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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday musicals

The kids had some great muscial performances to share with us this year. We had to attend three evening concerts before Christmas. The first was Tatum's orchestra concert, followed by two evenings of their individual classes performing Christmas songs.

Tatum's choral concert was fairly traditional. Her class sang Beboppin' Santa Claus, Follow the Star and Winter Magic.

Rikard was a total ham in the front row (green shirt). He can't hold still so thankfully there was some dancing. During the sing-along, he started yawning as soon as the lights dimmed so the audience could follow the lyrics on the overhead. Do you wanna rock?

video

Before all the cute stuff began this was the scene from seats:
I just don't get some parents. No "excuse me." No attempt to kneel down. This mother wasn't the only one! Only a few of them displayed manners or any kind. It was a parade of parents with cameras and most of them were directing their children to stop singing and hold still for the photos or to wave or..... It completely disrupted the concert for a lot of other parents - not to mention those 3rd graders who already have a naturally short attention span. Thankfully it only took up the first song or two and then the parents settled down.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ace!

Tatum is in the middle of her first season playing this sport and having a great time. And, I'm having a great time watching her develop an interest in my favorite sport to watch and play.
I taught Tatum how to float an underhand serve and her serve has been difficult for other teams to return. She does well passing from the back row, but is a bit hesitant to return the ball while in the front row. She is afriad of getting tangled in the net.
The league is small, comprised of a handful of elementary schools and games are played one night a week, right after school. Many of the rules are modified. They can serve from 5 feet inside the service line, but must remain in the traditional service area. They only pass (bump)the ball. An individual player can only deliver 5 serves and then the team must rotate. Until all the players on the team can serve overhand serve, they all must serve underhand. Aggressive play at the net is discouraged because it is intimidating. We cheer for both teams equally.
I understand the ideas of fairness and wanting to encourage all the girls. However, I do not like the precidence it sets. In life there are losers and there are winners. Some must work hard, even struggle, to achieve goals, for some it comes naturally.There are people who take advantage of opportunities while others choose not to. Every person has a different set of abilities, interests and challenges. Why aren't we teaching our children that they can lose graciously and excell at another challenge or at the same challenge another day? Why are we turning our backs on opportunities to challenge children to be better, to improve themselves? Why are we teaching them that adequacy or being average is best?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hay, You!

With the snow visible on the mountains to the north and east (maybe there is some skiing in our future) we are preparing for winter. The order of the day was hay. So, while the kids learned to climb the big stacks...
...Rick packed a couple of tons onto the trailer and we headed for home. Where, of course, Rick had to unload it from the trailer and stack it in the shop. I helped a bit. I helped load the trailer with two tons the day before and drove it home (do you believe he trusted me with his truck and trailer?). Oh, I also wrote both checks. I'm good at that.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Slow commuting

Usually I hit the road headed to work and home, sharing the two-lane highway with fellow work- and home-bound people, a couple pick-up trucks filled with firewood and the occassional logging truck. Last week I shared the road - at a much slower pace - with a horse-drawn wagon.

The first time I passed the wagon we near the Idaho-Washington border near Newport, Wash. Two days later I passed him while he was *refueling* (photo above) near Riverside High School along Highway 2. A distance that usually take me about 25 minutes took him two days.
This weekend we found him camped at the local Big R store. We were all interested in knowing more about him and saw him on the news when we got home. You can learn more about him at www.leehorselogger.com.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly, uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
~Author unknown

Audrea Makenzie Holestine would have turned 12 today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mmmmm, salsa

It was a late night in the kitchen making salsa. I have spent a few years perfecting a salsa recipe that is just right for our needs.
This salsa contains tomatoes, onions, green and yellow bell pepper, banana peppers, garlic and jalepeno pepper. I usually make one batch that has habanero peppers. Spice it up! It is a fairly plain recipe, which makes it more versatile for cooking and enjoying straight out of the jar.

