Saturday, December 12, 2009

xmas list 2009

I am not a big xmas person. The whole consumer push, cheesy music, "santas" on every corner, just about push me over the edge every year. I do, however, enjoy reading the xmas lists that Quinn and Logan come up with, especially as they get older. Here are their lists for this year:

Logan:
1) ipod touch 32 gig
2) ipod nano 16 gig
3) cell phone
4) Spore computer game add-on
5) Avatar wii game
6) World of War Craft game
7) Red & Blue flannel shirts*
8) Levi Slim Straights, size 16 slim *
9) Books: Twig #7, #8, #9
10) Lap top computer
11) Black ballet slippers
12) Nice mechanical pencils
13) Ankle socks
14) wii controller
15) more wii games
16) under armor shirt
17) Popular Science magazines
18) Modern style desk
19) Modern style chair
20) Modern style bed
21) Room re-painted
22) tv in room
23) $40 gift card to American Eagle
24) Sweat shirts*
25) Jacket*
26) My own room
27) Nice remote controlled car * get one for Quinn too so we can race them
28) more rugby shirts*
29) Beanies*
30) House slippers
31) Any amount of money, hopefully more than $5
* All clothes must be brand new and not come from Goodwill or any place like that

Quinn: (he highlighted his "priority" gifts which I'll indicate with an *)
1) ipod touch 32 gig *
2) cell phone *
3) Laptop (for summer) *
4) ipond nano 16 gig *
5) Spore game add-on *
6) wii game (Avatar) *
7) New modern furniture for room
8) Clothes
9) Another remote for wii
10) Tons of gift cards to Borders and Barnes & Noble, or just lots of books *
11) Other

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The real thanksgiving meal

A recap of our thanksgiving 2009:
Wine, laughter, beer, wine, fondu, wine, bowling, wine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kibibi

I returned home late last night from a whirlwind three days in Washington DC (aka my most favorite city in the US.) Although I could go into great detail about my trip, it can all be summed up by my visit to the National Zoo, where I spent more than an hour viewing Kibibi, the newest gorilla family member to the zoo. The best part was there were only a few of us there, so we had the Ape house all to ourselves. It is simply amazing to watch mammals, who we are so closely related, interact--especially with a wee one. Mum was very protective of Kibibi and Kibibi, being 10 months old, was active and curious and playful. It was the highlight of my trip. Even though I loved watching Obama's helicopter fly right overhead as I was walking near the White House, and even though I loved spending time at the Lincoln and FDR memorials, and even though I loved walking through some of my favorite DC neighborhoods, nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to that hour with the gorillas and orangutans





Kibibi 1 of 3
Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mono

I was starting to wonder if I had mono, but realized today that my lethargy and low-grade yuck was most likely due to the sun not having made much of an appearance for more than a week. That wonderful orb in the sky is greatly missed when not around. Of course, it could have been a total coincidence that the day I started to feel back to normal is also the day that it was balmy, sunny and warm. Who knows, but I am sure happy to have my energy back. There have been so many people out with H1N1, in addition to the normal colds, that trying to stay healthy seems like a Herculean event. I’ve seen more than a few people walking around with full-blown gas masks. Not exactly a fashion statement, but if that keeps the nasty germs away, then hey, more power to you.

Jim and I finally got on a run today, which also helped. We haven’t run in a week, and that also throws the system out of whack. We have been so consistent with our training schedule the past month as we are planning to run a half-marathon next month, and taking a week off at this point isn’t really a good idea. Although it felt good to be back in motion today, I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be a stiff zombie for Halloween. Or not. Really, it has been so many years since I’ve dressed up, why start now, other than it’s a great excuse to wear big hair and trashy clothes. I keep trying to talk Jim into dressing up as Amy Winehouse. They are really opposite sex versions of the other. If Jim put on a wig and loads of eye makeup he could totally pull it off. Conversely, if Amy Winehouse were to shave her head and take off her eye-liner, then she could easily pass for Jim. I’m afraid that we’ll miss our opportunity for that get-up, unfortunately. By the time we actually get around to remember to have Jim dress as Amy, she’ll be a forgotten singer and people would think that Jim was just a really bad cross-dresser.

As for Quinn & Logan, they are going to be vampires, yet again. I think this is the sixth or seventh year in a row that they’ll don the same cape and plastic teeth. Quinn did surprise us all by saying he wanted to dress as Dobby, the character from Harry Potter, but no preparation actually went into that idea, and so we’ll go by our costume stand-by. While there is still fun to be had with dressing up, it really just boils down to scoring loads of candy. This year, they’ve invited a few friends over for pizza and then prowling the streets. They were briefly concerned that trick-or-treating as a large group yields less candy per house and so they decided to break up into two groups. It must be the hunter-gatherer in us that makes trick-or-treating such fun. I think I’ll put together a photo collage of all their years of being vampires and we can play “guess the year.”

Happy All-Hallows-Eve y Dia de la Muerta.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Made it

This last week was a particularly rough one. I'm not sure if it was the change in barometric pressure, or planetary alignments, but just making it to Saturday morning felt like a victory. I slept in until 9 and Jim is still sleeping. That should give you some idea of the need to recover on all levels. The boys are with their friend Rachel this weekend in Victoria, BC and so Jim and I are especially enjoying the QUIET.  

