

You can't really tell from the picture, but it's leaning WAY over. In the slideshow that I linked to down at the bottom, you can see where the cars tipped over and where they're standing up. If you followed the standing up cars about 75 yards you'd be right in front of our house. Yeah, kinda scary.

This is the view down the street (I walked across the street to get this shot, but again, no cars, no big deal). Those are a combination of rescue vehicles, police cars, and fire trucks, plus several news vans. If you look closely to the right of the blue and white water tower you can see a huge antenna. Channel 6 is getting some good shots, apparently.

There weren't this many cars when we left for swimming, and coming home we practically had a police escort just to get to our house. Why, I'm not sure, since there's not actually anything happening at that particular spot on the tracks, and the train is leaning the other way, but oh well. Something to blog about!

So yeah, it's been a pretty crazy morning.

Check out this news story and the accompanying slide show for more details.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's all happening at the zoo!

As a thank you gift for babysitting their daughter during the school year, our friends (and Vicki's former/Lexi's new teacher) gave us a membership to the zoo! I had mentioned at some point that we were planning on getting one, and so they hurried out and did it for us before we had the chance. I feel slightly guilty accepting it, because honestly all I did a couple of days a week was feed Violet breakfast and then put her down for an amazing 4 hour nap before giving her lunch and hauling her to the school to pick up the big girls. By the time we got home it was usually only a half hour, at the most, before her mom came to pick her up. So I feel like I didn't really do all that much, but they ignored my protests and insisted we enjoy the gift. Thank you Brian, Christa, and Violet!!!

So yesterday the girls and I rode MAX to the zoo (it goes right to the entrance - love it!) and activated our membership. We love riding the train. Ellie loves to sit in the "grown up girl" seats with Lexi, but Vicki prefers to stand for the whole ride.

We measured our wingspans and discovered that we come closest to the peregrine falcon. Ellie was not just measuring, but flapping her wings.
In keeping with the bird theme, we watched the bird show for the first time ever while we ate lunch. It was pretty cool, although two of the birds seemed to decide that they had their own agenda for the show. The turkey falcon thought he would walk among the crowd for a while, hoping for snacks no doubt, before the trainers convinced him to fly up to his perch. During his little jaunt, the trainer on the stage kept saying things like, "Folks, if the bird comes near you please keep your children away and make no sudden moves" while Darth Vader's theme played in the background.

The bald eagle, who apparently has some vision issues, also wasn't cooperating as normal and took a while to make up his mind to fly to the stage. I got this awesome shot of him after the show. I kept expecting him to turn to the crown milling around the base of the stage and announce, "You are all weirdos!"
After the bird show we decided to see some of the animals. Ellie was the only one who had any clear desire to see any particular animals, so we just followed her lead. She was really excited to see the "hippobapotomus", so that's where we went first. And we saw not only one, but two hippobapotomuses (hippobapotomusi?), although one of them was really more of a hippo-bottomus. Then we moved along to the "effalunts".
After the effalunts we went to the petting zoo where all three girls petted the goats. Unfortunately, I was stuck holding the sno cones, so I didn't get any pictures. There's a tractor by the petting zoo that the kids love to play on, and there happens to be three seats in front of it, so I couldn't resist a sister shot. See the front of Ellie's shirt? It was totally blue before the sno cones.
Mmmmmm...artificial flavor and color that will never, ever come out!
This is my favorite shot of the day. Lexi's sno cone was blue.

Look what we got!!!

It even has headphones, which means I only hear "Do-re-mi" half as often as I would otherwise!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Swimming lessons

We enrolled all three girls in swimming lessons this summer at the high school. Vicki and Lexi did it two summers ago and had a blast, but we haven't really had the money for it again until now. We like it there because it's really individualized. They're taught in groups, but as soon as a kid masters the skills required they can progress to the next level. Vicki started out in Level 3 and Lexi in Level 2, but after two lessons Lexi moved up to 3 with her sister! For about 10 minutes, until Vicki moved up to 4! Way to go, girls!!!

I took this picture right after Lexi joined Vicki's class.
They warned me when I signed the girls up that, because Ellie was only 2, if she had a hard time they'd have to kick her out. But she absolutely loves it. Of course, you can't tell that from the picture, but my battery died before I could get a shot of her in the water.
Lessons are four days a week in two-week sessions, but we signed them up for three sessions. The morning of our second lesson, when I told Ellie it was time to get ready for swimming, her eyes got really big and she said, "Again?!" She figured it was just a one-time thing, I guess, but she's so excited to swim every day, and she loves her teachers and plays swimming lessons with her stuffed animals. So fun.