Most of this will get used straight out of the jar and onto chips or quesadillas. I usually add fresh cilantro. Sometimes I add avacado or shrimp just to change it up. I can also use this in recipes were I need to add other spices, herbs or seasonings without the salsa overpowering everything else. Like salsa baked chicken, Spanish rice or to spice up meatballs.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Coming of age

All day we were peppered with questions as Keeli tried to make sense of the birthday event. What time is my birthday? Where is my birthday? Who is making my birthday? How many minutes until my birthday?

Keeli turned 5 today. Over the years, we have attempted to make birthdays about a celebration of time with family and building memories together rather than the expectation of gifts. Hopefully someday, she has many happy memories of today.

Tatum and Keeli created a sidewalk chalk mural celebrating Keeli's momentus occassions and announcing the big event to the entire neighborhood.
A large portion of the afternoon was devoted to cake baking and decorating. Everyone had a hand in stacking layers, frosting and sprinkling. Some even volunteered to eat the left over frosting. We left the combustible stuff to dad and the fire suppression to the birthday girl. We opened two presents, including a birthday card packed with cash and tiny sea shells from Nana Linda, who is currently in the Bahamas. Amazingly two of the shells survived the USPS.
And, in case you forgot, it was Keeli's 5th birthday today. 5.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And, so it begins...

Bikes, helmets, backpacks, lunches and we were off! The kids are excited about returning to school. I spent my bike-ride to school today reminiscing about my 5th grade teacher Mr. Baerlocher and my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Farnam. They are mostly good memories - although there are a few funny stories that could never happen in a modern classroom without loss of job or criminal charges. My fondest memory of Mr. Baerlocher was his naming a "student of the week" and treating the students to dinner and activities (many of us chose a trip to the skating rink). Mrs. Farnam is known to generations of children for her vice like loving hugs and her preference for straight pins over staples.

Tatum is now in 5th grade. She knows several of her classmates and is pleased with the teacher she was assigned. There was a bit of a fashion dilemma this morning over which tennis shoes to wear with her jeans.
Of course our day wouldn't have been complete without another dash of drama! The nylon zipper on her lunchbox broke. There are a few broken zipper teeth and the pull is completely removed from 1/2 the zipper. It was a struggle (literally), but we managed to get the zipper to work for today.
Getting to Rikard's classroom was a challenge. First we had to stop and see his 2nd grade teacher and give her a big hug. He missed her all summer. Then it was back to roaming the halls and searching for his new classroom. We eventually found it.
Rikard is so excited to have a male teacher for 3rd grade. He claims his new teacher is the best teacher because he wears kids clothes, go to recess and eats peanut butter sandwiches. Hopefully he has some mad teaching skills (and a lot of patience) hiding under that kid-friendly facade!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pale Rider

It was pony rides for all at daycare. Keeli and her mount Smokey got along just fine.Keeli was telling us all week that she was going to take her pony around the block and see how fast it could run. She was a little disappointed that they just kept going around and around in a circle. She did keep him to a nice walking speed (lol). A couple of the kids were too afraid to ride and I don't blame them, they've never seen livestock up close and personal.Rikard helped with the photography for the first time. He captured a great expression on Keeli's face as the ponies started their walk, but notice his big fingers in the photo?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Puzzling Times

And, so the summer goes. This is the second puzzle Rick and Tatum have tackled in a week. The first was sea shells and star fish. This one is an American flag decorated with presidential campaign buttons. Not as easy to put together as you may think.It was educational for Tatum. She learned a lot about various modern politicians (from the 1960s-present) from both major parties. Rick learned to embrace his obsessive personality that continually strives for everything to be perfectly in its place.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cherries!

My father-in-law arrived with two flat boxes filled with cherries. One filled with Rainiers and the other with Bings, freshly picked that morning from the Yakima Valley.They made for challenging project of preserving them while simultaneously hosting company in my house, helping my sister and mom hold a yard sale in my yard and entertaining children.