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bad Omen, Dude


Tamara & Jim
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
Today is Jim’s and my 13th wedding anniversary. Yes, lucky number 13. I know there are some that think that the number 13 is unlucky and that maybe we should just let this year slip quietly by and not bring attention to the fact that we have now been married for 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 years! But I’d like to point out to the universe that the “bad omen” that was predicted by a car mechanic on the way to our wedding, never materialized. My 13 years of marriage can be perfectly summarized in the series of events that led up to our wedding day:
October 4th, 1996
As we were driving up to Marrowstone Island, where we were to be married at my grandparents’ home, our car experienced some mechanical difficulties. We were just outside of Vancouver, WA on I-5, it was pouring down rain, Jim’s mum and sister were driving up with us, and we had that evening’s dinner of lasagna in the back. After pulling off for gas the car decided that it had had enough, thank you very much, and just quit. Jim called around for some tow-trucks and after 30 or so minutes some local-yokel towed us back to the outskirts of Vancouver to a repair shop. I was not yet panicking. I had my future in-laws with me and I didn’t know them AT ALL. I figured I would keep calm and that it would all work out. I guess I never really considered that we wouldn’t make it to my grandparents that night, it never seemed like an option. I went to a nearby burger joint with Helen & Mary Ann and we ate greasy food, marveled at the downpour and got to know each other a little more. Meanwhile, Jim was at the auto shop and the part we needed was not in stock. When Jim explained that not getting the car repaired until the following Monday morning was acceptable because, ahem, we were on our way to our WEDDING, which was to be held the NEXT DAY and we had dinner for all our wedding guests who were arriving THAT NIGHT in the back of the car. The mechanic responded by saying, “Bad omen, dude.” And so it could have been. But it wasn’t. Not in the least. Some calls were made, the part was found and within 2 hours we were back on the freeway. Thinking we had avoided a major uh-oh we were feeling pretty great by the time we arrived at my grandparents. What else could go wrong? As Jim handed a lasagna pan to my grandmother for her to heat, it was dropped in the exchange and lasagna ended up on the kitchen floor. My grandmother, bless her heart, didn’t miss a beat and exclaimed, “I just cleaned the floor, put the lasagna back in the pan and throw it in the oven.” And so we did. It just felt like a big exclamation point after the “bad omen, dude.” We laughed and laughed and ate heartily that night.
We had planned on starting our wedding ceremony at 11am the next day, but postponed that time, because my sister fell ill (not lasagna related) that night and ended up in the emergency room. After being pumped full of fluids she was released later that morning and so we lazed around with our 15 wedding guests and told them we’d have the ceremony at some point that day. That gave me and Jim time to finish writing out our wedding vows and go over the ceremony with the official who was to marry us. He was also the local tavern owner and he said if we got married in the tavern it would be free, otherwise he charged $40 to come to my grandparents, but he wore a tuxedo…Cool. We gave him the $40 and told him to come by around 1 pm. The ceremony itself was lovely and such a perfect reflection of Jim and me. We read poetry, shared our dreams, lit candles and avowed our love and commitment to one another. My grandparents filled the house with dahlia bouquets, the sun came out, the Olympic mountains loomed large in the background, and the resident bald eagle made a pass overhead. After the ceremony we all walked down the street to the Ecologic Place where we enjoyed great food, wine, and stories.
And thus goes the past 13 years with Jim. It has been a wild ride with lots of ups, downs and loopy-loops, but every time that car comes to a stop we yell, “More!” and off we go again. We are so balanced, the two of us. He is the exclamation to my comma; the arc to my line; the fire to my water; the spontaneity to my predictability; the color to my grey; the numbers to my letters and every day I think, “Dude. You’re the best omen that ever happened.” Happy anniversary my sweet!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Home

The jacket made it home. I'm going to think positively and visualize that jacket and all our other clothing items, sunglasses, backpacks, etc. making it home daily...

Found it, then almost lost it

Last night was an open house at the boys' school. It was a night to spend 10 minutes with each teacher and learn about what the classes are like, etc. I walked away feeling somewhat depressed at how our children are educated in this country. There are up to 40 kids in each class and the teachers range from burnt-out to excellent. This warrants a much longer, well-thought out post, but I will save that for later. 
As I wrote yesterday, Quinn lost his jacket after ONE day. He had no recollection of where it might be, but Jim and I had a hunch that it was left at school. Sure enough. We checked the lost and found while at the open house and there was Quinn's jacket, safe and sound. (Thank you to whomever turned it in.) 
We brought the jacket home. Quinn was happy. Quinn wore his jacket to school today.  Quinn left his jacket behind in his first class. I couldn't believe it. 
I was there helping clean and the child walks right out of the classroom and leaves his jacket at his desk. Whaaaaat! Fortunately for him he realized it before I made a total scene, which if you know anything about middle-schoolers, they fear embarrassment more than anything. As of now, the jacket is still in his possession. Let's just hope it makes it home today.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why I don't buy expenisve items

This summer I lost not one, but two pairs of expensive sunglasses. Of course, it figures that the sunglasses I have not lost are a $10 pair I bought eight years ago from some sidewalk vendor. Go figure. This troubling trend must be contagious because this morning Quinn realized that he already lost his new North Face jacket after wearing it one day. Did you get that. ONE DAY. Can you say "Goodwill" for his next jacket.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dust & Ash

I just googled photos of the red dust storm that is blinding Sydney, Australia. I know this dust storm is wreaking havoc on health and daily life, but some of the photos are truly lovely. The eerie glow of the outback sand makes for some stunning sights, and serves as a reminder that the climate is changing, and nature knows no boundaries.

While I live many thousands of miles and a whole ocean away from the shores of Sydney, here in Oregon we are getting covered in not dust, but ash. Quinn and Logan were hoping that it was ash from an exploded volcano and were a little bummed to learn that the source --a forest fire--was not so dramatic. A fire is burning about 70 miles east of us, and the high-pressure system that is gracing the Pacific Northwest with unseasonably high temps is also blowing all that ash our way. My lungs are burning and that long run I had planned today will have to wait, but the smoke-filled sky has made for some spectacular lighting. Last night glowed. Every object was luminescent and the salmon-colored sunset that smeared the sky was beautiful. I felt as if I walked into some color-saturated movie it was so otherworldly. I would have stayed outside longer, but inhaling ash for hours on end finally took its toll. It's hard to say how many days this will continue. I'm trying to turn a negative into a positive and even though my half-marathon training is on hold, I'm enjoying the heat and the sunsets that we get to enjoy thanks to that smoke and ash.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grill, baby, grill!


