Monday, December 19, 2011

Easier Said Than Done

How to take good Christmas family photos.
Rule #1: Everybody keep their eyes open at the same time.
Rule #2: Don't say "Ho, ho, ho," during the photo shoot. "Cheese" works much better.
Rule #3: Don't wear your glasses ... and try to sit up straight so that you look bigger than the children if you're the daddy for example.
Rule #4: Fingers out of your mouths.
Rule #5: Keep your hands to yourself.
Rule #6: Smile.
Rule #7: No crying.
Rule #8: Remain seated ...
No seriously. Maintain order.
Rule #9: Know when you've lost, give up and wait for another day to try again. Just trying from the other side of the room isn't going to change much.

Christmas in Dairyville

 It's always fun to have new Christmas adventures! So this year we head over to Alpenrose dairy to see Santa and their Storybook Lane (They haven't had it in 6 years but it was a long-standing tradition before that). Unfortunately, we got there 15 minutes after the opened on Saturday and were given #45 to see Santa - right before we heard them call #3. An hour later they were on #25 ... so we kinda didn't wait to see Santa. But we did get to enjoy this charming little village, with a yummy bakery and a cool train set  and Storybook Lane with the animals. Our little dude wasn't particularly thrilled to be there, but I think everybody else had a fun time :)


So the other day we went to this Family Fun Day at our local library. They have this room set up with lots of board games and Wii games, and a table of refreshments. We took advantage, and I am ashamed to say ... left quite the mess. Sorry about the popcorn Mr. Janitor. The other misadvanture had to do with our little man taking matters into his own hands when he was apparently a little thirsty. Or just curious. He kind of grabbed a whole pitcher of water, and poured it on his face. A little choking and a lot of crying later, we had ourselves a very wet little boy. So we went white trash and stripped him for the rest of the time we were there of everything but his pants, which were in decent shape. It was too cold though to go outside like that so we used the only thing we had - daddy's sweatshirt! Hilarious. He walked all the way down the hall by himself, tripping a bit as it dragged on the floor. Just our cute little Sith Lord. :) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Preschool Pajama Party

Looking through pictures, I just noticed I missed posting these. Can't miss the pajama pictures. M was so thrilled about these! She laid out every single one of her jammies that morning and took hours deciding which one she would actually wear. Life is full of tough choices. Never too early to learn that :) Here she is with her friends and teachers:

M LOVES her school! It's been basically the best thing that's happened to her and possibly even the whole reason we moved to The Dalles. I do think this particular day that she was so excited about was the day her teacher laughed and told me that when they take pictures in class, M asks if she's going to put them on the blog. Her teacher thought that was hilarious. Especially when she told her she could just look at our blog and see. Like she was telling her how it's done.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Book Review - Cold River

*So this is a little out of the ordinary routine, meaning there are no pictures of my cute kiddos in this post, but I am going to be reviewing books from time to time on the blog now as part of virtual book tours. I do receive the books for free so I can read it and review it but am not paid to write this nor am I told what to say. Thanks for reading!

Today I'm reviewing Liz Adair's new novel, Cold River. Here's the blurb on the back:
Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district - until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.

So what did I think? Liz does a great job of describing this small town in the heart of my homeland (I've lived in the Pacific Northwest my whole life). While I've never been to the particular area described in the book, it feels like dozens of tiny towns we've driven through. I've always wondered a bit what people do there or how they come to end up in such tiny places hidden in the woods and mountains, and Liz's novel painted that picture for me.
Another thing I enjoyed were her characters. They were all very different from each other - many of them quirky and interesting to get to know. However, I do feel like in the end, the resolution and romantic relationship got wrapped up a little too quickly, not letting us fully get to know some of the characters as the dust settled and they're seen in their true colors.
Overall though, it was a pleasant, cozy, easy read. I honestly usually read a lot heavier stuff, but sometimes it's nice to read something that you can enjoy without having to work too hard. I like what Liz said about her romantic suspenses in her short bio in the back. She said, "I remember when I was a young mother with all those kids and a slender budget. I was so grateful for books that let me go places and meet people who carried on adult conversations. That's what I want to write - cheap vacations." So there you go! I think she accomplished her goal. Some things are predictable, some surprised me at the end. Basically, if you need a break or a "cheap vacation," check it out. You can purchase it here. And to learn more about the author - what she's doing and what she's reviewing -  hop on over to her blog.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Hunting Christmas Trees