Brownie trip to Seaside

After our Brownie troop sold an insane number of cookies this year (the grand total was 1630 boxes - our troop gets $.60 per box, do the math), we gave the girls a few options for how they could spend the money. Last year we went to Build-a-Bear, but since they sold considerably more cookies this year, we figured they'd like to do something a little bigger. They voted unanimously for a trip to the Girl Scout cabin at Seaside, which is a great little tourist beach town on the coast. After waiting anxiously for two months we finally went this week!

Because we had so much money left over, we got to do just about everything there is to do in Seaside. No joke. We rented a surrey (which we all just referred to as "one of those bike thingys"). As it turns out, 7- and 8-year-olds aren't actually tall enough to help pedal those things much, so my co-leader Erica and I did most of the work, but the girls tried to help where they could. At one point we decided to get out and let a few of the girls take turns driving for a while. It was hilarious. Vicki especially drove like she'd had a few too many - all over the road. Luckily we were in a residential area, so no harm done, although the neighbors may not have enjoyed the screaming and hysterical laughter.
We also rode the bumper boats, the tilt-a-whirl, and the bumper cars. The bumper boats were by far the favorite, and the tilt-a-whirl was really fun the first time around, but the majority of the girls agreed that the second time was a little much. Luckily it was right before lunch, so no harm done. We spent some time playing on the beach, and the girls brought home lots of shells and pockets full of sand for their mothers to enjoy washing.

After a full day of fun in town we headed back to the cabin for dinner, and then across the street to the community pool for a swim. Before bed we made s'mores in the fireplace (the firepit we were told would be behind the cabin was nowhere to be found). What's a Girl Scout sleepover without s'mores? We discovered there are two groups of s'mores makers: those who like their marshmallows lightly toasted, and those who like their marshmallows crispy and blackened. Vicki is in the latter group. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll see that hers is, in fact, on fire. The next morning we cooked "heart attack" in the Dutch oven for breakfast (by "we", I mean me) and then headed over to the Seaside Aquarium, where $1 will buy you a tray of fish heads to feed the seals. Gross, but fun. The aquarium is tiny, but there are several tanks of fish, some really cool starfish, an octopus, and a couple of touch tanks. The girls loved tickling the sea anenomes (I'm not sure the anenomes enjoyed it much, though), and Vicki in particular loved playing with the hermit crabs.
We also enjoyed ice cream cones, salt water taffy, and elephant ears. Right before we left to drive home we rode the carousel. The girls had a fabulous time and have already decided that we need to go back again, we leaders agreed that it was the most fun we'd had on a Girl Scout trip, and, best of all, despite everything we did, there's still enough money in the account for a swimming party later on in the summer! Yay Brownies!!!

Shake your boogie!

You don't really get the full effect from the picture, but Ellie dancing is quite a sight to behold. I just had to share.

Graduation Girl!

Lexi's kindergarten graduation was on Friday (the 13th!) morning. She was so excited because they got to wear the "graduation hats" and her teacher told the kids they could dress up if they wanted to. I knew what she was going to pick to wear as soon as she told me that, and sure enough, she picked her puffiest, frilliest, fanciest dress, last year's Easter dress, which still fits her and which I've never allowed her to wear to school because it's so big and fluffy. But for something as special as Kindergarten Graduation, how could I say no? It was a fun morning, made even more special by the fact that several of us parents presented a gift of a rocking chair to Lexi's teacher. It was her first year teaching and she spent the entire year sitting in a little kid chair or on the floor. Not that there's anything wrong with getting down to the kids' level, but she needed a good teacher chair. She loved it, especially the plaque on the back that said, "With love and appreciation from your first kindergarten class, (school's name), 2007-2008"

Because I spent the whole morning at the school, I was able to reserve prime seats for the graduation, which is good because pictures taken in the school gym never turn out good if you're more than 10 feet from the front. Here's Lexi walking in, to the tune of (of course!) "Pomp and Circumstance":

They sang three adorable songs, including, "Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen" (to the tune of "Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes"), which they sang over and over, leaving out a new word each time and humming in its place. As in, "Hmmm, hm-hmm, abdomen, abdomen" and so on. Here's a shot of the humming. I like Lexi's face (she's back row, center):
I love this picture of her waiting to get her diploma. She was second to the last and had to wait while every kid in all three kindergarten classes had their turn. If you look closely you can see her foot tapping with impatience:
Here's Lexi with her teacher. Lexi cried when she said goodbye after school that day. We loved her, too, and would be so sad not to have her for 1st grade, except that Lexi will have Vicki's 1st grade teacher, who we also love (and whose daughter I babysit three days a week!)