Grill, baby, grill!
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
...In the beginning...I guess I suffered through years of Sunday school so that I could appreciate our new Weber GENESIS gas grill. I am embarrassed to even admit the honky grill we've been using/not using for the last ten years. We've been eyeing the Genesis grill all summer, but neither Jim nor I could bring ourselves to making the $800 purchase. Sure there are cheaper grills out there, but we buy items for the long-haul and we knew after comparative shopping that the Genesis is the model that would last the longest with minimal replacement/repair costs down the road. We thought we'd wait until the end of summer when many retailers discount their grills. We kept waiting, and waiting and finally asked a sales clerk why we weren't seeing those sale signs. She told us that Weber doesn't allow retailers to discount their items so as not to undercut those retailers (aka the mom and pops) who can't compete with national chains. We were happy to hear that, but not so happy to learn that we'd waited all summer for nothing. Then....Jim was in our favorite home store, Jerry's, when he noticed that a certain color of the Genesis was marked down $100. Wha??!! He was told that the bronze color was being discontinued, hence the price reduction. Yahoo, baby. Even better was the fact that we purchased a floor model, so the grill was already assembled and ready for use that very night. We celebrated by grilling more meat than we've ever before consumed and made it all the better by adding our very own garden veggies and potatoes. Yummy!

First day of School!


Quinn & Logan
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
That forceful gust of wind you felt on Wednesday? That was me exhaling. As much as I love the frivolity of summer, I am always happy to welcome the structure of the school year. Although we are busier, our schedules seem easier to manage because of their consistency and predictability. I'm still swimming with all there is to do to get ready for the school year, but having done this long enough I know that by early October we will all settle in and will be humming along like a well-oiled machine.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back to School


Back to School
Originally uploaded by Tamara Irminger
Our back-to-school shopping took place last night and consisted of four pair of Converse. While I love the looks of Converse, I do wonder if they provide any support for Q & L's feet. They'd probably get more support by strapping squirrels to their feet, but oh well. The boys are happy and really, how can we complain when their needs are so easily met. Seventh grade, here they come!

Friday, September 4, 2009

...10,11,12...

Last night when Jim and I were on a run I asked him if it is true that Quinn and Logan are really turning 13 on their next birthday, because I just can't wrap my head around that concept. Sure, I can count higher than 12, but when it relates to my children somehow 13 does not want to follow 12. Not that I have a better number in mind, but 13? 13! Mind you, their birthdays don't happen until next May, but they are growing and changing so quickly right now and I just don't want to think about them getting any older or bigger. I am not keeping pace with them now, so how am I going to manage when the hormones and growth spurts really kick in? They have already stretched out 3/4 of an inch in less than two months and I swear every morning they look taller than the night before. Thinking about 13, I immediately start to downward spiral and my mind jumps from 13 to moving out of the house. There is no in between in my mind. It is simply 13 and then gone. My little loaves of love are little no more and if I could stop the clock, I would because they are still the yummiest, sweetest, funniest, perceptive and loving boys I know and I just want to revel in all their silken goodness before they sprout facial hair and want to spend all their time with friends and at ballet. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shameless Promotion

Okay, so I'm not one to ever endorse a product and encourage others to go out and purchase an item just because I think it's cool, BUT I feel I must make an exception and tell you about the body products from Neal's Yard Remedy (NYR.) For lack of any other sophisticated exclamation: OMG! I use facial lotions and oils regularly, and have since my teens. Over these many years I've tried just about anything and everything from mainstream Oil of Olay to locally made concoctions and in all this time I have never encountered anything, did I make that clear, ANYTHING that even comes close to Neal's Yard Remedy products. I really don't get it. When I read the ingredient list on my NYR lotion, it lists many ingredients that I'm familiar with, so how, then can it be exponentially better than anything else I've tried? Maybe because it's from England? Maybe because it has secret ingredients that they don't list like dragonfly saliva and gnome semen? I don't know, but what I do know is that I will gladly mortgage my house to continue to purchase these very spendy, but very worth it products. Unless you are lucky enough to live in England or Japan you must purchase these goodies on-line and the sooner you do, the sooner you'll thank me.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooling down

Finally the heat wave that had Seattle in its grips has abated. Good thing too, since the boys were too hot to sleep in their upstairs bedroom and crawled into bed with me the last two nights. It is one thing to co-share a bed with toddlers, quite another with tweens. They are all arms and legs, and with two sets of limbs thrashing about all night, well, let's just say I'm behind on my sleep. With the temperature returning to more normal levels, I can send them back to their bed. I'm a total sleepasaurus and if I don't get at least eight hours a night, then I don't run on all cylinders. For instance, yesterday I meant to walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Park and after figuring out my route, I totally went the wrong way and added an additional mile or so to my walk. When I finally realized that the street numbers were going up, rather than down, I knew I needed either an espresso or a nap. I opted for the former.
Besides being sleepless in Seattle (I knew I jinxed myself after the last blog post,) life is peachy here with the boys. After reading an article yesterday on the newly coined "staycation" I realized that the only staycation I can take is one away from home. Being in Seattle, in someone else's home for a few weeks is my idea of a staycation. The only people who must actually succeed at staying home for a vacation, either a.) live in a condo with maid service and have no children or b.) have the will power of a monk. If I were actually to attempt a staycation in my own home, I would fail miserably. Are you kidding me? With all the undone projects, weeding, organizing, cleaning, rearranging that need to get done. I'm sorry, I really love my home and all, but staying at home and pretending to vacate is a total oxymoron, no matter how many mai-tais I drink or leis I wear around my neck. I'm all for the idea, but I know myself all too well. I relax most when I can't do and do and do and right now at home there is lots to get done, done, and done. Maybe when Jim and I are done building our new office and green house out back, then I can totally chill out at home, but right now that is just one, big undone project looming over our heads, reminding us daily that every time we are not wearing our grungy work clothes, pounding nails, or measuring for trim, is one more day that the office isn't getting done. So tired of we of projects, in fact, that we have made a vow that the next time either one of us suggests building something new or remodeling this or that, we can either stuff a sock in that person's mouth or go to therapy. I'm pretty sure there is a classified psychological disorder that describes our continuous engagement in tearing things down and building new things. I think it's called the MikeandLoriJones syndrome, named appropriately after my own parents who also can't let anything just be. Talk about a mirror. Yikes. So after the office (oh yeah, and that chicken coop) we are done. DONE. Next up, is chilling out and kicking back in our own yard, where maybe, just maybe, we can finally staycate.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sleeping just fine in Seattle