My mom helped clean all the cherries. She rinsed and pulled stems while I searched through our storage for my canning supplies. We water bath canned most of the cherries in quart jars. I find the process of canning, especially when doing it with my mom relaxing and productive - productive in a way that is different from other housework or office work.
There were enough for 28 quart jars and 14 pint jars of cherries. I even did one jar with a mixture of the two. The Rainier cherries look stark against the deep red juice the Bing cherries make in the jar.
There is something very gratifying about seeing your shelves filled with the "fruits of your labor."
After a couple hours of canning, there were still more cherries left than we could possibly eat before they spoiled. So, into the dehydrator they went. I cut each cherry in half and removed the pit. They looked like tiny peaches or nectarines. They were treated with Fruit Fresh in hopes they would retain their color after drying.
And, they did! They look wonderful and taste wonderful.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Looff Carrousel

The Looff Caroussel at Riverfront Park turned 100 today. We got an early start on the day and participated in the celebration before the crowds gathered.The carrousel began operation on July 18, 1909, and all the original horses are still in use. There is a replacement goat, but he wasn't on the carrousel today. Tatum had to settle for a horse.I have fond memories of riding this carrousel. My grandparents let me ride several times during Expo '74. Grandma Mary took us to the carrousel, a tour of The Davenport and a movie at The Fox for Thanksgiving weekend amusement. I begin to wonder what it says about me that these things were mere amusement when I was a child, but now they are labeled historic or antique.
They all enjoyed the ride. Apparently this carrousel kicks it up a notch and goes "faster and smoother" than the carnival carrousels they have had the opportunity to sample. Everyone wants to go back - soon.

Of course, no carrousel ride would be complete without grabbing the brass ring. Today they are plastic. They don't hit the target as easily as the brass rings did. Happily we all got a brass ring with a commemorative card as a souvenir after the ride.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Holiday preparations

The lawn is mowed. I think it is wonderful that my children are growing up and wanting additional responsibilities. I can remember when new chores were fun, almost a right of passage. Tatum now earns an allowance for laundry, emptying the dishwasher and mowing the lawn (under the careful supervison of her father). She is VERY slow, careful and methodical.
Rikard decorated. We can't have our own fireworks within the city or county limits here so we have to improvise. When the time comes, we will find a nice place to view the city's fireworks display, but chalk images of grand displays on the sidewalk will have to do at home.
And, we are doing all this to prepare for our weekend guests - the invited and uninvited ones. This little guy is making our carport home.

My sister and mom plan to hold a yard sale at our hosue Friday and Saturday and Rick's dad and uncle are scheduled to visit for the weekend. It will be an exciting balancing act to keep everyone properly entertained.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our little man

Eight years ago...he entered our lives and changed them forever. Today he is entertaining, handsome, vibrant and challenging. He has the most creative though processes, doesn't let much deter him and always does things his way.

Monday, June 15, 2009

WARNING - self promoting post

Finally, a chance to talk - or brag - about myself. :-)

I walked through graduation this weekend, celebrating the near completion of a master's degree in communication studies. It was a gratifying experience, recognition for the time, effort and sacrifice it took to earn the degree.I asked Rick to take a photo of me with my parents. Somewhere there is a framed photo of the three of us celebrating my long-ago high school graduation. My mom has a photo of Rick, myself and the kids on her camera. I've learned to be patient.

I smuggled a camera in my gown and took photos of my classmates in the procession and while listening to speakers. If you look closely at the crowd you can pick out my fan club, my peeps. Rick, Tatum, Rikard, Keeli, Jim, Joyce, Kyle and Jessica all made the trek to watch this auspicious occassion.
All three of my children thought the ceremony had a lot of people talking for a long time, but overall they thought it was pretty good. There were a couple of speakers who should have been reigned in, like the one who reminded me to thank my high school counselor (whatever! like that would happen) and my residence hall advisor for helping me get to where I am today. That may have worked for the undergraduates, but not the crowd I was seated with.
Rikard wanted to wear the "smart hat." I look foward to the day when we can celebrate him wearing his own cap and gown. That should be in about 10 more years.Before he gets his accolades I will hopefully earn a doctoral degree. Keep your fingers crossed and hope I find a pot of gold to help pay tuition.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Drum roll please...