We decided to go all out this year and make the trek to an actual Christmas tree farm and cut it down ourselves! Getting credit for doing this was so important that when we'd realized we'd forgotten the camera we went 20 minutes back to get it and yes J, "now we have to start all over again." But in case we never repeat this adventure, we need evidence that we did it so the kiddos "remember." And it was totally worth it! Gorgeous day. And quite the hilarious excursion. J was thrilled to find so many trees "her size."
M, on the other hand, was overjoyed to find trees the same size as Gumby Santa and Tinkerbell's friend, who apparently hang out. We kept momentarily losing her, and every time it was because she was on the ground somewhere playing with these guys. 
Dude was just taking advantage of all the wide open spaces. He just kept running like crazy, which would've been fine except that the ground was uneven and pretty much any time he headed downhill, he laughed maniacally ... and face-planted. Didn't bother him much though. He'd get right up and do it again. Here he's giggling his head off as J is chasing him to try to get him to slow down. Pretty sure I know how that ended.
When he got to this section of the field, he went from tree to tree patting them as if to say, "nice work guys."
Then he discovered the stumps, which were understandably, quite fascinating. Naturally he had to kick them and try to stand on every one, which without fail resulted in him ending up on his face or backside.
But the fun had to end sometime - we picked one! All cute and little and perfectly shaped. Then what? Let's just say, Coop was pretty envious of the guys with the chainsaw. And dude was fascinated. 
But who needs a chainsaw? We have daddy (who, incidentally, is now wearing a Dora the Explorer bandaid). And an incredible view.
Oh and one last pic just because she's looking way too grown-up. Totally freakin' us out.
Time to go vacuum up pine needles!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving weekend, we are SO very grateful for these beautiful, lively, healthy, entertaining, noisy, loving, forgiving, exasperating, hilarious, awesome kids. They each bring so much to our family! And aren't they cute?
And then it's probably about time (or way past time), to mention the other blessing that's coming our way, for which we are very grateful. We had been trying to wait until Christmas to tell everyone by showing up with a big bow on my belly, but about a week ago my belly rather inconveniently popped out and we knew we couldn't make it through Thanksgiving without someone ... or everyone noticing. So we came home early to tell our family about our upcoming arrival, expecting to make it's appearance sometime around March 19th. Yep, that makes me more than five months pregnant. And nope, we hadn't even told our moms yet. I know. We're a little bit crazy. It actually became a little bit of a game to see how long we could go with just us knowing our secret! Thankfully, it's been the easiest pregnancy and has almost flown by. For which I am very grateful too!
Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you had a great one with lots of family and yummy food!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Snow!

 M was SOOO excited that it snowed today! She sat at the window for the longest time, giving me updates on how much it was snowing about every 10 seconds. She kept calling it a "big snowstorm," and asking if there was enough to make a snowman yet? Eventually, (after I looked at the weather report and realized it was going to turn to rain soon) we dressed up and headed out. Fortunately, she's very easy to please because later when I told J, who was at school stuck inside sadly, that we'd made a "little" snowman, M objected, and said it was a "BIG BIG snowgirl!" Glad she was so happy. May need to have her eyesight checked.
 Dude slept through our outdoor playtime, but thought it was pretty cool to wear my hat when he woke up.
 He cutely kept pointing out the window and jabbering something or other. After Coop came home and took M to school though, he got serious. He brought me his shoes and then proceeded to blow me kisses as I put them on him. He was headed out.
 Because he's great, when Coop got back for like the 5 minutes left of his lunch he took him outside to walk around the yard. Dude is usually pretty excited to do that actually. He walks around the square of grass a couple of times whenever we step out to get the mail or get in the car. That's all. Just circles it happily. Think he's proud of the fact that he can walk? Here he's blowing me kisses again. I think he was hoping to go to work with daddy. Sounds like fun, eh dad?
 And this one was just too cute to not include. Love my boys!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Hidden Gems

 On Saturday we packed up the kids, and ventured out into the cold and fog to explore new local treasures, and were rewarded with some serious hidden gems (sorry for those who read my art blog too as this is a bit of a double post, though it was all about art on the other blog and all about the kiddos here)! We started out at the Maryhill Museum, which is this charming art museum with some pretty incredible history (like that Queen Marie of Romania dedicated it and donated royal stuffs, which the girlies loved) out in the middle of nowhere. I mean it's seriously in the middle of nowhere. I won't mention my disappointment that the winery just down the road, which is also in the middle of nowhere, had about 10x the visitors. But it was actually a blast for all, except perhaps the little man who couldn't be allowed to roam free touching everything he saw. There was a sweet Rodin exhibit downstairs, a Native American exhibit, and a post-WWII French fashion show in miniature among other things.
Then there was this great kids room, which was a serious hit. Here they are working on their self-portraits.
 And here, dude is clapping at the mess he's making. Whenever he knocks over towers, dumps things out, or otherwise creates chaos, he looks at us with a huge grin and claps. Boy.
Squint smile!
 And the girlies created Rodin-inspired sculptures out of tin foil which they promptly named Diana and Aphrodite. It's a long story.
Can you spot their portraits on the wall? Clue #1 - J's has red hair. Clue #2 - M's is right next to hers.
 Then we enjoyed the sculpture gardens outside where J showed off by reading all the plaques as my hands went very numb. Dang it was cold!
 Then we drove down the street to this enormous Stonehenge World War I Memorial built by the same guy that did the museum long time ago. It is designed to look like Stonehenge probably did back in it's heyday. Man those are some big rocks! Little man looked even smaller than normal, though that didn't stop him having a ball running around like a drunken sailor on the unsteady gravel, peek-a-booing around the stones.
 Oh, I hadn't mentioned this yet. I brought this new legal pads in the cars to keep the girls busy while we drove. They got very excited about them and insisted on bringing them everywhere to write down everything they liked. At each new room, they'd plop down in the  middle of the room and go to town. J brought hers to school today to share what she did this weekend. I'll scan some if it and post it later because it's some good entertainment. Love the spelling. Love what was interesting to them. Here M just made herself comfy to write about Stonehenge. Doesn't look so comfy to me.

 Daddy and dude running down the hill to check out the train. We hear trains all the time in The Dalles. Dude always stops whatever he's doing, points in some random direction and says, "da?" And when given the chance, watches them pass by with some serious intensity.
 Nice view, huh?
 Looking back up the hill at Stonehenge.
One of the plaques. There was another big one that listed all soldiers from Klickitat county (where it is) that lost their lives in WWI, along with an additional one that lists soldiers from the county that have died in all subsequent wars and those who were taken POW. This led to some intense discussions on the way home.
Again, nice view, eh? Although it all is more impressive when the usual sunny skies are out. Maybe next time. But if you ever happened to be looking for things to do in the Columbia Gorge, we recommend both of these!