I'm on vacation. Sort of. As readers of this blog know, Quinn and Logan are in Seattle for five weeks studying at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Being that it isn't feasible for Jim or me to take five weeks off from work, we've had dear friends of ours and my parents come and live with the boys for a few of the weeks. It is now my turn and I'm lucky to have two full weeks with them.
 This works on many fronts: one of my dearest friends lives here, I get my city fix, I'm not at work or home, I get to read all day. Did I mention that my dear friend lives here, and that I get to read all day? Just making sure you caught that. Actually, it has taken me a few days to "settle in" and learn how to chill out. Monday was a bit of a stir for me as I kept thinking I needed to be doing something productive in order to what? Justify my existence? Assuage my guilt for not working? It's the inner neurotic in me that sometimes makes her appearance to the outer world. I'm working on letting go and am happy to report that as of today, I've been successful. Goodbye manic lady, hello zen-master goat. This is what I've done today: wake up, go back to sleep, wake up again, stumble into the kitchen to make breakfast for the boychicks, go on a run. To top off a day of doing nothing much, we will head to a park later on to swim and frolic. How's that for learning to let go. 
I think my deeper fear regarding unstructured time is the philosophical wrestling I tend to do. You know, trying to answer such heavy questions as, what is life all about anyway? Is this a need or a want or am I just bored? How am I making the world a better place? As much as I'd like to think that I can approach such questions with all the quiet contemplation of a philosopher, I'm more like a bikini-wearing bimbo in an oil-wrestling match. There's hair pulling, biting, pinching, and all sorts of underhanded tricks to make it seem like I'm coming out the winner, when really all I'm doing is looking like a moron. Sometimes it's better to stay busy than look foolish. So having this forced down time is a good thing, and also very hard. I'm forcing myself to just sit. No agenda, no distractions, just uncluttered time to let my thoughts wander. I can't say I've had any epiphanies or ah-ha moments, but what is starting to happen is my perceptions are awakening. I'm noticing the small miracles of spider webs, I'm soaking in the laughter of the kids, I'm not ten steps ahead of myself. I'm more in the moment and and I'm noticing more. I'm happy, I'm at peace, and I'm sleeping just fine in Seattle. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I know so far


It has been a week since leaving the boys behind in Seattle with our dear friends Doug and Linda. This is what I know so far: the boys are exhausted, but having fun; they ride the bus to and from PNB every day by themselves; Doug and Linda love our children as if they were their own; and some days I miss the boys so much that I physically ache. 

We've talked to Q & L twice since their classes started and their reports have been the same: amazing instruction, very personalized attention, exhausting. Q & L are the youngest boys there, so I'm sure they are working extra hard to keep up. What we didn't know prior to them going to PNB was that the boys would be instructed separately from the girls. This means that for five weeks they are taking classes with seven other boys from around the country and Canada and as you can imagine, are getting some very individualized instruction. They take up to four different classes a day, most days from 10 am to 5 pm. The classes are comprehensive and varied ranging from technique, to music, to modern. Having studied at The Rock ballet school in Philadelphia last summer, they knew that the first week would be the hardest as their bodies had to adjust to dancing all day, every day. It may take more time for their bodies to settle in this year, as they are dancing longer and more days. 

As for Jim and me, we are doing just fine, too! Being that the boys have gone away every summer for a few weeks, we easily shed our parental skins. It feels so indulgent to live our lives without the the hub of children to orbit. Suddenly we are just the two of us. We eat dinner late, we sip cocktails on the patio, we take long walks and runs, we catch up, we watch movies, and we do other sorts of fun "adult" activities...We will go up this next week for a few days to be with the boys. While we love our time alone, we also miss them tremendously and look forward to seeing them and breathing them in.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Settled in Seattle

Quick post to say the Quinn and Logan are settled in and have just completed their first day at PNB. They're sore and tired but very excited. Will keep you posted...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Five weeks of hurt & bliss

Tomorrow I take Quinn and Logan to Seattle and dump them on the doorsteps of Pacific Northwest Ballet school, where they will turn their 12-year old lives over to the rigor and demands of a five-week summer intensive. The boys are excited and ready and I just look on with wonder. As a kid, summer break for me meant endless days of roaming the neighborhood with Simone pretending to be native americans or bat hunters. Quinn and Logan have a very different idea of the the idyllic summer. They instead prefer to dance six hours a day, six days a week. Fun. I wonder if they ever pretend to be native american dancers, or bat hunters while they're working on their turn out? Doubt it. These two are so serious and focused. When they're dancing, that's all they think about. Fortunately, they are not totally myopic and when they aren't at a ballet studio, they are like most other 12-year olds: They read and wrestle and make goofy jokes and whine and want to read comic books for hours on end. I'm excited for them and continually marvel at their drive and dedication. They certainly didn't pick that up from Jim or me. We are more like frantic butterflies, fluttering about wondering where our next nectar hit will come from. Ooh, look over here. No wait, maybe here is better. Umm, here? Right now I'm being kept on task as I have elastic to sew on ballet slippers, tights to mend, and of course, needing to make sure that the boys get all the appropriate gear packed away for five weeks of hurt and bliss.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Basil vodka gimlets aka best cocktail EVER

I am sharing a recipe for the BEST summer cocktail I have ever enjoyed. If this doesn't epitomize summer, I don't know what would. 