Our little Amadeus had a school performance recently. These are highlight photos from the 1st and 2nd grade spring music program, featuring the xylophone. Rikard and the other students were all very focused, very intent.
They had a special move in the middle of one of their pieces, called "click and spin." They clicked their batons together, quickly spun around in a circle and went right back to playing. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in intensity.
He wants to learn to play the drums and the electric guitar (like a rock star) before 5th grade when students here typically choose between band, choral or strings. I remember back in the day my brother practicing his trombone out in the barn because it was too much for the rest of us to bear in the house. I think we may be faced with a similar situation sooner than later.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Softball Superstar!

Tatum has been struggling at the plate this season. Last year she played in a league where the pitches were VERY consistent. A pitching machine was used and they came right down the middle and fast. This year the girls are learning to pitch and the balls come at all different speeds and heights.

This week Tatum had some good contact with the ball. She is still not swinging with all her might, but she is getting on base. This ball kind of just rolled off the bat...and down the first-base line. She was paying close enough attention to hurdle over the ball on her way to first.
She's also getting much more confident fielding. Typically she plays 2nd base and rotates to center field. With the help of some grandstand coaching from her parents - and others - she is getting into position correctly and learning to back up her teammates and stop the ball before it gets to the outfield. Like her brother, she enjoys the action of the infield much more than the outfield.She keeps hinting at wanting to pitch, but there have been few practices and no direct instruction on these skills. It may be something we have to work on during the off season to prepare for next year.

Hopefully she is getting some great lessons in teamwork, friendship and broadening her horizons while she plays. That is really what this league and this age should be all about.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baseball prodigy - NOT

After all our bragging last week about Rikard being a fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous) tee-ball player, we must hang our head in shame. Apparently he likes the action playing short stop, but gets a little bored waiting for the balls to make it to the outfield. Sadly he has found ways to entertain himself.
video

Please, laugh with us! I take all the blame for the shaky video, the tripod was not where Rick expected it to be. We are going to have some good times with his new video camera. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring = Baseball

Sunshine. Mild breeze. Freshly cut grass. Crack of the bat. It is Little League t-ball season for our little guy! Making the transition from outfield to short stop isn't easy for t-ballers. Rikard got some last-minute instruction on the "ready position" from his coach Saturday afternoon.
It was some timely instruction. Rikard flawlessly fielded the first ball that came his direction...
and made the throw to 1st base.
Then it was time for everyone's favorite part of the game, returning to the dug out for a cool drink and a chance to hit the ball.
Rikard is pretty proficient at batting. He really takes his time in the batting cages seriously and makes sure he uses his own bat all the time so his swing is the same every time. He's currently thinking it is "fun" to hit the ball high into the air.
His fan base is self-contained, portable and goes everywhere he goes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blast off!

We had a rare opportunity this week to attend the NASA shuttle launch in person. The experience was fantastic! It was also the first vacation we've taken without children in 10+ years.
We watched the launch from the causeway between the mainland of Florida and Cape Canaveral. We were sitting about 5 miles away from the launch site with about 50,000 of our closest friends for the day. The view was unbeatable, the sound was deafening.
This is STS-125, the final NASA mission to the Hubble Telescope. Through my previous employment, I met NASA Astronaut Pilot Gregory C. Johnson. Our invitations to attend the launch and related activities came from him.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Kennedy Space Center. We hit all the tours, including the Rocket Garden, the Launch Experience. the art gallery, ate ice cream at the Milky Way and watched the new Star Trek movie on the KSC Imax.
These are models of the shuttle, the external fuel tank and booster rockets. We toured the inside of the shuttle - it is amazing how big it is for carrying cargo, but how small it seems to live in for an extended period of time.
After all the excitement of the launch was over, we headed out for some more fun in the sun. The first course we had a tee time scheduled for was socked in with smoke from a nearby fire. We ended up at the North Shore Golf Club and had a great time squeezing in 9 before catching our plane back home. We golfed with Pat and Roger, who were vacationing in Florida from England.