In Vicki's class this year they studied the Portland bridges, of which there are many. They learned the names of the 10 bridges that cross the Willamette River within Portland city limits (yep, 10!) and learned what type of bridge they all are. They even took a field trip to the bridges, riding MAX (the light rail) into town and then walking across the Steel Bridge, down the waterfront to the Hawthorne Bridge, and back across and up to the MAX station to ride back to school (I love that they used public transport - they did that on their zoo field trip too! Saves on gas and teaches the kids to be less reliant on cars.) Then each kid chose a bridge and built a model of it out of cardboard and popsicle sticks. Vicki built the Marquam Bridge, which in our family we've always referred to as "the double-decker bridge". Here she is with her model, complete with Hot Wheels cars:

And just in case anyone wanted to compare, here's what the Marquam Bridge actually looks like:
Yeah, it's kind of hard to see, but she did a really good job keeping it realistic!

The other bridge event in our family recently was Lexi's bridging from Daisy Girl Scouts to Brownies. We had a little ceremony for the girls where they crossed a bridge and received their Brownie uniform on the other side, and we had Vicki's Brownie troop help us out. The Daisies all felt really important, and Lexi loves the fact that she's now a Brownie, just like here sister!


It really hasn't been all that long since I last posted, but man has it been crazy around here! I have a ton to blog about, but rather than do one insanely long post and cram everything in, I think I'll do a whole bunch of them and try to keep things in (sort of) chronological order. Hang on tight!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Update on the boyfriend

So I met Forrest today. He's a cute boy, kind of short for my taste, but he has a very "in" shaggy haircut and an impish grin. I can see where the attraction lies.

Lexi said, "Mom, you have to come see someone!" He was hiding behind the door leading into the school. I asked Lexi who he was, and she pulled my head down until my ear was level with her mouth and whispered, "My boyfriend." aHA!

I told her he seemed like a nice boy and asked if she played with him at recess. Her answer? It's a secret. The fact that she has a boyfriend, however, is apparently not so secret anymore, since she was bragging to Vicki about him. Vicki couldn't care less. She has boy friends but not boyfriends.

I did manage to get out of her, finally, that at recess he hides while she looks for him. I asked her what happened when she found him, and she said then it was her turn to hide. Sounds like a pretty solid, sharing relationship, if a little secretive.

There's only one more day of school, so I'm afraid the relationship is doomed. But now there's time to teach her about cooties!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Look! It's us!

So you probably noticed the new picture in the sidebar. This weekend we did something we haven't done in a really long time. We got family pictures taken! I have been wanting to do this for years, but we've just kept putting it off. Here's the last family picture we took (and we did this one with our own camera and a timer while we were hiking):

Yeah, that was a while ago. I don't think Lexi was even 2 yet. Anyway, it was time. We went to Portrait Innovations, where they suck you in with a rediculously low package price (and no sitting fee) and then charge you extroardinarily high prices for any additional sheets you might want. And they take a LOT of pictures so you'll be tempted to buy more. We, of course, gave into temptation and bought the cheapest package that still got us the CD with all the pictures from our sitting. Not that it matters, because the resolution is so low we'd still have to take it back to them and pay loads for reprints, but oh, well. Now I can blog about it. Here are some of the pictures we didn't buy:
This one is really overexposed. I, in particular, have quite a glow about me.

I call this one "Thoughtful Ellie". She wasn't sure about the whole portrait experience. That, and she couldn't quite get why the photographer didn't want her to look at the camera.

In fact, this concept seemed to confuse all the girls. Lexi was trying so hard not to look at the camera that she just looks totally goofy in all the shots where they tried this.

Vicki has a hard time smiling on command and was forcing herself to giggle. I think she thought it would look more natural, but it just looks super cheesy. Which I love, but not necessarily for a picture I'd hang in the living room.

The girls wanted them to take a picture of just Mom and Dad, which they were of course more than happy to do. This one was taken right after the photographer asked how long it had been since we'd had portraits done of just the two of us, and before we could answer Vicki said, "Since like 1969!"

Monday, June 2, 2008

More tagging

Kara tagged me with this one.

List 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 goals, 3 current obsessions/collections, 3 random surprising facts about yourself. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names.

3 Joys: Chris, my girls, the Gospel

3 Fears: spiders, losing loved ones, being lonely (which is not the same as being alone!)

3 Goals: lose 10 lbs., finish college, travel to England (and the rest of Europe) with Chris

3 Current obsessions/collections: cooking from scratch, So You Think You Can Dance, Girl Scout patches (this is both an obsession and a collection)

3 Random surprising facts: My hair is currently about 1 inch long (this may or may not be a surprise, but it's probably still surprising) and I will never go back to long hair, I've just recently started thinking that it might be cool to be a nurse, and I cannot stand chalk. I don't even like to touch it. Those great big giant sticks of sidewalk chalk make my teeth hurt and turn me into a hand-washing OCD nut.

Okay, I hearby tag: Carrie, Angie, Emily, Nicola, and Rachel (that's what you get for admitting you read my blog!)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...