First make a Basil Lemon Simple Syrup, which will yield enough to make numerous gimlets.
4 c. packed fresh basil sprigs
4 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
zest of one lemon

Bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, then transfer to airtight container and chill until cold. Strain syrup through a sieve, then discard basil sprigs.

Basil Vodka (or gin) Gimlets (recipe for 6 drinks)

1 c. basil lemon syrup
3/4 c. vodka (I used a citron vodka, and have also made it with gin--both equally delicious)
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. ice cubes

stir together in pitcher, or if making a smaller batch, shake it up in a shaker. Garnish with a basil sprig and enjoy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Must be summer

School has been out for just one week now, and we have all slipped into "summer mode." Quinn and Logan are sleeping 13-14 hours a night (I kid you not) and have committed themselves to an unbroken chain of play dates for the next week, until they leave for Seattle. I can't say the weather has been particularly summer like around these parts. We'll be lucky if we hit 70 degrees today. That hasn't stopped Jim and I from enjoying our summer cocktails and eating dinner every night on our upper deck. I really do love the lazy days of summer, even if I have to wear a jacket...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yes, no, maybe?

Today I saw a teak crib for sale on craigslist and had baby pangs. Later in the afternoon our neighbor stopped by and told us stories of her new grandbaby, and the pangs went away. Classic contradiction between a romantic idea and the reality of the situation.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Throwing in the towel

I made it until 3pm yesterday and I had this deep instinct that it wasn't healthy for me to go much beyond that point. I didn't feel particularly hungry, but felt that I needed some brown rice. I felt like my body was digesting itself from the inside out. If a person has some fat reserves, this is a good thing. But I have very low body fat with no reserve. The most body fat I have is the fatty tissue in my brain. When I thought of my body starting to eat away at those reserves, well, I panicked. I actually felt pretty good yesterday, and after eating a little brown rice, felt even better. I had enough energy to run with Jim, so even though I'd consumed hardly any calories over the past day-and-a-half, I felt strong and clean. 
This morning I had a small bowl of oatmeal and I'm definitely easing my way back into three square meals. My appetite is definitely suppressed and most food seems unappealing. What's amazing to me is that after only 1 1/2 days of this cleanse, I feel no desire to drink coffee, wine, processed foods of any sort, and especially nothing sweet. I crave only whole grains and fruit. I suppose this is the real benefit of partaking in one of these cleanses, to wipe away the bad eating habits and reset one's body for more wholesome food. I also realized that I'm a fairly healthy person anyway, and my body didn't need to "rid" itself of lots of toxic buildup. My liver, kidney and other cleansing organs seem to do a great job of that on their own. 
All in all, I'm happy that I did this, even though I didn't last for the three days that I originally intended. I think the most important thing when doing a cleanse, or fast, or whatever else is to be attentive to your own body and not be stubborn to the point of stupid. I now feel very ready to begin my training in earnest for a half-marathon that Jim and plan to run in the fall. Happy nibbling.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day Two

Yesterday sucked. I was questioning my reasons all day for doing this cleanse. I was STARVING all day. I'd have brief moments when I didn't feel hungry, but that never lasted for more than 3 minutes. Then I'd feel hungry again and once more question myself. It was a vicious loop. The strange thing was by the end of the day I made dinner for Jim, Quinn & Logan, and felt just fine with not partaking. I think by that time I was over-hungry, so nothing looked appetizing. What I missed most was not having my evening glass of wine while I cooked. My grandmothers both taught me the joys of cooking while sipping a glass of wine, and funny thing is it really does make cooking more fun. I thought about pouring my lemonade mixture into a wine glass, but that just seemed plain wrong.

Still no headaches from caffeine withdrawal. Jim said his didn't start until day two. This morning I actually feel pretty good. No hunger pangs, no headache. I've already consumed my salt water, which is really the worst part of this. It would be one thing if I was swimming in the warm ocean and happened to swallow salt water, it's quite another to intentionally drink a whole glass. Ick, ick, ick. I'm not particularly thrilled about drinking more of the lemonade, as it does get a bit old after consuming 64oz. of it yesterday. I'm pacing myself today and am currently enjoying some herbal licorice tea (see, I just can't get away from my licorice!) I'm sure some Master Cleanse purists would balk at the fact that I'm drinking an un-approved herbal tea, but whatever. I'm starting to wonder at some of the testimonials I found on the internet from people who regularly partake in a cleanse. One woman claims to do a 30-day cleanse, to which I say, "no way." Classic quoted testimonial used to sell books about how great she feels and yadayadayada. I relate more to the woman who was quoted saying that after three days she was ready to put her mouth on the tail-pipe of her friends car that ran on bio-diesel because it smelled like french-fries. That I can relate to.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last Supper

Today I started a 3-day Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade cleanse, or what the hell are you thinking cleanse. Right now I'm not sure why I decided to embark on this, um, journey other than it feels like the right thing to do every now and again. 
Jim tried this cleanse a year ago and he went for over a week eating nothing and drinking only the lemon/maple syrup/cayenne concoction. The only other "drinks" you're supposed to consume are some salt water in the morning and an herbal laxative tea in the evening. Oh joy. My friend Margie also did this cleanse (3 days) and she said it was easy, she wasn't hungry, and when you see the sludge your body rids itself of, you swear you'll never eat meat, or cheese, or chocolate, or wine, or coffee again. Until, of course, you do. 
The thing is, I'm a healthy eater. I never eat red meat. But I do drink wine and espresso every day. Also, I'm not a big lunch person, so instead of consuming the recommended 4-6 servings of vegetables and fruits daily, I maybe eat half of that because lunches for me usually consist of black licorice and rice crackers. I'm much better at eating a wholesome and complete breakfast and dinner. For some reason I'm always at a loss mid-day, hence my less-than-appetizing lunch. This doesn't mean I don't open the fridge and the pantry cupboards at least 12 times waiting for something to miraculously appear. It's not that I necessarily want to eat licorice, it's just that nothing else seems as simple, or tasty. So I thought it would be a good idea to "reset" my system by doing a cleanse. Give it a break from the wine and cheese and espresso and licorice and instead treat myself to lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Mmmm.
I originally intended to start this cleanse yesterday, but I woke up hungry and I sort of panicked. Just one more day, I thought. Also, I wanted to give my body something to really cleanse, so I was extra careful that I consumed enough caffeine, wine, etc. just to make sure this cleanse wasn't for naught. Choosing what to eat for dinner last night was like deciding on my last supper. I settled on sushi a salad and white wine, followed by some soy delicious chocolate "ice cream." It was tasty and knowing that it would be my last meal for three days, I savored every bite and ate slowly.
This morning I've already suffered through the salt water (ick) and have made it through two cups of my "lemonade." I feel pretty good, not terribly hungry, but I realize it is the ritual of food that I'll most likely miss the most during the course of this cleanse. I love coming into the kitchen and greeting my hot-pink Francis!Francis! espresso machine. We chat it up and share our dreams from the night before while she cooks up some tasty espresso. Next I plunk a bagel into my super cute toaster from Paris. I partake in this morning ritual nearly every day, and I find much comfort and enjoyment in this. It just wasn't the same measuring out maple syrup and juicing lemons...Jim said this about the cleanse when he did it as well. It was the ritual of food preparation that he missed.  
For now I'll have to find enjoyment sipping lemonade and staying out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poetry

For my birthday last month I asked Quinn and Logan to write me a poem. They obliged and I thought I'd share them as they are so precious and the best sort of present a mummy could ask for.

Logan's poem:

Spencer's Butte
Left for the long hike
the sign post shows me.
Young creatures pattering everywhere
I turn to my left and begin
the long hike up.

The smell of pine needles and turned mud
reach my nose.
I slowly climb the trails
twisting and turning around
trees and rocks,
jumping over small streams
trinkling.

I head up to the top,
wind rustling the trees up above.
Little animals running around
in the undergrowth.
The trees slowly fade
becoming hard stone.

I start climbing slowly, sweating.
One more step to the top.
I've made it, finally.

I look around at the sun
slowly setting,
orange and pink the clouds
become.

Quinn's poem:

The Eugene Public Library

I walk watching people's heads
bob up and down over the aisles
of books like ships on crests
of waves.
I stop and look down then pick
up a book, feeling the rough leathery
paper beneath my hands.
I stand there transfixed walking
through another world altogether.
Running of and fighting pirates--
and dragons in between the pages
of the book.
I turn the last page and I
am suddenly back in the library.
People quietly talking around me
with the clicks of the mice
from computers down
the row.
I stand there for a moment
taking in the sound of the
library washing over me as if
welcoming me back from my
fantasy world and into
reality.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Second to last day...

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the boys. I still can't believe it is mid-June, I'm still thinking I need to buy cranberries for thanksgiving dinner. How is it that my darlings have finished their first year of middle school? And those summer plans that have always had a fuzzy quality because they seemed so far off, well here they are staring me in the face with HD clarity. 
Quinn and Logan have no illusions that the end of school is here. They have been characteristically wiggly and giddy for a week now. Logan, who is so much like Jim, is tweaking everyone by shooting foam darts at their head or running by and smacking innocent and unsuspecting bystanders on the back. He just can't contain himself, and if it wasn't so funny and cute, his antics would be maddening. Quinn just keeps taking the bait that Logan throws him and yells, "Logaaaaaaan" turning a two syllable name into seven. Ahhh, the thrills of summer. 
I'm enjoying watching the boys drunk on all the potential and possibility that summer holds for them. Even though most of their summer will be spent inside ballet studios in Seattle, in their minds they have an eternity of play dates and fort building ahead of them. It's hard not to catch some of their infectious enthusiasm and I find myself drawn more into the present, realizing that it is indeed June, not November, and feeling ever so grateful for the blooming roses and squealing boys.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sweet Spot

Friday night was the boys' last activity night of the year at their school, and once again, Jim and I "volunteered." By volunteer, I mean we really went to peek into the oh-so complicated lives of middle-school aged tweens and teens. 
The last activity night we volunteered at, we got stuck in the concessions area, which could have been a total bummer had it not been stationed right next to the gym where the dancing takes place. Well, this time Jim refused to do more food-service and instead got stationed leading the basketball games in another gym. I didn't mind making popcorn again if it meant being near the dancing. Once again I found myself filling countless cups of lemonade and making disgusting amounts of popcorn. The volunteer coordinator stopped by at one point and wondered where she could find ear-plugs for the mother who got "stuck" being a door monitor in the dance-gym. I immediately told her I would be happy to switch places, at which point all the other parents whipped around and looked at me like I was some nutter. Um, hello, do you realize that ALL the action is taking place inside the dark gym where they are playing loud music and kids are bopping up and down?! I'm no fool, and I don't mind loud music, so off I happily went to the dance party. 
Whoo-haa did I have fun! Let me first say that I love the angst and confusion of this age. Not only that, but the girls are light years ahead of the boys emotionally and it is such a kick to watch the dynamics of these groups interact. There were girls crying in corners and all the "huggers" (as Jim calls them) huddled around offering support. The boys were mostly oblivious and kept right on dancing and goofing around. All in all, I'd have to say the community of kids at Roosevelt Middle school are wonderful. There was such fluidity between "cliques," if you can even call them that. There was such comfort in self-expression and I truly marveled at the ease at which these kids carried on. 
The highlight of the evening was when my own children realized I was suddenly in the "inner sanctum" of activity night and they ran over to say hello and asked if I saw one of their friends. They haven't yet decided that we, as parents, are total morons to be avoided at all cost. After the evening's festivities were over, Jim, Quinn, Logan and I found each other in the halls and walked home. We held hands and shared stories about all the drama and highlights of the evening. Another day in the sweet spot of tweens... 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

12 Years of Boy Joy


Dear Logan & Quinn,

Today you turn 12 years old. This may not feel significant to you, nor to many others, for that matter. But as your mother, I’m here to tell you it is significant. It’s significant in the sense that I remember my twelfth birthday as if it were last year. I remember the angst of a changing body, changing thoughts, thinking my parents were total Troglodytes. So this is a significant year because my own acute memories help shape the way I parent. Even with the benefit of clear hind-sight, you still think dad and I are total fuddy-duddies with outdated ideas. I can accept this. I can accept this because it means you are thinking on your own and giving voice to the adult you are slowly growing into. I am so proud of who you both are. There is nothing cookie-cutter about you two. Even being identical twins seems to have little bearing on your developing personalities.

Quinn, you continue to forge ahead with a Quixotic view of the world. You are ready to defend those whose voices are not yet strong enough to be heard. You have such a definite sense of right and wrong. While this can sometimes be maddening, I so appreciate the thought you give your ideas and the passion with which you live your life. There is nothing superficial about you. 

Logan, you are such a hard one to pin down. You operate on a level that is just outside my reach. Your keen insight and quick mind leave me spinning at times. I marvel at how quickly and accurately you can assess a situation and then deliver your synopsis in a poetic haiku. Your joie de vivre is infectious. Conversely, when dark clouds gather over your head, we all know it. You are such a constant joy in our lives.

These past twelve years have been so rich. Sure we’ve had our share of bumps and bruises, but I can say with certainty that dad and I wouldn’t trade a second of our time here with you for anything. You may find that hard to believe when we’re yammering yet again about your undone chores or manners. Being parents isn’t easy, but it is rewarding beyond measure. I still find myself wondering how it is that I can be so lucky to have the privilege of you being a part of my life. I’m so excited to share yet another year with you--getting to watch you blossom into teenagers, watch your bodies morph from silken boy to gristly teen, watch you navigate your way through boy/girl friendships as the hormones really kick in, and mostly just getting to feel my heart swell more than I could think possible with love and affection for you two. I’m wishing you the best birthday sentiments but feel it is I who should be celebrating.

Love,

Mummy  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Way Down Yonder
















I know this post is long overdue. But as I add years to my time here on earth, I notice that it takes me a few days to recover after being on the road, but maybe this applies only after spending time with family...Anyway, our brief visit down south was mostly enjoyable. I say mostly, because Jim's mum is not 100% and it is always messy when trying to deal with aging loved ones and different expectations amongst siblings. So in typical familial fashion, there was no road map to guide us along, but we bumbled through and made the most of our four days. Before we crossed the state line into Mississippi to where Helen lives, we first spent a few hours in New Orleans. I feel completely at home in New Orleans, not because of the culture, necessarily, but because it reminds me of being in a third-world city, and I say this with the utmost respect. There is a wonderful grit, rawness and honesty about N.O. that I've yet to experience in any other North American city. I feel completely at ease there. Of course it helps that Cafe du Monde is also located there, and what would a visit to N.O. be without our annual quota of sugary, fried goodness with a chicory au lait chaser? As you can see from the photos above, we were all in powdered sugar bliss.
After our bellies were sated, we headed east to Helen's. The weather was sublime. A mild 79 degrees with just the slightest kiss of humidity. It was nice to be there for Helen. Jim's stipulation to his mother was that we would do all the shopping and cooking while there. For those of you who know me, you know that I don't cook without wine, and I'm not talking cooking with wine, if you know what I mean. The only problem is that the county that Helen lives in is a dry county (who knew those still existed? Didn't prohibition end some 80 years ago?) and so I couldn't just go to a store and purchase my required beverage. Believe me I tried, and the grocer, bless his southern heart, directed me to a few beverages labeled, "blackberry flavored grape juice posing as wine." I mildly panicked and Jim said he would drive me across county lines where I would possibly have better luck. Well, it wasn't Jim, but his sister Mary Ann--who remembered that this girl doesn't cook without her vino--who kindly drove me into Louisiana where, sure enough, I found my wine. It wasn't a stellar selection, but beggars can't be choosers. I have loads of opinions on what "dry counties" really do to its population, but I'll save that for a later rant. I will say this, however; if the state of Mississippi really cared for its citizens, it wouldn't impose alcohol restrictions (because those work! Not.) and would instead make sure there was a Planned Parenthood or other reproductive health clinic located in every county so the women and men of that state didn't have to suffer one of the highest rates of teen-pregnancy, STI rates, and poverty in the country. It's shameful. Okay, my two cents for now...
Besides having to cross state lines to find wine, we also did as the locals do and went fishing in ponds, ate crawfish, and lounged around. All in all we had a good time, and I'm glad we made the effort, even if it did take us three days to recover.

Give us this day, our daily red

The other day while Jim and I were shopping for wine, there was a sign over a French red table wine that read, "A nicely balanced wine that can be enjoyed daily," to which I wondered, is there any other kind?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sorry in Advance

I apologize in advance to all future roommates and partners of Q & L. Please know that Jim and I do actually make an effort to get the boychicks to clean their room, but as you can see, this is a battle that all too often we'd rather not fight. I try to tell myself that they'll eventually learn organization and tidiness, just like my sister finally did. She, too, was a total slob (sorry Jo, but it's true) and she eventually came around. Maybe it's genetic. Or maybe this is totally normal for twin 11 year olds who share a room and a love of legos --those pesky little plastic pieces that hurt like hell when they embed in the soft part of your foot. As long as they excel in academics and their extracurricular pursuits, we don't harp on them too much for a disastrous room. It's important not to lose sight of what really matters...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SAB

We just found out that Quinn and Logan were accepted to the School of American Ballet (SAB) summer program in New York City. Yeowzah. We unfortunately had to decline the invitation as we have committed to attend Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) where they were given full scholarship. Those two boychicks just never cease to amaze.  

15 days to Beignets

The countdown has started. We leave in 15 days to New Orleans where we will promptly head to Cafe du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee. I am so glad I live 2,000 miles away from Cafe du Monde, because I know if I lived closer, I would eat beignets every day and then I would weigh three tons. I normally have incredible discipline and will-power and am not cursed with a sweet-tooth, but get me around freshly fried beignets loaded with powdered sugar, and watch out! I swear we get our annual quota of fat and sugar in one visit down south. But our visit isn't centered around Cafe du Monde, our real purpose is to see Jim's mum, who lives just out side N.O. in Picayune (you must pronounce this word with no fewer than seven syllables and say it in a sing-songy sort of way.) It will be a short visit, but just long enough for the boys to get loved on by grandma and just long enough for us to get our fill of fried goodness until we return again next year...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dance

Our evening of volunteering at the boys' activity night was a success. Jim and I had so much fun that we've agreed to volunteer at all the upcoming activity nights, which totally bummed Quinn and Logan out. Who can blame them? I sure as hell didn't want my parents lurking around when I went to school dances. Of course, I attended a private, religious middle school and we didn't do fun things like dance or roller skate, that would surely lead to S-E-X. Our class outings included day trips to the Manteca Waterslides. Getting kids together at night would also lead to S-E-X. Let's just say I didn't start having fun until high school...
So activity night was fun. Jim and I got stationed selling pizza/popcorn, to which Jim wondered if he had Food Service Professional flashing in neon lights from his forehead. We begrudgingly accepted food service duty only because we would be situated right next to the gym where the dancing was taking place. Oooh did we have fun. This is such a fun/confused age. Being able to watch hundreds of 11-13 year olds navigate the sticky social dynamics, was really enlightening. We did our best not to embarrass our children, and for the most part they still acknowledged that they were related to us. At one point a gaggle of girls saw Jim's name tag, which displayed his first and last name and they squealed, "Are you Quinn and Logan's dad?" Jim responded in the affirmative and they all giggled and squirmed. I was stuffing bags of popcorn at that point, so didn't get a good look at the types of girls who would so overtly swoon over Q & L in front of their parents, but just hearing them made me laugh. 
All in all, we had fun. I'm sure some innocent hanky panky was taking place somewhere in the school, but it wasn't happening at the popcorn/pizza station. Oh well, maybe next time...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Junior High Dance

Tonight Jim and I agreed (volunteered, begged) to help chaperone the valentine's "activity night" at the boys' school. I was especially eager to gain access to the social lives of tweeners, because since the boys have started middle school, we feel sort of left out. Almost nightly we casually ask the boys how things are going, what happens during a typical day at school, who do you hang out with, etc., and although we are fortunate and thankful that they don't reply with monosyllabic grunts, they still do not provide me with the juicy details I'm really after. It's also a strange transition from elementary to middle school. In elementary school, we were still the hovering/doting parents. We carpooled to school, we talked daily with the teachers and other parents, we dutifully went to all school functions, etc. Middle School is a whole different scene. Gone are the days when we take our kids to school and know who their teachers are. Haaa. I haven't a clue about what goes on at school, and it's not because I don't try. It really is that different. Now the boys make their own breakfast and lunch and get themselves to school. In fact, Jim and I aren't even here in the mornings, so they are pretty much taking care of themselves. The scary part is that they do a really good job and so last summer when they knew they were going to Philadelphia for ballet school, they assumed we were renting them an apartment and they would be living on their own! Anyway, when the opportunity came to volunteer for activity night, I eagerly signed Jim and myself up for the honors. I can't wait to watch the social interaction of these kids. There will be dancing, karaoke, games, and I'm sure lots of other "unapproved" activities. I'm not quite sure of what our jobs tonight will entail, but I really hope we are smack in the middle of all the action and not stationed in the parking lot. On second thought, the parking lot is probably where all the "real" action will be...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

PNB

We just got word yesterday that Quinn and Logan were accepted to the Pacific Northwest Ballet summer intensive on full scholarship! We couldn't believe it! I didn't think they'd even be accepted, yet alone on scholarship. PNB is a highly selective, world-renown program and as you can imagine we couldn't be prouder. We'll hear today whether or not Rachel was accepted. It has been a few weeks of sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear their audition results...They were accepted with full scholarship to the ABT summer intensive in Alabama and also invited back to attend The Rock in Philadelphia. We were initially all ready to commit to ABT when we got word of their status with PNB. Wow. So we'll make our final decision today, as we have to let ABT know by tomorrow. We're leaning pretty hard toward PNB, as it is closer to home, is a five-week program, and would be an incredible opportunity for the boys...As you can imagine, Jim and I are two of the proudest parents on the planet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sugar Plum pas de deux

Since I'm unsuccessful in uploading the following to Youtube, I'm posting it here. This is the Sugar Plum pas de deux that Quinn Underwood (age 11) and Rachel Richardson (age 12) performed in the Oregon Ballet Academy's 2008 production of the Nutcracker. I apologize for the watermark over the video. I'm testing this software and as a result, you must look past the obnoxious DVDxDV logo. No matter, you'll get the idea. Quinn, Logan and Rachel have all been accepted to various ballet summer intensives for 2009 and we're deciding which program we'll choose. The boys have each been offered a full scholarship for ABT and they've been invited back to The Rock on a partial scholarship. We couldn't be prouder of these two and how hard they work to pursue their dreams...


video

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finally

Finally the eight long years of Bush are over. Not that we won't feel the effects of his tenure for generations, but at least no more damage can be done. I'm so thrilled and speechless...